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Outsideleft Week in Music Where Maxine Peake is my New Favorite Twin We're hearing from... Gazelle Twin featuring Maxine Peake, Little Simz, Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band, 1999 Write The Future, Circolo Vizioso, Brittany Howard, The Sorcerers, Thee Conductor & Bonnie Prince Billy, David Nance & Mowed Sound, Annie Chen, Gagarin, Bauhaus, Creation Rebel, Bex Marshall, The Germans, Dawn Penn, The Decemberists, Guests, The Cyrkle, Public Image Limited, Mannequin Pussy

Outsideleft Week in Music Where Maxine Peake is my New Favorite Twin

We're hearing from... Gazelle Twin featuring Maxine Peake, Little Simz, Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band, 1999 Write The Future, Circolo Vizioso, Brittany Howard, The Sorcerers, Thee Conductor & Bonnie Prince Billy, David Nance & Mowed Sound, Annie Chen, Gagarin, Bauhaus, Creation Rebel, Bex Marshall, The Germans, Dawn Penn, The Decemberists, Guests, The Cyrkle, Public Image Limited, Mannequin Pussy

by OL House Writer,
first published: February, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

Maxine Peake is amazing but maybe not well known for her pop star prowess...

Intro.

I know I go on and on about this, but, Outsideleft needs writers. Or we extinct. I should be embarrassed that after twenty years of doing this, in a world full of people who say they want to be writers, I can find barely anyone who can write. And do it well and stick to it. Can you do it? Oh well. I know you're here for the music, or the writing about music? The latter I hope. We are contactable. Let's get on with it. After all the moaning malarky, this is a really, really great week for music.

Singles.

GAZELLE TWIN FEATURING MAXINE PEAKE - We Wax. We Shall Not Wane (Bandcamp)
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by Alan Rider

Originally commissioned by Somerset House, London, Gazelle Twin’s audio installation 'We Wax. We Shall Not Wane' closed their The Horror Show exhibition, which took you on a journey through 50 years of horror.  With two nine minute tracks comprising a winding and eerie synth tone overlaid by actor Maxine Peake dramatically intoning a selection of historic texts and literature, along with Gazelle Twin's own words, it is an intense experience.  In common with her previous album, the excellent 'Black Dog' and her numerous collaborations, soundtracks, and performances, this pushes the boundaries and is truly a work of art.  In my eyes, Gazelle Twin can do no wrong.

THE SORCERERS - Yasuke in Roppongi (ATA Records)
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by Ancient Champion

The Sorcerers are definitively what they say they are. Musically so. Yasuke in Roppongi gets going with the most massive sax sound, over an insistent pulsing afrobeat concoction. It is very beautiful. With a touch of eerie mystery for good measure. 

LITTLE SIMZ - Mood Swings (AWAL)
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by LamontPaul

From Drop7, a new long EP or short LP from one of Britain's most significant artists, Little Simz. Seven songs. easy to listen to in one sitting. Mood Swings is playful and of course play is where everything begins. And it swings and it whispers insidiously. Whenever I hear people like Simz I so often wonder about the safe spaces of conformity so many artists choose to inhabit. Why? Do you think this attention might make Zynga bring Drop7 back? It was better than Words With Friends. Although to be fair I don't have any friends, I don't play games and I don't know what they will do.  

MICHAEL HEAD AND THE RED ELASTIC BAND - Shirl's Ghost (Modern Sky Records)
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by DJ Fuzzyfelt

The instrumental coda from his great Dear Scott album now expanded into a full blown three and a bit minute epic. With Bill Ryder Jones again producing you know it's going to be a tour de force and it is. With a new album due in May and an autobiography due in August, and, goodness does Michael Head have a story to tell, with a rare tour coming to, he's going to be busy. While most of his late 70s and early 80s Liverpool contemporaries are doing their greatest hits tours legacy act, Head is still, 43 years on from his first release in Pale Fountains, still releasing and performing great new music. A class act.

DAVID NANCE & MOWED SOUND - Mock the Hours (Third Man Records)
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by Toon Traveller

If you adore early 70's Rolling Stones, pseudo Blues riff driven songs, this is for you. From the Mick 'Mockney' Jagger vocals, to the Keef 'the riff' Richards guitar, a dash of rock steady drums from Charlie. It's a perfect Stones tribute band. Sounds like outtakes from Goats Head Soup, or Black and Blue. There's swagger, there's danceability, and slurred shared vocal backing. It's the sleazy, grubby, debauched Stones made live. It's a throwback, it's an echo, it's nothing new, but it's still 4 hearts...

BEX MARSHALL - 5AM (Dixiefrog Records)
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by Toon Traveller

What was it Bruce sang, I got this guitar and I learned how to make it sing? Bex Marshall doesn't have any trouble with that, that's for damn sure. 5am is a new single from Bex's LP Nocturna, her first new album in a decade. There's a grittily emotional and raw authenticity to Bex's voice. I know she's been there because I've been there too. And of course the guitar. This is pretty amazing. With a voice like that and a guitar like that Bex Marshall is surely a shoe-in for the next Hootenanny. There I am calling it.

THEE CONDUCTOR, BONNIE PRINCE BILLY - Inappropriately (Thee Conductor)
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by Ancient Champion

From the Thee Conductor and Bonnie Prince Billy LP, Ennoia... I listen to music for moments like this. I listen to hear something that feels inspired. Something that inspires me. Here it is. Percussion. Mellow furious percussion. This is a timeless beauty. Take it to your home and play it. I'm going to get back to working on my short story collection now and I am going finish it up listening to this. Understated and wonderful all at once.

GUESTS - Arrangements, As In Making Them (World of Echo.)
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by Alan Rider

Glasgow duo Guests revel in their amaturishness, which they dub 'DIY'.  It has a certain wonky charm, but that only goes so far I'm afraid. If this was homework it'd be annotated 'must try harder'.

BRITTANY HOWARD - Power To Undo (UMG)
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by Ancient Champion

Is it okay for me to say rather boringly that I liked Brittany's little band, Alabama Shakes. And sometimes I think, you know you when have the backing of one of the five deep pocket record labels left in the world behind you, f you wanna do some rocking, rambling, ranting, pop funk crossover thing, maybe just get the best songwriters on the planet to help you achieve that, like Beyonce does. Brittany, all the bands that have done this sound get dropped. This has endless musical ambition and sonics and not much of a song. Which, let's get back to my opening sentence, songs, Alabama Shakes were pretty adept at.

MANNEQUIN PUSSY - Nothing Like (Epitaph Records)
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by Alan Rider

Despite their great name and attitude, this is an insipid indie alt rock affair, clearly aimed at a wider audience.  Before you know it they will bow to pressure and start calling themselves M-Pussy. I'm going off Mannequin Pussy to be honest.  They got the title right at least. This is nothing like it should be.

CIRCOLO VIZIOSO - Walls (Bandcamp)
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by Alan Rider

Railing against the war in Ukraine and "the filthy growth of the extreme right wing movements in Washington and Berlin, attacking Capitol Hill and the Reichstag", 'Walls' by Berlin's Kraut-inspired punk rock duo Circolo Vizioso is a low fi punk delight.  It could have been from 40 years ago, is unfiltered and scrappy, but is an electric violin, guitar and drums blast of righteous anger at the current state of things that is bang on the button.  Duo's often make the perfect combination.  Not too many things all battling for space at once and competing egos jostling for the limelight.  No room or time for all of that.  They just get on with the job. It's taken Circolo Vizioso 5 years to get here since their debut EP, but an album is finally about to launch and if this is anything to go by, it will be a roar that I will want to hear.  

DAWN PENN - Woman of The Ghetto (Parish Records)
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by Lee Paul

This song is maybe most associated with the effortlessly incredible Marlena Shaw who passed away in January. Dawn Penn's Woman of The Ghetto supplants the Charles Stepney wonderfueled musical histrionics he provided for Shaw with a reggae dancehall lilt, a little awash with effects, effectively recentering the song around the message. More late night... Both versions are a delight to hear of course. Just fabulous.

THE CYRKLE - Dance wit me Tonight (Big Stir Records)
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by Toon Traveller

We're all too young to have been at "The Hop", with Danny and the Juniors. So this'll have to do. It's 'Happy Days' territory, girls in pony tails and bobby socks and those swinging skirts. Boys, shirts checked, feet Loafered and hair crewcut. Strawberry Soda pops and the Juke Box. Crooning and finger popping, summer afternoons away. It bobs, skips, and dances, horns honk, and voices coo, love, passion, and desire. Dancing at the Hop, hopping at the Soda Parlor, bopping in a car lot, hugging at the drive in. Perfect, pure pop's taste of those 2nd hand memories, from 50's USA movies, that REALLY, none of us have.

THE DECEMBERISTS - Burial Ground (YABB)
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by Toon Traveller

They've been away 6 years, have we missed them? Probably not. Well produced, crisp drums, lovely guitar, up and down the frets, not a note out of place. Pleasant vocal, capturing, but sadly emphasizing Burial Ground's emptiness. Lovely harmonies though. A lyrical horn solo, just the right length, but it's saccharine sweet, and after two plays, it was just too much, and fades into a pool of forgotten memories.

ANNIE CHEN - Rozpacz (JZ Music)
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by Toon Traveller

Scat singing, not as Ella Fitzgerald did it... Avant Garde vocals over an irregular bass, not as Norma Winston sang it. Piano skits, and flits, not Chick Corea fingered. A sax, Pharaoh with a sense of melody, Ayler with burning ideas. It's several passages, ideas separated and bridged, by happy bright sunshine vocals, before each new new diversion and direction. A journey in every sense of the word, a mystery tour into jazz classics, Eastern mysticism and ice cool Norwegian Jazz. A magically evocative excursion into the primal mix of voice, drums (real ones), and bass (upright with strings), A delicious  shower of sounds and ideas to greet the day, and all it's hopes and possibilities. The LP Guardians will be available in late February, it's a powerful and impassioned set, inspired by a wintertime visit to Acadia National Park in Maine.

GAGARIN - Lomea (Geo Records)
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by Alan Rider

Lomea may or may not have been a fabled small island in the sea off Margate in case you were wondering. Gagarin is former Ludus mainstay Graham ‘Dids’ Dowdall, who has worked with Nico, is a member of Pere Ubu, and was founder of '80s band Faction.   That's an intriguing mix and he'd be a good bloke to bump in to in a pub. This is a lightly meandering electronic ditty, lush with found birdsong. It's interesting, but there isn't an awful lot to grab hold of in this.

1999 WRITE THE FUTURE - Long in the tOOth (ft. De La Soul, Warren Hue, Pos of De La Soul, The Budos Band) (88rising)
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by Ancient Champion

Credit for the lengthiest credits this week I think. It's a conglomeration. And it is a conglomeration of great musical ideas. 88rising are perhaps best known for digging around in Asia for diggable sounds. Good God Almighty. There is no ceiling to the volume Long in the tOOth should be played at. The Budos band are everywhere on this. This is simply just so entertainingly great.

LPs

THE GERMANS - Spirituality (Cortizona)
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by Alan Rider

'Spirituality' is the perfect name for an album like this from Belgium act The Germans.  Formed in 2002 and delivering what has been described as a hot mush of psych, easy-listening, experimental rock, Flemish polyphony and cocktail jazz (if you can imagine that), this is a both departure from their previous work and a logical next step.  Retaining the contemporary jazz feel, I'm really not sure whether I like this, or hate this.  Its not something I would actively seek out, but it has an odd, off kilter, quality I admire.  It certainly feels quite spiritual, with a spacious quality that has much to do with the effects used in the recording.  Without those it would be much more cocktail jazz-y.  I know jazz is currently becoming hipper, but not in my corner of the musical world, so I'm sitting myself firmly on the fence here.

CREATION REBEL - High Above Harlsden (On-U Sound)
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by Alan Rider

High above Harlsden is probably an accurate description of how Creation Rebel have spent the time since 1978.  I have pretty much no knowledge or expertise in assessing dub or Reggae, but I do know that strong ganga was an essential part of the mix.  It's as formulaic as any other genre of music, that's true, but there was a time when Reggae/Dub formed a strong bond with punk, largely through the work of Don Letts, The Clash, Slits, Ruts and others who both championed it when dividing lines between musical tribes were sharply drawn, and also offered a stage to bands like Creation Rebel to get across to a wider (and largely white) audience. Creation Rebel played a few gigs with The Clash, and along with Steel Pulse had the same revolutionary zeal and energy of early punk, albeit at a more laid back tempo.  Creation Rebel were both politically on the button and influential on their peers and this mammoth 6 CD box set will give you everything you need to know.

Othered

PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED - Public Image (Virgin)
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by Alan Rider

It was rent a gob right wing windbag butter salesman (but lets put all that to one side for this) Johnny Rotten/Lydon's birthday 31st Jan, so a good excuse to dig this one from 1978 out again.  Is this still the most perfectly formed single?  I think so.  Easy to play if you are learning the bass.  Great lyrics.  Great drums.  Great guitar. Came in a spoof newspaper sleeve (which I still have, though its looking a bit tatty these days). Still sounds good even after all these years. Perfect.

BAUHAUS - Bela Lugosi's Dead (4AD or something)
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by Hamilton High

Literally a rave about a grave adjacent. Bauhaus do so much with so little. These days of course, Pete Murphy has much more of that Nosferatu look about him. More affective than ever.

essentials.

Main image by Brian Minkoff-London Pixels, from Wikipedia with liberties taken

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