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Outsideleft Week in Music We're hearing from The The, Rufus Wainwright, Neil Young, Years and Years, Poppy, Big Red Machine, Princess Nokia, Laura Nyro, Sam Fender, Ministry, Fleet Foxes, Deerhoof, KUNZITE, Penelope Isles, Velvet Starlings, The Weather Station, Amon Tobin, Empath, Springtime, Luke Wild, La Luz, Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul, Grace Cummings, Ichiko Aoba, Katelyn Tarver, BLACKSTARKIDS and many more

Outsideleft Week in Music

We're hearing from The The, Rufus Wainwright, Neil Young, Years and Years, Poppy, Big Red Machine, Princess Nokia, Laura Nyro, Sam Fender, Ministry, Fleet Foxes, Deerhoof, KUNZITE, Penelope Isles, Velvet Starlings, The Weather Station, Amon Tobin, Empath, Springtime, Luke Wild, La Luz, Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul, Grace Cummings, Ichiko Aoba, Katelyn Tarver, BLACKSTARKIDS and many more

by Tim London,
first published: October, 2021

approximate reading time: minutes

Matt Johnson's The The. Dignified.


THE THE - The Comeback Special (Cinaola Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

Matt Johnson must be the busiest recluse in all of rock and roll. A little research shows that he’s mostly been scoring film and television now, but The Comeback Special is the document of his 2018 return with The The after a 16-year hiatus. It’s a dignified live album filled with polished versions of some of the band’s best hits and misses. Highly recommended.


by Ancient Champion

This Gay Messiah, a great one, sounds like a major or minor chord elegy for leaving or staying. One or the other or a bit of the other and not the one thing. Gorgeous and laconically swinging, with less of the histrionics than the Rufus pretenders. You know who they are. Rufus has always, always been a superior writer and so lyrical, "He will then be reborn, From 1970's porn, Wearing tubesocks with style, And such an innocent smile." My favorite lyric to mention porn since Ron & Nancy's Blow My Horn. "I won't practice what I learnt from porn, until you say you move me like John Zorn..." Look out Ron & Nancy, John Hinckley to be released next year, Jodie Foster just won't listen. Still. Gay Messiah, pure joy to hear really. You know that Wainwright's daughter, is Leonard Cohen's granddaughter. So much showbiz. (Read all about Rufus in Outisdeleft contributor, Lake's great bio of the man, There Will Be Rainbows)

ANDY SHAUF - Jaywalker (Anti)
by Tim London

Jaywalking in the USA is often pretty much illegal and, if you’re in Los Angeles, makes car drivers think you’re part of the Manson family. It’s an interesting little rebellion in a country that allows you to wander around openly carrying the sort of cannon that fires bullets that would penetrate a fridge door (don’t hide in the fridge!). On this cutesy lickle toon it seems Andy has been joined in his bedroom by Vini Reilly of the Durutti Column, or at least someone who knows how to position his guitar pick-up between pick-ups, a dangerous act wherein you might sound like Mark Knopfler or, even worse, Eric Clapton in his heroin denial phase. Thankfully, Andy stays just the right side of the kerb.

SPRINGTIME - Will To Power (Tropical Fuck Storm)
by Tim London

Gareth Liddiard, a Dickensian Joe Strummer, from the gothic streets of a London recreated in clapboard in the stupid heat of the great European folly of Australia. Whereas Strummer’s anger resulted in a kind of aggressive shrug Liddiard projects his forlorn hope into the wobbling strings of his Fender Jaguar guitar, while he sings of a bleak situation that, as he explains it further, you realise is much worse than you thought. With this project, Liddiard fronts a three man gang of old protestors, once more unfurling the banners, slipping a hip flask into the old leather jacket and heading out for a final attempt at out-gurning the police horses and showing Generation Cuddles how it it used to be done. Political, passionate and desperately sad, all at once.

HOVVDY - Blindsided (Grand Jury)
by Tim London

Traditional American balloon flying music.

by Tim London

Never trust a man who sings ’so many eggs in the bathtub’ like the singer from The Knack.

SAM FENDER - Spit Of You (Interscope)
by Toon Traveller

I have to declare interest... Sam is from 'Toon Traveller Land' and there are not too many of them I know of at the Gen X end of Market, (but as confirmed baby boomer why / how would I know anything)? As for Sam's song, pleasant intro, easy to tap your fingers to, there's a relaxed feel, an man in love and filled with the confidence that love brings, and the hopes and pain it brings,. This sounds like a man who thought he knew what love was until he met the lover in this song, not so much a song of love and passion, more a song that talks of a self discovery and new heights and hopes. Not too sure I liked it, but it's a cut above most of the songs passed to me from the outsideleft - do they only give me the crap ones? The only thing I don't like is what sounds like a drum machine, and the slight USA west coast rock feel... BUT that 80's stadium rock has been so pervasive, (like 80's fretless bass in pop) that's it's hard to avoid and almost expected.

KATELYN TARVER - Nicer (Compliments Only)
by Tim London

If you’ve never been to the USA then there are some things that might shock you on your first visit. The way Black people are forced to live very separate lives, the way that extreme poverty is just accepted sitting right next to extreme privilege, how bad the cheapest food is, the general lack of empathy. But this is only because European hypocrisy is less honest. We’re much better at it than the yanks, but then, we’ve had more practise. The other shocking things are the resolute blandness of much of their country-tinged pop music and that blonde cheer-leaders playing with their long hair is as prevalent over there as it is over here.

BRIMHEIM - Poison Fizzing On A Tongue (W.A.S. Entertainment)
by Toon Traveller

Brimheim bring a great mysterious synthetic low tempo beat of an opening... that mystery is poison fizzing in a  tongue - how many of us know what that feels like? Steel strings offer a hint of cinematic noir just around the corner. A refreshingly original artist. Unbound by trend. The Can't Help Myself Into A Different Shape will be available later in the year. This is music for the soul searchers, searching for  and valuing the beauty their imagination brings to the music. Brimheim is not a casual listen, it's not background sound. Herein are hidden sapphires of multifaceted delight. And there are suits of armour at moments. 

FLEET FOXES - Featherweight (Anti)
by Tim London

This is a single from FF’s last ‘Anti-album’ Shore released last year, and, as a package with the video, could be an out-take from Watership Down, The Movie. It’s lovely, if you like the smell of a clothes conditioner on freshly laundered long pants as worn beneath rustic jeans by a poacher who has recently been tamed by a sassy schoolmarm from the big city. Pants is English for what you wear beneath your trousers, cousin.

TINA - Closest Shave (Speedy Wunderground)
by Tim London

Man sings in annoying falsetto. Man’s partner tells him to stop, cos it’s annoying

by Tim London

Metrosexual. Internet cafe. Privilege.

YEARS AND YEARS - Crave (Polydor)
by Lee Paul

Could be anyone. But is someone with a profile even more massively elevated by Russell T Davies. Olly. The new Dr Who?

by Toon Traveller

You might think given poster sized 70s blaxploitation movie art that accompanies the record that here comes some massive Superfly, Shaft funk marvel. Nope, nothing like that here. Here we have stripped simple computer drum patterns, "Boys are from Mars and Girls and from Venus." I'd heard that somewhere.
That's about it, basic and repetitive and nothing like the poster - in the words of the old adage DOES NOT DO what it says on the tin. BUt it does not do it with some lyrical humour. I'll give it that.

by Tim London

With a little acid twinge, ready made for the catwalk, a heavily mannered spoken verse or two that recreates the kind of New York conversation Londoners secretly yearn for, the kind that is as sincere as a Warhol compliment. Over the top of a 4X4 kick drum and then some nice little poppy twists and tickles from both vocals and synths. Apparently written as revenge for unwanted advice, if I say, ‘could be a little bit faster’ does that get me a song, too?

ANOTHER MICHAEL - What the Hell is Going On? (Cordova Session)
by Tim London

You can’t ride a mule in skinny jeans.

JEREMIAH MOON - Kinds Of Light
by Tim London

‘Bless my tea and oranges’ he sang across the kitchen table, too early in the morning to be taken seriously. She was always going to leave him and she did.

EMPATH - Born 100 Times (Fat Possum)
by Tim London

Ooh, they captured a moment, a special moment. I hope she’s pretty. I hope the drummer has a mullet. I hope they split up after their first album. Five stars.

ICHIKO AOBA - Porcelain (live at Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Tokyo, 2021) (Ba Da Bing Records)
by Tim London

A portly, middle-aged man, pirouetting down the hill in an Autumn park in Birmingham, listening to this.

ULTRA Q - Hand Held (Royal Mountain)
by Tim London

Don’t watch that - watch this: …unless the prospect of another dreary dumdumdum indielandfill song sung by the son of someone from precise punks Greenday fills you with joy. Same label, and five years old, but Kokoko! is NOW and urgent and necessary. Whereas Ultra Q belongs in the rehearsal rooms of a music college as students rehearse for their end of year late 1990s tribute musical, ‘Bring Back Guitars and Backwards Baseball Caps, Mr Chips’ whilst dreaming of burgers.

MILD HIGH CLUB - It's Over Again (Stones Throw)
by Tim London

Jazzfunk through a glass of absinthe.

LA LUZ - Oh, Blue (Hardly Art)
by Ancient Champion

La Luz release the fourth single from their forthcoming self-titled LP. Something's going on for sure. They certainly have good taste in vintage guitars and organ sounds so what's not to love. Oh, Blue is a bit of surf ballad, swamped in reverb. Well not swamped. But nice use of the whammy bar beyond the grips of consciousness, La Luz might say. It's a great vibe for sure. 

PENELOPE ISLES - Sudoku (Bella Union)
by Tim London

I’m just going to quickly review a comment below the video: ‘As a musician, I found this deeply satisfying.  As an engineer, I found it a bit painful’ made by Andreas Sims. Andreas, remind me not to record in your studio. Now, here’s the music… layered, reverbed, headphoned, flopping about in the water. My guess is that Andreas didn’t like the trebled guitar overdubs and that’s the very thing I am focussing on here. Like chipping slate in a canyon… when the track creates a slate-fall of clashing notes I forgive the lack of purpose and swim for a moment in the painful joy.

DEERHOOF - Scarcity is Manufactured (Joyful Noise)
by Toon Traveller

Wow! Talk about a throw back  back to the 70s. 80s prog rock without the pomp. Great drums and staccato beats, if you loved Marillion, or the Darkness, this may be the track fo you, it reeks of tie dye and cheese cloth. Do I love it - no - would I have loved at 16? No. I know lottsa people who would have loved it, loud and dirty.  The voice and guitar crashes make me smile, memories , the cheek of the recycled music, who cares, no not a track i'd play and nothing new to say, but as a piece of harmless fun, it's wonderful. 

THE CORPS - Hazardous (Thousand Island)
by Tim London

Midwife to new mother, 'It’s a gang!'

by Toon Traveller

Grace Cummings has a great rasping voice, backed by a simple, she really does have a stellar range. Grace's is a voice full of life's pain and experience. Grace sounds like a woman who has lived, really lived, and I mean  Starship's Grace Slick lived.  This sounds like the legacy of desperate times, low fi, low down bars, losers and boozers. It's... bag shouldered, hat on, last tabled settled up and out the door. If not to the promised land, at least a stop on the way to esperanza, and a place we all need to head for in these days of shortages, madness, and despair, that seems to rise like an autumnal fog and mist - we all need to take steps, get on trains, fly planes to hope. The only thing though, the video is awful, take a tip switch it off and float in a pain that reminds us where recovery starts from any loss. PS a few of the other tracks from the LP are stupendous - this sounds like a star in the making - no idea if she's had 1,000,000 downloads or 10, this sounds like a Star is Born.

LUKE WILD - PIE feat. Deb Never (Terrible Records)
by Tim London

They thought they were building a funky go cart from a crate but it looks like a Honda Civic.

DEAR LAIKA - Black Moon, Lilith (Memorials of Distinction & NNA Tapes)
by Tim London

There’s a magnificent bit at the end, as if Colin Bluntstone’s string arranger falls into a nest of jaggy nettles

BIG RED MACHINE - Magnolia (Jagjaguwar / 37d03d)
by Tim London

Very efficient. Just about two notes, mainly, over the top of some very efficient, bloodlessly gentle coffee stirring muso-shipness.

BLACKSTARKIDS - All Cops Are Bastards (Dirty Hit)
by Tim London

Of course, a single with that kind of title will not herald an Oi! revival from some frat boy/Proud Boy fools but will arrive wrapped in the painfully primary colours of some floppy bedroom kids challenging macho and genre and ready to fizz up and explode like an over-shaken space age fake-fruit drink.


VARIOUS ARTISTS - I'll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve)
by Ancient Champion

Maybe something to do with the new Todd Haynes movie, which is worth seeing. Here your modern stars rehashing the Velvets is a bit like stars of yesteryears rehashing the Velvets. Only mainly worse. Michael Stipe's Sunday Morning, is pretty flawless though, delivered like he's a true believer in those types of Sunday Mornings. Interesting to see which of the tracks have streamed the most - Michael's not doing so great, maybe either no one remembers him or no one wants to hear another Sunday Morning. Ten times as many people have listened to Matt Berninger's Waiting For My Man. Convincingly Matt sounds like he has never waited for a man. I don't know maybe he didn't hear the backing track. I like the idea of that. It's useless. The Velvet Underground, one of the more useful bands of all time. The rest you should pick over for yourself. I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico

and I wanted to put this on here too, it is so terribly pulsating. That must mean something to someone.

LAURA NYRO - Go Find the Moon (Omnivore Recordings)
by Jay Lewis

'Dont let's ask for the moon, when we've got the stars...'

It's hard not to think of Bette Davis famous line from 'Now Voyager' when hearing the title song of this collection. To be damned with just pocketing a few stars along the way though, in this romance, Laura is asking for the moon. It would be foolish to deny her.

Although this audition tape is less than 20 minutes, it's easily the most extraordinary record in, well, many a moon. In between the fragments, false starts, and studio talk are a handful of, as yet, unheard songs, and they're all gems.  'Enough of You' is an end of relationship song that is as damning a goodbye as Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice, It's Alright'. Opener 'And When I Die' has wisdom that belies her age (she was only 18 years old when she recorded this), with a gospel song that is far from gospel. Essential.

It's time to ask for the moon...

POPPY - Flux (Sumerian Records)
by Erin

Erin says, Poppy's new LP Flux is a little bit futuristic and a little bit rocknroll and never stays still for long enough to be categorized... read Erin's review right here

AMON TOBIN - How Do You Live (Nomark)
by Toon Traveller

I'm checking Phaedra from Amon Tobin's new LP, How Do You Live, one of the early tracks sent over and...Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space. Given that, Phaedra's not the slow drift cotton wall cloud of the hippy drippy 70's synth, it is far, far darker, harder, meaner, and moves through to pounding the industrial funk. A warm welcome awaits on the floors of avant garde electro club, this is music with passion power and purpose and bodes well for the full length.

THE WEATHER STATION - Ignorance (Deluxe Edition) (Fat Possum)
by Jay Lewis

October's here and this deluxe edition of Tamara Lindeman's lyrical masterpiece is a huge reminder that I need to get my shit together with the Outsideleft end-of-year review.

This'll be near the very top, that's all I'm going to say at this moment...

NEIL YOUNG - Carnie Hall 1970 (Shakey Pictures Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

The first release of a new Neil Young collection: The Neil Young Official Bootleg Series. Your grandfather has already adjusted his Social Security budget accordingly.

VELVET STARLINGS - Technicolour Shakedown (Sound x 3 Records)
by Tim London

What does it mean when an 18 year-old makes an album in ‘his’ front room in Los Angeles of 1960s style garage rock? Tim London ponders this and so many other things in our full Velvet Starlings LP review here

MINISTRY - Moral Hygiene (Nuclear Blast Records)
by Spanish Pantalones

After over three decades and 15 or so albums, you know what you’re getting with Al Jourgensen. This time out, Uncle Al busts out a political album about the state of the world. At least he does it in his natural accent now.

Main Image: Matt Johnson Youtube screengrab.

Tim London

Tim London is a musician, music producer and writer. Originally from a New Town in Essex he is at home amidst concrete and grand plans for the working class. Tim's latest thriller, Smith, is available now. Find out more at

about Tim London »»



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