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Outsideleft Week In Music We're hearing from... Brian Chase, Simone Dinnerstein, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Rumjacks, Idles, Witch fever, Lunar Vacations, Greer, serpentwithfeet, ABBA, RIKI, CMAT, Radiohead, Black Country, New Road, Nashville Pussy, Aimee Mann, MUNYA, Down Again and BLACKSTARKIDS

Outsideleft Week In Music

We're hearing from... Brian Chase, Simone Dinnerstein, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Rumjacks, Idles, Witch fever, Lunar Vacations, Greer, serpentwithfeet, ABBA, RIKI, CMAT, Radiohead, Black Country, New Road, Nashville Pussy, Aimee Mann, MUNYA, Down Again and BLACKSTARKIDS

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

approximate reading time: minutes

Listen all week

More provocative record reviews from some of your favourite OUTSIDELEFT scribes (and some of the ones you hate, too). Considering the mighty OL has never opted for a comments forum, we’ll just assume you love all of this week’s perspectives on this week’s new offering of pop music. Now on with the reviews…


GREER - Way Out (Epitaph)
by Toon Traveller

Greer. Great poppy intro, simple songs with a bounce. Great rousing chorus that powers through. Great folks and kids on the school run. Feel good music for people who just had a PB on those in line training bikes. Something to hope for on dark wintery nights.

CMAT - No More Virgos (Diet Baby)
by Toon Traveller

Dublin's CMAT offer a sub disco beat, lazy  slack bass, and fade in vocals. Sounds like a Madonna in a submarine on a bad day as it bounces along. I suppose it could be The Andorra, or Liechtenstein entry for Euro Song Contest.

DOWN AGAIN - "The Fire (Feat. Brendan Murphy)" (Streaming)
by Tim London

Now I think I’m getting the hang of this popemometal thing. For a start, it’s much, much more conservative than the gnnnarrll vocal bits hint at. A quick look at the lyrics, which seem to be a bit, um, incelly - correct me if I’m wrong Down Agains, but do they address a particular woman (a’ devil in a red dress’ - needn’t be a woman, I suppose, but somehow…) and order her to keep her mouth shut? And the loud/quiet, break down, snare-poppin’ arrangements remind me of a well drilled football team rather than the messy genius of a lalogging bunch of arteests. So, my conclusion is, this is for rush hour traffic in-car miming, with defiant glances to left and right, on the way back from Leicester, in between Live5 and lurches on the accelerator and forlorn musings on the futility of life.

SIMONE DINNERSTEIN - Satie: Gnossienne No.3 (Orange Mountain)
by Jay Lewis

Simone Dinnerstein is an extraordinarily gifted pianist. She may be best known for her delightful adaptations of Bach’s Keyboard Concertos, the rawness of her rendition of Purcell’s ‘Dido’s Lament’ with singer Tift Merrit and this year's performance of Richard Danielpour's 'An American Mosaic.' Erik Satie may be far too familiar territory for some, but there is something so delicate and haunting about this interpretation that is so fresh and captivating.
More please... (NB, as we're unable to locate any video of this, here's a clip of Simone working with another master of minimalism...)

SERPENTWITHFEET - Fellowship (Remix) ft. Ambre & Alex Isley (Secretly Canadian)
by Tim London

Looking but not finding, proof that Ambré & Alex Isley are from THE Isleys. Clue 1: there something about the timbre and the inflections of whoever is doing the most singing here and 2: Ambré’s twitter profile describes her as ‘2nd generation music maker’. Admittedly I only went 3 google pages deep… serpentwith feet (‘Serp’ to his mates who like to greet him with ‘whasserp, Serp?!’) is the angel voiced, devil-eyed singer who is almost out there but desires success enough not to stray too far. And this song, a remix that surrounds a pleasant would-be advertising ditty with Californian dozy-blend marijuana samples and a beat that encourages knocking back sparkling water by the sip, will not take him any closer to Original Island.

RIKI - Florence and Serena (Dais Records)
by Toon Traveller

The editor will have figured out who refers to what, can't be bothered looking or working out. I'm a gentleman of leisure, I am time rich AND I can't be bothered trying to figure out wot's wot which is a real shame as this the best sound of the week. 80s retro sound straight outta the UK 80s Jazz-Soul scene. This is a lovely song more fun and a better listen than Adele 

ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE IMPOSTERS - Magnificent Hurt (Universal)
by Jay Lewis

After a couple of French classes with Iggy Pop and Isabella Adjani, followed by a crash course with some of the finest Spanish-speaking vocalists, EC has returned to his vocal duties. What this amounts to, alongside the visceral joy of his last couple of albums with the Imposters, is that Costello is finding ways to make this whole music-making shebang fun again. And 'Magnificent Hurt' is the best of this recent blast of brooding beauty and those sinister fairground keyboards from Steve Nieve make it all the more exciting.

WITCH FEVER - Reincarnate (Music For Nations)
by Tim London

It’s worth quoting this bit of the press release for Reincarnate, part of an EP by Manchester’s time-of-the-year appropriately named Witch Fever: “The overall lyrical content is a cross between biblical and horror imagery as a way to explore empowerment, catharsis and anger. It’s about owning my sexuality, my body and channelling my anger through music.” That’s singer Amy explaining there. I would ask her, being a psychiatrist, ‘what are you angry about?’ and what would happen if you didn’t channel that anger through your music?’ And ‘how do you own your sexuality?’ Lacking the answers to these questions, let’s look at the evidence available: a metal/heavy rock track with a slow bit and a speed up towards the end (everything inevitably in its place, no surprises); an English-accented vocal, sounds upset; an all apparently female band although I haven’t checked pronouns but the bass player says in the release that there is a ‘big emphasis on female empowerment’ so that indicates ‘female’, probably.

In the video there are some moments alluding to sado-masochism (a young woman in her underwear on all fours as a foot stool for the singer and some blink and miss it spanking) which, I suppose is a visual of the sexuality being owned. And the singer lets a bug wander across her face and into her mouth.

I’m not a fan of metal - don’t hear the subtle differences and generally think it’s either hilarious, boring or irrelevant. Or annoying. So it’s all the accoutrements that interest and this, together with video is an essay’s worth.

IDLES - Car Crash (Partisan)
by Tim London

You’ve got to appreciate the noises, the warped FX, the spleee! the wurrooh! You’ve got to. Because, without them it’s a drummer doing that annoying drummer thing when they’re pissed off with the others or the fact his girlfriend was made to pay like a pleb at the last show because the road manager left her off the guest list or he’s just tired; you know, the biff/boff on the kick and the snare for fucking ages, the same plod until the sound engineer finally has mercy on the room and murmurs ‘OK, got that Jon’ through the monitor and he throws down his sticks and walks off, kicking the overhead mic stand on the way. That, and the singer who I just can’t hear, just can’t hear him, I mean, I hear a voice but not what it’s saying. The singer reminds me of me when I’m whining at a member of my family about something that isn’t important and I just want to tell myself to stop but it’s too late, I’m committed. It’s the six year-old that is in all men who will pack a bag and leave home and step outside the back door and hear a cat in a bush and change their minds and decide to forgive whatever great wrong has been done, after all. Nothing that a cup of hot cocoa can’t fix. That’s what I hear, but I don’t know what he’s saying. It just sounds like mouth.

BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD - Bread Song (Ninja Tune)
by Tim London

Cheer up!

THE RUMJACKS - One for the Road (BandsOwn)
by Toon Traveller

Wind and sea on the shingle, lovely intro to a sub Pogues rabble, rebel rousing song which could be a remake of any of the Pogues drinking songs, even down to the themes, people leaving, memories, the "mosh pit" fiddle, the bodhran, and the chanting rage. Looks and sounds great for a pre-Christmas piss up, beer throw up. If you want a taste of the Poguees, and don't want the horror of a 60 year old Pogues this is for you. With a gang of mates, a few beers, this'd be a great night out, but wear old clothes, you'll stick of beer afterwards.

MUNYA - Voyage (Luminelle Recordings)
by Tim London

Heads up - MUNYA’s arrived. Has she? Where? Over there, sliding in, along the wall, behind the pot plants, no, now she’s on the sofa and someone has sat on her. Oi! Look, there’s someone there! Don’t argue with me - I know she’s here because there’s a video. Is it a volume thing? Or is MUNYA’s presence being so ethereally hard to confirm to do with a confidence thing? A reluctant singer? A French Canadian take on French people doing sort of classy retro disco-ish based pop songs. Turn her up! Or give her gin before a take.

by Tim London

Didn’t realise I wanted to hear The Drums with spoken voice almost rap and vocoder and young gal singing. Now I know I did. I wish these jolly, floppy young people many joyful big moments and hope they make a point to enjoy themselves despite everyone telling them how important their careers are. Which sounds patronising because it is. Young people, pah! What do they know? Just… everything. In fact, they’ve forgotten more than I ever knew. Or was that me?


ABBA - Voyage (Polar Music International)
by Spanish Pantalones

Music for optimists. Shameless theater kids and revivalists stuck in the past will love it. Will anyone else? Maybe your gran who still whoops it up to “Waterloo” after one Gin Rickey. Everyone else will be quietly let out a sigh and wrestle with how derivative Voyage turned out to be. Do we celebrate an artist for never stepping out of bounds or taking a chance? Imagine if David Bowie recorded an album that consisted of songs like "The Laughing Gnome" and "Please, Mr. Gravedigger," then releasing that album every year for four decades. 

BRIAN CHASE - Loss and Gain (Infrequent Seams Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

The drummer from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs made one the best jazz albums of the year, maybe the last few years. I wouldn’t know. My knowledge of jazz ends around '83 when Kenny G., bless his soul, set the jazz movement back to the starting line. Branford Marsalis sort of had something going there for a while, but when he accepted The Tonight Show gig, any chance he had of saving jazz from KG’s New-Age bullshit were dashed. Right, Loss and Gain. I’m enjoying it. It’s experimental jazz; the kind of cacophony oily indie record store clerks in college towns play when the shop has more than five students in it. [Note: Apparently, Chase didn't make a video for the LP so here's a live clip of him improvising in a trio. I don't think this song is on the new album, but it all sounds the same. You won't even be able to tell the difference.]

NASHVILLE PUSSY - Eaten Alive (Slinging Pig Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

Nashville Pussy knocks out 19 songs in front of an English audience and records it for posterity, but can a live album capture the je ne sais quoi of the band? Hard to say. I’ve seen Nashville Pussy quite a few times over the years, and I’ve enjoyed every gig, yet I don’t own any of their records. They’re a rock and roll honky tonk band, formed to confront their audiences face to face -- albums almost seem like an afterthought. But Eaten Alive captures the energy and controlled recklessness of the band, yet nothing compares to experiencing them live. Only then can you appreciate how underappreciated Ruyter Suys is. Sadly, there is no official video, but this fan-shot clip of the band at Skippers Smokehouse in Tampa, Florida should suffice.

by Spanish Pantalones

I'm not the only one who doesn't get Radiohead, am I? The pomposity. The pretension. The attitude as if they're being put out by spending months upon months, staring that their navels and bashing delicate electrical gadgets with inanimate objects while cocooned in enormously expensive recording studios. That said, I give them credit for having the wherewithal to steer out of the crash course they were headed towards with "Creep" (which was really a novelty song of Green Day Dookie-era proportions) and into territory that Aphex Twin and Spiritualized had already charted with much more curb appeal. One could argue that if Aphex Twin or Spiritualized had a leg up with a catchy MTV chart topper, they too would've enjoyed a fanbase as wide-eyed and undiscerning as this season's Radiohead fan. But here we are, 21 years later and there is a certain segment that have been nursing throbbing erections ever since they heard their heroes are packaging and repacking this moldy oldie with their castaways. Is it one of those things where you have to be high to get it? Is Radiohead the Grateful Dead for the modern era? Holy fuck, I think I cracked this whole Radiohead phenomenon wide open. Radiohead is the Grateful Dead! Thank you and see you next week, OL readers. 

AIMEE MANN - Queens of The Summer Hotel (SuperEgo Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

Today’s Aimee Mann is a lot different from the Aimee Mann we discovered in 1985. Those in the know fondly remember the seductive pulse of “Voices Carry” and I’m probably the only person who still thinks her plucky solo LP (Whatever, 1993), with all of its gritty distortion, should be in every conversation where Juliana Hatfield and Mary Lou Lord are mentioned. My point is, Queens is the complete opposite of all that. Queens is a baroque alt-rock album about suicide, so you know, there are no catchy singles or bops to be found. (Do they still call them bops?) I like this one though, and if you like Mann’s latest direction, you’ll be all over this. And just in time for the dreary holidays which always make me want to go to sleep forever.

LUNAR VACATIONS - Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp (Keeled Scales)
by Toon Traveller

Well done Lunar Vacations for your great song title. But oh dear it's downhill from the first click and play for me I am sorry to say. The airy Sophia Ellis Dexter sorts floats over the guitars and bass, there's a sorta sway along tap your fingers on the driving wheel, there's a sunshine today whimsy, floaty, and forgettable thing going on, there's really nothing in here that's more than ONE listen, so it drifts in a whiney pleading sort of slightly sad, but not too sure why voice. You figure it out...

Main Image: Simone Dinnerstein

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.

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