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Outsideleft Week in Music We're hearing from... Cumgirl8, Beatles, The Horrors, Guided By Voices, Lana Del Rey, Jeff Tweedy, My Morning Jacket, The Wombats, Al Staehely, Emma Ruth Rundle, BODEGA, Helado Negro, Deerhoof, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Maita, Duran Duran, Tori Amos, Elton John, Hildur Guonadottir, Parquet Courts and La Luz

Outsideleft Week in Music

We're hearing from... Cumgirl8, Beatles, The Horrors, Guided By Voices, Lana Del Rey, Jeff Tweedy, My Morning Jacket, The Wombats, Al Staehely, Emma Ruth Rundle, BODEGA, Helado Negro, Deerhoof, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Maita, Duran Duran, Tori Amos, Elton John, Hildur Guonadottir, Parquet Courts and La Luz

by Spanish Pantalones, Editor-at-Large
first published: October, 2021

approximate reading time: minutes

Pullquote withdrawn this week.


CUMGIRL8 - RIPcumgirl8 (Dero Arcade)
by Spanish Pantalones

Cumgirl8’s new EP, RIPcumgirl8 is the recording of the week, maybe the year. [The rest of this review has been removed. It was offensive to invoke the work of a person accused of rape, as a witticism. I am not burying what happened here, I am saying it got by me, that's my fault. What was written was so completely wrong. We will have to reconsider how we do things here that's for sure. This is just an opening remark.  - lamontpaul]


MAITA - Honey, Have I Lost It All? (Kill Rock Stars)
by Spanish Pantalones

A fun, bite-sized single from Maita on Kill Rock Stars so you know it's good. Take a chance on this single, it the best thing I've heard all week, and I spent all of yesterday listening to that new acoustic gem from the Melvins. It's pop, it's punk, it's crunchy, it sounds a lot like the northwest. Spanish give it his nod of approval.

THE WOMBATS - Ready For The High (AWAL)
by Tim London

The sound of a band. Doing band things in a rehearsal studio. They’re looking forward to going to the pub for a swift bottle of an amusingly named lager before catching the tube back to Wimbledon. Hold on, that’s The Wombles, not The Wombats. It’s all a bit of a waste, though. There’s time, wasted, listening to this. The waste of a horn section which they squeeze in before the end. The waste of the bass line from Air’s La Femme D’argent, which, admittedly, is 1960’s groovy bass line number five anyway. And the waste of the ambitions and desires of the bands that this band’s existence displaces. Or was that The Wombles?

PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS - Hot Stuff (Rocket Recordings)
by Spanish Pantalones

Every 5 or so years (maybe more, maybe less), a young band comes around, takes an old pop song, buries it with distorted guitars, vocal-fry lyrics, and think they've reinvented the wheel. Orgy did it with New Order's "Blue Monday," Limp Bizkit did it with St. George's "Faith," and I'm sure if I put a few more minutes into this review, I could come up with a lot more. It would make for a great list article (because everyone loves lists), but the music is always insufferable and needy. Which brings me to Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs' reworking of Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff." If you're not gonna bring anything new to the song, why bother? Great band name though.

EMMA RUTH RUNDLE - Blooms of Oblivion (Sargent House)
by Toon Traveller

Blooms of Oblivion begins with a great soundscape, the roar of the storm, and a soft disturbingly quiet solo guitar. Before in an almost a tired whisper, Emma Ruth Rendle calls to Judas, tired of love, tired of her own life. Later a piano drops in underpinning the melancholy permeating the song, evoking moss on a tree, mist at dawn, sunrise on a placid sea. The sense is one of tragic loss, regret words not said, it's sudden drop dead ending is a shock to the heart, almost as life has been checked out on. This not Joni Mitchell, nor Sade, this could be Adel, with harder lessons, more intense pain, longer suffering and tougher to take loss.  But... if you find Adel's painTM all a bit too sad without tragedy, a bit too lost lover all too easy recover from, and you want your losses deep, in the base of your soul, this could be the song for you. A major and serious voice.

AL STAEHELY - Feel the Heat (Camp Records)
by Tim London

Begins like a late night chat show theme and continues in a proper musician vein, straight from the 1970s, which is, apparently, exactly where it came from. Part of a vault of unreleased music from the era… apparently… but I smell a rat. There’s something about the production, something about the succinct nature of the arrangement. I reckon and would be prepared to bet, ooh, a fiver, that this is a recent-ish recording of a song maybe written back in the day. And, when I do my journalistic research (by reading the whole press release instead of the first bits) I win my fiver. In your face, whoever was arguing with me. So, it is what it sounds like: a pleasant piece of nostalgic middle of the road soft rock with a nod towards Van Morrison and Jimmy Kimmel.

THE WOMBATS - Ready For The High (AWAL)
by Toon Traveller

The Wombats Stock Rock which is somehow interpreted as "wonderfully bizarre" by Billboard Magazine is the sound of something you will have clearly heard before. In a pub, club, this will get the feet dancing, the fist pumping  the beer flying, as is the Wombats rep as a stellar live band. Listen stomp, chant, and dance.

JEFF TWEEDY - C'mon America (Sub Pop)
by Lee Paul

I don't know anything about music, so I just go ahead and guess Jeff Tweedy is still a hot property. I once asked a woman from Chicago if she partied with him and she ended the conversation shortly after. Whatch ya gonna do?

THE HORRORS - Against the Blade (Universal)
by Tim London

In the week I go to see Todd Haynes’s The Velvet Underground doc we have this rifftastic, dribble end of the spindly legged Horrors journey into the dark alleys of Southend to consider. The longer a rock band survives, it seems, the more likely that their increasing professionalism and instrument craft will end up producing a Tory party conference soundtrack. Which is not an allusion to the recent death of a Tory Southend MP, but I can see tattooed occultists making that connection.

BODEGA - Doers (Whats Your Rupture)
by Tim London

Rehearsal Room Rock. It’s my new genre. Triple R. There will be American radio stations and a dedicated online media platform called The Three Rs dot com. Consisting of perfectly able rock musicians who rehearse until whatever the original joy of whatever it was that they were trying to do has dissipated into their temporary friendship. Here we have the New York branch adding some semi-spoken, semi-arch hipster snootyness aimed at ordinary folks just Trying To Get By in the digital world, laid on top of  bass guitar drums and the odd spot effect that doesn’t quite carry us over the WTF threshold. It’s as if Funkadelic never existed. Make it louder. Be brave. Break the miserable hold of mediocrity, release the demos, take off the masks, gurn seriously, allow the mistakes. All good advice.

PARQUET COURTS - Homo Sapiens (Rough Trade Records)
by Tim London

You can dance to this… some time around Oi! the dancing element of punk rock was replaced by speed and violence, Oi! being the Jeremy Clarkson of music genres, and this thankfully harks back to before that moment. The singer, Andrew Savage, sings it with an almost eastern European accent, maybe a sort of borrowing of the famous Brooklyn/Bronx accent that traditionally defines working class noo yorkers, and then mangling it through a Texan wringer. Or maybe it’s as self-consciously over-worked as Mark E Smith’s was. Who knows? It works, sitting on top of guitars that have been carefully prepared with a minimum of fuss(zz), played with maximum first take joy and a basic rhythm section. But there is no excuse for the video, though. The director has done his best but it’s sensible shoes all round apart from the bass player who visited a fancy dress outfitters followed by his MDMA dealer on the way to the shoot. It’s a lovely room and there are lights and everything. If you’re going to go to the trouble of making a ‘visualizer’ (thank you USA record biz) for your track at least pretend you don’t resent the time spent miming.

DURAN DURAN - Anniversary (BMG)
by Tim London

Duran Duran are funny - I don’t mean weird, I mean, actually, funny. Morecambe and Wise funny. Their sense of humour runs through their career like a lipstick number repeated on the walls of toilet booths in every nightclub in every nation… Here, they do Duran Duran with knobs on. The song sounds like an amalgamation of every uptempo DD tune and Le Bon’s voice appears to be have been preserved since the 1980s in a test tube. The video features an attempt at recreating a glamorous party in a stately home in the manner of the ever aggressively aspirational way of post-New Romantics, which is funny by itself, because DD were always more about a sweaty nightclub with fag burns on the carpet than films stars and models. Seeing the original members saying hello to the fake lookalikes hired to mime the tune in the vid brings to mind the owners of a chain of sports shops blessing their sons. Watch the video - it will make you smile. It also feels very much like a goodbye and I salute their self belief in an age saturated with music and images; they believe that Duran Duran matters. Comedy is a serious business.

TORI AMOS - Spies (Decca Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

The latest single from Tori Amos lands on my desk just moments before this edition of the OUTSIDELEFT weekly record reviews goes to print. "Spies" is the first release from Amos' forthcoming album, Ocean to Ocean due to be released later this month. It's a peppy six-minute mid-tempo bop that does what it's supposed to do -- interest me in what the full LP will sound like. She's not trying to fit in with the Billie Eilish/Lana Del Rey bullshit where the druggy, wispy vocals are buried under samples and loops like most of her contemporaries; Amos delivers a solid, respectable pop single without getting caught up with trendy studio workarounds. Fingers crossed that the rest of the LP is as strong. We'll find out on the 29th.


MY MORNING JACKET - My Morning Jacket (ATO Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

Is My Morning Jacket the most underrated band in the last 20 years? I’d say yes. Everything these shapeshifters produce sounds so good, but you never know what you’re going to get, but that’s part of the fun of these guys. Sometimes MMJ sound alt-country-ish -- like Wilco. Sometimes they’ll throw a shoegazey song on an album. Sometimes they crank everything up to eleven and blast a hard-charging rocker just to remind you they’re an American rock and roll band at heart. This self-titled release is a little bit of all of that, and more. (Even the synthy Yes-like prog rock fits like a glove.) Good stuff from these Kentucky boys after six years away from the studio.

HELADO NEGRO - Far In (4AD Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

I literally know nothing about Helado Negro. It was one of several dozen new LPs I was sent this week and I only gave the album a listen because I thought the name was interesting. Is Helado Negro a person? A band? The first song on Far In ("Wake Up Tomorrow") roped me in and every track got better and better. It turns out Helado's been around since at least 2009. Either he has a horrible press agent or I missed this guy on my radar. I have to start listening to KCRW again. A wonderful album that's sure to make lots of 'best of 2021' lists. 

DEERHOOF - Actually, You Can (Joyful Noise Recordings)
by Spanish Pantalones

Goddamn, what a great album. Deerhoof’s eighteenth LP sounds fresh and fun -- full of life. There’s nothing cynical or untrue about Actually, You Can. And you can call them experimental or avant-garde, and those labels may be accurate, but that’s dumbing the band down. There are some complex things going on within this record. Another win for Deerhoof and Deefhoof devotees.

ELTON JOHN - The Lockdown Sessions (EMI / Mercury Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

You have to give it up for the old queen; EJ still has enough pull in this business we call show to be able to slap an album together with some fairly big names. Glen Campbell, Lil Nas X, Stevie Wonder, Eddie Vedder, Stevie Nicks… a pretty impressive collection of talent. The music is unlistenable, of course (except for the Gorillaz tune (“The Pink Phantom”) which lends a few interesting moments to the LP. But in the end, this hodgepodge of uneven mish-mash is just another victory lap for old Elton. Your gran will love a physical copy of it for Christmas.

LANA DEL REY - Blue Bannisters (Interscope / Polydor Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

How did we get here? Did everyone just forget Lana Del Rey is not some trailer park, hard luck Walt Whitman type. A young plump-lipped chanteuse who is now somehow the voice of people who confuse Coachella with a religious experience. Lana Del Rey is Lizzy Grant, a spoiled rich girl who had her wealthy father buy her a career in music. Blue Bannister is just another collection of songs her father bought, filled with wispy lyrics ripped out of the pages of a fifteen-year-old girl's journal. How did everyone buy into it? When did the great unwashed masses give up on credible talent?

DURAN DURAN - Future Past (Capitol Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

The boys of Birmingham return with their fifteenth studio album, which seems low considering they’ve been around for 40 years, but here we are. If Future Past sounds uneven and disjointed, it might be because the LP had three extra producers (Mark Ronson, Erol Alkan and the great Giorgio Moroder) with vastly different styles. But like all great Duran Duran releases, Simon LeBon’s nasely vocals tie it all together, and pop songs like “Tonight United” and “All of You” (written with ex-Blur Graham Coxon) prove that, deep down inside, they’ve always been a funk band at heart.

GUIDED BY VOICES - It's Not Them. It Couldn't Be Them. It Is Them! (Guided by Voices Inc.)
by Spanish Pantalones

If it seems like I just reviewed a Guided By Voices’ LP (Earth Man Blues), it’s because that was only a few months ago. This week, Robert Pollard drops It's Not Them. It Couldn't Be Them. It Is Them!, one more hook-filled rocker to throw on the 33-album pile GBV’s has amassed since 1983. You know how during the start of the pandemic, you told yourself you were going to take advantage of the time off and finish writing that book, record, script, or whatever it was you were working on? Well Pollard actually followed through and recorded really strong three LPs. All you did was binge on The Sopranos and gain the Covid 19.

LA LUZ - La Luz (Hardly Art Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

I feel like we've been getting one great song after another these past few months from La Luz leading up to their latest long player. La Luz is a lot softer around the edges than I seem to recall their earlier albums. Lead singer Shana Cleveland used to really wail on lead guitar and vocals, this tones and nuances are much warmer than usual. It might have something to do with the recent birth of her son, I know she wrote at least one song about him. (Is that a sexist thing to say? That the LP is warmer because she gave birth? I don't even know anymore. Don't send email.)

BEATLES - Let It Be (Calderstone Productions Ltd)

The Beatles' Let It Be, as it should be Jay Lewis says. Read the entire review here.

Other Materials

HILDUR GUONADOTTIR - Joker Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Warner)
by Lee Paul

Hildur Guðnadóttir creates astonishing soundtracks. Here's one from a few years ago. It's a good one

Main Image: Cumgirl 8 record sleeve

Spanish Pantalones

As employee #3, Spanish has worked for OUTSIDELEFT in some capacity since day one. As our editor-at-large, Spanish now calls ‘the road’ home, filing articles about the arts, leisure, and culture when the wi-fi works.

about Spanish Pantalones »»



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