Throughout 2021, OUTSIDELEFT's Week in Music delivered an idiosyncratic array of opinions and comments on the records that reached us, and mattered to us and some that really didn't matter to us at all. Way too many titles to list here. Instead, throughout this week a totally randomized smattering of what we called Singles reviews. A mere 50 fab tunes revisited and reordered, from A-Z by song title!
Hard Drive - Security Guard
(Ba Da Bing! Records)
From the LP (An Overview on) An Overview on Phenomenal Nature which is a collection of alternate takes from the much lauded An Overview on Phenomenal Nature which came out earlier this year and will make the most discerning of end of year lists. It's a meta world Cassandra inhabits, and draws us into. "I'm a three legged dog looking for what I lost." Who isn't feeling like that right now. Hard Drive - Security Guard is a more mumbling but not necessarily less insightful intrusion into thought. There's probably an entire novella here. A fearless and very exciting artist. Love this.
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
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.
If You Say the Word
I surprised a friend recently - he presumed I liked Radiohead. As a rule I don’t, but ‘liking’ a band depends on so much more than the music and Radiohead actually offend me. There’s a smugness to their sound and profile, the kind I associate with inwards looking, comfortably-off Brits. I look for the psychic desperation I feel myself to be reflected but, instead, I hear the last stitches of the punk rock tapestry being undone by someone with carefully dirty fingernails. The hysterically emotional singing, the sloppy diction, the progressive middle of the road, the borrowing from actual pioneers. They are the Libdems. And this single is a single by the Libdems, a purr of dissatisfaction because their fave brand of coffee beans is unavailable.
Just For me
If you are an old person like me then you might enjoy this brief look at Young People and how they are today. It’s a package, the song and video, they come together. In fact, ideally, you will be introduced via Twitter or Instagram or TikTok in the same way I was, by a breathless late teenaged boy who is ‘obsessed’, just like in the lyrics. And what’s he obsessed with? No doubt, the elfin features and graceful awkwardness of Ms Pink herself and the way the song and marketing exhibited in the video direction provide the perfect UK pop context. But, perhaps he (his name was Sharif, by the way) is also as obsessed with the encapsulation of teen-dream experience in which he can also take part.
And that’s the key element here - without Sharif, Pink Pantheress doesn’t exist. Oh sure, she might continue to record, release records, even have a hit or two, but for her to matter she needs to be able to cut out the tumbling hearts of otherwise apparently self-possessed teens and pickle them in cute jars from Muji and let them catch the beams of sunlight drifting in through a wide window with a view of Peckham, from several storeys up. And that takes proximity.
I Love You, I Hate You
(Age 101 Music)
Over in the retro orchestral soul corner, Simz is feeling delicate. If her delivery is a little flat, as if she’s told this story a few too many times to too many friends, the backing track hits all the sweet early 1970s notes and sounds very much like a collection of samples from must-have tracks. This offsets the matter of fact flow and creates a tension and a dilemma: concentrate on whatever important items Simz is listing or dive into the gorgeous music. I did the latter. (Are they samples? I don’t recognise anything and couldn’t find anything definitive online and it doesn’t matter.)
Richard Dawson and Circle
With his last album, Richard Dawson created a cast of characters that were either burnt out, washed up, or screwed over. Each song had a horrible and occasionally hilarious first-person narrative. '2020' was a bitterly compelling look into the future, all of it made in the pre-pandemic world.
'Lily' is the first single from his forthcoming collaboration with Finland's fabulous rock band Circle. The song may reflect on the traumas of a former 'junior nurse from the early eighties", but the comparisons contemporary hopelessness in there. The Finnish support is a perfect match, repetitive rock riffs, singalong strangeness, and the right dose of subtlety.
Oh, and the video show Dawson losing badly at snooker to the prog aficionado Steve Davis.
The Delines are back with a beautifully orchestrated new single, Little Earl. A taster for their February LP, The Sea Drift. See a full review of the new single with quotes from Willy Vlautin, here.
LIttle Things / Sparrow
If there's such a thing, a double - A side single. Well two songs really Adrienne and her supersonic pals have put together. The first totally new Big Thief music since 2019s Two Hands. Sparrow is the mellower, darker of the two. Beautiful, maudlin-y, gently magnificent.
Emeli Sande with Jaykae
Look What You've Done
There’s something about most rap… takes away the mystery, removes the listener's agency, your own story which you align with a song. As a piece of theatre, this track is sublime: we enter into the thoughts of a broken hearted woman, we swim with her on her tide of sadness. It’s beautiful, whether or not we are also broken hearted women, we are there, with her. Then her boyfriend turns up. And it’s all about him. He says he’s sorry but he sounds angry. It’s Corry. Emmerdale. Actors on a set, shouting in a fake street. I was in a special, soft place there, for a minute and a half and then transported to a pre-club pub, senses ripped. Great theatre, great telly. But I would rather just have stayed in that special place for the whole 3 minutes.
Main Photo: Cassandra Jenkins
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