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Outsideleft Week in Music... Bringing back John Cale Reviewed this week: John Cale, John Smith and Katherine Priddy, The 1975, Joshua Burnside, Marina Hasselberg, Lady Blackbird, Wilco, Taylor Swift, Little Simz, AlaskaAlaska, Los Bitchos, Jim Basnight with the Moberlys, Rayland Baxter, Stay, blink-182, Goat and Fidlar

Outsideleft Week in Music... Bringing back John Cale

Reviewed this week: John Cale, John Smith and Katherine Priddy, The 1975, Joshua Burnside, Marina Hasselberg, Lady Blackbird, Wilco, Taylor Swift, Little Simz, AlaskaAlaska, Los Bitchos, Jim Basnight with the Moberlys, Rayland Baxter, Stay, blink-182, Goat and Fidlar

by LamontPaul, Founder & Publisher
first published: October, 2022

approximate reading time: minutes

First up, I am going to see John Cale at Whitley Bay Playhouse, a venue more usually associated with pantos and 60's tribute acts...

Sometimes when I look down the list of reviews and forgetting that our raison d'être is to mainly support arts and artists and music not too many others are bothered with, I will phone, yes, actually phone over to the office and say to Jay, are we are writing in North Korea? Embargoed from music or something? And he will say... otherwise. I note the stars being reviewed elsewhere - that celeb click-bait, I mean you know I don't care at all about page view numbers at all although I know precisely how many more page views there would be if the Arctic Monkeys were reviewed here this week. That is the type of number our advertisers would welcome. Or maybe die for. We need hit records like everyone else.

SINGLES

JOHN CALE - The Story of Blood ft. Weyes Blood (Domino)
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by Toon Traveller

First up, I am going to see John Cale at Whitley Bay Playhouse, a venue more usually associated with pantos and 60's tribute acts; Second up, how is Cale still alive after decades of lifestyle choices... Third up, the man's an icon, I've got ONE early post-Velvet Underground Album, but that's light years away from this. The Story of Blood begins with a great slow piano intro, romantic and pensive, underpinned with gentle percussion. It moves slowly, floating, gracefully but darkly, there's a sense of apprehension purveyed here. Redolent of Grace Jones 'Slave to the Rhythm', slowed way down. I like the sense of isolation here, it's music from a man at the end of his life, and the pain of wasteful regret is in there. Best of all, there's a fabulously ironic 'scratching' break, then the music resumes its journey on the edge of darkness. This is 'quiet' music that's deep, calling you to dive in, and swim in its gentle teasing delights.


WILCO - A Lifetime To Find (dBpm Records )
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by Toon Traveller

Came across this lot a few years ago, collaborating somehow with England's 'Bard of Barking' Billy Bragg, and he and they opened my ears to a whole different style of non-trad country, somewhere between Nashville and Austin, and I've dipped into them and many other, new /alt/country / Americana since. 'A Lifetime to Find' from the forthcoming Cruel Country LP is not for me a classic from them. All of the elements of Country are there, the sweet guitars, the slow drum shuffles, all I associate with Rhinestone Cowboy Country and this trucks a long in a tapping the driving wheel, sun filled back roads, sorta way. A tangible sense of everything's ok in life, which it ain't here in UK anyway.  I suppose as an introduction to the band, it's as good as any but compared to how they can get to you, too tame overall. V. Creepy video too.


JOHN SMITH AND KATHERINE PRIDDY - Talk To Me Of Mendocino (Commoner Records)
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by Jay Lewis

I may be wrong but I doubt that Katherine Priddy has been to many of the places named in this stately interpretation of this Kate & Anne McGarrigle lament. It doesn't matter, it's what great folk singers do, existing within every word that they say and somehow making the song theirs. 

Meanwhile, John Smith has been making quietly devastating albums for nearly a decade now. His acoustic guitar playing had graced records by the reflective Milk Carton Kids to Tom Jones. Here, his guitar compliments Priddy's voice with such sensitivity and their close harmonies remind me of Gram and Emmylou at their most heart-wrenching. Poignant and beautiful, is there any chance of a Priddy and Smith album?  


The only reason I’m reviewing this is it gives me an opportunity to vent about this aural equivalent of a shock-jock taking a crap on a table in MacDonalds. There. I’ve done it.


LOS BITCHOS - Los Chrismos (indie probably)
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by Tim London

Apart from a couple of brief chants of ‘Christmas time, sexy times’ and some weedy party noises, this is an instrumental of harmonising guitars that is strangely hard to place. Somewhere between Jeff Beck and Joe Loss Does Latin. You can do the Conga to the beat but it would be a very weird party where that happened.


LADY BLACKBIRD - Feel It Coming (Foundation)
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by Ancient Champion

This Lady Blackbird has a voice that is a hundred years old. What can't she sing? She's so brilliant and Feel It Coming is so brilliant and Black Acid Soul is such a brilliant name for her LP it begins to feel a little, curated. What about a few flaws? What about a little bit of badness? A star is born though.


RAYLAND BAXTER - Rubberband Man (ATO)
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by Toon Traveller

I waded through Rayland Baxter's entire LP, stopped at this track as I thought it might have been a cover, no chance, the chorus was a clue "rubberband man, catch me if you can", hardly even Ivan Novello stuff Let Ivor alone. "A man with a plan..." well it hasn't shown up here in the melody, or the playing, pretty pedestrian. The vocals sounds like they're sung through one of the 40's megaphones (think waste bin with a handle). Overall nothing happening for me here, not to sure what the songs are about, but it feels like an Eton Mess, a potpourri of sounds and so, well done to Rayland for the sheer skill of convincing a record company to fund 8 or 9 tracks.


JIM BASNIGHT WITH THE MOBERLYS - Last Night (Power Popaholic)
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by John Robinson

Basnight's latest album - Early Years - collects early recordings and compositions from his solo career and time with the Moberlys. Last Night, inspired by a hotel room break-in, is trademark power pop stomp with punk spirit, harmonies, and infectious pace, the driving rock he seems able to produce at will. Accompanying this is I Return, a Moberlys live standard, from that odd collision between punk and rock'n'roll which occupied a very specific, brief period in the late seventies.


FIDLAR - Sand on the Beach (No idea )
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by Toon Traveller

Like blink dude. Fidlar are bringing standard, post-rock by numbers, lyrics and guitar sounds. There is an exciting SoCal punk to be had and this isn't it. Sure you get peppy, angst and faux anger. Nothing you haven't heard a million times before. Where do I go for a refund on the slice of life I wasted on this?  


JOSHUA BURNSIDE - Rough Edges (Attic Thing)
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by Ancient Champion

Rough Edges is the current single from Irish singer, Joshua Burnside. I have a feeling you'll be hearing a lot more about him if you don't know him already. He's like a one-man The National. With an even more pronounced and very welcome murmuring downside. "I actually began writing this song many years ago, but some songs just need a little more time than others," Joshua says. "It never felt complete. I sat down to play it a few months ago, changed one line and then there it was." Joshua's EP Late Afternoon In The Meadow (1887) will be available in November and that should really be saying murmuring something. Really Cool!


STAY - I Can Hear The Grass Grow (Fruits de Mer Records)
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by Toon Traveller

I can hear the Grass Grow... A 60's trippy, hippy song with a life o' memory association. Within moments I was back at mum and dad's, TV swirling camerawork and dippy flower meadow meandering. The vocals I was unsure if it was an 'Oasis' style tribute cover. Second play and yeah I can hear the grass grow, I can see rainbows in the evening. Adore 60's psyche break, drum bridge, the pop/rock swirling guitars, thrash and wah-wahs. I was smiling all the way to the kitchen, and a fresh coffee. Ideal while waiting for the kettle to boil. 


ALASKAALASKA - Glass (Marathon Artists)
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by Toon Traveller

Beyond the 80's pop synth intro, the voice slides in, it's another world and vibe. Darker, deeper, and more intriguing. Simple chord progression at the song's heart, a slow build to a swirling crescendo of fuzzed guitar and slightly discordant percussion. There are hints of something out there, but where 'there' is, is not too clear, in your head, or just behind you. There are hints of mystery, and as the song builds a sense of gathering gloom towards an inevitable slow lingering almost welcomed doom. That I like. There are some great ideas of what doom can be like here. 


LPs

MARINA HASSELBERG - Red (Redshift Records)
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by Ancient Champion

Red is the highly anticipated long player from the cellist, Marina Hasselberg. Ten tracks, a cavalcade of stunning guests. Red is a record of cold-bloodedly calmly induced anxiety. Sure it's cerebral and sure this one is from the heart. Like Dylan's corkscrew is for the heart. Is it classical? Avant-garde? Here are compositions that can only be created in rarified air. Marina is from Vancouver in some ways so many sounds here sound like what someone might hear, someone standing on the parapet of the Lions Gate Bridge. Pondering. This way or that. "It charts a strange, hallucinatory route..." from her press release. Oh it so does. Additional guest starts include Domenico Gabrielli's churning abstract improvisation alongside collaborators Aram Bajakian (guitar), Kenton Loewen (drums), Giorgio Magnanensi (electronics) and Jesse Zubot (violin). I love this record so much and can't imagine anything more exciting than to see her perform. The most amazing Marina in the world. Jump right in.


GOAT - Oh Death (Rocket Recordings)
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by Tim London

A kind of hippy, mushroom tea Sault, Goat revisit decades before the onset of punk rock and steal styles. That the styles are often set against or alongside other styles that hadn’t yet been crushed together in the elevator of creation is the crucial thing. So, we have a Gong-like rustic, mystical cult element manifesting next to some over-fascination with early Parliament/Funkadelic, although, it’s interesting to note, that the sounds never get further out than those on Funkadelic’s first couple of albums. Leapfrogging from 1970 to the 20s they grab a handful of Malian blues and Fela Kuti jams along the way and there is a strange hint of The Slits in the vocals occasionally, although I could never imagine The Slits behaving themselves to the extent that they could become staples of the festival scene in the same way as Goat seem to be. Overall, polite and pleasant and filling a gap but missing the divine inspiration of the music that inspired them.


THE 1975 - Being Funny in a Foreign Language (Dirty Hit Records)
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by Erin

On their single, I'm In Love With You, you might swear that the 1975's Matty Healy was trying to figure out the chords to Lou Reed's Dirty Blvd and then gave up for this. The 1975's Being Funny in a Foreign Language gets the once over from Erin... See/hear/here


VARIOUS ARTISTS - Here It Is - A Tribute to Leonard Cohen (Blue Note)
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by Jay Lewis

Tribute albums, and in particular tribute albums to Leonard Cohen, can be dispiriting affairs. For every John Cale introducing 'Hallelujah' to the world, there's Don Henley squeezing all of the subtlety out of 'Everybody Knows'. 

Fortunately 'Here It Is' treats its subject with respect and love. Produced by Cohen's friend Larry Klein, the twelve guest vocalists are joined by (according to Klein) '...a group of the most prescient and forward-looking musicians in the jazz world.' There's no showing off here. and although Iggy Pop ('You Want it Darker') and Peter Gabriel on the title track, felt the need to impersonate Cohen, this is such a sincerely felt collection. And then there's Mavis Staples, who breathes such longing into 'If It Be Your Will'. Understanding that glorious mix of spiritual and human desire so exquisitely.  


TAYLOR SWIFT - Midnights (Republic Records)
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by Spanish Pantalones

There are some interesting sounds that come out of the latest Taylor Swift album early on. The leadoff song, "Lavender Haze" isn't a dance track, but I could imagine a DJ playing it (after the doors open, but before anyone shows up). "Maroon" is interesting, too -- it's moody and fairly uncomplicated. With both songs, vocals and lyrics are camouflaged in the mix. In the album's third song, "Anti-Hero," the vocals, and thus the lyrics, are pushed way up to the front. While she's lost that faint country twang I seem to remember, the lyrics haven't matured. At a certain point in the song, I hear the words "covert narcissism" followed up with "disguised as altruism," and I cringe. I cringe hard. I cringe so much, I have to stop and walk away from my laptop for a few minutes before I can finish the rest of the album. The music is serviceable, and I can get past that thin voice, but if Swift ever wants to live up to the image that she and her team has curated, her lyrics will have to delve deeper than her dream journal. If you want to listen to a great album that sounds similar to Midnights, check out Carly Rae Jepsen's new LP (The Loneliest Time), which was released today as well. 


Other Materials

LITTLE SIMZ - NPR Tiny Desk (NPR)
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by LamontPaul

This week, Little Simz won one of the biggest UK music industry prizes for her LP Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. It is worth pondering I suppose, whether that means anything more than the judges, and their agendas concluded that Simz made the best UK and Irish record of the year. Meanwhile here's a nice Tiny Desk show from years ago where she still plays guitar. As you will see, no kidding, Simz was brilliant then, so why did the award take so long in coming? (And of course, love the tasteful choice of guitar.)


Essential Info
Old guy eyes in the main image, John Cale. Screengrab from his great new video

LamontPaul
Founder & Publisher

Publisher, Lamontpaul founded outsideleft with Alarcon in 2004 and is hanging on, saying, "I don't know how to stop this, exactly."

Lamontpaul portrait by John Kilduff painted during an episode of John's TV Show, Let's Paint TV


about LamontPaul »»

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