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Outsideleft Week in Music We're hearing from Meatbodies, Saint Etienne, Donny Osmond, OMD, Yumi Zouma, Mile High Club, Big Thief, Andrew W.K., Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Muna, Madmess, Bad Waitress, Radiohead, Yard Act, The Replacements, Rico Nasty, Kamasi Washington, Lana Del Rey, The Stranglers, Portrayal of Guilt, Damon Albarn, GWAR and Adia Victoria

Outsideleft Week in Music

We're hearing from Meatbodies, Saint Etienne, Donny Osmond, OMD, Yumi Zouma, Mile High Club, Big Thief, Andrew W.K., Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Muna, Madmess, Bad Waitress, Radiohead, Yard Act, The Replacements, Rico Nasty, Kamasi Washington, Lana Del Rey, The Stranglers, Portrayal of Guilt, Damon Albarn, GWAR and Adia Victoria

by Lee Paul,
first published: September, 2021
Seven heavy, fuzzy, distorted, psychedelic, dark, druggy, and muddy dirges from Monrovia...

Rock on summertime thanks for giving it one last shot. Over here at least...

Recording of the Week

MEATBODIES - 333 (In The Red)
by Spanish Pantalones

Seven heavy, fuzzy, distorted, psychedelic, dark, druggy, and muddy dirges from Monrovia, California’s finest sludge rockers. In their third LP in ten years, Meatbodies dug out a handful of demos and sketches from 2018 and put together something special here. Spanish’s pick of the week!


SINGLES

THE REPLACEMENTS - Shutup (Alternate Version) (Rhino)
by Spanish Pantalones

Rhino is choking out another carcass of a dead band for profit with an alternate take, (which I usually frown upon), but in the case of The Replacements, it’s a welcomed flogging. Sloppy, irreverent, loud, ugly, joyous, carefree, anthemic -- “Shutup” is all these things, and at only a minute and a half, you owe it to yourself to listen to this 1981 banger at least once, and as loud as possible.


ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK - Maid of Orleans (Demo) (Universal)
by Katherine Pargeter

Has the ever been a more dour-faced 'eighties' sounding album title than:
'Architecture and Morality' by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark?

This track is from their serious phase when Peter Saville was still designing their album sleeves and they could somehow wangle a Peel Session or two. Oh, and when they could have two hit singles that referenced a Fifteenth-Century Saint!

It's worth noting that this was way before, as comedian Rob Newman once elegantly observed, Andy Mcclusky appeared on TOTP '...dancing like a geography teacher at a school disco' or before foisting Atomic Kitten on the innocent public.  The reunited version of OMD of the last decade does feel like an act of atonement for those crimes. 

This demo, shorn of the single's eerie noises, fake strings, and that bit at the beginning that sounds like a toilet's cistern refilling is an underwhelmingly pallid experience. Are there really OMD completists that are curious, even anxious to hear this? If so, then there's an entire album of mixes, demos, and live performances from the album with the daft title following in October.

LANA DEL REY - Arcadia (Polydor)
by Spanish Pantalones

The good people of Arcadia, California must have been tripping over themselves when they found out a song had been written about their dusty city. After all, it’s only claim to fame is its Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. (Thanks to its tropical confines, Fantasy Island used to film there from 1977 to 1984 -- I still miss Hervé Villechaize.) Decades later, Lana Del Rey, born and raised on the East Coast, compares the region to her body: 

My chest, the Sierra Madre 
My hips, every high and byway 
That you trace with your fingertips like a Toyota
Run your hands over me like a Land Rover

Embarrassing lyrics for sure (a contender for worst lyrics of 2021), but I recently read some of my earlier articles when I first started writing. They were just as clumsy and forced as Del Rey’s ham-fisted lyrics. That said, "Arcadia" will play big with the suicidal, Xanax-popping, Coachella set -- morose music for morose people that have nothing to be morose about.


ADIA VICTORIA - Magnolia Blues (Canvasback)
by Ancient Champion

As I write this a British politician on tv and without guile, without even a hint of compassion is saying "We must balance our books" (on the backs of the poor). It's sickening. The words heartless cunt comes to mind, but that's almost certainly a badge they snigger approvingly of. The entirely disingenuous "Where could the money possibly come from?" - to stop people from being hungry. £20 per week must be cut from the support provided to the families of the poorest people. And these people are very poor. Working poor and unemployed poor. We live in a poor country. I'd been listening to Adia Victoria, and her investigation of the what it is to be a black woman navigating the conflicts of the American South. Her new LP is called A Southern Gothic and from it, the first single, Magnolia Blues. Another continent, another story, the same story of pain inflicted needlessly, to what gain. Adia Victoria sings with a refreshingly beautiful voice and the arrangements around her voice on Magnolia Blues are mesmerising. I mean, I don't even know why most bands even have singers when they are so determined to sing about nothing. Why bother? So this rings a bell for me. Adia says, "After a year spent in my room in Nashville, I wondered what stories I had to tell. Often the only view of the South beyond my window was the magnolia tree in my backyard. It blocked the rest of the world from my sight. I limited my gaze to its limbs, its leaves and the obscene bloom of its iconic white flower. The magnolia has stood as an integral symbol of Southern myth making, romanticism, the Lost Cause of the Confederates and the white washing of Southern memory." Muted banjo, field recordings, Adia's incredible original voice and more... Magnolia Blues suggests A Southern Gothic, Adia Victoria's third LP, (with a cavalcade of stars in tow) is surely a shoe-in for best of the year album lists. 


RADIOHEAD - If You Say the Word (XL)
by Tim London

I surprised a friend recently - he presumed I liked Radiohead. As a rule I don’t, but ‘liking’ a band depends on so much more than the music and Radiohead actually offend me. There’s a smugness to their sound and profile, the kind I associate with inwards looking, comfortably-off Brits. I look for the psychic desperation I feel myself to be reflected but, instead, I hear the last stitches of the punk rock tapestry being undone by someone with carefully dirty fingernails. The hysterically emotional singing, the sloppy diction, the progressive middle of the road, the borrowing from actual pioneers. They are the Libdems. And this single is a single by the Libdems, a purr of dissatisfaction because their fave brand of coffee beans is unavailable.


PORTRAYAL OF GUILT - Possession (Run For Cover Records)
by Katherine Pargeter

Searching for details of this Texan post-hardcore band's forthcoming third album has meant that I now have the word CHRISTFUCKER, stored in the predictive text on my mobile devices.

Much like this screamo, jet roaring, brutal number, I'd like it to be erased from all of my devices and, more importantly, my memory as soon as possible.


YUMI ZOUMA - Give It Hell (Polyvinyl)
by Tim London

If this is hell, then hell is the easy-going love child of Prefab Sprout and Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, conceived on a yacht parked up in London’s St Katherine’s Docks.


BIG THIEF - Certainty (4AD)
by Lee Paul

Is there any more we can say about Big Thief guitarist Buck Meek's head movements while playing. They are perfect, like the sound is buzzing inside and he's shaking it out. Lovely. And we loved it when he has his hair combed like a Spitting Image Douglas Herd. Certainty is one of Big Thief's most alt-Americana pieces in a while. It's a lackadaisical beauty. Lazily scratching the surfaces of the interpersonal. It's very enjoyable and uncomfortable. Big Thief reward with repeated listenings so when you vinyl fetishists pop your £25 over the counter for the forthcoming LP you'll be getting good value for money in that way.


MADMESS - Stargazer (Hassle Records)
by Lee Paul

With a reputation for sinuous  psychedelia, sprawling stoner jams and searing space rock, Portuguese power trio Madmess are a tough act to pass up. Stargazer 7 minutes of melodically snarling vintage rock has the weight of a black hole. There are many tunes in there somewhere. The hair and beards and vintage cheesecloth, clogs, stonewashed denims almighty. Madmess are not to be trifled with. The forthcoming LP Rebirth is going to blast Christmas to Hell on December 12th.


MUNA - Silk Chiffon (Saddest Factory)
by Tim London

More of that nasal yodelling that melds American country rock with a tad of R&B to make pop Emo. Not sure this makes sense without a video. Try it and see if you can imagine a local accented radio presenter talking about tailbacks at junction fifteen.


YARD ACT - The Overload (Zen F.C.)
by Tim London

Try playing the ‘guess what this sounds like on the basis of title and band name alone’. OK, I will. I was expecting some Brit metal with a Scandinavian tinge. What did I get? Ramshackle indie with a vague ‘eastern/psych’ melodic hook and a bloke chatting loudly in a pub in Leeds about himself or someone he knows. The musical equivalent of bumping into a plumber desperate to tell you about a pig of a job in Chapel Allerton Oh, it’s alright, salt of the fookin earth and all that… can’t complain.


DAMON ALBARN - Particles (Transgressive)
by Ancient Champion

Has Morrissey burnt his Transgressive Records bridges yet? they seemed to have signed everyone and pushed them in a different direction. Damon Albarn's, Particles, a pretty functional, lushly orchestrated ballad is the first rack from the forthcoming LP The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows.  Out in November. Just in time for Christmas for dads. Maybe the odd mom. Well done, Damon. It's good, it's a heartfelt rendering, but I just don't have time to listen to it again. Not to diminish his performance in any way, but the hair right now is interesting isn't it? As an aspiring skullet wearer, is that an aspiring mullet?


MILE HIGH CLUB - A New High (Stones Throw Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

I first heard of the Mild High Club when they opened for Wire at the Echo around 2015 -- I think it was their first Los Angeles gig. It’s hard to believe Mild High opened for such a loud, brash post-punk guitar band considering these two couldn't be more opposite if they tried (props to the Echo’s booker for putting together such a unique and effective one-two punch of a lineup). “A New High” has the light touches of MHC’s previous work, except it sounds like they were listening to a lot of João Gilberto, his daughter Bebel Gilberto, and a fuck-ton of Sergio Mendez while they were getting stoned during quarantine. Easy, breezy Bossa Nova for a world that doesn’t deserve such grooviness.


KAMASI WASHINGTON - My Friend of Misery (Blackened Recordings)
by Lee Paul

If this sounds weird, if this sounds like Kamasi Washington by numbers, oh it probably is. That's the cover version thing isn't it? You have to put your own stamp on it and Kamasi Washington here has virtually turned this terrible Metallica track into Kamasi Washington library music. All of the excellent elements are present. From a whole LP of Metallica covers, covered by your favorites.


EPs

RICO NASTY - Archives EP (Soundcloud)
by Tim London

More dressing up hiphop. I approve that the look is gothlollitaindustrialpunk, to challenge the bodycon nazis. Switch Places is a sparse beat and a hoarse voice I’d listen to again, How Ya Feel is a teenage bedroom on synthesised presets, the rest of the tracks more of the same.


LPs

ANDREW W.K. - God Is Partying (Napalm Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

I don’t know what to make of Andrew W.K. anymore. It’s been a decade I’ve actively gone out and listened to any material of his, post I Get Wet. We all know how fun and rambunctious I Get Wet was: “Party Hard,” “She is Beautiful,” "Party til You Puke,” “Fun Night” -- his entire debut LP had the glorious irreverence of Licensed to Ill. Then the rumors started to spring up a few years later: “Andrew W.K. is a record company experiment” and “They’ve replaced the original Andrew with a new lookalike Andrew.” A couple years later, the current “Andrew” sort of copped to the record company scam. Is Andrew W.K. a music industry concept? A shill? An indentured servant? It’s all very possible, but it smells fishy. You know what else smells like week-old fish? Andrew’s latest LP: God Is Partying.


ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS - Spanish Model (Universal Music Group)
by Spanish Pantalones

That fucking Elvis Costello -- how smart is this old knocker? The magnificent bastard got a bunch of sexy Spanish-speaking Latin artists you’ve never heard of like Draco Rosa, Fito Páez, Nicole Zignago, Jorge Drexler, Juanes (well, you’ve heard of Juanes), and had them all sing songs from New Model Army to the original New Model Army master tracks. What should have been a gimmicky karaoke LP destined for the cut-out bin actually sounds fresh and peppy.


THE STRANGLERS - Dark Matters (Coursegood)
by Spanish Pantalones

Although COVID-19 claimed one of the The Stranglers’ founding members in Dave Greenfield who died in May 2020, it didn’t stop the band from carrying on and producing a solid LP with all the hallmarks you’ve come to love and cherish. You’re not going to find a “Golden Brown” or “No More Heroes” on Dark Matters, but if this is the band’s swan song, it’s a good note to go out on.


SAINT ETIENNE - I've Been Trying To Tell You (Heavenly)
by Spanish Pantalones

With I’ve Been Trying To Tell You, Saint Etienne haven’t created a standard album as much as they’ve patched together a sophisticated score for their new film, (also titled I’ve Been Trying To Tell You.) Bob Stanley says the album (which should be listened to from front to back -- no skipping) is a look back at the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when the world seemed a little larger, seeped in blind optimism. Another beautiful collection of songs from London’s modernaires.


GWAR - Scumdogs XXX Live (Metal Blade Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

The guy who programs Guantanamo Bay’s music torture playlist just got new material to choose from.


DONNY OSMOND - Start Again (BMG)
by Spanish Pantalones

This album has the putrid stink of desperation on it, but you know, I have to give it up for Donny Osmond -- he’s a grinder, an earnest grinder, and it’s painfully obvious that he wants to be accepted again. Osmond comes from the Joan Rivers school of hard knocks that tells you to always be performing, always have new material, always take a shot at relevance, even if your new material doesn’t hit its mark. So what did he do in the case of his 65th release? He looks like he might have packed his face with Botox (he’s literally unrecognizable!), he sounds like he hired the best songwriters and producers his money can buy, and re-upped his Pro Tools subscription, and released this -- Start Again, which I’m sure is more of a wish than an album title.


BAD WAITRESS - No Taste (Royal Mountain)
by Spanish Pantalones

I admittedly had never heard of Bad Waitresses until a copy of No Taste landed in my mailbox. “Not bad,” I said to myself. “There’s something here -- it’s a little glossy and it sounds like an overeager producer put an unnecessary commercial sheen to it, but it doesn’t suck.” Then I went back and listened to some of their older material from Party Bangers Volume: 1 (highly recommend) and realized that that’s the version of Bad Waitresses I like: raw, loud, bratty, sexy, and lo-fi with fuck-tons of catchy hooks -- sorta like The Runaways meets The Replacements. Diamonds in the rough, as they say. No Taste sounds a lot like The Donnas: safe and familiar.


Main Image: Meat Bodies video screengrab

Lee Paul

I like to look at things while listening to things I am not looking at. But doesn't everyone.
about Lee Paul »»

Seven heavy, fuzzy, distorted, psychedelic, dark, druggy, and muddy dirges from Monrovia...

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