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Outsideleft Week in Music: Glorious Games with El Michels and Black Thought We're hearing from... El Michels Affair and Black Thought, TEKE::TEKE, New Order, Sparks, Tom Waits, Jeremy Gluck and Paul Hazel, Simply Red, Eddie Chacon, Rudy De Anda, De La Soul, Lisa Said, Esben & The Witch, Scott Crow, Glitter Wizard, Eyesore & The Jinx, Iguana Death Cult, AJJ, McKinley-Dixon, Laura T, Alice Low, Joanna Sternberg, David Heatley, Beach Fossils, Bobby Harden and the Soulful Saints, Dippers, Les Imprimes, Evangeline Playboys, Alma, Anika + NI Vash and The Tallest Man on Earth

Outsideleft Week in Music: Glorious Games with El Michels and Black Thought

We're hearing from... El Michels Affair and Black Thought, TEKE::TEKE, New Order, Sparks, Tom Waits, Jeremy Gluck and Paul Hazel, Simply Red, Eddie Chacon, Rudy De Anda, De La Soul, Lisa Said, Esben & The Witch, Scott Crow, Glitter Wizard, Eyesore & The Jinx, Iguana Death Cult, AJJ, McKinley-Dixon, Laura T, Alice Low, Joanna Sternberg, David Heatley, Beach Fossils, Bobby Harden and the Soulful Saints, Dippers, Les Imprimes, Evangeline Playboys, Alma, Anika + NI Vash and The Tallest Man on Earth

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

approximate reading time: minutes

the El Michels Affair, if there's a game, if there's a top to it, that's where Leon Michels is at now. May he never come down.

SINGLES

EYESORE & THE JINX - An Ideas Man (Self Released (so no label))
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by Alan Rider

You know there is something about Liverpool's Eyesore & The Jinx that just reminds me so much of all those great post punk bands like Gang of Four, Delta Five, The Fall, Pere Ubu and so on.  That's a mark of respect by the way. They've released some great singles, all jittery and itchy in the way that gets under your skin like an internal rash, niggling away at you until you can't stop thinking about it.  'An ideas Man', their first new release since 2020, is indisputedly another one of those. "I fuckin' hate landlords" they say in their Press Notice, to such an extent they wrote a song about it. Good for them. They definitely have something worthwhile going on here. Think Gang of Four crossed with The Fall.  You see, I was right.


EL MICHELS AFFAIR AND BLACK THOUGHT - Glorious Game (Big Crown Records)
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by LamontPaul

Fucking brilliant... Nothing less really. Even the video. Possibly one of Thought's best. And the El Michels Affair, if there's a game, if there's a top to it, that's where Leon Michels is at now. This is the title track from the much anticipated Glorious Game LP which comes out on April 14th.


ANIKA + NI VASH - No Fly Zone (Bandcamp)
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by Alan Rider

I love a good cause but hate charity singles.  Nasty, syrupy things, all smugness and Sting. No Fly Zone is very much the exception though. A collaboration between Iran-based musicians and artists, and Anika, all profits from this release go directly to support a UK-based charitable organisation, who are campaigning for human rights, for women's equality and the fight against government oppression via demonstrations, conferences and publications, offering legal support to those in need. Reading that you'd have expected this to be an ethnic Iranian folk protest song.  What you get though is an amazing four minutes of experimental tones and monotones completely unlike any charity single you have ever heard. "Join us in the fight for human rights. Join us in the fight against government oppression. This is a world-wide fight. This is your fight." they declare in the PR blurb. "Tell us of freedom - to give birth to air" Anika intones over an ominous synth drone. If this was intended to unsettle and disturb, then it's right on the mark. Although it is unlikely to raise much in the way of funds for the cause, this may very well be an imaginary soundtrack to regime change. "I want to hear your words" she says. I do too.


JEREMY GLUCK AND PAUL HAZEL - the End of Rock and Roll (Bambooradical)
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by Lee Paul

A new single form Gluck and Hazel, the Bacharach and David of the cut up scene. Here they address the early history of the legendary Sun Records. There's a full review right here⇒


IGUANA DEATH CULT - Pushermen (Innovative leisure)
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by Alan Rider

Can you award five hearts on the strength of a video? I just did, though the song is pretty cool too and rolls along in a nice sort of way.  Iguana Death Cult also have a great name. 'Pusherman' is the kind of single you'd be happy to have blasting out of your car radio any day and even better if the weather is good enough to have the top down.  The video is about a fictional green screen casting session for a movie called Pushermen.  Its silly.  The song is a bit silly too tbh, but I just like it, so cut me a break here won't you?


EDDIE CHACON - Sundown (Stones Throw)
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by Toon Traveller

The title track from Eddie's LP which will grace the stage on March 31st. Love the shuffling drum into, the slinky seeping in of the strings. Eddie is a cool as a snowy view, warm as winter sun. As sultry and silky as a singer could be. Meandering in a heat haze. Latin 70s Jazz, Flora Purim, Astrud Gilberto, all in here. Sounds like who Paul Weller saw himself wanting to be for a while. And well, he always wanted to be someone. Then someone else. And Eddie, just being his self, feeling the zeitgeist, feeling the feel, feeling the groove, feeling the ethos, the mythos, all them things in single song. Truly epic.


DIPPERS - Tightening The Tangles (Goner)
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by Toon Traveller

From their forthcoming LP Clastic Rock, they named it! Australia's Dippers get directly into it on the single, Tightening The Tangles, with a great rock intro, jagged guitar, slightly ironic voice. Keeping on the charming side of cute. Great individual lyric lines, seemingly unconnected, but there's magic in them spaces. It's got that post 70's rock, slightly childish playfulness, verbal nonsense, but not in a bad way.  Words amuse, mystify, leaving me querying, inspiration? Who? When? Track ends, eyes closed, melody hummed, fingers drummed. THEN, then, a splash of perspiration, a dash of memory reclamation, swish of imagination... Eureka I have it! Brian Eno, post Roxy Music, pre-ambient, that's it, that's the memory. Five hearts, I was late to Brian Eno, but thankfully earlier to this. 


AJJ - Death Machine (Hopeless Records)
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by Alan Rider

Never was a record label more aptly named than Hopeless Records.  Green Day have cursed the earth, and us, with thousands of bands like AJJ.  They all think they are both hilarious and radical. They are not.  AJJ are going out on tour supporting The Front Bottoms.  That says it all.


BOBBY HARDEN AND THE SOULFUL SAINTS - One Night Of The Week (BQE Records/Dala Records)
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by Toon Traveller

If after that Boss soul business, a palette cleanser is in order then soul man Bobby Harden brings it. This has all of the gorgeous classic tropes from back in the day. And the voice too. Imbued with hope. This is old, OLD school soul, it's got the lot, pained vocals, the backing vocalists, sweet and hugging syrup, cream on peaches. WTF, it's bloody class, bet he's brill live.


MCKINLEY-DIXON - Run, Run, Run (City Slang)
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by Toon Traveller

Starts with that "skipping" CD sound, nice idea, into some pretty standard rap, does the voice make me want to listen? Yeup. The music, does it swing? Yeup. There's a lot going on here, some lovely 70s Jazz influenced sounds. That sense of hope, belief in better days to come.  We all need that in these recession ravaged, poverty rising, fear stalked days that more than a few of us all face. Throwing hope in adversity's face. 


LAURA T - In My Head (Independant)
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by Tim Sparks

I dropped on this while surfing new artists in music forums, and the super-dry electronic style got my attention straight away, the single kick drum and pulsing bass synth has a weird kind of trance like attraction. Laura's vocal style compliments this, and the rhythm pattern really well, just enough double tracking and harmony lines to keep the vibe going. The fact the the whole song revolves a single note is offset by the vocal melodies and the sparing use of percussion and effects. Something quite different to what I'm hearing on the current music scene... I quite like it. 


ALICE LOW - Fruitcake (Clwb Music Publishing)
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by John Robinson

Her first EP is due out April, and we have already given a very positive review to previous single Show Business, so pleased to report that second single Fruitcake is equally joyous. It's half Scott Walker, partly Bowie in highly glam phase, a bit of Billy Mackenzie in the multi tracked vocals, harmonies and phasing. She's a fruitcake all right, a lovely moist one. The chorus soars and the song flips from torch song, to guitar solo via noir shimmer and stomp. Needless to say, the lyrics are confrontational, personal and cathartic: "I've got to change my face, this one's a fake, but what a beautiful meaningless fake...". All very promising for future albums...


LES IMPRIMES - I'll Never Leave (Big Crown)
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by Lee Paul

Les Imprimés, let me say, the Norwegians know their soul.


THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH - Henry St. (Anti-)
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by John Robinson

The second single and title track from Kristian Matsson's upcoming new album is sparse, beautiful and melancholic. He sings - and it's a great voice - over piano, a song of ambitions thwarted and realised. Contradicting the optimism of his band name, "I'm a little dude in the scape of songs, I know I'm wrong, I just feel it right". The lyrics, relating a road trip through the U.S. to an internalised quest for identify, could be hackneyed, but the poignancy of Matsson's voice, cracking in the right places, and the elegant piano which closes the piece, courtesy of Phil Cook (of Megafaun), make this a moving hymn to uncertainty. 


JOANNA STERNBERG - I've Got Me (Fat Possum)
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by Toon Traveller

This instantly reminded me of the 70s esoteric, and sadly overlooked songstress Melanie Safka, a long-forgotten yet wonderful singer songwriter. Joanna's lyrics are full of recognition of who she is. Her message, "Don't beat yourself up, there's the world out there to do that, so be kind to yourself."  Is an honest appraisal we need more of.  Treasure yourself and others. Remember, faults, we all got 'em, it's called humanity, it's intrinsic. This is big on the hope antidote to these self-loathing, guru-seeking, e-trolling days. Really, really great.


TEKE::TEKE - Garakuta (Kill Rock Stars)
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by Lee Paul

Teke::Teke return with the first exciting sounds from their new summertime LP, Hagata, this track, Garakuta discusses disposability in society and culture in a gigantic way. Maya Kuroki said, "I imagined a world where everything we throw out came back to protest…" With well, instrumentation. Wild and relentless. Like no other. This is enormous eclectic exciting stuff.


BEACH FOSSILS - Don't Fade Away (Bayonet)
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by Alan Rider

Beach Fossils like New Order.  They have all their albums. They didn't tell me that by the way. I guessed.  It wasn't that hard to guess either. One listen to 'Don't Fade Away' will do it. Its pleasantly catchy though, and sticks with you a little after.  Or am I thinking of New Order?  I really can't tell any more.


RUDY DE ANDA - WYD (Colemine)
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by Ancient Champion

Rudy lines up all the right people to get just the sounds for WYD an epic for sure. Helpmates include Daniel Villareal and the dude from Black Pumas who lent out the studio. Originally from Los Angeles/Long Beach and renowned for his psych-soul-rock, Rudy doesn't let go of that here. Kind of reminds me too, of what I love about the more soulful smiley moments spent in the company of Anderson Paak. But this single is a wonder. An artist to be excited about. Rudy's next full length LP, the excellently titled Closet Botanist comes out on April 28th.


DAVID HEATLEY - If (Soundcloud)
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by Toon Traveller

What a happy start to a  Monday David Heatley provides, think pure pop meets, a way out west. Leftfield, with a sorta zydeco-lite vibe. Happy sound, this is pure summer, sings of sunshine and Pina Coladas in the lazy holidays', sun kissed, poolside bar. This truly is the purest of pure pop. It's just a  - a - feel good on grey hopeless Monday, a smile in the face of UK's cost of living crisis. I love the repeated riff, skipping like kids hand in hand, memories of happy beach side days. Ab fab.


ALMA - Hey Mom Hey Dad (Epic)
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by Tim London

How are you? I don't care. As we are reminded that Randy Newman was just the beginning of decades of plodding self regard when it comes to singer songwriters I mainly wonder how much extra the dolly track which features prominently in the set at the top of the video cost. That’s because I don’t care about Alma’s navel gazing too much. It’s not their fault, I am not the target audience. I seldom am. Me. I want to talk about me. In this review.


ESBEN & THE WITCH - True Mirror (Nostromo Records)
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by Alan Rider

Esben & The Witch have changed considerably from the glorious post punk noise previously displayed on tracks like the superb 'No Dog'. 'True  Mirror' is an introspective probe into self loathing, stripped back and pulled along by the pulsating heartbeat of a muted bass drum, tangential guitar work, and bassist and singer Rachel Davis's ethereally melancholy vocals.  Accompanied by one of their trademark, and similarly well crafted, black and white videos, its a masterclass in detachment.  The upcoming album this is taken from 'Hold Sacred', their sixth, will be one to keep an eye on.


SPARKS - The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte (Universal)
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by Tim London

How do you grow old gracefully? I was taken to see and hear (mainly hear) Ennio Morricone and a huge orchestra at The Barbican in the 1990s. Ennio was a man who always looked old. He didn’t grow old, just always was. The concert was incredible, even the guitars on the western soundtrack moments sounded genuinely unhinged. Sparks are almost the polar opposite of that, embracing fully, early on, the need for a strong image to accompany their tricksy pop. As the Mael bros have aged into Gilbert & George-esque pastiches of themselves,  their music has been, subtly, standing still. That’s the secret to growing old gracefully: whatever it is that’s good about you, hang on to it.


SIMPLY RED - Better With You (Simply Red)
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by Tim London

In which the old punk accepts his fate, moves his tartan lap blanket and flask permanently into a BBC Radio 2 studio and prepares to answer questions from listeners about how he soundtracked the most important moments in their lives. Knowing that he will never leave.


LISA SAID - Bandwagon (Tall Short Records)
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by Lee Paul

Bandwagon is taken from the seven song mini LP, Missed Connections which will be out next week. Lisa's vocals are wondrously impressive, carrying all. Beautifully understated alt.alt.Americana recorded possibly on the Med Coast. Lisa's travels inform her music. There's a soupçon of Natalie Merchant maybe? And maybe by that I mean anyone who buys 10,000 Maniac/Natalie Merchant music could equally love this. Bandwagon itself is a rare dusky beauty of a song. Could be filed alongside Nadine Khouri, both women are restless souls forever searching...


EPs

GLITTER WIZARD - Kiss the boot (Kitten Robot Records)
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by Alan Rider

This is quite fun, if massively derivative.  Its like a covers band who got the idea they are their own heroes.  Dreary version of Suffragette City though.  Why, why, why?  Landfill.


LPs

SCOTT CROW - Of Everything and Nothing (eMERGENCY heARTS)
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by Alan Rider

Scott Crow is a storied American. Musician, author, record label runner. Currently a Texan. Steeped in Electronica, incredible Of Everything and Nothing is Scott's first solo collection. Alan Rider has a full report right here⇒


EVANGELINE PLAYBOYS - Tribute to Austin Pitre (Nouveau Electric)
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by Toon Traveller

Not what I want as I wake up, contemplatively sipping a coffee, and buttering my toast. This hits you full in the face, a real Friday Night hoedown special.  Raw, fast and raucous. The driving drums, and manic accordion, sore-throated, roaring vocals. Shouts, whoops, yells. A real last party before the close down at the end of the world. This IS real late night, keep the party hopping, the feet dancing, and the street pumping music that makes Nathan Abshire's contribution look pedestrian. Evangeline Playboys have bottled the sound of oppression partying hard makes me wish I was in a steaming this hot sweaty Bayou bar, and not Tyneside home I'm sat shivering in... The LP is a tribute to Austin Pitre and is simply amazing. No video of just the Evangeline Playboys so here's Austin Pitre with the band...


Other Materials

NEW ORDER - Blue Monday (Warner Music)
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by Katherine Pargeter

Blue Monday is 40. Early in 1983, John Peel got hold of the acetate of the forthcoming New Order single and played it, exclusively, to his eager listeners on his late-night show on Radio One. After it had finished playing, he grumbled '...a tune would have been nice!' and dutifully moved on to introducing the next record. The rest is history, the biggest-selling 12-inch single of all time, a record that has inspired generations of dance, indie and electronic music. One of those rare records that changed the landscape of popular music as we understand it. A masterpiece. John Peel meanwhile, no longer has a tent named after him at the Glastonbury Festival. But that really is not to do with music, is it?


TOM WAITS - Closing Time (Asylum)
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by Lee Paul

"March 6th, 50 years ago the release of ‘Closing Time’ began the career of one of the all-time greatest artists and an exploration of blues, folk and experimental music that can't be replicated." It's true. I love Tom's records.


DE LA SOUL - Eye Know (Chrysalis)
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by Ancient Champion

Why not? Eye Know is nothing less than the perfect pop song. And streaming now.


Essential Info
Main image Black Thought and Leon Michels

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 »»

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