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5 Hearts Forever All of the 5 Heart Records Reviews from April - in one place

5 Hearts Forever

All of the 5 Heart Records Reviews from April - in one place

by OL House Writer,
first published: May, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

5 Hearts Forever - that ain't easy since our reviewers ain't giving out gongs to just anything they hear...

Every Five Heart record review plugged into Outsideleft by our reviewers in April... All here, all in one place

SINGLES

ALFA MIST - Foreward (Anti Records)
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by Toon Traveller

Alfa Mist's Foreward from the LP Variables is a racing, bracing, 60's kooool feel, horns led track with some delicious keyboard sounds. This skips and bounces, flounces, keys providing a backcloth to some dancing sax. Aches of city streets' hustle, bustle, scurry and flurry, duck and dive. The whole thing rolls and flows, self-confident and bright.  Spring morning in the park. a crisp drum break, and whole a different plain, 60's style jazz guitar, think McLaughlin, or Coryell, in a '60s pre Bitches Brew combo. A cooling in intensity, chilled just right. Rhodes piano solo, that just oozes joy, glides in and calms the frantic guitar. Horns and drums solo, duets rise, lead and subside. A slow fade ends in a wonderful interplaying pattern of percussion, and concludes the journey into Jazz memories. Alfa Mist are having fun, and loving the groove they're in, as do I. delightful. 


AMANDA SHIRES AND BOBBIE NELSON - Summertime ft Bobbie Nelson and Willie Nelson (Silver Knife/ATO Records)
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by Toon Traveller

Opens delicately, with Bobbie Nelson's piano, a sad reflection teased from the belly of the beast in the way that only Nelson could. Of the countless iterations of Gershwin's Summertime, this one grabs your heart, whispers sadness, remorse, and poignant anger in your ear. Willie Nelson's doing some of that whispering too. This is a magical slice of country, jazz, blues, a soul stew. Amanda's voice soars, and floats, thankful at the relief the original composition mournfully provides. A tragic fiddle, adds a truly sad sense of loss, reflections on lives past, and hard times survived. From a much anticipated full length LP, Loving You, available in June. Amanda's voice is magnificent - enough said. 


BEN COPPERHEAD - Moon Rabbit (Shimmy Disc)
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by Alan Rider

Labels are confusing nowadays. 'Sci-fi/psych-folk ' is the label attached to Ben Copperhead.  Pardon?  That's a hard description to get your head round.  Lets just say its a bit weird.  'Moon Rabbit' is  an electronic fuelled satire on human space travel inspired by a mythological figure from East Asia and American folklore, telling the story of a trickster rabbit with magical powers who inhabits the moon.  All sounds perfectly sensible to me so far. With a mix of heavily effected banjo and cello, tape-echo, drum machine loops, and a baritone guitar, its a total mash up of traditional folk instruments with electronics that is actually quite unsettling. Being a reviewer is getting to be a challenge these days as you never really know what is coming around the corner.  My inability to make any pre-judgements and the genuine innovation on show in this and many of the new releases coming on to OL these days is a very good sign that all is not lost. Moon Rabbit is good.


BERLIN BANTER - I'll Wait Ft. Tricky (Instant Noise Productions)
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by Ancient Champion

Berlin Banter have created idiosyncratic takes on 90s pop hits in the past. Their reimagining of The Cure's Why Can't I Be You was a sort of stop in your tracks and wonder... What the fuck that is good - a rare feeling to get from a record. Hardly ever happens. Founded by producer Chris Kobusch in 2020 with the intention of setting a disparate array of vocalists in a less conventional Electronica mise en scène by incorporating traditional instruments with analog synthesizers and sampled sounds. I'll Wait is from a forthcoming EP but of course, Tricky. One of the most significant musicians of his generation. Lyrically elegiac always. His voice is the sound that defines his songs. Chris Kobusch reached out to Tricky and we have a glorious mish-mash of electronia with Keith Sonnier style bright light pop infusions. Creators come together. And while the Process is the Art as a pop song pretty cool it is too.    


CHARLOTTE DE WITTE - High Street (KNTXT)
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by Tim London

Highly functional music that adds paranoia whilst, strangely, keeping it at bay.


CMAT - Whatever's Inconvenient (AWAL)
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by Ogglypoogly

“Mum, you NEED to listen to CMAT, I think you’d really enjoy it if you did.”  So sayeth the elder of my progeny repeatedly until I relented. Suffice to say, they were right, fast forward a few months and I was genuinely a little over excited about the release of Whatever's Inconvenient this week.  It’s what I can only describe as a sneaky song, starting slow and building into something far bigger than expected - all strings and heartfelt vocals. Capturing a cycle of romantic self sabotage with lyrics that activate your internal monologues knowing nod - either self directed or in recognition of that one acquaintance who perpetually chases the high of a new beginning. Deserving of *ALL* the hearts on offer, this is definitely one to listen to.


CRAVEN FAULTS - Sun Vein Strings (The Leaf Label)
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by Jay Lewis

There is something quite refreshing about the music of Craven Faults. Forget all the surface thrills of introductions, enticing hooks and gimmickry designed to keep you hitting repeat, their (he? she? them? we still don't know!), music is much more rewarding. Sun Vein Strings is a fine example, it fades in and, eighteen and a half minutes later, it fades out again. Modular synths create patterns that evolve, that bleed into one another, that rise and fall, a scenery that slowly changes. And, if you choose to take part, you are the landscape they are creating. An immersive experience.


DAWN RICHARD - Bubblegum (Merge)
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by Ancient Champion

Alright Dawn Richard, there really is nothing you can't do. Everyone knows that now, but you just keep on doing this to us anyway. Where I came in, a fair while ago, reached I thought, an apotheosis on the Dirty Projectors duet, the exquisite, the quietest, genre stretching Cool Your Heart... I love that record so much. It made pop music seem possible again, right down to the Apple loops. And no I wouldn't go up an LA mountainside with Longstreth either unless the car at least looked like a Maserati in the dark. Wrote the book on how to survive Diddy. Danced into our hearts and got into our head with that slightly avant Spencer Zahn Pigments record (oh wow!) - you know the guy who loves Mark Hollis so much he might want to be him and now, here's Dawn banging about again with Bubblegum. A record you'll want to dance to all week, even as slowly as I do. All that stretching and thrashing around would mean nothing, just wanton kinesis if it wasn't always just great I suppose and Bubblegum is that great. Dance troupe young century all Baz Lurhmann, bubbalicious gon' get you in trouble, maybe, expression of love, show tune. Don't be threatened by dancing. Sometimes it seems like Dawn Richard is the entire future of music. now.


DESTROY BOYS - Beg For The Torture (Hopeless Records)
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by Alan Rider

Destroy Boys is both the name of the band and a defining statement of intent by this (s)punky Sacramento three piece, as they sear through a deceptively short 1.35 minutes of "obsession, rage, desperation, and catapulting between feeling like the sexiest woman alive and a neglected child’s plaything" according to lead screamer Vi Mayugba.  Blimey!  She certainly doesn't hold back.  Their scorched earth brand of punk is a taste you either love or hate (guess which side I'm coming down on?) but any single that can say what it needs to say in that short a time scale gets my vote any day. "Sometimes my crushes make me feel like the girl who is bound to die first in an 80s horror movie" says Vi in the Press Notice.  Well put!  Wish I'd thought of that.  To top it off, the video is a very cool and intentionally glitchy affair, albeit yet another AI generated effort (I'll admit I'm getting a bit worried by all this AI malarky).  Take a look.  1.35 minutes, remember?  Surely you can spare that.


DEXYS - I'm Going To Get Free (100% )
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by Jay Lewis

Kevin Rowland has been on a very long and rather peculiar journey with Lord knows how many ups and downs. Along the way he's documented his feelings by making some phenomenal  records, and here's another... It's been eleven years since Dexys broke their lengthy silence and gave us the unflinchingly honest 'One Day I'm Going To Soar', and seven years since their Irish and Country Soul album. And 'I'm Going To Get Free' is worth all of that wait. Wise Kevin, singing away his demons, with jubilant horns, fiddles and a chorus of backing vocals to show those bad feelings to the door.  Put down all of those 'spring clean' your life articles for a few minutes and listen to this instead. Then hit replay.  It'll be the best therapy that you will have all week. 


ERLAND COOPER - Movement 6 ft. Scottish Ensemble, Simon Armitage (UMG)
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by Ancient Champion

Erland Cooper's Monument 6 is splendid and beautiful to hear as you might expect given the great combo Erland has assembled here. Simon Armitage walks us close to the edge of darkness in the midst of brilliant ambitious musical delight. When it ends, like a kitten out of kibble I sit wondering why it has gone.


ESBEN AND THE WITCH - The Depths (Nostromo Records)
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by Alan Rider

The third single taken from the upcoming album 'Hold Sacred' (See my recent exclusive interview here on Outsideleft⇒), 'The Depths' is aptly named as you truly feel like you are drowning in Rachel Davies' pain and doubt.  The shimmering backing and the intimate vocals are a hallmark of the new Esben and The Witch sound.  Its a fragile thing and I am really not sure how it will stand up to the harsh light and scrutiny of live performance as they prepare to take to the road to promote 'Hold Sacred'.  I feel strangely protective of them, not that I could remotely do anything about it.  "I'm just skin and bone" Rachel sings on previous single 'True Mirror' and that skin never felt more vulnerable and translucent than on here.  Esben and The Witch are pure emotion and as close as you can get on this earth to inhabiting someone else's pains and doubts. Its not a comfortable feeling, but its good to know that you are not alone.


IGUANA DEATH CULT - Oh No (Innovative Leisure)
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by Alan Rider

It feels like only five minutes ago I was reviewing the gloriously named Iguana Death Cult's last single 'Pusherman', awarding it a stonking five hearts.  Now they've gone and done it again.  If they get a hat trick with the next one too they should probably get some sort of special hat or something. 'Oh No' is often the reaction I get when the latest batch of releases pour through the virtual letterbox at Outsideleft like cold sick and its only acts like Iguana Death Cult that stop me from pouring petrol over the lot and tossing in a match.  The gloriously low fi production reminiscent of The Fire Engines (go Google them), the distinctly home made looking video, the off the wall lyrics, for me its all there.  Their very lack of polish IS the polish (they are not from Poland by the way, just in case you were confused by that statement).  Rough edges and spirit count for a lot around here.  An album 'Echo Palace' is on the way.  Bring it on!


KATHERINE PRIDDY - I Think That They're Leaving Me Behind (Chrysalis )
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by Jay Lewis

'The Endless Coloured Ways' the forthcoming tribute to the songs of Nick Drake is shaping up to be something rather exceptional. Fontaines DC and Let's Eat Grandma have already respectfully reinterpreted Drake's songs and turned them into something new, challenging and exciting. Katherine Priddy's decision to cover a lesser known Nick Drake song (there's a fairly raw home recording of it on the 'Family Tree' compilation), is a courageous choice that works wonderfully. The droning strings of the haunted introduction is reminiscent of Radiohead's 'Pyramid Song'. But 'I Think They're Leaving Me Behind' then builds, Priddy's lonely voice wrapped around a swirling, cinematic arrangement. A brilliant record. 


LAVEDA - Clean (Papercup)
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by Ancient Champion

Dark pop duo Laveda share a pretty intense, although intensely melodic few minutes too, on their new song, Clean.  Recorded with their entire touring band in one of those endless liminal spaces outside Los Angeles. A continental divide for the band. They've been likened to My Bloody Valentine and it's easy to see why. This is a difficult genre to get right. Spare instrumentation and breathy vocals. Twists and at turns twisting further, more taught. Clean is an emotional garrote. All of the sounds as present, and thick as rafters. It's genuinely exciting and bodes supremely well for the LP, A Place You Grew Up In which we will hear in April. 


MEMORIALS - Boudicaaa (States51Conspiracy)
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by Toon Traveller

Taken from Memorials Music For Film: Tramps! & Women Against The Bomb (May 12th) I love Boudicaaa's delirious opening, crashing straight into the tune. It's anxious and frenetic. Frenetic and anxious. A sound somewhere between mid '70s post punk, and the wreckage of '70s space rock. Think Joy Division / Magazine, after listening to a snotty brother's Hawkwind LP.  Yeah it's crazy and mixed up. But mixed up good.  Memorials have taken great care over what to take, and what to chuck. It's produced a sound, straight back to that interregnum between UK raw punk, UK's New Romantics and our decades deceased club culture. This is great slab of pure post punk pop and needs to be BIG, BIG.


MONIKA ROSCHER BIGBAND - A Taste Of The Apocalypse (Zenna Records/Membran)
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by Alan Rider

Regular readers of Outsideleft will have spotted that Munich's Monika Roscher Bigband have been pumping out singles like smarties ahead of the release of the ‘Witchy Activities And The Maple Death’ album coming at the start of next month (watch out for an exclusive interview in Outsideleft this month).  At this rate there may well be none left unreleased by the time we get there, but this track is a treat and yet another piece of evidence (as if any more were required) of the undoubted brilliance of the MRB.  Stabbing horns underpin the lyrics, swelling like the sea before subsiding again.  "Are we not ghosts? Are we not in control?" asks Monika at one point.  The MRB are very much in control, I can assure you, and are busy charting a course that promises to deliver every time. 


SQUID - Undergrowth (Warp Records)
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by Alan Rider

What is it about squids?  There is just something undeniably brilliant about a squid, and this is no exception.  Dubby bass drives this 6 minute exploration along, riven through with a shimmering something-or-other (maybe a Zither?) and bells.   Its left of field (Outside Left one might even say.  Ba-dum!) and really quite infectious. The video made me feel a bit seasick btw, as it lurches about a lot, but there is a game you can play too, which is like a retro and pixellated version of Sonic the Hedgehog and is mid paced and very easy to get good at.  I like to win at video games so that bumps this up to five hearts for me.

Play the game here⇒ 


TEMPS - ificouldjust (Bella Union)
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by Tim London

Admission: I manage Law Holt, one of the huge list of collaborators on this project so the fact that I’m reviewing this at all is an indication of its worth - if it was shite, I’d hide. This is the latest track before the album is released and it’s, along with everything so far released, a glorious, barmy, sunny cocktail that manages to reference so much forward-thinking, grown-up indie-pop that flies in the face of the slow armageddon seeping into the consciousness of ‘this’ generation that you have to wonder about the fantastic quality of the drugs they are prescribed. A sweet ironic fuck you to fate.


THE LILAC TIME - A Makeshift Raft (Poetica)
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by Jay Lewis

'All you need is love!' It's something that Stephen Duffy has been telling us for the best part of four decades now. Have you been paying attention? Have you? Well, fortunately, he's brought the rest of The Lilac Time along (wife Claire and brother Nick) with some acoustic guitars (no bass, no drums), to remind us of what we need to strive for. 'Makeshift Raft' is a refresher course to be held around a campfire, a poetic protest in cynical times. There's even some yodeling. A new album 'Dance Till The Stars Come Down' will be with us in August. Why not pre-order a copy here.


TINARIWEN - Kek Alghalm (Wedge)
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by Tim London

How do you feel about the Tuaregs? There are a few million of these traditionally mobile people, many of them in Mali and some fighting for their own state. While we’re at it, what are your thoughts on the Sonrais, Peuls, Bambarras and Maures? All of them poor ‘desert peoples’ along with the Tuaregs. It’s the latter that Tinariwen represent in this song, a tune that sounds sad but is also defiant, a kind of accusatory rant at other Tuaregs with what sounds very much like a banjo and yearning chords and something you can imagine soundtracking an epic western transposed to 21st century Saharan Africa. Now that, my friend, is the ‘now’, right there. Brought to your ears in a matter of seconds via cables and satellites. ‘Fantastic’ as Malcolm McDowell’s Travis might have said.


WITCH - Avalanche of Love (Youtube)
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by LamontPaul

Witch. Veterans for sure, are back in a big way for a psych-out, here with Sampa the Great, but really me, you or anyone would do. Avalanche of Love is the third Witch single of 2023, if you've been playing We Intend To Cause Havoc! for ten years, the new releases are going help. This is one of the ones that makes me happy the musical instrument store is still open for business. The LP Zango arrives in the summer. Witch are pretty much a perfect pop group.


EPs

ATLAS MOTHER - EP2 (Dime)
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by Lee Paul

Atlas Mother unleash have an expertise in stereo panning that you may not have. EP2 consists of six journeys into sound. It's disparate, distinct from current sound shapeshifters. Atlas Mother sound like they're using audio shaping tools that Delia Derbyshire found too primitive. All told EP2 is brief and very beautiful.


SAM AKPRO - Arrival (Fair Youth)
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by Alan Rider

It just goes to show that you should never, ever, judge by appearances.  Looking at Sam Akpro's promo shot I'd had him pegged as a samey Rap act, but nothing could be further from the truth.  His new EP, 'Arrival' smashes any misapprehensions I may have had, constantly surprising at every turn.  From the opening 'Trace' with its jazzy upbeat vocals you would say "this is a class intelligent pop act".  Then along comes 'arrival' with urgent guitars and a heavy indie sound to dispel that notion, albeit ending with the chirping of crickets.  So now he is a superior alt rock/indie guitar act?  Think again. 'Leaving Please' veers straight into Experimental Noise territory.   The closing track and single 'New Blocks' is even more of a surprise.  Its a good 3 minutes of ethereal guitar and understated bass, morphing into solid slabs of guitar and drum before we hear anything like a vocal kick in.  The accompanying video also steers clesr of rock and pop cliche.  At no point do you see  Akpro in anything other than sillouette, standing silently (no miming) whilst the track swirls around.  All impeccably recorded.  I'm impressed.


THE INDOOR SHOW - Sharktown (Bandcamp)
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by Alan Rider

If there was any justice in the world, John Costello would be a huge star by now. Read why in Alan Rider's review of The Indoor Show's Sharktown EP, here


LPs

GEBHARD ULMANN/DAS KONDENSAT - Andere Planeten (Why Play Jazz)
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by Toon Traveller

The great German saxophonist/composer Gebhard Ullmann continues his 65th birthday celebration with his release of Andere Planeten, (Why Play Jazz Recordings) the latest experiment from Das Kondensat, his uncategorizable trio. Andere Planeten opens with wistful, pained, solo plaintive sometimes effected sax, a sharp slice through butter, soon to be cut through with a standard drum pattern. They build a soundscape, of travel, trains in a tunnel, a jet in flight, and slide into a street jazz band. There's that sense of procession, echoes of a romantic sense of distant lands, new destination, a memory? An aspiration? That's for us to decide. As I age, travel becomes more of a problem, physical issues, expense, insurance. Music like this is a way to dream and travel. It used to be Rough Guides, it used to be websites, that fired desire. For me it's music, when I'm in the right mood, music gets me onto far flung streets, a pin prick on the globe come to life, wandering through foreign markets, hearing alien voices, sampling other 'new' sounds and aromas, an inspiration. For me that is all here, hints of New Orleans, of Chicago, and post Communist Europe, sounds, ideas and affections, a wonderful demonstration of ideas, innovation, and exploration. This album  answers their record labels' eponymous question, "why play jazz" to listen and dream. Superb for the sedentary traveller. 


OLIVER NELSON - Black, Brown and Beautiful (Flying Dutchman)
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by Lee Paul

Okay so this incredible record hasn't been available on LP record since 1970, and now seriously limited vinyl versions are out there. Widely regarded as one of the sweetest alto sax players of any time, Oliver Nelson's Black Brown and Beautiful records in music an era. Maybe it would possibly not be released now with the 1970 cover shot by Chuck Stewart, but he'd photographed Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, had documented John Coltrane's A Love Supreme sessions and maybe 2000 other LP sleeves and so almost certainly had a lot of creative control.


VENUS FLY TRAP - Time Lapse 1995-2010 (Glass)
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by Alan Rider

Alan Rider shares his thoughts on Venus Fly Trap's collection here⇒


Other Materials

DAVID SYLVIAN - Brilliant Trees (Version 2000) (Deleted - YouTube only)
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by Katherine Pargeter

'My whole world stands in front of me...'

After his brief time spent as a, somewhat reluctant, pop star, David Sylvian surrounded himself with a respectable, experimental, and innovative group of musicians. On this particular piece, he is joined by Jon Hassell (whose haunting trumpet sound helps define this track) as well as Holger Czukay (formerly of Can) and Ryuichi Sakamoto. With the death of Sakamoto last month I realized that none of the musicians here (with the exception of Sylvian and his brother Steve Jansen on drums) are still alive.  This made hearing this song. probably a love song, probably about the beauty of life, of nature, and of reaching out for something of meaning, something spiritual, all the more profound. It is a beautiful and tender work. It's strength is in its fragility.


DIRTY PROJECTORS - Cool Your Heart ft. Dawn Richard (Domino Records)
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by Ancient Champion

Oh look Dawn is much more than someone overdressed for a night hike. Hers is the nuance, and so just because. One of the great pop records of the past decade.


Essential Info
Main Image: Charlotte De Witte screengrab from YouTube
It looks so easy, anyone could do it... Fancy your arm as an Outsideleft record reviewer? The pay, the hours, the endless puppy dog press photos are dauntingly poor and horrible and yet... Contact us here⇒ if you want to give it a go.

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