Throughout 2021, OUTSIDELEFT's Week in Music delivered an idiosyncratic array of opinions and comments on the records that reached us, and mattered to us and some that really didn't matter to us at all. Way too many titles to list here. Instead, throughout this week a totally randomized smattering of what we called Singles reviews. A mere 50 fab tunes revisited and reordered, from A-Z by song title!
Such Small Hands (ft. David Gedge)
All I Want
Oh. We're such big fans of Such Small Hands, which is principally, and generally only, Melanie Howard. Melanie's voice, hmmmm, that's really a beautifully distantly wistful thing. And a little like last weeks' record of the week artist, Tasha, Melanie dares to be quiet. But no less emotionally devastating for that. Check Melanie's LP, Carousel. Wow! All I Want is once more, a shared inner monologue on a lonely acoustic guitar peninsula. But yo'... There's an interloper, and David Gedge interpolates with deftness and grace. Sounding for all the world like a giantly pained untethered Crusoe, as Howard wrestles with... Gedge the emotional support animal on a long flight. Cat Lady and Dog Man, how do they work it out? Together then, the Peters and Lee of indie rock. That good. Even if you keep your fingers stuck in your ears for the rest of the week (in Music and out), remove them to hear this. It's a beautiful thing.
And When I Die
Leave behind your presumptions about all of those 'previously unreleased' recordings that should have, frankly, remained unreleased. This is different, 'And When I Die' is the opening song from Laura Nyro's 1966 audition tape and it's magnificent for so many reasons.
That extraordinarily soulful voice that moves from vulnerable to powerful, the wisdom and sophistication of the lyrics, (she was only 18 years old when she recorded this), the gospel feel to a song that is far from gospel. And her solo piano accompaniment is equally staggering. The song would later be a hit for Blood Sweat and Tears (one of many Nyro penned songs that were hits for other artists). Her 'full band' version can be found on 'The First Songs' but the rawness of this audition tape has the edge.
The album of the audition tapes 'Go Find the Moon' will be released on 10 September on Omnivore Recordings.
Duran Duran are funny - I don’t mean weird, I mean, actually, funny. Morecambe and Wise funny. Their sense of humour runs through their career like a lipstick number repeated on the walls of toilet booths in every nightclub in every nation… Here, they do Duran Duran with knobs on. The song sounds like an amalgamation of every uptempo DD tune and Le Bon’s voice appears to be have been preserved since the 1980s in a test tube. The video features an attempt at recreating a glamorous party in a stately home in the manner of the ever aggressively aspirational way of post-New Romantics, which is funny by itself, because DD were always more about a sweaty nightclub with fag burns on the carpet than films stars and models. Seeing the original members saying hello to the fake lookalikes hired to mime the tune in the vid brings to mind the owners of a chain of sports shops blessing their sons. Watch the video - it will make you smile. It also feels very much like a goodbye and I salute their self belief in an age saturated with music and images; they believe that Duran Duran matters. Comedy is a serious business.
Wow! A great ethereal intro, love the slow simple phrasing, the understated instrumentation underpinning a wistful vocal. This is chill out, cool down music, this is music for relaxation, contemplation, and reflection I loved this. There's breathlessness, an anxious unknowing present in the music. Heard this first thing. Those OL people send over stuff throughout the night. This was a great way to start the day. Really Great.
Emma Ruth Rundle
Blooms of Oblivion
Blooms of Oblivion begins with a great soundscape, the roar of the storm, and a soft disturbingly quiet solo guitar. In an almost a tired whisper, Emma Ruth Rendle calls to Judas, tired of love, tired of her own life. Later a piano drops in underpinning the melancholy permeating the song, evoking moss on a tree, mist at dawn, sunrise on a placid sea. The sense is one of tragic loss, regret words not said, it's sudden drop dead ending is a shock to the heart, almost as life has been checked out on. This not Joni Mitchell, nor Sade, this could be Adel, with harder lessons, more intense pain, longer suffering and tougher to take loss. But... if you find Adel's painTM all a bit too sad without tragedy, a bit too lost lover all too easy recover from, and you want your losses deep, in the base of your soul, this could be the song for you. A major and serious voice.
There's something joyous and delightful about the perfectly lush, yet perfectly imperfect Discodor. Bonjour Capitaine! comes from their eponymously titled album released just a little while ago. Bonjour Capitaine! is dreamy and escape-y, if you wish to travel oh this will take you. The light and color of the South of France, where i believe this to be crafted, sparkles through, it's an influential element. And a big bonus is the joy of the long, telegraphed back to shore fade out. Gently weightless bliss.
There's potential in Olivia Rodrigo. I like the Wendy James/Courtney Barnett influences, but I hesitate to do any research on her, nor do I want to listen to anymore of her music. As it is, I already know too much: She's a Disney Kid and she's from Murrieta, California (those who've been to Murrieta know). My suspicion is that the rest of the LP "brutal" comes from is disappointing. If this kid can find a good producer who knows how to make new music sound old (like a Mark Ronson), she has a chance to rise from being another failed teenage actor/singer.
I don't know anything about music, so I just go ahead and guess Jeff Tweedy is still a hot property. I once asked a woman from Chicago if she partied with him and she ended the conversation shortly after. Whatch ya gonna do?
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.
The sound of Young Isle of Wight. It's true. Wet Legs are Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers and their Chaise Longue single is lyrical, dryly hilarious, potent stab of new wave rock. It's equally fortunate and unfortunate I guess that it already sounds like music to an Apple commercial. The commercials where the agency lets the young people take control. Hear this, you won't be disappointed not even for a moment. Since it is great from the beginning to end. What's not to love?
Main Photo: Such Small Hands' Melanie Howard by Jessica McMillan
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