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Outsideleft Week in Music singing from the Grimbook with Sleaford Mods We're hearing from Sleaford Mods, Sun Kil Moon, poolblood, Gaz Coombes, Peter Gabriel, Guided By Voices, The National, Yo La Tengo, Wilco, The Luka State, Eddie Chacon, Leatherette, The Fabulous Three, John, Wednesday, The Tubs, Pile, Ron Gallo, Ghost Woman, Italia 90, Hooray for Earth, Shakin' Stevens and Ishmael Ensemble

Outsideleft Week in Music singing from the Grimbook with Sleaford Mods

We're hearing from Sleaford Mods, Sun Kil Moon, poolblood, Gaz Coombes, Peter Gabriel, Guided By Voices, The National, Yo La Tengo, Wilco, The Luka State, Eddie Chacon, Leatherette, The Fabulous Three, John, Wednesday, The Tubs, Pile, Ron Gallo, Ghost Woman, Italia 90, Hooray for Earth, Shakin' Stevens and Ishmael Ensemble

by LamontPaul, Founder & Publisher
first published: January, 2023
What makes this work is that Jason Williams's voice, face, body posture, facial expressions all indicate that, if you bumped into him at a Wetherspoons he'd be everything he rails against.

This is a big big week in music. Wide awake again after a mid-winter musical slumber... 

SINGLES

SLEAFORD MODS - UK Grim (Rough Trade Records)
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by Tim London

Marvellous! Best experienced with the video custom made by master of political collage Cold War Steve. What makes this work is that Jason Williams’s voice, face, body posture, facial expressions all indicate that, if you bumped into him at a Wetherspoons he’d be everything he rails against. That takes some work, that, when you’re in a band that’s doing alright. A bit like Darren McGarvey he will be encountering pressures and possibly wondering who he is as his career moves his self image around. But, as evidenced big time by Mick Lynch, being working class needn’t mean thick or venal. Maybe it’s a sign or maybe it’s a series of outliers that there are more voices like these being heard, but it’s welcome. And, to be clear, fuck the class system.


SUN KIL MOON - Black Perch (Caldo Verde Records)
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by Ancient Champion

Wow! Wow! Wow! Mark Kozelek - who wrote one of my favorite bedtime songs for Yo Gabba Gabba, offers this view from a Black Perch. Is it perfect, or is it better than that? Black Perch begins as a gorgeous Springsteen River acoustic outtake sound, it isn't that of course, and doesn't let up. Takes us everywhere and gets into boxing (of course) and Raymond Carver (who else?). Ray Leonard was asked "What is a champion?" He said believing in yourself when nobody else does." Ancient Champion was asked "What makes an Ancient Champion?" 'said believing in yourself way after everyone else has long since stopped believin'. And Carver, gosh this is the second time Carver has popped up this week, in a piece I was writing about the Outsideleft short story trophy construction by the artist Chantal... And now here, where our protagonist didn't read Carver because his girlfriend loved him so much, he was jealous and never opened or touched. But with age and experience... You know what we talk about when we talk about love...


poolblood - Voyager (Next Door Records)
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by Ancient Champion

Oh there's so much to love about Toronto based poolblood. Not least of all, listening is like inescapable eavesdropping on one side of what should be a private phone conversation on a bus. But sung. Like a piece of public performance art. And you just know someone on the line is providing the super lush and gritty backing track. poolblood is essentially the whims of Maryam Said. Signed to super credible indie, Next Door Records, home of the Weather Station, the pressure to come forth with the goods must be pretty phenomenal. Fortunate thing then Maryam's Mole is the first wholly rounded and wholly listenable LP I've heard this year. I mean I don't have to get out of my chair and skip on past any tracks with it.  The record is full of stories about deep and abiding intimacies, one moment lush and dense and beautiful, and moments later so sparse and tender and spare. And guitars, guitars so obviously are a big part of the story. Whatever it is you should own it, just like poolblood does. Epic in miniature.


PILE - Nude with a Suitcase (Exploding In Sound)
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by Tim London

When the instrumental is this extraordinary I hope that the vocal is one of two things: either a David Thomas, naturally massive voice, stretched to its limit or a Richard Hell snarl and sneer and whine, hopelessly reaching for notes unavailable to it but trying anyway. As it is, Rick Maguire’s voice seems to have arrived from a coaching session, anxious not to damage his throat or get nodes. It’s a bit safe. Consequently I am riven, torn and conflicted as to whether I like this in its totality.


YO LA TENGO - Aselestine (Matador)
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by Ancient Champion

Late Yo La Tengo makes me swoon... 


RON GALLO - At least I'm Dancing (Under the Radio)
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by Toon Traveller

Ron Gallo gets going like George Michael's Faith, same rat-ta-ta-tat pattern, that dominates and distracts from the song. Then the whole thing slips into a sorta of mob chant, sure there's a few witty words, and sadly too little variations, or interest in this, it's barely OK as pub background chatter. File under wacky of course that means something to some. No hearts and no love from me, just sadness at the time wasted listening to this.
Sleepy 


THE NATIONAL - Tropic Morning News (4AD)
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by Ancient Champion

Tropic Morning News is a nice piece of institutionalized slo-mo rock. If this is what you want from The National, this is what you get. There's the pondering, the Raymond Carver qualities - you have to write in the excitement for yourself. You have to find a way to find it. The LP is out in April, The First Two Pages of Frankenstein, which I like as a title. Then I would. I'm about two pages into revered novels. I understand. Probably gonna to be a lot more individual tracks available before this gets released as a whole piece. Then I don't think The National are about surprises. Not the worst. And way better than quite a bit hence their popularity I guess.


PETER GABRIEL - Panopticom (Peter Gabriel Ltd. )
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by Jay Lewis

I'm trying to recall what it was that I used to find so engaging about Peter Gabriel and I'm really, really struggling.  Maybe it was the way he could take his knotty theories and distill them into adorably cranky pop songs (Games Without Frontiers, Shock The Monkey), or how he could write about such weighty topics as the thoughts of poet Anne Sexton or the murder of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko.  Or maybe it was all of those daft 'theatrical' costumes he wore in his prog rock days that I found so intriguing.  I feel embarrassed listening to him. Yes, even Sledgehammer.

That embarrassment continues with 'Pantopticom' (not Panopticon - which is a real word in the real dictionary), which achieves the splendid feat of being both impenetrable conjecture and hopelessly banal ('...won't you show us what's going on?') And it's over five meandering and tune-shifting minutes long - evidence that whatever pop sensibility he may have once had, is now long gone.


JOHN - Hopper on the Dial (Brace yourself/Pet Care Records)
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by Toon Traveller

DRUMS! And then wah-wahed soft guitar. Hmmm. Quiet and reflective, there's mystery, hints of dark places and a voice just this side of desperate with life. This is a man worried about the future, all too little hope. The music meets the images of decline. Then screaming fuzz  treated feedback, a rolling thunder on 6 strings. This is a magnificent thick slab of post prog rock, yeah there's all the social comment, but then it's power chord, after power chord, in a way all them blow dry rockers could never even dream of. The guitar makes this worth the 5 hearts alone. I loved it and I don't get to say that so often. This is the B-Side of whatever the BBC likes to play on their radio stations. That's their story. Think - Neil Young revisits his Arc/Weld proto heavy metal years, for guitar feel. 


GUIDED BY VOICES - Ballroom Etiquette (GBV)
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by Lee Paul

There's something reassuring about the way Guided By Voices step out. Makes them matter when so much doesn't even. Ballroom Etiquette. Lost it? Lovely refrain, "Most likely if you go you will only make a show of yourself..."


SHAKIN' STEVENS - It All Comes Round (GmbH)
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by Tim London

Many years ago, in the office of an art centre that was once an arts lab, the national experiment created by local hippies, places for ordinary folk to learn how to screen print, participate in amateur theatre or watch a band, I found a flyer for Shakin’ Stevens and the Sunsets. At the time (early 1970s) Stevens fronted a well-regarded rocknroll band and was seen as a serious contender. That he became something of a light entertainment joke (a very successful one!) in later years hasn’t diminished his roots and, it seems, in the autumn of his years he is reminding us he is more than a plastic Elvis, with this sad, trad song that sounds very much like a signing off.


ITALIA 90 - Harmony (Brace Yourself Records)
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by Tim London

Tim London's piece about Italia 90's Harmony is right here⇒


EDDIE CHACON - Step By Step (Stones Throw)
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by Toon Traveller

Swirling sounds, ducks, 80's soft-shoe-d, late night jazz sense. I sensing the red red wine, log fire, the one you love. Great sense of 80s aspirations, hope and brightness. This floats like a butterfly, and stings like one. Even the pause before the middle eight feels tired and exhausted, as if  the tune's saying  "come on man do i have to play more notes." Eddie's got lovely memories of late 70's floating he wants to share with you, that's all.


WILCO - A Lifetime to Find (unsure)
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by Toon Traveller

Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline and the boys make country for them what don't like country. And A Lifetime to Find is from Cruel Country. Love the dichotomy, happy, celebratory music, and lyrics about a man facing death in his last day and wanting more time. I suppose we all do. It's him, and Death discussing his 'last day' and recalling things not done, and how like the singer, we can be happy, fit, healthy, but when death comes, it's so often too early, we/he's not ready, wants more time. We all do don't we? This is strangely entrancing, a sorta of anti-country, country song. Love the lyric from Death... "come on man, I don't want a fight, help me here". the whole is just out of kilter with the happy music. If 5% of Country music were this good, world'd be a rootin' tootin a better place.


THE LUKA STATE - Matter of Fact (Thirty Tigers)
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by Toon Traveller

The great thing about the Soundcloud platform, it reveals lots about the sound, this is all on one level. It's compressed sounds, flat as a pancake. There's competent guitars, and voices in a balanced mix, but a one paced song, no meaning.  It jogs along, inoffensive, but inconsequential. There's a good guitar solo, but it's not enough. It's all so, so, well flat is the best word. Imagine Oasis, or similar, but without irony, playing's fine, but...


LEATHERETTE - Thin Ice (Bronson)
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by Toon Traveller

Heard this all before, heard the vaguely interesting production before, heard the good playing before. They look like they're having fun, and we need more of that. The simulacra of fun. A song that's as hard to praise, as to trash.  Saddest thing, the video, Cuban, and Basque flags on a gym wall are not "right on radical man".


THE TUBS - Wretched Lie (Trouble in Mind)
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by Toon Traveller

Past prejudices, late developments, meant late to Prince, and Kraftwerk, the advantage?  Pre-loved CDs cost less than a packet of crisps. Found myself listening to The Tubs and thinking The Cure. Saw them live decades ago, and now The Tubs popped up, and yeah I kinda get The Cure's appeal now, and if they influence today's bands so intensely, perhaps The Cure are worth exploring. Anyway, this has jangly guitars, a skippy, bouncy, happy to be sad feel. Gloomsters, looking for happiness, but lost in the world of just out of reach of their dreams. The Tubs, recycled 80s sounds, enjoyable, better after a 3rd listen or so. When the snow clears, I'm off to Downbeat Records for a Cure CD thanks to The Tubs.


HOORAY FOR EARTH - Realize It's Not The Sun (own)
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by Toon Traveller

Discordance! Streets breathing. Jungle canopy stroked by a first sun, "we are dancing in the rain", lovely vibe. Stretching ambient chill out; recovery, relax, repair and groove. I love this sort of stuff, it's romantic, picturesque, evocative, a delightful piece of 90's post-rave music  At a couple of festivals I'd be there in the ambient, chill-out tent, sprawled, relaxing to this. Great sounds.


WEDNESDAY - Chosen to Deliver (Dead Oceans )
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by Toon Traveller

Love the opening, the country sounds, radio samples and then hmmm those disenchanted whining vocals. There's memories of drug excesses, booze, drugs and stomach pumps, there's a great narrative but it's crushed under a Joe Walsh acolyte. Unsure why, when you catch the lyrics, they're worth attention. There's a lot in here, but I lose my way when I am buried in the rock overkill.


ISHMAEL ENSEMBLE - Reasons ft. Rider Shaffique (Severn Songs)
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by Ancient Champion

Somewhat somberly and soberly grappling with the serious, Ishmael Ensemble provide the musical portents that Rider Shafique takes and, well he doesn't run with, that's for sure. I don't think he'd be seen running. I wouldn't. Like most non-runners I'd miss the bus before I'd run for it. Epic, important, effortlessly cool and beautiful. Could listen all day and so far today, did.


LPs

GAZ COOMBES - Turn the Car Around (Hot Fruit)
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by Katherine Pargeter

The more I listen to 'Turn The Car Around', the more I reflect on Gaz Coombes onstage announcement at the Moseley Folk Festival last September that it would be Supergrass's final gig. I wonder about how many of the songs of this fabulous, mature and splendidly multifarious new album were near completion as he had to feign enthusiasm at playing 'Caught By The Fuzz'  for what must have felt like the millionth time.

'Turn The Car Around' is the finest record that Gaz Coombes has made - not just his finest solo record. From the uncomfortable ambiance of the melancholic opener 'Overnight Trains' (he's been listening to 'Scott 3' hasn't he?) to the manic Radioheadesque 'Feel Loop (Lizard Dream)' - this is a record of intriguing delights. The title track and singles, including the glorious 'Long Live The Strange', are as good as anything his old band ever created. It's far better than just being Alright


GHOST WOMAN - Anne, If (Bandcamp)
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by Ancient Champion

Anne, If, is Ghost Woman's latest missive from the basement-garage of analogue indie guitar rock. While Ghost Woman present a wholly refreshing take on the genre, it would not be unkind to say this could be just what fans of say Green of Red or The Rain Parade or Brian Jonestown or Neil have been waiting for. Ghost Woman-Evan Uschenko's has featured in various Canadian indie ensembles, most notably in the Michael Rault band, a group renowned for their partially yesteryear-looking guitar pop. Listening through, and I will listen again and again, I love the insistent instrumental Street Meet and the edgy guitar driven 3 Weeks Straight. Hey! How to make a great guitar record.


Other Materials

THE FABULOUS THREE - Nightbird (Truth & Soul)
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by Ancient Champion

The Fabulous Three. Possibly currently my favorite band in the world right now. When I heard this, I thought who the fuck has stolen the Ancient Champion demos of our new record? I used Nightbird as a character in a story I was writing. Trainer Bantam's girlfriend who steals her own surrogate baby. I love the record on an molecular level. In fact all records should only sound like this. Come back F3.


Essential Info
Main Image Sleaford Mods

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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