search for something...

search for something you might like...

Five Hearts for January All of Outsideleft's January Five Heart Music Reviews in One Place

Five Hearts for January

All of Outsideleft's January Five Heart Music Reviews in One Place

by LamontPaul, Founder & Publisher
first published: February, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

January's new tracks, LPs and reissues, and some entries from my favorite weekly section, So Have You Got Anything Else? Originally a line from Lake that I have held onto for forty years, this section allows us to freestyle and drop in anything we're

So... The first collection of Five Beloved Hearts Records of 2023 from our OUTSIDELEFT Week in Music column. The weekly review page where regular contributors to OUTSIDELEFT give the new releases we hear about the once over... New tracks, LPs and reissues, and some entries from my favorite weekly section, So Have You Got Anything Else? Originally a line from Lake that I have held onto for forty years, this section allows us to freestyle and drop in anything we're feeling on any given week. January, then...

SINGLES

BIG JOANIE - Cactus (Kill Rock Stars)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Toon Traveller

This is slab of... Well hard to say what. A slab of somewhere someplace between Blues, but not as we know it, with a layer of post punk funk, pissed over with fuzzed, buzzed guitar. The voice slurred, matches the atmosphere of the song, it's - I dunno, enticing, dancing, beguiling. None of this should work as a song, but it's mixed styles and influences, in way somehow unite. Alt-avant-post metal, anti-thrash music may be close, but not close enough to capture Big Joanie's spirit. Love the key changes and the discordant, off the beat guitars and drums timing, is this 21C JAZZ ROCK? - or Punk jazz? - who cares I love it. Best song i've reviewed in a year.


DE LA SOUL - 3 Is a Magic Number (Chrysalis)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Lee Paul

I think the story here is De La Soul have regained control of their back catalogue, and the LP, CD, Cassette reissues will begin in March. For a lot of people struggling to understand hip hop in the 80s, De La Soul's album Three Feet High and Rising was where they came in. It's a radical and hugely influential album though by any standards, evidenced by the pseudo psychedelic cover design by the pre BritArt collective the Grey Organisation that greets you before you even begin to get into the grooves. But get into the groove you will. Still seems so lovely after all this time.


HOORAY FOR EARTH - Realize It's Not The Sun (own)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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 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.


ISHMAEL ENSEMBLE - Reasons ft. Rider Shaffique (Severn Songs)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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.


JOHN - Hopper on the Dial (Brace yourself/Pet Care Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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. 


JOHN CALE - Noise of You (Domino)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Toon Traveller

John Cale's career has spanned almost 60 years, the wonder is that he survived the rocknroll lifestyle for so long, oh and the Velvets. More impressively he's still got something to say. Noise of You opens with a monologue, and some simplistic drums. Synthesizer swirls create a soft soundscape; the voice half sung, half spoken, almost a Leonard Cohen delivery, reflects on love. Don't let this cloud your appreciation, this song builds darkly and dramatically. This is a not lovers holding hands in the sunset affair, this is a man whose made mistakes, and looking for hope and redemption, and there's a sense of confidence, and 'no lies between us', This is not a delightful love song, more one that explores why and how love lasts time's test, and for the oldsters reading an example of aging graceful.


KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD - Astroturf (Indie)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Toon Traveller

Never quite sure what to make of this lot, the fact The Wall Street Journal highlights them, is NOT their fault people can't choose their families, bands can't choose their fans. Love the opening, late 60's early 70s supa cool jazz, easy grove, and vocals out of the CBS style soul jazz. An easy groove with just enough edge to keep you listening. The instruments swap leads, there's a lot going on. Punchy horns tight as  pvc shrink fit pants, and  fat sloppy funky bass line. This is not wacky jazz, there's a structure, a plan, a plot. I've heard the ideas before, like Democratic Socialism, it's only when you hear it espoused, you realise why we all need it.


PALE JAY AND OKONSKI - By The Lake (Karma Chief)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by LamontPaul

Lush soul. From lush soulful German Pale Jay and Okonski. A production powerhouse duo. Pale Jay could still be favouring the red ski mask. I don't know. He describes his music as Soulful, dusty and straight from the heart. He knows what he's talking 'bout.


POOLBLOOD - Voyager (Next Door Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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.


SLEAFORD MODS - UK Grim (Rough Trade Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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...


WILCO - A Lifetime to Find (unsure)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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.


YOUNG FATHERS - Rice (Ninja Tune)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Lee Paul

This is a great song. Begins in the 60s and ends up in the future. Multilayered with depths that only fully release all of the songs secrets at the very end. Propulsively beautiful, frenetic and thrilling. Give it a whole lot of volume you'll not be sorry.


LPs

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO - 12 (KAB America)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Jay Lewis

Last year Ryuichi Sakamoto started to publish a series of articles in the Japanese Literary Magazine 'Schincho' called “How Many More Times Will I See the Full Moon?” Having just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, the iconic (and I don't use that word lightly), pianist, composer, and producer was in a very reflective mood. In the articles, he discussed openly his thoughts on life and death and music.

'12' feels like it could be the soundtrack to Sakamoto's thoughts, his contemplations on existence, even his feelings when he looks at a full moon. The pieces here feel like a sonic diary (they are dated chronologically), sketches for piano and synthesizer, that seem to move through feelings of grief and pain with disquieting ambient drones towards tender and exquisite piano pieces towards the end of the record. As with Bowie's 'Blackstar' or Leonard Cohen's 'You Want it Darker' there is a sense of Sakamoto making the best possible record whilst he still can. Also, as with those aforementioned records, '12' is a profound work, you may want to hope for a full moon when you listen to it. 


So Have You Got Anything Else?

JANEL LEPPIN - Woven Forest (Cuneiform Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Toon Traveller

I missed this from Washington DC based composer & cellist Janel Leppin last year. Janel bridges jazz and classical music with her Ensemble Volcanic Ash. I love the opening drums, cello, strait out one of my favourite jazz periods, and sounds, That early mid 70's avant garde, post free form, jazz. ECM, Affinity, Impulse, seemed to promote and support. This has it all, crystal razor sharp sound separation, a swirling, floating sax, above the turbulent, but perfectly appropriate fingers and keys. This sing of open spaces, in Patagonia, across Arizona, sweeping the Steppes, hiding in the Serengeti's grasses. it's a magnificent slice of evocative Jazz.


THE FABULOUS THREE - Nightbird (Truth & Soul)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

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.


VALERIE JUNE - Working Woman Blues (Youtube)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by LamontPaul

Working Woman Blues is Valerie June's Horny, replanted delta blues recorded at the mojo club in Hungary. As always Valerie June just does everything so right. This song seems so long ago now. Check out her arresting NPR Tiny Desk performance from 2014 too, just Valerie June and her banjo, oh wow⇒


WILCO - Jesus, etc. (live in Belgium) (Youtube)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by LamontPaul

Often takes Jesus, Etc to smooth our traffic anxiety through Smethwick on the way to Handsworth, if we don't get the frost off the car until after 8. This is a lovely live version of that song.


Essential Info
Main image, Big Joanie by Ajamu X


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 »»

RECENT STORIES

RANDOM READS

All About and Contributors

HELP OUTSIDELEFT

Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]

WRITE FOR OUTSIDELEFT

If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]

OUTSIDELEFT UNIVERSE

Ooh Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha May 29th
OUTSIDELEFT Night Out
weekend

outsideleft content is not for everyone