search for something...

search for something you might like...

Outsideleft Week in Music: The Female Genital Mutilation Issue We're hearing from... Fatoumata Diawara, Steal Beans, Vince Clarke, Lilli Lewis, Duran Duran, English Teacher, Bonnie Prince Billy, We Owe, Gina Birch, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Born at Midnight, Abstract Concrete, New Order, Sleaford Mods, Sleeping Souls, The National, Fuzzbox with Ted Chippington and Robert Lloyd, Antony Szmierek, Daniel Darc and Frederic Lo, The Lunar Laugh, The Goa Express & Thelonious Monster

Outsideleft Week in Music: The Female Genital Mutilation Issue

We're hearing from... Fatoumata Diawara, Steal Beans, Vince Clarke, Lilli Lewis, Duran Duran, English Teacher, Bonnie Prince Billy, We Owe, Gina Birch, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Born at Midnight, Abstract Concrete, New Order, Sleaford Mods, Sleeping Souls, The National, Fuzzbox with Ted Chippington and Robert Lloyd, Antony Szmierek, Daniel Darc and Frederic Lo, The Lunar Laugh, The Goa Express & Thelonious Monster

by OL House Writer,
first published: November, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

"I want to bring awareness about the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation that is still prevalent in many parts of Africa and, at the same time, give children the space they deserve as they represent our hope for a better future."

SINGLES

FATOUMATA DIAWARA - 'SETE' feat. Brooklyn Youth Choir (3ème Bureau)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by LamontPaul

Fatoumata Diawara explains: "SETE is a call to the world. I want to bring awareness about the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation that is still prevalent in many parts of Africa and, at the same time, give children the space they deserve as they represent our hope for a better future." This is an incredibly beautiful piece of music and scary video film. If this doesn't make you weep... oh well what's with you? Stop the violence.


ENGLISH TEACHER - The World’s Biggest Paving Slab (Island)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border

by Alan Rider

Leeds 'English Teacher' get my vote for writing a song about a paving slab that mentions  the Pendle Witches, and says watch your fucking feet if you tread on me.  Its a snappy but straight to the point song about being overlooked and done down.  Great but simple video too. 


ABSTRACT CONCRETE - Almost Touch (The States51 Conspiracy)
favoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_borderfavorite_border

by Toon Traveller

Gloomy opening, whining strings and post apocalyptic vocals, this is what the German 70's synth bands could have morphed into, if they'd listened to Genesis and Yes. Out of key vocals, synth driven instrumentals, wistful violin. Echoes of the 70s almost made it Greenslade.  "Where am  I, where are  you" wails the vocals.  For me hopefully in a soundproofed room, with food. water, a wc and a locked door.A prog rock revival? Gawd I hope not.  


BORN AT MIDNIGHT - 69 (Arbutus Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border

by Toon Traveller

Slab of ambient chill out trance, ice cream sundae vocals, and one of those 80s skippy, trippy, bass lines, it bounces, it flounces, it delights, it provokes, it memory invokes. Times passed, people missed, summer parks, warm wines, picnics. Semi-drunken sun streamed afternoons, before life got serious. Harmless, thought-free-thoughtless, candy floss music, and all the better for it.


BONNIE PRINCE BILLY - Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You (Drag City)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border

by Ancient Champion

Couldn't wait to hear this today. Any other week Billy's picture would be at the top of the page to alert the world world that there was a new well of bittersweetly committed ambivalence to dive into. Keeping secrets is all I ever do. How does Billy do it so well?


THE NATIONAL - Laugh Track ft. Phoebe Bridgers (Domino)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Toon Traveller

It's so out the usual batch of prospective, all the same, nothing new here, releases, popping up daily, THIS  whispers " Hey, step outside you musical comfort zone.,give this a listen". AND yeah, you really do need to.  From the drum opening, and almost whispered, life battered, played out, love lost, weary vocals. This is that sad man, bar stool sat, whiskey nursing, memories jerking, feelings of life's road's end. A Genre, it's beyond that, it's just a song, a backing, a groove, a feel, and that's it's delightful magic. 


LILLI LEWIS - Sin Eater (Righteous Babe)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Toon Traveller

Humongous slice of southern soul, with all the honking extras, fat flabby bass, spacey keys dipping in and out, a sleazy, greasy down and dirty diner vocal. Anger, resentment spat, like late night singing over the juke box. There's a simple message, despair from the heart's deepest pained places. Street walking, bourbon sipping, soul stew dreamin',  this pouts, high steps and flaunts it's class. Passion, and sheer soul power. A skip for heart beat, a treat for shuffling tiring feet, a late night slow easy groove. Oh and a talking bit too.
 


HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF - Alibi (Nonesuch)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Jay Lewis

This breaks my heart. Having taken on global concerns on their last album ('Life on Earth', 2022), singer-songwriter Alynda Segarra now focuses on more personal issues for the forthcoming album 'The Past Is Still Alive'. As the title suggests, it is a record about grief and uncertainty and is the first music the Segarra has written since the death of their father. 'Alibi' is one of those touching moments that wraps poignant words around an infectious country/Americana melody (Think of Big Thief if you want to look for comparisons). It's a song about '...trying to get through to someone you already know you're gonna lose'. And it hurts. A lot.


THE GOA EXPRESS - It's Never Been Better (Self released)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border

by Alan Rider

“‘It’s Never Been Better’ existed for many years as a home demo on GarageBand”, say the band.  It's all chiming guitar and Psychedelic Furs-y drawly vocals and mid tempo shoegaze through and through. It's a tried and tested formula and therein lies the problem.  It's competent, but unremarkable and predictable, and that's not an accolade any band worth its salt should be remotely happy with. It's the sound of a thousand school indie bands, so it comes as no surprise that The Goa Express grew up together. They could have chosen a name that sounds less like an Indian takeway though.  No video for this either.


THE LUNAR LAUGH - Stranger than Oz (Big Stir Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border

by Toon Traveller

20 seconds in already I've heard The Move - Get the Fire Brigade, and a piece of American Pie, and Elton's Crocodile Rock. Not too sure what to make of this, the vocals, strong on 60s harmonies, in a happy place, open spaces, and clear sky echoes. Lyrics, feel cut and pasted "Doctor please refill my prescription", or "just outside a luncheonette, dragging a left handed cigarette".  Strange, strange record. If the editor said 'It was AI produced and written', - - You Know,  I'd three-fourths believe them. Pure 60's, pop, harmless, hopeful, harmonious, happy. 


SLEEPING SOULS - Scared of Living (Partisan Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border

by Toon Traveller

Perhaps best known as Frank Turner’s loyal bandmates, The Sleeping Souls deliver a debut album of their own devising. Written between Frank Turner's rehearsal space in Oxford and the Badlands studios in Ireland. It's Oasis meets West Coast, US, power pop, it's powered up, guitar driven, fist pumping, phone waving, Mosh Pit leaping, for the college fraternity, Saturday Night Crew. Sure it's got rawness, yeah there's anger, 'mom won't buy me new sneakers'. It remains agreeably listenable  pop rock, high quality, and tons of of US and UK pop sensibilities, Good chorus phrasing. 


SLEAFORD MODS - West End Girls (Rough Trade)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Jay Lewis

The best band in this dreadful country (both facts not debatable) covers the greatest number one single of all time (according to The Guardian and also not debatable), and proceeds go to the unfortunately essential Shelter. Buy this record as being forced to live in a tent is not, and never ever will be, ''a lifestyle choice' as that dangerous and soon-to-be-forgotten loon said.


EPs

ANTONY SZMIEREK - Seasoning EP (Underplay/LAB Records Ltd. )
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Jay Lewis

"None of these jobs existed in the Stone Age/ And they'll disappear again in a hundred years time".

Of all the lines from Antony Szmierek that cut through me, this is one that really stings me. Just imagine a life that's not defined by that new tech that your company acquired to simplify procedures but is now zapping you all of the will to live? Imagine that! Imagine having more time to indulge in Szmierek's funny, sad, introspective and profound lyrics? Imagine more time to just enjoy this poetry?  He's one of the most astute wordsmiths to arrive in a long, long time and the 'Seasoning' EP is filled with smart but never showy lyrics, identifiable little truths delivered over a soundtrack of hip hop, garage, hip-hop, house etc. As he defined them earlier,  these are Poems to Dance To.

Songwriter of the year?  No one else comes even close. 


LPs

DANIEL DARC AND FRéDéRIC LO - Coeur Sacré - un hommage de Frédéric Lo à Daniel Darc (Water Music)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_border

by Jay Lewis

Jay Lewis have spent many hours poring over the lyrics of the great Daniel Darc, trying to translate them from their original French to English... Read the whole story, here


VINCE CLARKE - Songs of Silence (Mute)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border

by Alan Rider

"I was in a state of shock when Mute said they wanted to release this album" said Vince.  I'm not shocked.  Its a slam dunk for them, with guaranteed sales based on Clarkes past achievements and status.  The actual album though is nothing special.  It's a series of gloomy and maudlin (is that the same thing?), overlong, and slightly dull instrumental semi-orchestral electronic workouts of the sort that are ten-a-penny on Bandcamp, but given it's Vince Clarke, they will have an audience beyond their actual true value.  You think I'm being unkind?  Well just because someone has produced great works in the past doesn't guarantee them a free pass in my book for anything else they feel like putting out.  'Songs of Silence' is ok I suppose, but it's also a real yawn fest.  It's so serious, so intense, and yes, so boring!  There I've said it. In synth circles criticising Vince Clarke is deemed sacrilege, but then again, sometimes you have to reject reputations just to keep things moving forward.  I doubt my assessment "This is OK, I suppose" will be making it into any Mute press blurbs anytime soon, so I'll just get my coat.


WE OWE - Major Inconvenience (Mothland)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border

by Alan Rider

We Owe is the solo project of Brooklyn-based musician Christopher Pravdica, who has completed past tours of duty with Swans and Xiu Xiu. The album opens with the superb first single 'Time Suck', which is by far the best track on the album, followed with the distinctly underwhelming second single, 'Illogical Thinking'.  Therein lies the problem with this album.  Mothland just doesn't seem to be able to make up its mind about what it wants to be, resulting in a frustratingly bitty and inconsistent experience. Some tracks have hints of dance, like the Primal Scream-ish 'Immured', the frenetic 'Wet Nurse' jitters along before coming to an abrupt stop, and the industrial tinged album closer is called 'I Wanna Die'. To be honest I'm not surprised he does, as this album is frankly, a bit of a mess.  It feels to me that he had a few good ideas in his head, but they really didn't turn out how he expected they would once he got a bit carried away in the studio, but it was way too late by then, so out 'Mothland' comes and lets get it over with and just hope no one notices.  I did.


NEW ORDER - Substance (2023 Expanded Reissue) (Warner Music)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Jay Lewis

I know that this will appall hardened New Order fans but  the one album of theirs that I return to more than any other is this unfussily chronological singles compilation (everything from 'Ceremony' up to 'True Faith').

'Substance' is a tale of how New Order tiptoed out of the shadows of Joy Division to make some of the most captivating singles of their era, a catalogue of their life before the Balearic beats and Acid House influences of 'Technique', before the football song, before the formulaic records that left little trace.

I's a joy to delve into (almost) five hours of this expanded edition, to be reacquainted with the original versions of 'Temptation' (their best single - it's not negotiable, it just is) and 'Confusion' as well as the splendid b-sides ('Hurt',  '1963'). The live material is fairly inessential, although I still laugh at the puerile change of lyrics on 'Perfect Kiss'. Still.  So, apologies to any die-hard fans, but New Order - they're a singles band, right?


Other Materials

FUZZBOX WITH TED CHIPPINGTON AND ROBERT LLOYD - Rockin' With Rita (YouTube only)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Jay Lewis

I once met Ted Chippington. 

In the irreverent world of Outsideleft,  this fact is greeted with more wonderment than any tale of all of your top-notch celebrities put together. About 30 years ago,  Ted got booked to play the comedy night at the Students' Union I worked at numerous times.   Although I was in awe of him, I was aware in a very tiny minority. Laughing  aloud on your own at show just looks a little odd doesn't it?  After the gig, I handed Ted a scrap of paper to sign and he immediately started to take the piss.  If you’re familiar with Ted, then I can happily report that he was as mockingly lugubrious offstage as he was onstage.   As well as his signature he also scribbled something about his love of Port Vale FC.  Very Ted. 

The attached clip shows his moment of fame (other than an appearance on Pebble Mill at One, but that's another story), as here he is in the midst of teatime pop TV hysteria with Fuzzbox and Robert Lloyd on ‘Razzmatazz’.  It is a surreal delight that never loses it's WTAF? brilliance.  And, if you stick around for the band interview on this clip, you can also find out just who Rita was.  


THELONIOUS MONSTER - Blood is Thicker Than Water (Capitol Records)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Ancient Champion

Could probably add anything from any LP by Thelonious Monster, their songs are just so fantastically great. Blood is Thicker Than Water is from Beautiful Mess. "I think my dad was a racist, maybe he was just ignorant who knows?" Families can be so complicated can't they Bob?


STEAL BEANS - Molotov Cocktail Lounge (YouTube)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Lee Paul

Wow! That's pre-primitive-pre-prehistoric. Amazing.


DURAN DURAN - Seven & The Ragged Tiger (Parlophone)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border

by Jay Lewis

I still remember the contempt on the face of the shop assistant when I purchased this album.

40 years on (almost to the day), it's peculiar that I can recall more about this awkward exchange than about the contents of the flimsy Woolworths carrier bag that had just been thrust at me. S&TRT was Duran Duran's third studio album, their last with their 'classic' lineup.   It was recorded in a number of locations around the world (yes, it was for 'tax reasons') and as such feels fairly disjointed. Much of S&TRT just rattled along at a furious pace, leaving no impression. It's not without its merits though:  'Union of the Snake' is deliciously odd and 'New Moon On Monday' may be their most underrated single, 'Something On My Mind' is pleasantly absurd and the (pre-Nile Rogers) 'The Reflex' is frantic, (even with that nauseating chorus). But 'Shadows On Your Side'? or 'Of Crime and Passion'? Nope, they just felt like a lot of bluster.

Queuing up in Woolies with a copy of S&TRT, I should have taken more notice of the albums sleeve as it may have also provided a clue as it what to expect from it's music.  That sleeve: a jumble of ideas thrown together that never actually gel, an overly complicated mix of semi-formed ideas struggling to fit together.  Muddled. 

Maybe, just maybe,  it was the reason that the shop assistant shoved it in the bag so quickly.  


GINA BIRCH - I Play MY bAss Loud (Third Man)
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite

by Ancient Champion

You don't need much of a heads up from me to enjoy this one although I did need a heads up from my friend the musician, artist and dj Woodenhand to get this onto this page where it is very much needed.


Essential Information
Main image YouTube screengrab of Fatoumata Diawara

RECENT STORIES

RANDOM READS

All About and Contributors

HELP OUTSIDELEFT

Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]

WRITE FOR OUTSIDELEFT

If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]

OUTSIDELEFT UNIVERSE

The Retrofuturists Are Back February 29th
OUTSIDELEFT Night Out
weekend

outsideleft content is not for everyone