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Outsideleft Week in Music with Belle and Sebastian We're hearing from Belle and Sebastian, Brooke Combe, Mark Stewart, PJ Morton, Bryan Ferry, Rubber OH, Elf Power, The Beach Boys, Staples Jr Singers, lozeak, Working Men's Club, Trombone Shorty, Wilco, Patti Smith, Lady Ga Ga, Celestial North, Doe Paoro, Chai and Omega Sapien

Outsideleft Week in Music with Belle and Sebastian

We're hearing from Belle and Sebastian, Brooke Combe, Mark Stewart, PJ Morton, Bryan Ferry, Rubber OH, Elf Power, The Beach Boys, Staples Jr Singers, lozeak, Working Men's Club, Trombone Shorty, Wilco, Patti Smith, Lady Ga Ga, Celestial North, Doe Paoro, Chai and Omega Sapien

by Lee Paul,
first published: May, 2022

approximate reading time: minutes

Stuart Murdoch makes it seem so easy...

A Notable Pop Record This Week

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN - A Bit of Previous (Matador Records) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Spanish Pantalones

Stuart Murdoch makes it seem so easy. His band’s latest album, A Bit of Previous, sounds fresh and familiar at the same time. All twelve tracks are understated gems, although the leadoff single (“Unnecessary Drama,” see video) is one of Belle and Sebastian’s brashest rockers ever, relatively speaking. All this great music comes from a band that hadn’t convened in a studio since they recorded Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance in 2014. A Bit of Previous will make fans who’ve been around since Tigermilk wet with joy, but it’s hard to say whether or not Murdoch’s tenth album will connect with new listeners.


CELESTIAL NORTH - When The Gods Dance (Bandcamp) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Lee Paul

There's intrigue. Imagine a soundtrack to a Scandi-noir murder mystery, without the killing. What would that sound like? And so Celestial North, the Lake District based Scottish artist drips her dreamy new single ‘When The Gods Dance’ onto a welcoming landscape. Folklore and Electro-lore. 

‘When The Gods Dance’ is entwined with entrancing melodies that soar over cinematic musical mountains held aloft by majestic choirs and underpinned by elemental percussion that beats straight from the primordial heart of her world.

BROOKE COMBE - Miss Me Now (Island) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Lee Paul

Edinburgh-born Brooke Combe is steeped in pop music history thanks to her mom's love of Diana Ross, Gladys Knight & Whitney Houston. What's not to love, right there? That's a pretty good start in music. My mum was into Big Tom and the Mainliners, I've been in recovery for 40 years. Brooke got her hands on a toy drum kit at five and learned saxophone, trombone, guitar, bass, and piano in school. Miss Me Now kind of reminds me of how sometimes an artist can take you right up and over the line of what to expect from a soul tune. Here, with melancholy. Miss Me Now - a track about, I gather, hooking up with someone from the past. Not recommended Brooke says. Miss Me Now has a classic pop-soul vibe about it and seeps insidiously in. Not to be forgotten. Oh and Brooke can pick out a classic guitar. That's a thing too. Brooke Combe is more organic than most and that's something to be excited about. 

TROMBONE SHORTY - Come Back (Blue Note) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite
by LamontPaul

From the new LP lifted. Trombone Shorty, epic in size, scope, and scale...

WILCO - Falling Apart (Right Now) (dBpm Records) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Toon Traveller

Unlike a lot of the bands that pop up for review, I've actually heard of Wilco, of course, I have no idea why, or why I should. Yeah, this is sorta what I expected, a country groove, a dollop of rockabilly, maybe a hint of tex-mex. Hot spiced flavour, not quite quiet country gumbo, maybe a jambalaya, but it's a plate of well-prepared sounds. This is not the sort of thing I usually go for, but love the playing, jerky perky, and jangling. And I am a sucker for some great slide guitar since I first heard Duane Allman finger and slide his way through, "Eat a Peach" and lay down some mighty fine licks on "Live at the Fillmore East". This IS NOTHING like those albums, it's cruising along, open roads, and country lanes. It's a slice of Americana in all its alt-country glory. Falling Apart moves along, full of great playing, some lovely bass lines, and a sense of fun, they seem to mean it, and there's some delightful irony in there. I'd love to see these guys tour here, I'd be shuffling and moving to the groove these guys lay down with consummate ease and skill. From the forthcoming LP, Cruel Country, I'm looking forward to it.

CHAI - Surprise (Sub Pop) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Tim London

Ends up being what Go! Team channeled from the same place (Japan): the sound of plastic packaging being unwrapped and teeth hurting sweetness climaxing in a rap in candy floss frequencies. If you’re in a good mood this might actually give you a heart attack.

THE BEACH BOYS - Good Vibrations (2021 Stereo Mix) (UMG Recordings) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite
by Katherine Pargeter

Further archaeological work on the finest pop record ever made has revealed even more previously unheard layers. If I ever tire of this record, I'll have tired of life. 

WORKING MEN'S CLUB - Circumference (Heavenly) favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border
by Katherine Pargeter

Working Men's Club have now found their parent's early John Foxx albums.

PJ MORTON - Watch the Sun (YouTube) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Toon Traveller

Picked this as the title was a nice Irony here in Toon, where Tupperware skies predominate, grey and hazy, so this had to be played, hoping for some sunshine day memories, some inspiration, even memories of perspiration, in the summer sun. Yeah, Watch The Sun has got its great lazy, deck shoe strolling, hot pavements ambling, cold sodas, beach dreaming, lakeside lazing vibe. But there's really a not lot there, sure quieter passages, and some great low key, real proper drums, (the world needs proper drums, and not the usual samples programmed patterns), at least this sounds live, and passionate, but is that enough? Not too sure, the song, one of regret, there's a sweet lover's remorseful, albeit a bit self-centered rap, but there's no real insight into "the biggest mistake he ever made". What was it, why did he do that, what did his lover say, was a lesson learned. No clues, no idea. Easy on the ear, but really needs to be more slinky, and less silky.

RUBBER OH - Hyperdrive Fantasy (Rocket) favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border
by Toon Traveller

After sample reviewing this day's "music for consideration", it was with a heavy heart I got the last of a lotta sound-a-likes, and felt I had to review something. What swung for this one, is they're playing a gig at one of Toon Traveller's more highly rated venues. Hmmmm not too sure I'd pay to see them though, the song moves along with a sorta of 90s, UK indie vibe, there's a great start, spooky organ, guitar, and power chords cut, and crash through. It could be Oasis on a bad day or Charlatans on a better day. There's a sample from gaming machines for the "middle eight", but it's a bit derivative, and goes nowhere, slowly.


LADY GAGA - Hold My Hand (From 'Top Gun: Maverick') (Interscope) ZERO favorite_borders
by Tim London

Cher was unavailable.

LOZEAK - No Saving You (Apex Era) favoritefavorite_borderfavorite_borderfavorite_borderfavorite_border
by Tim London

Emo punk with rigidly programmed drums approximating the basic drum n bass beat and something really important going on in the lyrics about friends. Iozeak doesn’t need us, though, she’s got a gazillion mates on TikTok checking out her eyebrows.

ELF POWER - Artificial Countrysides (Yep Roc) favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border
by Tim London

This is very elfy and it might be good for you if you’re feeling bucolic and acoustic-y in an English country styl-ee. I hope they live in a caravan. Or a big old diesel bus that makes them feel guilty.

DOE PAORO - Divine Surrendering (Queen of Wands Records) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Lee Paul

A lovely languid lilt from Doe Paoro, built around a pretty piano melody... Divine Surrendering feels floaty and effortlessly free...

OMEGA SAPIEN - JENNY (Lucky Me) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Tim London

Balming Tiger have produced some hugely creative videos to promote their organic neon hip-hop,  and Omega is in Balming Tiger and this track is very Cool Kids and Omega looks great with his super floppy fringe in the style of Bryan Gregory and he raps about walking a doggy in the park enchantingly.


BRYAN FERRY - Love Letters (BMG) favoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_borderfavorite_border
by Spanish Pantalones

Bryan Ferry really makes a meal out of this scant four-song EP (where he reinterprets romantic oldies made famous by the likes of Dusty, Billie, and Nat). Don’t get me wrong, I really like Ferry and all of the wonderful music he’s made with Roxy Music and as a solo artist, but Love Letters is listless. It meanders and wallows, and sometimes it gazes at its navel. Technically there’s nothing wrong with Ferry’s latest offering, but listeners who pay retail for this one deserve more effort.


STAPLES JR SINGERS - When Do We Get Paid (preview) (Luaka Bop) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite
by Tim London

Imagine if there was a band called, say, Talking Heads Juniors, out, playing music the same time as David Byrne & co, who named themselves in appreciation, as fans. And imagine that the Juniors sounded just as good as the seniors.

You know the Staples Singers, right? The family, born of gospel, who played rock-n-roll and R&B and soul, well, they inspired the Brown family, teens from smalltown Mississippi, who gradually grew to a five-piece when littlest bro, Ronnel, got big enough to hold a bass. This, their first, self-released, previously rare album will be out again on the ever-excellent Luaka Bop, the label responsible for the tears and sobbing compilation The Time For Peace Is Now (if it was possible for music to cause an outbreak of peace this might be it…) on May 6th. It has the same wooden shack, no messin’ sound of much obscure southern soul and gospel, sounding live and immediate and claiming birth-right when it comes to where rock-n-roll was created. The source.

The short film (I hope there’s more!) includes a clip of the remaining members performing and it’s clear that Edward Brown, at 64 years old, can still summon angels with his voice.

Check the taster track from the album here:

And, Americans, if they perform and you get the chance, go see. Please. I wish I could.

PATTI SMITH - Live in Washington DC 1976 (Live at the Cellar Door, 16 Jan) (Timeline) favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite
by Katherine Pargeter

I’m usually extremely sceptical about live albums that just arrive unannounced, usually on a label that I have never heard of and with a crappy picture of the artist.  It just screams unofficial cash in time.

There are exceptions though!  I have no idea where Live in Washington DC 1976 (Live at the Cellar Door, 16 Jan) has come from but it is stunning, the band is energetic,  Patti’s powerful but soulful vocals, lyrical meanderings, and between-song banter, anecdotes, jokes and philosophising are a revelation.  Five Stars is not enough for this record.  

MARK STEWART - Vs (eMERGENCY hEARTS) ZERO favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border
by Tim London

Mark Stewart - VS. Tim London has a full review over here

Essential Info
Main image of Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian... Borrowed from the MEpedia website. Stuart has been living with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) since the 1980s when he was a student.

Lee Paul

I like to look at things while listening to things I am not looking at. But doesn't everyone.
about Lee Paul »»

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