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Outsideleft Week in Music. It's Travis! We're hearing from Travis Scott, The Human League, Guns N' Roses, Moundabout, Olivia Rodrigo, Ian Williams, Sun June, Dub FX, Kojaque, Buffalo Nichols, Rubicon, Drop Nineteens, Creation Rebel, A Certain Ratio, Morning Tourist, Joni Mitchell, Jaws, Guji, Lubomyr Melnyk, Bonnacons of Doom, ARABROT, Shelf Lives

Outsideleft Week in Music. It's Travis!

We're hearing from Travis Scott, The Human League, Guns N' Roses, Moundabout, Olivia Rodrigo, Ian Williams, Sun June, Dub FX, Kojaque, Buffalo Nichols, Rubicon, Drop Nineteens, Creation Rebel, A Certain Ratio, Morning Tourist, Joni Mitchell, Jaws, Guji, Lubomyr Melnyk, Bonnacons of Doom, ARABROT, Shelf Lives

by OL House Writer,
first published: August, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

Travis Scott was here and he brought Gentle Giant with him.

SINGLES

IAN WILLIAMS - The Light At The End Of The World (Slaughterback)
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by Alan Rider

Those of you in the know may recognise Ian Williams from his previous  1980s incarnation as Beautiful Pea Green Boat, and this is every bit as glorious.  This is superior driving music, full of bubbly sequencers, tribal beats, soaring synths and an ethereally ethnic vocal melody  It has been described as "a Tangerine [Dream] Vangelis", which gives you a pretty good idea of what this is like.  Or you could just click on the Youtube link and find out for yourself.  Ian Williams is a master at creating analogue soundscapes and this is a brilliant example of that.


KOJAQUE - CABRA DRIVE (maybe indie)
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by Tim London

With the usual beige beats of so much modern European hip hop but words and flow that manage to transcend that. I’m beginning to realise that’s sort of the point - the lack of musical invention throws the the rest of the performance (AKA ‘the rap’) into relief and puts the emphasis in the right place. That’s if we can all agree that Dublin is now ‘in Europe’.


BUFFALO NICHOLS - The Difference (Fat Possum)
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by Ancient Champion

Like a bald Dylan? Buff might hope for that as a sticky comparison. Emphasising the maudlin looming prophetic. You probably have never heard anywhere before. A man to be taken seriously or not at all. I am burdened with enough self-loathing today to say, your call.


OLIVIA RODRIGO - bad idea right? (Geffen Records)
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by Erin

Olivia Rodrigo is literally me. Somehow she has managed to evoke the universal experiences of 19/20 year-olds in bad relationships without making it seem pandering or like it is crafted by a legion of studio writers. This is primarily down to two things - the slick pop-punk inspired production that make the track sound like it belongs in a 90s teen movie in the best way possible and Rodrigo’s delivery. If her spoken words voices and screechy choruses were not committed to as much as she has, the track would fall flat. Whether the performance she gives comes from the way the lyrics relate to her own personal experiences or her background as an actress, Rodrigo is able to portray the litany of the emotions around reuniting with an ex-you’re bored, you’re lonely, you’ve spent too much time looking at their Instagram and want to reconnect. It’s a mature direction that was initially showcased through her single ‘Vampire’ and is only able to progress further on her upcoming album Guts.


ÅRABROT - HORRORS OF THE PAST - Horrors of the Past (Pelagic Records)
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by Tim London

A vocal style somewhere between Tom Verlaine and Gary Numan on a song about running over a cat, sung by an obvious snowflake who has mistaken the death of someone’s Fluffy with something more existential, like, where the fuck does he think the cat’s food came from? Go visit a cat food factory if you want something to sing about, Kjetil! Fantastic!


DROP NINETEENS - Scapa Flow (Youtube)
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by LamontPaul

Superior shoegazing from one of the original greats of the ilk. Lovely video. Made me glad I held my breath for 30 years waiting for their return.


SUN JUNE - Get Enough (Run For Cover)
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by Ancient Champion

Once I get past the opening line, which is hard, which it seems like a bit of an obsession, here's a lovely and vibrantly gloomy piece of a certain ilk. You know the ilk.  Swoopy moody indie pop. Swoopy moody indie pop is not easy to make well. Just enough dragging of heels here, to be absolutely massive. I didn't want it to end. Great.


SHELF LIVES - Off The Rails (Modern Sky)
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by Alan Rider

The PR bullshit sure is coated pretty thickly over his one. Shelf Lives singer Sabrina Di Giulio allegedly "provides teetering screeches that perfectly scratch a sonic sweet spot" and "not only brings immense vivacity to the new track, but will also have the listener ponder the faulty infrastructures of their society".  'Off The Rails' purports to be "a true testament to the ways in which consumerism has gone completely awry. Lyrically, the track speaks on the ways in which society reels consumers in, often leaving a permanent void requiring fulfillment." Yeah.  Right.  Its a single, but is a pretty good one actually and I certainly can't disagree with the sentiment once you cut through all the press release bluster.  Rings my bell.


JONI MITCHELL - Help Me (Demo) (Rhino Records)
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by Jay Lewis

From the forthcoming Archives Vol. 3 The Asylum Years (1972-1975), here's an early demo of the song that would become Joni's biggest-selling single.  And, even at this stage, her voice and her delivery are perfect and passionate, knowing that feeling that someone has got under your skin again, and that weird rollercoaster of emotion that's going to follow. You know how that feels, and so, brilliantly, does Joni. 


DUB FX - Floating (Convoy Unltd/Membran)
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by Alan Rider

This is some beardy white guy's fake Jamaican reggae single moaning on and on about how tough it is to have to tour the world playing gigs and festivals but the time spent prancing about on stage makes it all worthwhile, and he loves getting home again to his kids.  Well boo hoo, poor you.  I'm sure all the nurses, supermarket workers and minimum wage zero hours amazon delivery drivers are feeling really, really sorry for you right now.  Summing up: Very annoying. Don't bother.


RUBICON - Lose It All (Round Hill Records)
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by Alan Rider

Rubicon deal in the sort of noisy, melodic metal that Slipknot have made into an entire genre.  They are pretty adept at it too.  Snag is, it sounds just like every other track you might come across in this side puddle of rock.  Its a very US oriented sound and I'm sure it goes down a storm in the Midwest, but sadly its not progressing things musically even an inch.  Even the track title is a cliche and has been used countless times before. Sigh!


MOUNDABOUT - The Hills Hum Hymns (Rocket Recordings)
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by Alan Rider

One of the comments on the Youtube video says "sounds like a more folky vinnie riley... an old factory records demo, perhaps?" I'm inclined to agree.  This would sound fantastic if you were stoned or in the last knockings of one of those house parties where they take all the furniture out, dim the lights and have a chill out room and a kitchen full of wild eyed drunks.  In the cold light of day though it just goes on a bit. Amazing that this sort of stuff still gets released actually.


BONNACONS OF DOOM - Facing (Rocket Recordings)
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by Alan Rider

Bonnacons of Doom certainly provide press release copy writers with a golden opportunity to go to town on the hyperbole. "progenitors of Trans Pennine hypnotic music...mirror masked collective...transcendent powers of heavy amplification, sonic explorations...coalesce to cathartic and redeeming effect". Meanwhile, in the real world, this is a track taken off an album that will apparently save humanity on 27 October.  If it needs saving before the release date, well, humanity is on its own.  'Facing' is rather good by the way.


JAWS - Sweat (Don't Know)
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by Lee Paul

Okay, I wanna hear a band called Jaws. I'd like to hear a band called Moose Jaws more, but they don't talk to me no more. So here we have a band with a great name performing a perfunctory piece of hauntological epic Scars style soundscraping. Destined to be praised by all the people that fail to understand their role is to discourage this type of thing. Music for not very discerning boys I think. 


A CERTAIN RATIO - Constant Curve (Mute)
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by Alan Rider

This is a slightly heavy handed remix by Andy Meecham - aka Emperor Machine - of a track off the recent ACR album '1982' which we reviewed favourably in OL back in March. Its got all of the funky goodness you'd expect from ACR and the original is a great track (so four hearts mainly for that) ,but I'm not sure that this remix has really done it any favours.  It sounds very old school to me.  Lots of heavy bass boosting, bloopy time stretching, stereo stuff whizzing around and so on.  Its all just a bit too unnecessarily busy I'd say.


GUNS N' ROSES - Perhaps (some major label)
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by Tim London

The advent of this group’s success marked the kind of nadir that indicated almost other-worldy human ignorance that belies the construction of the Post Office Tower, Arabian maths and the feeling of love as expressed in pop music. I lump them in with the proto talk-show ‘jocks’ who heralded the death of Jack Kerouac’s imagined America in the 1990s and the sudden emergence of German, wrap-around, orange-tinted sunglasses worn by rugger-shirted blokes on the streets of Richmond, England. So it seems appropriate that they have recorded an ode to the bereft ‘more reasonable’ Trump supporters who are finally waking up to the fact that a multi-millionaire son of a multi-millionaire was never going to be on their side, after all. It’s funny.


THE HUMAN LEAGUE - The Lebanon (Virgin Records)
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by Jay Lewis

Why has this been re-released? Do tell! In retrospect, 'The Lebanon' was a preparation for the utter hollowness of the 'Hysteria' album. After that moment where the '...and where there used to be some shops/ is where the snipers sometimes hide' line is delivered, it was really all downhill from there.  And, if you watch the video very closely, at 1.34 Joanne Catherall's raised eyebrows imply that she knew it too. 


TRAVIS SCOTT - HYAENA (Cactus Jack Records)
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by Erin

Travis Scott was supposed to be interesting right? Following his breakthrough as a producer on Kanye’s Yeezus he released a couple of albums that built up his name- most specifically 'Astroworld', this maximalist album that sought to make him a household name, especially with the hit ‘SICKO MODE’. But five years later, after being thrown into scandals and becoming a father, he’s trying to establish himself again and its not working as much as he would have liked. His attempts to become Kanye, shown through the track ‘HYAENA’ where he tries to have rougher production, samples from Funkadelic and Gentle Giant, lyrics that are reminiscent of Yeezus era Kanye ultimately fall flat because Scott doesn’t have enough personality to centre a track in the way Kanye does and when that is so clearly what he’s trying to do- it falls flat.


EPs

GUJI - Round Eye (Godless America)
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by Alan Rider

Jiang Zi Xiu (Klaire) and Craig Englund (Chachy) from Chinese synth-driven new wave quartet Guji found themselves stuck in their homes in Guizhou, China for several months under that countries brutal Covid lockdowns, so naturally, decided to compose an EP of strangely twisted sub B52's crossed with Devo tunes.  And why not?  The result is an oddly quirky and unpolished set of tracks that sound very much like they were climbing the walls whilst writing them.  Are Guji a bit of a novelty?  Yes, but they have the sort of unlikely bonkers charm we love here at OL.  Plus, the physical versions of this are available only on cassette.  What do you mean you don't have a cassette player?  Luckily for you this is available on streaming platforms too.  I'm ok though, I have a cassette deck, so there.


LPs

CREATION REBEL - Hostile Environment (On-U Sound)
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by Alan Rider

I'm undoubtedly unqualified to pass any sort of informed judgement on any reggae release, but Creation Rebel, along with Steel Pulse, were amongst the few reggae bands that I was genuinely familiar with in the context of the mash up that was the average music/gig experience back in the early 80s.  They supported The Clash (the sole occasion I saw them perform), and their 'Starship Africa' album was a staple on the turntable of many a party I went to at the time.  So it is great to see them back with a new, Adrian Sherwood produced album and as tight as ever., right from the opening 'Swiftly (The Right One)'  to the closing 'Off The Spectrum'. Although I probably prefer the heavier dub tones of Horace Andy these days, the sharp political tone to the album (taking its title from one time UK Prime Minister Theresa May's policy of creating a hostile environment for people seeking refuge and asylum, a poisonous rhetoric still touted by Sunak today) shows that they have lost none of their edge over the years. Hostile Environment is released in October on On-U Sound


MORNING TOURIST - The Endless Eve (Blaggers Records)
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by Ogglypoogly

Debut albums are a tricky business... See Ogglypoogly full Mourning Tourist review, here


Other Materials

LUBOMYR MELNYK - Windmills (Slaughterback Films)
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by Alan Rider

This recording of whiskery Ukraninan composer Lubomyr Melnyk industriously performing at Butley Priory, Suffolk, back in November 2018 is one of those surprises you just stumble across on Youtube, in my case after playing another video for a review.  This just came on and summed up the weather, my mood, and the state of the world so perfectly without the need for vocals, filmic 'visualisers', or PR bluster that I thought I must share it with you, even if you don't want me to.  All 36 minutes and 58 seconds of it. I googled him and he has a new album 'The Sacred Thousand' coming out soon too.  It probably sounds much like this.


Essential Information
Main image from Travis Scott's Wikipedia page. 

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