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Outsideleft Week in Music. Let Retrofuturism Be Your Energi. We're hearing from...Adrianne Lenker, Amigo The Devil, Spizz Energi, St Vincent, Cadence Weapon, Yoko Kanno, Swansea Sound, Ancient Champion, The K's, Pond, Woo, Thee Heart Tones, King Tubby, Burnt Sherpa, Pavement, Machinedrum ft. Duckwrth, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Woods, Palace of Tears, Sam Wilson, Hanging Freud, Brenton Wood, The Viceroys, Alessandro Allesandroni, Fairground Attraction, Irked, Occult Witches, Torn Boys, John Douglas & Various Punk Dinosaurs

Outsideleft Week in Music. Let Retrofuturism Be Your Energi.

We're hearing from...Adrianne Lenker, Amigo The Devil, Spizz Energi, St Vincent, Cadence Weapon, Yoko Kanno, Swansea Sound, Ancient Champion, The K's, Pond, Woo, Thee Heart Tones, King Tubby, Burnt Sherpa, Pavement, Machinedrum ft. Duckwrth, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Woods, Palace of Tears, Sam Wilson, Hanging Freud, Brenton Wood, The Viceroys, Alessandro Allesandroni, Fairground Attraction, Irked, Occult Witches, Torn Boys, John Douglas & Various Punk Dinosaurs

by OL House Writer,
first published: April, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

...then we shake the reviews up and display the randomly them as they fall. No favouritism, no hierarchy. Just opining.

intro.

Early in the week, I often look at the list of records our reviewers have added, it's pretty autonomous, they do whatever they want, and some weeks I get anxious that there might not be enough content, enough record reviews in place. Wait. Wait... Let me explain how it works... We get dozens (remember those) of press releases each day and read them and redirect them towards whichever of our writers I think will be most interested. Our writers too are out there unearthing music new and old. So we never know precisely what will happen. How many record reviews their might be. Of course I like that. Everything gets put into the Week in Music hopper, and then we shake the reviews up and display them randomly as they fall. No favouritism, no hierarchy. Just opining. This week's reviews come from Sheridan Coyle (1), Ogglypoogly (3), Lee Paul (4), Alan Rider (5), LamontPaul (1), Toon Traveller (7), Tim London (3), John Robinson (1) & Ancient Champion (7) 

singles.

KING TUBBY - Longer Way ft The Upsetters (Sanctuary)
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by Lee Paul

I love King Tubby a whole bunch. Do you need more. Here with The Upsetters on a Curley Locks - Sanctuary records compilation. Spare. Good. No great.

HANGING FREUD - Falling Tooth (Spleen+ (Alta Matrix))
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by Toon Traveller

Tick-Tock Tick-Tock, Tock-Tick, a looming spartan voice, dark threats, organ sustained. Souls  walking, striding, stalking, apprehension, anticipation. More darkside, than downside. This plods, purposefully though, one persons plod is another's stride full of promise, a promise of shock, perhaps violence There's no sense of denouement, conclusion, just a descent, a fade to grey. Ideas, invention, delivery and competence all present. Too little charm too.

SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS - Don't Wanna Lose You (Daptone Records)
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by Lee Paul

Sharon Jones. Oh well, I can barely say her name without feeling wistful which don't feel wholly appropriate given the vocal power Sharon possessed. It's never too late to know her and this previously unreleased single is a good way to start. And $7 for the vinyl record. Man I just bought a non-alchoholic beer for £16. I really want to be getting more for my money going forward. This is where I begin.

CADENCE WEAPON - My Computer (MNRK Music)
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by Toon Traveller

Always on the computer like our publisher Lamontpaul? Cadence Weapon has a warning for you. Tecky buzz words pervade, we know them all. Those words spewed across IT and computers are there, it's the beat and rhythm driving the song. It's not a million miles from the dystopia Kreftwek hinted at, decades ago, it really isn't. But funked up, less remote know, as a spectacle, spaced out. A paean, a testament to the 2020's obsessions, effects, business life, and goals."My computer, my solution, easy access, content modified, screen saver."   We've all seen the messages, read the flashes, sounds places, finger flits, flicks, and touches. The music perversely, or precisely is workaday, the voice urgent and disinterested meets the sense of helplessness we feel in IT overwhelm. It works.  “I wanted to rap about tech companies and the physical impact they have on cities,” says Cadence. “One example is the ill-fated Sidewalk Labs project where Google attempted to build a neighborhood of the future in Toronto where garbage collection was automated and the taxis drove themselves. While that project failed, I find cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and London are basically already there. These tech-utopias have one thing in common: working people are typically made expendable and pushed to the margins.” This needs to be listened to, with close attention, there's skill and intel here. But who's hearing it?

YOKO KANNO - Blue ft. Maya (Orchard Japan)
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by Toon Traveller

Yoko Kanno was the composer for the animated series, Cowboy BeBop. Here she has teamed with Maya to cover her own tune Blue from the final series of that show... What have we got here? Angelic voices open, in that strange Japanese key of G#. Setting a cold morning scene, cupped hands, tears, cold coffee. It's all pensive, redemptive, pained slow build, stretching mind and soul to see a whole new day. Measured slow rise, to a cut loose yell for freedom, not pleading, more 'give me my rights' and 'give me 'em now'. It's that counterpoint of the maudlin romantic music, and self-questioning, slightly lost, but knowing that this is a step on the road she wants to proudly stride, that makes this a spiritual experience. Maya is reborn and invigorated, in the 5 minutes of this song, showing us merely part of her journey. It's for us, listeners, to fill the detail from our own lives, and that's where Blue delights. Kanno says “Even after 25 years, the longing for freedom never leaves us. With Maya's voice as a new set of wings, the song continues to soar even higher, even deeper, into the blue. The imagery Mr. Daichi Yasuda explores is an invitation to a journey for eternity.”

ANCIENT CHAMPION - The Retrofuturists Are Back / Crank Magnetism (Fullertone Records)
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by Ogglypoogly

This review has been on my ‘to do’ list for a few weeks, sadly for all of you I’ve been on automatic pilot for a while.  I say sadly because were I able to - I’d have sat you all down and made you listen on repeat a few times, whilst I nod enthusiastically and raise my eyebrows in a  “this was entirely what you needed to hear right now” affirmation. Alas I don’t have the means to actually make that happen, so what I’m going to need you to do is seek this out and listen to it - choosing whether to imagine a particularly enthusiastic Heron watching is entirely up to you. My only true criticism would be that neither track is quite long enough. The titular track is an upbeat, if faintly eerie, contrasting like yin to the yang of Crank Magnetism. A track so bouncy and gleeful it feels like summer has made an early start in my Ears. If I were to describe the EP as whole, then I ask you to imagine that you’re being followed through back streets as the sun rises, you hear the occasional clatter of a stray can being disturbed, and whilst your heart feels like it’s going to beat it’s way through your sternum you slowly turn to face your fate only to find it’s a litter of spaniels and they’re here to deliver a truck load of bubbles JUST for you. And, if that hasn’t spurred you on to listen to this, well - I’m not honestly sure what will. (On Bandcamp→)

SAM WILSON - Wintertides (Self-Released)
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by Toon Traveller

Described as chamber Jazz Guitar, and from Nova Scotia, literally at World's End. Air light Jazz lives in Nova's, windy, wet, winter cold, with a Wes Montgomery sensitive touch. Feels, breathes and thrives in Sam Wilson's fingers. Loved Wes'  playing, sadly passed long ago. Sam's playing, feather light touch is luscious, entrancing, drums in the middle of the mix, adding just enough underpinning, and juxtaposition with the Guitar and Upright Bass. Her playing strong, confident, and tender. This an early morning, late evening delight, of atmosphere, and charm.

SWANSEA SOUND - Markin' It Down (Skep Wax)
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by Ancient Champion

There's some crafty masking or whatever that is called when the pictures are moving. Is it still masking? If it wasn't late and if my film friends weren't vacationing I could ask. So you have that and you also get an archetypal workday at the record store revisited. Great early inquiry about Yard Act. Anyway, this is an opportunity for me to write about what I dislike the most about record stores. The prices, there will be little argument with that. And when the racks are so full of records they cannot be flicked through. Staff that are cold. That's not fair. The margins may not be what they used to be but please keep the staff warm if they want that. At least. I used to work in a very, very large record store. It was said people took jobs there because there was no drug testing. Is that even true? Well, Swansea Sound I saw at the Rock'n'Roll Brewhouse recently and they were so very very entertaining I'd recommend them to anyone. 

ALESSANDRO ALLESANDRONI - Chiesa Di Campagna (Four Flies)
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by Ancient Champion

If there was One Minute You Won't Get Back, and it could be any minute, well what about this one, Chiesa Di Campagna. Alessandro Allesandroni you'll know for his incredible work for Ennio Morricone. Give up one minute. And when that organ kicks in towards the final 15 seconds or so, you'll be so happy you'll want to die feeling just like that.

FAIRGROUND ATTRACTION - What's Wrong With The World? (Youtube)
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by Tim London

34 years… it’s nothing. Voice a little hazed, breaking on certain notes in the most charming way. As anodyne as ever, perhaps the band are finally at the age that suits their jaunty, country tinged pop best.

ADRIANNE LENKER - Vampire Empire (4AD)
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by LamontPaul

This is a song you'll possibly be familiar with. And if so maybe then like me you'll be a fan and for why? I just love how Adrianne Lenker depicts an uncanny moment, and then moves right along, leaving it with you. "I see you how you see yourself though all the books you read." It's a physical manifestation of when someone wants to kiss your skin. Down-homey version. 

THE VICEROYS - Four Seasons (A.IM Media)
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by Sheridan Coyle

Well... One of the all time greats. It is impossible not love The Viceroys. The beat so, so steady... So insistent. It's pristine in as many ways as it raw. It's easy to imagine the VU meters in the red. The Viceroys could soundtrack anything I ever do they really could. That's because I imagine I live my life in grainy black and white back rooms where deals are done and I am on a perpetual 2% of anything that ever happens when I am near. Whatever happens back there, The Viceroys have are amongst the giants of rock steady and if you can't love this, can you even be bothered to love being alive?    

ST VINCENT - Flea (Total Pleasure)
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by Tim London

<>As part of the BBCR6 pantheon of playlist certainties, St Vincent is always a puzzle to me. I can hear the possibilities but… somehow they never become certainties. Taking the elements of alt rock that, originally, sounded forward, this track (for instance) just sits back on a tick list of sounds and notes. Might have preferred it as an instrumental, TBH, which stands for Tim Be-Have, BTW.

MACHINEDRUM - 'ILIKEU (FEAT. DUCKWRTH)' - Ilikeu (Bandcamp)
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by Tim London

UK Garage beats have infiltrated all kinds of pop nowadays, including this by the intriguingly James Joyce character through a typoglycemic filter named Duckwrth and Machinedrum, who, also intriguingly, sounds like a grebo rock band. You see when you’re sitting on the bus, or tube and there’s a box fresh teenager dreaming away, thumbs whizzing, listening to music. It’s this.

THEE HEART TONES - Cry My Tears Away (Big Crown Records)
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by Ancient Champion

I sometimes wonder wtf Big Crown records are doing. Or perhaps more presciently, how they do it. Thee Heart Tones, a group of kids from Hawthorne, CA, funneling Chicano soul and grabbing facets of their musical chops from the incomparable Brenton Wood. With tears. I mean Brenton Wood makes the sun shine and I get the feeling Thee Heart Tones are gonna do that too when their El Michels produced LP makes it out, v. soon. 

PALACE OF TEARS - The Embers of Your Being Glow Still (Independent)
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by Toon Traveller

Described as 'bewitching' hhhmmmmm what we have is a swish, swoosh opening, and a desperate lonely vocal. it's OMD singles (45rpm) played at 33. Magical? only if you believe the incantations being sung. Sure it hints at fashionable Nordic mysticism, so beloved of dark metal, snowflake soft ambient sounds. It's original, it's got a slice of charm, does it captivate? Sadly it does not, it's a grind to listen to, synthesizers very, very 80s and memories of that decades tired music. If you want doomed, dark, soft metal, doomster music, for a late night, this is for you. Bewitching? Not in my house.

POND - I'm Stung (Spinning Top Records)
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by Toon Traveller

Some weeks it's 'Thin Gruel' for this reviewer, and I struggle to grind out  words, for a world that probably doesn't care, ce'st le vie. Then this record comes along, by no means exceptionally original, just a mix of elements from past excellence. It trips along, dial skipping, station hopping, mixes and matches. Sweet guitars, 80s stadium rock sister voice. Arrangements out of any, fist punchin', wheel tapping, home drive dreamin', song. Nothing wrong with that.  Be warned there's no sting here, no visceral bitterness, it's more a butterfly float, caressing a spring breeze, a record for this season, the one of hope and promise to come.

BURNT SHERPA - Difficult GIft (Done By Hand)
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by Lee Paul

Burnt Sherpa would deserve more hearts and more love for the guitars, kind of primitive. A little less for the Chris Connolly facsimile vocal but I mean, you can't help what you sing like, right? And the drums well, they went to the 80s/90s drum closet and dusted that sound down. Kind of reminded me of SoCal's UltraViolet Eye but not in a great way. I liked that band. Like the look of Burnt Sherpa though and wanted to like their music. Ever feel like that?

OCCULT WITCHES - Tumbling Through the Dark (Black Throne)
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by Toon Traveller

Fast, lip lickin' fingers, guitar on fire opening. And back in the mix, top of the vocal range singing, a staccato stop start-start-stop-start melody. Add a swaying, seafaring, side-to-side ship to the beat, head-down, no holes barred, good ol' wholesome, sod-fashion, boogie.  We end up here, to remind us of our own youth, and point out that some 70s kids actually had fun, and thought  the decade was pretty good. This is a reminder of a pre-punk and pre-puke world, where there is 'denim on, cap sleeve t-shirted, arms up, beer-down nights'. Lovely memories. 50 years on, leave it to the youff that wanna celebrate a past, that wasn't really there. Four hearts are a reward for fun, fond, memories.

JOHN DOUGLAS - I Just Want To Go Home (Youtube)
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by Lee Paul

Songwriter and guitarist John Douglas is having a moment, having a year. His band, The Trashcan Sinatras, are back on the charts, meanwhile John has his first solo LP due at any moment and from it, a moody, mellow, late night lament, I Just Want To Go Home. It is hewn from the finest, quietest rock. And as I think we would all readily agree, rock, even at its most subtle should really never ever stop. 

PAVEMENT - Extradition - alternative take (Matador)
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by Ancient Champion

From the none disc compilation Cautionary Tales: Jukebox Classiques of which I have listened to very little, a confession before I confess that there's something about the enduring appeal to me of this Pavement band. I've been a fan forever. And I am never even sure I like them all that much. But I like something about them. Do you ever feel like that. This alternate take of Extradition, originally from the Wowee Zowee LP, I think, from my very bad memory I am not checking, breaks down nicely though. A rewarding listen still.

ep's.

IRKED - Irked (Scene Report Records)
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by Alan Rider

Irked are a punk band from Newcastle and this, their titled debut EP, is simply fizzing with energy and verve and is completely wonderful.  Bursting with youthful rage, humour, attitude, and in-your-face grrrrr, they remind me of all that is exciting and inspiring about music and why I got into it in the first place.  The opener 'Snakes' starts with a minute of screaming feedback.   I love this. They deserve to be huge.

WOODS - Lay With Luck (Woodsist)
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by Ancient Champion

I'm wild about Woods as y'all know. What a great Bank Holiday Monday it was then when I got a message about Five More Flowers, a new, dropped with no warning Woods EP. By chance, I'd already added the ancient, The Void to our So, You Got Anything Else section... And Brenton Wood. And now, happily now, this, mild-funk filled flan. If you like a certain type of Woodsy flan, you'll love this. It's all so considered. Like an Ottolenghi pastry you can't afford to bring home. That good. You feel lonely without it. "Do you feel alone, today?" They ask. Yes. And now no. A recording with singing on that I can stand. I feel complete again. 

long plays.

TORN BOYS - 1983 (Independent Project Records )
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by Alan Rider

The Torn Boys were one of those small, short lived, punky 4 piece US acts that you had a lot of back at the dawn of time (the early '80s). Formed in 1982 by Jeffrey Clark (vocals, electric guitar) and Kelly Foley (vocals, acoustic guitar) and disbanded by late 1983, the Torn Boys were a scrappy, Velvet Underground-esque, almost bedroom band, messing around with guitars, drum machine, and synths, recording a few bits here and there, before calling it a day and moving on to other bands.  Considering their scant recorded legacy, Californian based Independent Project Records (also home to record sleeve designers for REM, Stereolab and others, Independent Project Press) have done them proud here.  One of the few labels to send physical product in to the Outsideleft office, this is a lushly packaged CD and DVD set in a folder with inserts and hand printed elements, pulling together pretty much everything the Torn Boys ever did.  Fiercely DIY, Torn Boys reek of kitchen table quirkiness and bravado and visually, this release is quite something.  In a digital world you can forget just how wonderful it is to have such a lovingly crafted physical product in your hands.  

Marko Nyberg - Solveig (El Camino Records)
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by John Robinson

One of Finland's most respected composers of film and television music, John Robinson reviews his new LP, here→

THE K'S - I Wonder If The World Knows (LAB Records)
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by Ogglypoogly

If you’re looking for the Album that will catapult Indie into its next iteration, this ain’t it chief.  Which isn’t to say there’s anything fundamentally wrong with I Wonder If the World Knows? By no means is it awful and perhaps it’s an indicator that I’ve officially reached the age where I think ‘they all sound the same’, the thing is - there’s nothing that stands out about them, they could be any one of a raft of Indie bands from the preceding 20 years. If for some reason you need to impress the youngsters, then perhaps this is the perfect album for you. It won’t damage your street cred to be caught listening to them and indeed I imagine if you have young people of a certain age - you’ll get to hear this as they go through the right of passage that is listening to middling Indie, I subjected my parents to Travis, so I’m in no place to judge too harshly. I’d list the stand out tracks, but they’ve all morphed into something I’ve heard a thousand times before and didn’t want to hear again. 

VARIOUS PUNK DINOSAURS - Punk Floyd - a tribute to Pink Floyd (Cleopatra Records)
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by Alan Rider

The final nail in the already nail festooned rotting corpse of punk?  I've predicted that before and then along comes another one.  This collection of superannuated punk acts you didn't realise were still going (Peter and The Test Tube Babies, UK Subs, etc) flush away any last shreds of credibility that may be clinging to their wrinkly carcasses by taking part in this pointless and truly dreadful compilation of punk versions of Pink Floyd tunes.  It is every bit as terrible as it sounds.  Avoid like the plague.

WOO - Robot X/Xylophonics (Independent Project Records )
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by Alan Rider

Oh my days! The packaging on this double CD release of the 'Robot X' and 'Xylophonics' albums by Woo is simply sublime, arriving in a hand printed and letterpress embossed manilla folder with inserts and even a set of stamps accompanying the two CDs in hand stamped tracing paper sleeves.  It is a wonderful thing to behold and to hold.  'Lavish' ,I believe, is the industry terminology to use. Woo are brothers Mark and Clive Ives, and revel in the 'cult' description they have given themselves.  The re-mastered 'Robot X' and 'Xylophics' are eclectically weird albums compiled from 4 track snippets and re-workings of material drawn from their archives and experiments down the years - 'electronic uniqueness', as they put it, or 'experimental retro-futuristic electronica', even.  That results in a quirky mixture of blips and snatches that it is a little hard to get into.  As a consequence, I don't really know what Woo are about or what they are trying to say.  Possibly, they aren't really trying to say anything, they are just putting this stuff out there and its up to you what you make of it.  I'm going for that I think, as it makes more sense.  Because of this lucky bag approach, neither of these hang together as albums particularly and there are no especial highlights, or lowlights. However, they are both well executed, impeccably presented, artefacts and examples of a weirdly out-there style that labels like Independent Project Records are a tailor made home for.  Extra heart awarded for style!

AMIGO THE DEVIL - Yours Until The War Is Over (Liars Club Records)
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by Ogglypoogly

"Occasionally an Album comes along and takes you hostage, There is no option to simply write a quick review espousing its many attributes, describing the colours of the music therein for a public waiting on recommendations to investigate, or avoid." Read the full review and some, here→

so, have you got anything else.

BRENTON WOOD - Give Me Some Kind of Sign (Youtube)
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by Ancient Champion

There he is. This is the sort of pop joy that makes the sun come out. I did set this clip to pop into life after the Saville intro, spologies if you have to see that. Can't be denied that the UK establishment kept him in place for as long as he was useful to them not caring about the damage he did...

WOODS - The Void (Woodsist)
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by Ancient Champion

OH man, the vibes in The Void. It's why I love Woods so much. There's not so much to it, it doesn't even last an age at all. But what is here, guitar, bass, drums, horns is supremely succinct. That's why I love Woods so much.

SPIZZ ENERGI - Where's Captain Kirk? (Cherry Red)
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by Alan Rider

I challenge anyone to not crack a smile to this.  Great 'waking up and getting on with stuff' music from 1979.

essentials.

Main image on this page is a 1979 Spizzenergi youtube screengrab from Top of the Pops.
The Previous Week in Music, 'Calling At All Stations from Aberystwyth' is here→

OL House Writer

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