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Outsideleft Week in Music: Molly and Macy Kicking it at Christmas We're hearing from... Molly Burch, Macy Gray, Jeremy Gluck and Paul Hazel, Neil Young, Angela Alvarez, Jimmy Barnes, Self Esteem , Michael Jackson, Peace De Resistance, BROCKHAMPTON, Eva Cassidy, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Boy George, Italia 90, Adrian Quesada, The Dirty Nil, Eric Ghost, Weyes Blood, New Order, Horsegirl, Richard Dawson, Lies, Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Big Joanie

Outsideleft Week in Music: Molly and Macy Kicking it at Christmas

We're hearing from... Molly Burch, Macy Gray, Jeremy Gluck and Paul Hazel, Neil Young, Angela Alvarez, Jimmy Barnes, Self Esteem , Michael Jackson, Peace De Resistance, BROCKHAMPTON, Eva Cassidy, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Boy George, Italia 90, Adrian Quesada, The Dirty Nil, Eric Ghost, Weyes Blood, New Order, Horsegirl, Richard Dawson, Lies, Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Big Joanie

by LamontPaul, Founder & Publisher
first published: November, 2022
Molly Burch, Macy Gray and Jimmy Barnes know what time it is...

Welcome to a massive week of available media product. Thanksgiving is over, and turning our attention to galloping consumption today feels essential if not impossible to eschew. You are probably so tired of hearing that 80% of all garments bought today will be worn only once. Often this information comes in the form of electronic marketing, asking you to consider acquiring more durable items. It's an exciting time of year for people who make their living in the music business too. So much giving to be done in the next few weeks, so many people attempting to tickle your fancy with timely record releases. And capturing the seasonal spirit... Erin, Spanish Pantalones, Ancient Champion, Toon Traveller, Lee Paul, Jay Lewis, Tim Sparks, Katherine Pargeter, Alex V. Cook and first time reviewer, Steve McCarthy.

HOLIDAY FAYRE

MOLLY BURCH - Cozy Christmas b/w December Baby (Captured Tracks)
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by Spanish Pantalones

Christmas songs aren't supposed to make you horny, but Molly Burch seems to be attempting to change that.


MACY GRAY - Merry Christmas Baby (Moonslice)
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by Ancient Champion

Macy's got an entire Christmas LP, recorded with her band the California Jet Set Club out this week. I've gotta get a closer listen to that now Thanksgiving is over and Outsideleft's Christmas Shop is open.  I love all the giving. Merry Christmas Baby is nicely restrained. It's got mistletoe and kisses. Makes me feel in love with the season. Macy, one for the Christmas ages. 


JIMMY BARNES - Blue Christmas (Bloodlines Records)
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by Spanish Pantalones

Jimmy Barnes, now there’s a voice I haven’t heard since the summer of 1987. The place I worked at would play The Lost Boys soundtrack over and over and over on the PA system for the sun-baked customers. Barnes and INXS collaborated on two songs for that album ('Laying Down the Law' & 'Good Times'), both which I quickly fell in love with. I figured I’d be hearing more from Barnes after those INXS songs, but that was it. I never heard a peep from Jimmy Barnes again. That said, in listening to this Christmas album, I can see why. Blue Christmas is generic karaoke music with over-modulated vocals by some guy doing an Elvisy Bing Crosby impression. The live version of the lead single (video below) isn't that horrible, but the studio versions of these songs get a hard pass from Spanish. I get it, Jimmy Barnes has sold 12 million albums, and he's a treasure, and he's Australia's answer to Bob Seger, but this sounds mailed in. Jesus wept.


SINGLES

ITALIA 90 - Tales from Beyond (Unsure)
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by Toon Traveller

Think Sleaford Mods spat out anger, and rebel yell, meets principled politics of the GANG of FOUR. Think this version of that is worthy of a heart or two.


JEREMY GLUCK AND PAUL HAZEL - The Benefactor (Bamboo Radical)
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by Lee Paul

Jeremy Gluck intones at the outset, "The only freedom lies in the ability to not exist." It is difficult not to concur. Meanwhile Paul Hazel's insistent soundsource drives an electronic narrative. Refreshingly brilliant. Read our Jeremy Gluck interview here⇒


ELVIS COSTELLO - Everyday I Write The Book (Stiff Records)
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by Lee Paul

A big big dose of an incendiary and unkempt Tony Joe White vibe plus a dash of momentary vocal histrionics means simply that Elvis Costello has refitted and revitalised one of his biggest pop hits from the MTV era - the one where the video director presciently hired boxing glove bourne Chas and Di facsimiles to duke it out. David Gedge once beyond bitterly memorably observed, There's a strangers hand on my fave dress. Elvis would never stop there, he hurt even more... When you're old enough to know better, and you find strange hands in your sweater, when your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote. Harsh. Love his pajamas in the video though. Worth the ticket alone.


NEW ORDER - Elegia (Full Length Version) (Streaming platforms only )
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by Jay Lewis

Never mind the fact that 'The Perfect Kiss' was cut in half to fit onto New Order's 1985 album 'Low-Life' the reflective 'Elegia' was chopped down to a third of its original running time to make it onto the record. But both are now going to be part of the expanded version of the album due for release at the end of next January.

'Elegia' is devastating. The mournful instrumental was an unfeigned tribute to Joy Division's singer Ian Curtis (apparently wordless because Curtis wrote the band's lyrics), its tenderness is wrapped in its apparent iciness. The full 17 minutes of this is profound, the band's finest moment.  Sometimes five hearts are not enough.


BIG JOANIE - In My Arms (Reprised) (Daydream Library)
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by Ancient Champion

Wall of Sound harmonies. Beautifully relentless. Is it possible to love Big Joanie too much? At the Hare and Hounds in January. I'll see you there?


BOY GEORGE - You Can Do This (BGP Records)
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by Spanish Pantalones

Oh Georgie boy, what's going on here? I can't give you any hearts today because I know you're capable of so much better. And your voice, usually your voice can get you out of any mundane song, but 'You Can Do This' is unsalvageable. Also, never work with the person who produced this song, they're obviously trying to sabotage your legacy. And since I brought up your legacy, stop appearing on reality television shows. Pete Burns was your cautionary tale. 


HORSEGIRL - Computer Love (Rough Trade)
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by Ancient Champion

Simply brilliant interpretation of the almost entirely unrecognisable Kraftwerk classic.


THE DIRTY NIL - Bye Bye Big Bear (Dine Alone Records)
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by Tim Sparks

Out of the gate its loud and crunchy guitar...but thats cool, some nice vocal harmonies, a pretty laid back tempo but it carries along nicely,  the vocalist has a great range and the mix really  suits this style of music. The verse trots along locked into a solid back beat than into the big chorus  with a cool catchy melody. Something a bit different to the usual chart stuff at the moment so a refreshing change, Ill be keeping an eye out for the next offering.


EVA CASSIDY - I Can Only Be Me (with the London Symphony Orchestra) (Blix Street)
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by Toon Traveller

I've heard Eva with a standard band backing, her voice then was a delight. This takes that voice to a whole new level, the understated orchestration matches the soaring beauty of her vocal performance, passionate, but not incessant. Her voice clear, sharp, light in the gathering gloom. A gentle caress, notes held perfectly, delicate and pensive. This is an enchanting version from a masterful songstress. A marriage of music and voice that we hear all to rarely these days. Loved it all the way to that last wiped away tear.


LIES - Camera Chimera (Polyvinyl)
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by Toon Traveller

Starts with what could be a tribute to the Smiths, or Morrissey, there's that sort of faraway disinterested vocals, a ragged guitar sound, It's a bit derivative, it's got that 'sniffy' pseudo sense of slightly aching cleverness. It just leaves me cold as the recession's wind blasting toward us. 


LPs

MICHAEL JACKSON - Thriller 40 (Sony Music)
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by Katherine Pargeter

A week after Channel 4 screened the ‘Leaving Neverland’ documentary in 2019, I was at a work colleague’s leaving do. When the DJ played ‘Billie Jean’,  I left the dance floor, the thought of what Wade Robson and James Safechuck had recently revealed fresh in my mind. If certain that more people got up to dance as I went off to the bar.

And so there you have it, you can separate the art from the artist - a sample of the population (all working in finance for a local authority if you must know), have decided. To think that I’d spent years fretting over that one. Get those DVDs of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘Annie Hall’ out of the bag for the charity shop (they’ve been sat in the hallway for ages!). It’s OK. And all of you over-sensitive former fans of singer/songwriters or writers who’ve made troubling remarks. That's fine too. It’s just entertainment and you’re not advocating their vileness by buying into their twisted dreamworld.


ADRIAN QUESADA - Jaguar Sound (ATO Records)
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by Alex V. Cook

Adrian Quesada, the guitarist for the unimpeachably cool Black Pumas, releases this twangy lasagna of groovy keys, Cambodian cantina guitars and sweeping dream strings. Les Baxter and/or Diplo ish for the post-everything set. Delightfully free of all vocals. It does veer a little reggae at points but not embarrassingly so. And unbeknownst to me, he's done a number of these over the years, so you know what tub I'm gonna soak in this week. 


BROCKHAMPTON - The Family / TM (Question Everything, Inc.)
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by Erin

Erin waves goodbye to BROCKHAMPTON as they serve up their two final albums. Review here!


ERIC GHOST - Secret Sauce (Jazz Room)
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by Alex V. Cook

My wife brought the nice Bluetooth speakers back from the office which led me to fill the house with jazz. Undoubtedly, this will make them disappear again, but 'til, this flute-led, private-press, crate-digger-killer reissue of Eric Ghost's manic birdsong from 1975 is in rotation. The story goes that Eric got turned on serving in the army in Morocco, made this record, then did seven for for manufacturing LSD - legend has that invented the blotter paper method of distributing such. I don't know if that timeline scans, but it's jazz, baby. This much jazz flute might wear a well-adjusted person down, but this cat is all tangled up in it. Bonus - there is a track named "Oliver Shagnasty" 


WEYES BLOOD - And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow (Sub Pop)
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by Jay Lewis

I'm always dubious of musical trilogies, but the second part of the story that began on Titanic Rising (2019), is every bit as startling as its predecessor. 

'And in the Darkness Hearts Aglow' shares the former's anguish at trying to find love, stability, or any kind of sense in such a disconnected world. There are the warm arrangements, the subtle orchestration, and the yearning vocals (imagine Karen Carpenter with a dash of Laura Nyro). As she's quick to point out, since her last record, any tiny slivers of normality have been turned on their head and the result is Blood's strongest body of songs to date. 

The shortcomings of post-pandemic life is set out on opener 'It's Not Just Me, it's Everybody' with the admission that we're 'Living in the wake of overwhelming changes/We've all become strangers.' This, alongside the ache of '...Looking for love in all the wrong places / We don't know where our love has gone' ('Hearts Ablaze') are delivered in such an unabashed style, they can just flaw you.  The iron fist in the velvet glove. 

Compare her to other smarty-pants singer-songwriters if you must, but Weyes Blood is far too wise, far too genuine to suffer such indignities. 'And in the Darkness Hearts Aglow' proves that she is far ahead of anyone else. I'm even looking forward to the third part of the trilogy. 


ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS - The Boy Named If (Alive at Memphis Magnetic) (Universal Music)
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by Spanish Pantalones

The Boy Named If (Alive at Memphis Magnetic) seems like a throwaway album, and the fact that it's only getting a digital release backs my take. It's not a bad collection of songs though, it's Elvis and the Imposters rehearsing for the first time since covid shut everything down. Those casual pre-tour sessions were recorded, and voilà -- new album. This release is a split between Costello songs and covers of lesser-known favorites by Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richards, and Nick Lowe. There’s also an odd dance remix of 'Magnificent Hurt,' but it sounds desperate and misplaced on what is actually a nice companion record to The Boy Named If. Overall, Costello obsessives will love this odds & ends supplement to The Boy Named If; everyone else will think, "Oh, another Elvis record," and go about their day. The 3 hearts are generous.


ANGELA ALVAREZ - Angela Alvarez (Nana Album LLC)
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by Alex V. Cook

Angela Alvarez is making a buzz worldwide as a 95-year-old  dubbed Best New Artist at the Latin Grammys. There's a documentary. Locally, she's made the rounds because she lives somewhere right here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I haven't knowingly met her and have scoured the musician list to see if there's anyone I know, but no dice. I'm ill-equipped to speak on Cuban music, but this album is traditional, warm, exquisitely recorded and deserving of all cinco corazones and praise it receives. Angela, if you are reading this, I do a 5-7 set at the Brakes Bar on Government every Sunday and I'd love to have you on as a guest. We can split the tips.


SELF ESTEEM - Prioritise Pleasure (Deluxe) (Universal)
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by Katherine Pargeter

Five tracks from the most revelatory pop album of last year get rearranged with a string quartet. Rebecca Lucy Taylor's words now more piercing as they set alongside this stripped back setting. An exceptional album just got a whole lot better.


BIG JOANIE - Back Home (Daydream Library)
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by Ancient Champion

Just in time for the world cup Big Joanie's LP has the same name as the classic England football team single recorded for Mexico '70. There the similarities end of course. If you recall that 1970 team, defending the world cup they'd won in '66 so badly. That performance pales next to what Big Joanie get up to here. 


PEACE DE RéSISTANCE - Bits and Pieces (3607066 Records DK)
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by Alex V. Cook

It's the kind of dead-eyed glam insouciance that makes you almost feel like rock 'n' roll exists. Plus, exquisitely dumb name. The songs play a little like a C-90 I had of Transformer/The Idiot jacked through a dodgy pedalboard and an ambiguous accent - the one man behind this is from Texas punk bands Glue and Institute, of which I have never heard. I love it. This record should come with a tube of expired hair gel and a couple of drink tickets. 


TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - Live at the Fillmore (1997) (Warner Records)
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by Spanish Pantalones

By the time Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played their legendary 20-night run at San Francisco’s Fillmore in January 1997, they had just spent the last three years either on the road or in the studio. He recalls it being difficult to get into a groove during a live gig because he was always in a constant state of travel. “The idea [of the Fillmore gigs] was just to be a band again and to play the same place for a while,” Petty told BAM magazine the day after the tenth show in the set of gigs. “Lately, for us to play is such an ordeal: to get everyone together, to get the rehearsal booked, and then it's always a touring thing—it's a big commitment.” So this 72-track cherry-picked compilation of songs from that Fillmore residency. The band sounds loose and tight, some call it being in the pocket. There are Petty originals within the tracklist – obvious singles (‘American Girl’) and obscurities (‘Heartbreakers Beach Party’), but it’s mostly comprised of bar band standards like the Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me,’ Richard Barry’s ‘Louie, Louie,” and Them’s ‘Gloria.’ Five hearts on this one, it’s a good reminder of how easy Petty made it look.


RICHARD DAWSON - The Ruby Cord (Domino)
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by Alex V. Cook

I know a number of Nick Cave enthusiasts who lament the dark one's recent embrace of healthy mindfulness and soft synth pads, but I'm still here for it, mostly. The thing I unreasonably lament about it is that Warren Ellis' full attention is required and the skittery pleasures of the Dirty Three are no more. Richard Dawson's new record gives voice to this slice of the void with the 41-minute opener "The Hermit" stumbling along the strings for some 12 minutes before he bursts in singing like Robert Wyatt x Richard Thompson x maybe Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, perhaps a little drunk on song, to allow a new universe to issue from his mouth. The following songs are a little more OG Genesis or Incredible String Band, degrees more song-y but still getting the prog-folk maypoles wound up and the mushrooms steeped in heady broth. Arch as all get out, but that's why some of us are drawn to the arch. 


ANYTHING ELSE

NEIL YOUNG - Trans (Geffen Records)
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by Steve McCarthy

At 40 Steve McCarthy has another go at unravelling Neil Young's Trans, here⇒ .


Essential Info
Main Image: Santa bringing the Molly and Macy records

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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