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Outsideleft Week in Music We're hearing from... Billy Bragg, Royal Arctic Institute, Wye Oak, Brigid Mae Power, Ancient Champion, Royel Otis, Joker's Hand, Trace Mountains, Infinite Coles, Brimhelm, Holy Fuck, Killval, Gang of Youths, ERRA and...John Coltrane

Outsideleft Week in Music

We're hearing from... Billy Bragg, Royal Arctic Institute, Wye Oak, Brigid Mae Power, Ancient Champion, Royel Otis, Joker's Hand, Trace Mountains, Infinite Coles, Brimhelm, Holy Fuck, Killval, Gang of Youths, ERRA and...John Coltrane

by Hamilton High,
first published: October, 2021

approximate reading time: minutes

On his 13th studio album, Billy Bragg takes a long, somber look at the state of the world and has decided that maybe his days of finger-pointing are behind him. After all, fighting the man is a young fella's game

Still crazy after all these years? Well, your problem is that he never was that crazy. If at all. He never gave up on his principles. He just confounded lazy thinkers for 40 years and here he is once more... Unsurprisingly looking and sounding a little roadworn. We're talking about Billy Bragg aligned with a great band making a lovely interpretation of Briticana roots music in Dorset or wherever he parks the van. Extra points for Billy for the female bass player I think.


BILLY BRAGG - The Million Things That Never Happened (Cooking Vinyl)
by Spanish Pantalones

On his 13th studio album, Billy Bragg takes a long, somber look at the state of the world and has decided that maybe his days of finger-pointing are behind him. After all, fighting the man is a young fella's game, and at 63 years old, the Bard of Barking seems to be passing the torch when he sings:

"I’m used to people listening to what I have to say. And I find it hard to think that it might help if I just stepped away. The kids that pull the statues down, they challenge me to see. The gap between the man I am and the man I wanna be.”

The lyrics found inside The Million Things That Never Happened are a far, far cry from the days when Bragg used to strap amplifiers to his back and stroll London while shouting folky rock and roll protest songs at passers-by. I supposed age mellows even the angriest of rabble rousers.


JOKER'S HAND - Goth Girlfriend (Joker's Hand Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

No self-respecting goth chick would come within earshot of the mall punk this flimsy Torrence, California punk duo cranks out. 

BRIMHELM - Favourite day Of The Week (W.A.S. Entertainment Records)
by Tim London

Apparently suffering from a never ending existential crisis and, it seems, a long list of other psychological problems (don’t you love press releases?) it seems that Brimhelm has armed her psychosis and decided to use it as both subject matter and promotional material. My question is, if this is true then there is surely a duty of care for those who are meant to be looking after her best interests to make sure she is not left exposed and potentially in a situation that will just exacerbate her problems.

Or this might be a patronising response; after all she is a grown up and presumably not too vulnerable to embark on a career that will, if she stays on course, end up providing the kind of personal pressure only equivalent in other high stress jobs, such as care and health, policing or politics.

If this is a review of the press release and not the single that’s because that’s the most interesting aspect of the release, the track being a light-weight chug that won’t disturb the flow between Enya and Fleetwood Mac. The cynic in me thinks that citing a bunch of ‘fashionable’ millennial woes in a press release is an attempt at marketing of an equally cynical nature. The more hopeful me sort of hopes that it’s the people surrounding Brimhelm and not the artist herself who decided to do this and that she will sack them.

by Tim London

Cheeky! A double A sider. As the A side chugs along pleasantly Mr Mountain’s voice sort of disappears into the chug and I forgot to listen. Then, there’s a funny little drop to just drums and his voice and it’s as if you’re on a train and there’s a baby crying but their sobs have blended into the wheels on the rails and you suddenly arrive at a station or you wake up and, there it is again, a baby crying, which depending on your views on babies could be sweet, triggering, or an excuse to put on some headphones. But I like the transition from A side to AA side, which is more like a sweet extra long outro than another side. There’s that baby again. Needs to blow his nose.

ROYEL OTIS - never Been More Sure (House Anxiety/Ourness)
by Tim London

New Order pitched up by about half an octave.

ANCIENT CHAMPION - Whipped Up and Stripped Down (OLRE)
by Katherine Pargeter

A few years ago at a party, our Ancient Champion was explaining his particular musical stylings to a locally based celebrity. When he mentioned that he made '...easy listening music for difficult people', the celeb responded by asking whether he was 'Bearwood's answer to James Last?'

Ever since, the two have comedically  swapped roles with one another in my mind. I fully expect that one day the Champ will deliver a lachrymose muzak rendition of 'Nights in White Satin' or we'll discover that Last once recorded a version of 'A Song For Damian Marquez, The Tailor'.  Probably with young buck Richard Clayderman on piano.

I only wish that James had lasted long enough to have had a go at "Whipped Up and Stripped Down" it would have been quite exquisite. It's that good.

KILLVAL - Quitter (Repost/Soundcloud)
by Tim London

A dumbass tune about completing your exams.

ERRA - Snowblood (UNFD)
by Tim London

It’s always funny watching desperately authentic musos mime to tracks like this, Lots of hair shaking, singer crouched as if about to lift a very heavy object, guitarists doing spider fingers over their fret boards. Incidentally, the press release celebrates the fact that there are at least two ‘seven stringers’ in the band. Now, is that a seven string bass? Or a seven string non-bass? What’s the extra string(s) for? Is that like gold plugs on your stereo? Go faster stripes? Two bass drums? Hold on (just checking) nope, drummer’s a one kick-drum dude. So it’s just the guitarists. Do they insist on an extra egg in the morning? One more button on their fly? Is it a kind of tic, whereby they don’t feel complete without that extra bit of wire? Is there a piano equivalent? These questions are all so much more interesting than this MOR mulch fronted by a Sesame Street Monster-voiced stone muncher.

by Jay Lewis

The Canadian quartet follow up the intoxicating 'Deleter' with this irresistible mix of shimmering percussion, stuttering synths and sweet vocals. 

That's Sarah Bonito on vocals, the Anglo/Japanese singer of London based Kero Kero Bonito. They've just released the rather Brilliant 'Civilisation' which I demand you listen to before the day is through. 

WYE OAK - Half A Double man (Merge)
by Tim London

Some. Unnecessary. Stops. Stops. Occasionally. Can. Be. Hooks. But. Not. In. This. Case. As it happens, all you misogynist twats who criticised guitarist Jenn Wasner’s guitar skills ten years ago, the guitar is the best thing about this track. So. There.

GANG OF YOUTHS - the man himself (Warner)
by Tim London

Videos are called ‘visualisers’ now, according to the press release. Apparently these young people have relocated to London and now released one of those f-epic tunes that show off their chordsy chops. They previously released a single called angel of 8th ave (no caps type of chaps) so maybe now they’ll release a track called devil on praed st. Suggesting a talky kind of Bono on vocals and some bells on the end that are too early for Xmas, sorry, xmas, it’s a cosy little pork pie in a knitted hat caught in a spotlight on an empty stage.


ROYAL ARCTIC INSTITUTE - In Sodium Light Phillip Glass remix) (Rhyme & Reason Records)
by Toon Traveller

Of course,the moniker Phillip Glass remix intrigued me. Not every day you can get a renowned minimalist composer  -   remixing that's something to hear, and listen to. So that alone is amazingly cool. In Sodium LIght was originally released earlier this year. It's a slow build, percussion driven, a rising sound tide, funky electronica but maybe be not dance, for everyone, there's a real sense of ideas, sytnhs swirl, replication, what sounds almost like metal bashing, and I love a bit of that. In all glorious sound explosions underpinned by a driving rhythm, there's a lot going on in here, patterns, echoes, hints,  paint dabs and inspiration.

Royal Arctic Institute offer me hope that modern music at it best, bursting with ideas, can illuminate and change, can challenge and be something new, while we the listener comfortable absorb this piece with our morning breakfast coffee, imbibing hope and joy. There's moment when the rhythm leads, but it's the overall feel, speed and comfort, a Spanish High Speed train on a sun bleached Castilian plane, I'm there. In Sodium Light is a delicious listen.    

INFINITE COLES - Destiny (Don't Sleep Records)
by Toon Traveller

I'm listening to Infidels by Infinite Coles and thinking, hey, Bob Dylan recorded the album infidels, well received by critics as I recall... Well this ain't no Bobby D, this is something far more drenched in pain and loss, suffering and insight. This could easily be a solo vocal dubbed over a JS Bach Coral piece, dark and yet hopeful. The middle eight, bridge, a vocal interlude, intones, urges and cajoles. Simple understated percussion, is the perfect mist on the morning, mist of the lake of abandonment that's at the heart of the song, hope and memories entwine in soaring floating pained flight. A scream, and it's, it's just a delightful slice of art, music, and love's trenchant memories.

BRIGID MAE POWER - 'Burning Your Light' (Fire)
by Jay Lewis

Having released three haunting albums of her own material, Irish singer Brigid Mae Power has chosen to cover half a dozen songs that not only show her diverse influences but what a remarkable interpreter of song she is. Jay Lewis has a full review, here.


JOHN COLTRANE - A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle (Impulse! Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

For well over 60 years, Coltrane historians were led to believe that the only live recording of A Love Supreme was from his gig at a French jazz festival at Juan-Les-Pains in July 1965. No one knew until very recently that there's one more recorded version of Coltrane's masterpiece. On the final night of a weeklong stint at the Penthouse in Seattle in 1965, saxophonist (and Coltrane's close pal) Joe Brazil captured Coltrane's entire hypnotizing set. A transcendent recording in every sense of the word, without a trace of monotony.

Main Image: Billy Bragg and band from a youtube screen grab

Hamilton High

Hamilton High was born on Doheny Ave in the gutter, is a poet, writer and observer of popular culture. Likes fashion and cares less for style. He's on the move, he's an alter ego and we hardly ever hear from him.
about Hamilton High »»

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