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5 Hearts for March There were 26 Records loved so well our reviewers gave them five hearts in March

5 Hearts for March

There were 26 Records loved so well our reviewers gave them five hearts in March

by OL House Writer,
first published: April, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

Northwest & Nebulous "feels a lot like setting off on a journey" Luce Mawdsley says.

Every month OUTSIDELEFT's record reviewers scour the earth for songs. They really do. Their various techniques are obviously business confidential, you know that. Many come from close to home, check out Attrition or Aayushi and many more oh so distant, but soon to be oh so familiar, we hope. Future, and sometimes past greats are here. The number of 5 Heart records in March was 26, with reviews shared between DJ Fuzzyfelt (1), John Robinson (1), LamontPaul (4), Alan Rider (4), Toon Traveller (8), Ancient Champion (7), Lee Paul (1). Here they all are...


5 HEARTS for MARCH

AAYUSHI - Palm of the Sea (self-released)
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by LamontPaul

Aayushi's intimate and tender folk-pop, borne aloft from the memories and magic of a mother-child bond is simply gorgeous, of course. Palm of the Sea's spare instrumentation - mainly acoustic guitar and a smattering of bass and perhaps marimba, is the perfect foil for the presence of Aayushi's voice. As ever, I just can't fathom why this woman isn't a Six Music stalwart. She is so certainly doing some thing all entirely her own . 


ALESSANDRO ALLESONDRONI - Carosello Elettrico (Four Flies)
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by Ancient Champion

I wouldn't like to leave a suitcase open like that. Not with the cat in here. She might stowaway. And so one perfect minute from Alessandro Allesondroni's collection Decameroticus gets cropped out of the cinema in my head to soundtrack the potential behaviour of a sleeping sitting up cat. It was only a minute long to begin with.


ALISON BROWN & STEVE MARTIN - Bluegrass Radio (Compass Records)
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by Toon Traveller

I love a good slice of Bluegrass, and this is it. Prim vocals, banjos, fiddles, guitar, "No3 California, 5 in Arizona, and no 1 on Texas Bluegrass radio," it's a delightful slice of Irony, words are superb, clever, witty, charmed. It's about success and radio play, and it's just magical. His song's on heavy rotation. A radio hit, his life changes, and he gets breakfast made for him. There's delicious instrumental interplay, and and great comments on critics. it's just the widest smile in music this month, sheer joy. 


ATTRITION - The Black Maria (Two Gods)
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by Alan Rider

Alan Rider says that ‘Long awaited’ is a much over used phrase in the PR world, but in the case of Attrition’s latest, The Black Maria it is justified. Read Alan's review here→


BARRY ADAMSON - The Last Words of Sam Cooke (Lexer)
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by Ancient Champion

A sound observer of sound of course, The Last Words of Sam Cooke is a rockin' banger of a track, taken from Barry Adamson's tenth solo LP  'Cut To Black’ due in May. The musical influences that formed an escape route from a tough childhood to here, revealed in his 2021 memoir ‘Up Above The City, Down Beneath The Stars’ are excitingly present, all that jazz, and the John Barry that he'd found in his father's record collection too. Adamson's career is as storied as they come... Magazine, The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds. From his first solo album, ‘Moss Side Story’ in 1989 to the Last Words of Sam Cooke. What a tale told so far.


BLACK NAIL CABARET - Chrysanthemum (Dependent Records)
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by Alan Rider

There is a lot of what is often described as 'Pop Noir' out there, effectively the next progression on from Goth, and a lot of them are, frankly, pretty awful. That is absolutely not true of Black Nail Cabaret. From the opener 'My Home is Empty' you know you are on to a class act. Singles 'Autogenic' and 'Darkness Is A friend' (reviewed here last week) are both present and excellent they both are too. The Hungarian duo aren't afraid to mix it up a bit either with electro and techno elements in tracks like 'Neurons' and  'Teach Me How To Techno'.  Singer Emese has the perfect soaring voice for this, showcased on tracks like 'Godspeed' and the album closer 'Faceless Boy'. There is a very dark pair of hearts beating here though. "We know that the grim reaper will come to us all and bring the end, which turns us into fear-filled jars...we are surrounded by a constant static noise of despair that is waiting to take over" they say. This is the sound of dark corners and rainy nightclub back alleys. They are over in the UK in April to promote this, so you may even be able to catch them live in one of the usual major cities plus, oddly, Nuneaton!  The Chrysanthemum is a deathbed flower, but is beautiful nonetheless. I'd say that is the perfect title for this album.

Bandcamp album listening party is on Sunday 3rd March 8pm CET/7pm UK time at https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com/

 


GILLIE - Yn y Bore (Libertino Records)
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by DJ Fuzzyfelt

Libertino, the consistently great record label, home of acts wonderful as Adwaith, Ynys, Rogue Jones and Angharad - who have all released music to love, comes up with another fine record, this one from Gillie. Four tracks, I Ti, Llawn, Toddy, and the title tune Yn y Bore are all worthy of your attention. If I say there's lots of skittering drums, ethereal vocals plus chorus and echo on the guitar, you might yawn and say it's all been done before, however Gillie has woven it all into something more. It's a very beautiful 17 odd minutes of music that's right cheered me up. Gillie will be one of over a hundred artists from all over the world who will be appearing at the annual Focus Wales Festival that's taking place at various different venues in Wrexham from May 9th to 11th - one of those little music events you don't generally read about in the media, but those who go once end up making a space in their diary every year to attend thereafter.


HUNGRYTOWN - Feel Like Falling (Big Stir Records)
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by Toon Traveller

A singer songwriter opening, a delicious female voice, plaintiff not pleading, clear, precise, cool, not cold. Starts off reflective and pensive, builds as sympathetic strings slip slowly into consciousness, adding to the sense of a melancholic life, love in recovery. A drum fill, changes tempo, mood and atmosphere, steps from a cold spring shadow into a warm tender golden spring sun. It's atmosphere, it's life, it's joyous, it's tender, it's just a delight, of hope in dull, dimmed, uncertain apprehensive year we all face in the UK. 


INDIA ARIE - Brown Skin (Sony or something)
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by Lee Paul

India Arie's Brown Skin from the LP Acoustic Soul... Age old now, a still sort of groundbreaking arrangement of acoustic soul sounds and beats.


JADE BIRD - You've fallen in Love Again (Glassnote Records)
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by Toon Traveller

Great slapped fatback Southern Soul Bass opening, slice of bacon crisp drums, and a one of those lived it, seen it, loved it, voices. Modern Southern Soul. There's some absolutely wonderfully delicious playing here, keys and strings that flutter with a summer feel. Sounds of crickets, songbirds and smells of Bar-B-Qs pervade.


JOHN CALE - How We See The Light (Domino Records)
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by Ancient Champion

That's a sentimental 5 first of all. 5 hearts for John. Because it ain't any old John it is the John Cale. Now let me listen to it and wonder how terrible would I think this was if it wasn't John Cale. Maybe pretty very. If yous are preparing to open yous wallets on the strength of his name, what do us get you might be asking? Well there were exciting moments at the opening that sounded just like that popular band Elbow cranking out another made for tv travelogue commercial bit of chaff. But then, that is, music as only they can. John rapidly moved on from baked in hyperaccessibility. Got the the narrative, surrounded it with singular musical motifs, pulsing, repetitive, insistent, and choral all at once. Chant-y. LIke working til your musclebound in a drab joyless office. How We See The Light is from John's POPtical Illusion LP due in June. This is really okay. 


KONRADSEN - I.O.U. (777 Music)
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by Toon Traveller

Norwegian Jazz, usually ice cold, precise, spiky and shivers down the spine. Norwegian Folk, expect screeching scraping fiddles, jerky rhythms, and big vocal ranges. This does not disappoint, hell there's hints of small accordion and improv-jazz guitar thrown in. Terje Rypdal, we know who you've given guitar lessons to. Enigmatic, enchanting, this spins a web of musical delights, summer, autumn, and a hint of spring slowly waking. Sadly, hardly anyone will give the time and commitment it deserves, their Loss, their Loss.


LEON FREAR - She Fed Me Water (Self-Released)
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by Toon Traveller

Every now and again, a slice of drum thumping, jangling guitar chords, and whispered rasping, life tired, played out, last days, edge of life, rock just hits the spot. This song just does just that, broken hoarse, tired crying vocal, sanguine regret, bereft of anger, but desperate hidden pain. Storytelling in a backroom blues bar, a few sad faces, empty glasses, memory's broken spaces. Hearts and sun bleached, life-leached memories, this oozes sincerity, intimacy, pain and loneliness. Love lost, lying in the dust of dried out memories, leaves into dust, husks in the bitter wind of regret.


LES BIG BYRD - Diamonds, Rhinestones and Hard Rain (Chimp Limbs)
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by Alan Rider

Think of Swedish music and what springs to mind?  The Cardigans?,  Hives?, Ace of Base?,  Nenah Cherry?, Goat,  maybe even Hard Rock band Thundermother we reviewed a few weeks back?  Or even that band beginning with 'A' that won Eurovision once? Well, it looks like you will have to add Les Big Byrd to that list now.  They've been building up to this for a while now, but 'Diamonds, Rhinestones and Hard Rain' is a definitive statement that they have arrived. That's clear from the outset, with the epic 10 minute opener 'Mareld', the surf psyche of the title track, and the Spiritualized-esque instrumental trip of ‘Lycka Till På Färden’  All are clear statements of intent.  Spacey and all encompassing, Les Big Byrd's fourth album sees the band take to the air in a trippy, droney, swirling, whirling, expansive head fuck, shimmering with wonderfully echoing beats and trips where everything falls into place.  The title track is probably the most conventional song on the album, the rest being mainly instrumental, Hawkwind style workouts, evolving and opening like a psychedelic field of flowers. Sunday mornings were made for this.  As I've said of LBB before, save yourself money on drugs and overdose on this instead.  We all need to escape from reality these days, and this is an escape room you won't want to find the exit door from.  You can find out more about Les Big Byrd in our exclusive interview with them here

Diamonds, Rhinestones and Hard Rain is let out to play on Chimp Limbs on March 22nd. Order it here


LIAM BAILEY - Zero Grace (Big Crown)
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by LamontPaul

I've really been enjoying Liam Bailey this week as he follows me around in my car with Zero grace. In some respects this record reminds me of Van Morrison in a Caravan at his most productive. It's an album that gently careens through the gears. Soulful and contemporary. Whispered and poetic, and damn if that rock' guitar doesn't sound like the Small Faces at another turn. It's very British like that I think, the sheer eclecticism is a charm that marks Liam Bailey as an important British artist on the world stage. Like a singing Paul Smith. And Liam Bailey is from Nottingham too.


LU WARM - Gnome Standard (Bandcamp)
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by Ancient Champion

Lu Warm, the self-styled Black Country Guitar Primitive has a superb full length record out and happily for us, he talks us through it, track by track, here→


LUCE MAWDSLEY - Northwest & Nebulous (Pure O Records)
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by Alan Rider

'Northwest & Nebulous' is Luce Mawdsley's sixth album, but the first of hers I have heard myself.  Instrumental, orchestral in nature, and sinuously evolving across each track, its an intriguing mix and quite distinctive. Each track is different yet retains the same feel like a watermark running through it. Some are playful and almost music hall in places (the title track), others stretch out more, drawing from folk, Americana and soundtrack influences. None feel the need to give in to the gloomy melancholy and plodding tones that most pop/rock artists who delve into an orchestral sound feel they need to adopt (step forward Vince Clarke). Orchestral needn't be downbeat. In fact it really should be inspiring. Luce seems to have captured the knack of doing that, but then I am guessing Luce has a background in this that makes it second nature for her. Inspired by the Northern English coastline at Formby, and recorded in a Grade II listed Scandinavian Church in Liverpool, the eight pieces on 'Northwest & Nebulous' together form a sonic landscape that Luce says "feels a lot like setting off on a journey".  This feels a lot like that to me too. Hear it all here

 


MEZANMI - Like Spun Gold (Mezanmi)
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by John Robinson

Mezanmi - Fran O'Hanlon - who formerly recorded as Ajimal - is an NHS doctor and this fact is reflected in his previous and current work, still engineered and produced by Guy Massey. Mezanmi's folk, contemporary classical sound is now mixed with electronic landscapes, here bedding a raw and angry lyric with a fractured, distorted violence beneath. His delivery is measured, as he takes a scalpel to the lies of those desperate to cling to power, clearly directed at those in charge of us over the lockdown and since: "You peddle pretty lies like spun gold, Considered and malign, they take hold"... His gorgeous earlier track "To You, My Friends", celebrated the immigrant population who he works alongside and who suffer the hatred and malignity of our current administration. If anything this new track spends more beauty than its targets deserve.


MICHELLE MOELLER - Leafless (AKP Recordings)
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by Ancient Champion

Although Michelle Moeller's debut LP Late Morning won't arrive until April 5th, the track 'Leafless' offers the most singular and delectable sip, the aroma and the notes, the first blush if you will, and it is clear that Late Morning catalyzes from an artist fully formed. The LP is charmingly “Titled as an affectionate homage to slow movers and late bloomers,” Michelle says, and is "a culmination of years spent integrating disparate aspects of my musical practice: an attraction to otherworldly digital sound with an enduring melodic sensibility rooted in my classical piano training.” The results are musical for sure, and gently mesmerising. I already know I am going to play this record over and over again. With wondrously controlled combination of acoustics and electronics, Michelle Moeller is like a plugged in Harry Partch.  


MICHELLE MOELLER - Nest (AKP Recordings)
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by Ancient Champion

Michelle Moeller just gets it... This is beautifully, dimly-lit and marginally off-kilter but not so far you wouldn't welcome it back to your place late at night, sneaking up the backstairs in case the bore you encounter regularly in the hall attempts to hijack such exhilarating company. Like a lush Piano that had Been Drinking with Tom Waits. Delight!


SHAWN BROWN - The Sad Ones (Bootney Lee)
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by Toon Traveller

A sophomore love affair ended at Jessie's 20th party. It's got it all, even the "up a key" to a pseudo anthemic/synthetic climax. West Coast 2nd love lost in the California sun. It could be any band from the pre-grunge 80s. Gawd there's even a reference to 'listening to those old Cure Albums, staring at the sea'  romantic references pervade... 'Virginia Wolfe, and midnight movies'. Minor key pianos, and simpering strings, it's got all the hooks, and lyrical looks. I don't like it. But curmudgeonly man has to admit it is bloody well written.


SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE - Summers Last Rays (Drag City)
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by Toon Traveller

Spanish Guitar in the morning, is redolent of white washed villages, card playing pensioners, coffee and Anis, domino's and chatter,  Churros n Coffee. I Love it and all of that magic is here for me. Simple, evocative, almost timeless... Except it's a chimera, a lovely one, but these faded scenes are vanishing. Death, urban migration, and Tourist Invasions (that I am the last of the Freddie Laker generation leader of) are all taking their toll. Repeated themes, gradual quickening of pace, the slow throb of rumbling electronics drowning the guitars simplicity, summate rural social and cultural changes. The guitar's final motif - wistful tears for times past. Listen relax, find the moment, let your mind float into those journeys, places, capture your memories, before all it's packaged experiences only.


THE CHILDREN... - Smothered My Traces (Erototox Decodings)
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by Toon Traveller

Swans & Cop Shoot Cop associated friends, come together as The Children... with the wow spacey trippy opening, lottsa echo, deep bass, voices becomes distinct, drums drift in and out, Indian strings, mystery, magic, places, spaces, this is NOT like anything else passed for review this week. The vocals rise in intensity and desperation, fear and resentment. Dark, horrors, a deep resentful instrumentation.  This has that fear just around the corner of the block. it's a disturbing record, unsettling, edgy, it's those spaces occupied by just recovered by memories, barely buried fears.


TIERRA WHACK - 27 Club (Interscope)
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by LamontPaul

I'd watched Regina King's appearance on American breakfast Tv where she discussed her son taking his own life and just how much she loved being his mom. She talked about his choices. And then I read Sarah Wildman's piece about losing her teenage daughter in the NY Times, and I'd also been feeling a little shaken by several events that literallty wrote a different future in life than the one I had lazily assumed I was drifting towards. And then this from Tierra Whack, whom I consider to be one of the more significant artists in rap and more broadly American entertainment right now singing about loss. Needed for perspective.


TOMEKA REID QUARTET - Sauntering With Mr. Brown (Cuneiform Records)
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by LamontPaul

After the years of waiting... You know Tomeka Reid literally is a genius? MacArthur Genius, sort of certified then I guess. Every time I get a new email from her record label before I open it, I hope, I get excited, wondering whether this will be the one with info about Tomeka Reid new record. I don't think I feel that way about any other artist. And while the album isn't here yet, these 8 minutes of cello genius almost say it's gonna be worth the wait. I'm a little impatient though too. I'd rather there was a new record every week. I don't wanna wait around no more. Anyway, the LP ships on April 26th, I know I'll never get a copy to England. Oh well. #sad ears


WAXAHATCHEE - 365 (Anti Records)
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by Ancient Champion

From the imminently imminent Tiger's Blood LP, Waxahatchee's massively anticipated follow up to Saint Cloud. We have a review of the LP in our jacket pocket held over until the week the record is released. Next week, I think. See, sometimes we can do as we are asked. Ya'll will hear about it then.


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Main image: Luce Mawdsley from Bandcamp

OL House Writer

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