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Outsideleft Week in Music Meets the Singing Queen We're hearing from... Germa Adan, Alternative TV, Richard Hawley, Hania Rani, Magic in Threes, Sun June, Michael Nau, Armand Hammer, Danny brown, Jay Wires, Brian Eno, Kassa Overall, genCAB , Gold Lake, Adrian Sutherland, Anna Hillburg, Kevin Abstract, Great Big Cow, Mannequin Pussy, Jeff Tweedy alternately Bill Fay, Tricky and Lucia, Ghost Train Orchestra and Kronos Quartet, The Mary Wallopers, Idles, Sudan Archives and Video Age

Outsideleft Week in Music Meets the Singing Queen

We're hearing from... Germa Adan, Alternative TV, Richard Hawley, Hania Rani, Magic in Threes, Sun June, Michael Nau, Armand Hammer, Danny brown, Jay Wires, Brian Eno, Kassa Overall, genCAB , Gold Lake, Adrian Sutherland, Anna Hillburg, Kevin Abstract, Great Big Cow, Mannequin Pussy, Jeff Tweedy alternately Bill Fay, Tricky and Lucia, Ghost Train Orchestra and Kronos Quartet, The Mary Wallopers, Idles, Sudan Archives and Video Age

by OL House Writer,
first published: October, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

Singing Queen is a song that is imbued by Germa Adan's journeying, sung is her Haitian Creole, Germa also plays the lamenting classical guitar...

SINGLES

GERMA ADAN - Singing Queen/Renn Chantrèl (Binding Thread Records)
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by Jay Lewis

We have been fans of Germa Adan for a long time! Back in 2020 she performed at our last Outsideleft Night Out, before the world closed down and all live music was shelved due to the pandemic. A remarkable musician and singer-songwriter, Germa’s music reflects her journey from Haiti to the United States and now to the UK.  You can feel this musical odyssey in ‘Singing Queen/Renn Chantrèl’. It is a song that is imbued by her journeying, sung is her Haitian Creole, Germa also plays the lamenting classical guitar.  A sad but hugely beautiful song – an immersive six minutes just doesn’t feel long enough. It is a fine taster for her ‘Borderlines and Bloodlines’ album – which will be released on 27 October. 


TRICKY, LUCIA - Ponderosa (reincarnated) (Universal-Island)
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by Lee Paul

Does anyone does this better than Tricky? Stretching out a thread of surface tension, a highwire without a visible supporting structure - that's how the music sounds. Less is More. Still astonishing.


ADRIAN SUTHERLAND - Precious (Indigenous Music Countdown)
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by Toon Traveller

From Adrian's forthcoming LP, Precious Diamonds. An ol' down home and echoed rock and roll feel, it's that percussive style - a historic drum, now a guitar riff, shamanic chants, the chorus. Talent here, he's rightly got national awards. A mix of 1st nation rhythms, and european rock playing. Easily one the best songs passed to me for review this month. It's got that feel of pride, married with up to the moment mid-west, high plains, empty space sounds.  A great sky punching proclamation of historic pride, cultural loss and national reassertion. And Yeah This Land is Precious.


ANNA HILLBURG - Happier Days (Speakeasy Studio SF)
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by Ancient Champion

Anna could easily be veering into the gorgeous terrain inhabited solely by Robyn Hitchcock in terms of I guess, leaning maybe on the freedom of folk rock, this great mish mash of rambling brass and guitar. It's laconic rock and roll as you don't know it anymore and it is totally Superb.


IDLES - Dancer (Partisan)
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by Tim London

Could cold butter run down a neck? I know lyrics can be tone poems but, really, let’s try to maintain some basic truth shall we? Bit less pub at 11.45PM than usual and all the better for the chief monster munch yeller being offset by LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang accessing her inner B52. Shame the band’s been infected by the same bug that convinced the Radiohead singer he should do some interpretive movement on camera (shout out, Jimmy Pursey!) but it’s over quickly. * Just checked, it’s ‘cocoa’ butter. Makes a bit more sense. Smells good, too.


GOLD LAKE - Traveller (Grisly Bear)
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by Toon Traveller

Opens, and the fast plucked guitar, got my attention, piano leads a melody, the guitar, an incessant heart beat. Has the qualities of a Folklore outtake, if you liked that. All very low register, maudlin, minor key stuff, then out of nowhere a choir, ethereal? Not really, just disturbs the songs placid calm. Vocals, dunno, melancholic, perhaps. It's the in and out choir, the fiddly, elaborate guitar ending, that, along with the choir, leave an impression, and the impression is too many ideas in such little time. 
 


ARMAND HAMMER - When It Doesn't Start With a Kiss (Fat Possum)
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by Lee Paul

Yes, it doesn't have to. This is from the LP, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips. Operators operating on a higher level than you. Next to you. Don't feel bad about it, revel.  


MAGIC IN THREES - One on One (G.E.D. Records)
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by Ancient Champion

This is a double A side instrumental and is admirably. One on One is resplendent in fullsome wah and flute so that is your map and territory. That other side... I can't Go For That should need no introduction, here, reinvented as a perfectly synthetic paean to the thrilling synthetic soul sounds of yore. Five hearts for each.


JAY WIRES - Ghost (Bandcamp)
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by Alan Rider

Jay Wires has a pretty cool job fixing up synths for New York based vintage synth seller Tone Tweakers, meaning he gets to mess around with some rare and classic bits of kit.  Naturally, he produces his own sounds too, and we have reviewed his previous single 'Don't Say Goodbye' in OL before. This track, 'Ghost', in keeping with the ghost themed flavour of this weeks releases, is composed as an eerie song for Halloween.  It isn't as instantly catchy as 'Don't Say Goodbye', but captures the mood of the season. It's a bit Vangelis/Depeche Mode-y, in places, but I know this is a bit below his best, so I'm keeping the door open wide for the next one. 


KEVIN ABSTRACT - Gum (RCA records)
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by Toon Traveller

First thoughts...This was a joke, something offered up to the record company to honour a contract, (Lou Reed's infamous 'Metal Machine Music' is perhaps the most famous example), PR described it as a 'taster'.  Hmm. i'd send it back to the kitchen. Sounds thrown together, from last week's scrapings, off the plates. Utterly utterly tedious.


MICHAEL NAU - Shiftshaping (Airloom)
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by LamontPaul

Despite an early protestation, "I've been asleep on the job..." Michael Nau is demonstrably anything but. There's a massive 1970s Majesty to Shiftshaping that is so admirable and so for this listener, wholly rewarding. Can't put a finger on that precisely without a Trouser Press Guide to hand but, I wanna say he's got the Gordon Lightfoot records going on, but it's also way more Jimmy Webb. You can imagine Michael cooking this up, I'll take a twist here Glen Campbell here and a little splash of Tony Joe there mix it up with James Leo Herlihy... Altogether wonderfully ambitious and lovely.


SUN JUNE - Sage (Run For Cover)
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by Ancient Champion

Sun June are immense, slight and momentous all at once. Lyrically their insouciant off the charts profundity will get you everytime and all the time, "It's dark, it's late and I'm tired." Wow! That's Willy Vlautin clarity. The guitars here twinkle like stereo stars in my ears as I listen 5.55am Bearwood Standard Time, it's nearly midnight in Texas where the band are from. I feel a direct connection across the continents. And I think this is one of the few bands that make me wish I still lived in America. From the just released LP to seek out, Bad Dream Jaguar, they are soon to be a Big Thief best band in the world and you don't even know it. This is REM stranded in Athens Georgia. Sun June make the unashamedly introspective personally involved/evolved America where I use to live sound great. 


THE MARY WALLOPERS - The Idler (BC Records)
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by Toon Traveller

Lone Irish singer, his guitar, it's people, bars, and criticism of those that would abandon Ireland's care and support of it's traditions. There's a great line on the 'old - we look after our own', but we really don't. Themes permeate life here in the UK, as much as in Ireland. Its relatable. One song where words are essential, there are attacks on the landlord rip-off's, hypocritical priesthood, spending cuts, anti-migrant voices. Austerity deaths. All that's missing is the message that the canonized Cardinal Newman was an advocate for slavery and still we go to work and send our children into schools and university's named after him. Yeah forget all the, supp the Guinness, dance the jig, bollocks. This is a report from the frontlines in the real Ireland, Britain,  EU, USA, anywhere where decent people are being screwed hard by the exploitative rich. 


KASSA OVERALL - 2 Sentimental (Warp)
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by Tim London

Wonder what Jack Kerouac would have made of rap? I mean, this Overall thing isn’t so far from old Jack freestyling over some jazz piano. ‘All I got is sweaty sheets and a dirty pillow’ - refreshingly poor. Is that something Mr Overall could use on his PR quotes? Sounds a lot more realistic than the never ending tales of Ps and presidents heads and fur and gold and all that. It works, even if it’s badly paid.


BRIAN ENO - The Ship EP excerpt 2 (Universal)
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by Lee Paul

I've been listening to records for an hour and then this. FFS.


SUDAN ARCHIVES - Freakalizer (Egyptian Lover Remix) (Stones Throw)
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by Ancient Champion

Now remixed for even Purer Joy.


MANNEQUIN PUSSY - I Don't Know You (Epitaph Records)
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by Alan Rider

I must admit, half the reason for including this review is to stick two fingers up to the BBC who felt the need to abbreviate this lot's name to Mannequin P to protect the delicate sensibilities of their listeners.  'I don't know' starts out as a jaunty, shoe-gazy, sort of fey ditty before the lazy distorted guitar kicks in.  It's over almost before you realise it and isn't going to raise more than a vague head nodding motion and faint smile on the lips of anyone hearing this.  To get to the same level as their more famous and radical near namesakes Pussy Riot, they really need to kick up a lot more of a storm.  In anyone's book, calling yourself Mannequin Pussy demands no less.


DANNY BROWN - Tantor (Warp)
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by Tim London

For a moment, as the telephone internet connection bibbles introduced this tune I was genuinely confused - they sounded so, somehow, currently appropriate, as if nothing much has changed since the 1990s… I wish I knew which jazzy prog band this break was nicked from - essentially this is just that break plus a deranged, hypnotic voice. Someone’s idea of genuine madness. Sort of brilliant.


VIDEO AGE - Is It Really Over? (Winspear)
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by Alan Rider

So this is what 'yacht rock' sounds like then.  Pass the torpedo someone, this yacht really needs taking out.


JEFF TWEEDY ALTERNATELY BILL FAY - Filled With Wonder Once Again (Dead Oceans)
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by Ancient Champion

Recorded to record the milestone of the superb English folkie Bill Fay's 80th birthday, Jeff imbues an urgency that might suggest time is short when compared to the languidity of Bill's versions. Of course, it should be remarked on, Jeff is up to his super old tricks here, backwards guitars, vocally deft, acoustically sonic, drums - oh the drums sound just like a drum kit and despite the declaration that his protagonist here is filled with wonder once again, and who are we to doubt him? We are the circumspect who know moments after this moment of wondrous revelation we'll be filled with the sound of it all crashing down around us once again. Breathtakingly Brilliant. But check on Bill Fay's version too.


GREAT BIG COW - Iguana Love (Awesomeness International)
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by Ancient Champion

Great Big Cows injure and kill great big numbers of people. Let's make that clear from the start. So we kill a lot of them. What came first there, the killing cows or killing cows down at the slaughterhouse? I wanna give this this, what I did, 2 hearts, for the percussion. Percussion is not guilty, acquitted, always. But otherwise this record, this band, you know too many Napoleon Dynamites in one room at one time for me. It's no Jonathan Richman that's for sure and I hardly want to say that in case you go listening in case you think it might be. 


LPs

RICHARD HAWLEY - Now Then: The Very Best of Richard Hawley (BMG)
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by Ogglypoogly

Over 20 Years of Steely Songwriting from Sheffield's best.  Read Ogglypoogly's verdict here  


GENCAB - Signature Flaws (Metropolis)
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by Alan Rider

Combining elements of synth-pop, electronic/alt rock and EBM, but with subject matter such as addiction, obsession, ego, and death  and song titles like 'Bloom to decay', 'Black Mirror', and 'Cancer causes life', you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a bit of a gloomfest, but the truth is far from it.  With nods to Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, and Front 242, this has an impeccably designed sheen that others in the industrial/EBM field lack (and just in case you were wondering, genCAB stands for 'Generation cable'). This is the sound that Gary Numan is currently taking aim at, but sorry Gaz, genCAB got there first and does it far better.  With three separate takes on the title track spaced across the album, each an evolution from the previous, there is even a hint of a concept album here, whereas other tracks like the single 'The Badge', are more straightforward industrial club floor fillers. There certainly is a strong club vein running through the whole album, but delivered with a 'signature' twist and the wealth of small details such as tempo and key switches and the way tracks morph into different sections reveal an intelligent and precise hand at work. GenCAB's David Dutton really knows his way around the studio for sure, and 'Signature Flaws' is a substantial cut above others you will find in this genre.


GHOST TRAIN ORCHESTRA AND KRONOS QUARTET - Songs and Syphoniques - The Music of Moondog (Cantaloupe Music)
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by Jay Lewis

A celebration of the music of Moondog has been long, long overdue. Sure, 'Bird's Lament' appeared in some adverts and was sampled by DJ Scruff in the late 90s, but as for an actual tribute, one where you gasp at the new musical world the artist had created, well, that's not happened. Until now.

Brooklyn based Ghost Train Orchestra realised the importance of Louis Hardin, AKA Moondog and put together a project that would do justice to Moondog, the blind musician who best known for dressing in Viking costumes and  playing songs on the streets of New York (he was frequently referred to as The Viking of 6th Avenue). But Moondog made albums that touched on jazz, folk and classical music, designed and played his own instruments,  and was a major influence on the minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Moondog, who died in 1999 needs to be remembered. 

By working with the esteemed Kronos Quartet and a cast of great guest vocalists (Rufus Wainwright, Joan As A Policewoman etc), Ghost Train Orchestra have created a record that does justice to the legacy of Moondog. It is a record that contains both 'realisations and reimaginings' of his work, that covers the complexity and simplicity of his arrangements. From his short canons (the joyous uptempo of 'Be A Hobo' to the austere 'All is Loneliness' and the playful jazz of 'Bumbo' this album is both an excellent introduction to and a reminder to the long term fans of of the genius of Moondog's work.


ALTERNATIVE TV - Direct Action (Fourth Dimension)
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by Alan Rider

Mark Perry and ATV have released their first LP in eight years and Alan Rider has it right here


HANIA RANI - Ghosts (Gondwana Records)
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by Katherine Pargeter

After releasing two soundtrack albums this year ('On Giacometti' and 'The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart'). Hania Rani's third release provides the words and music to her own tales. But Rani plays with the format of pop songs, twisting them into something enticingly different. The intoxicating 'Hello' is based around a mesmerising repetition of the one-word title over and over again, whilst the ambient 'Dancing With Ghosts' is filled with the required amount of beguiling wooziness  Most poignant of all is 'Don't Break My Heart ' a story of a delicate, maybe too delicate, love. Portico Quartet's Duncan Bellamy adds the mesmerizing loops. A fabulous and rather 'otherworldly' record.


Essential Information
Main image screengrab from Germa Adan's new video.

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