• left outsides All That Remains (LP, £21.75)

    label: Cardinal Fuzz

    Hard to pin down with any certitude, the music created by The Left Outsides varies from track to track and even moment to moment. Alison Cotton's vocals, harmonium and viola blend with Mark Nicholas's voice, bass, guitar, piano and drums in ways that recall everything from Kendra Smith and David Roback's drone-y duo Opal to PJ Harvey covering an old Blondie tune as a dirge. But the basic pulse of 'All That Remains' most often reminds of either current work by Massachusetts' estimable Damon and Naomi or the sound of Pearls Before Swine around the time of their third LP. Like those combos, The Left Outsides manage to swap and mix male and female vocals without altering the elegiac dream-heft of their overall sound. They do this while maintaining a vibe that feels indebted to the mists of wood and dale far more than the bustle of London. And the instrumental arrangements are never too far from the light touch of the folk-rock classicism perfected in the UK and Holland as the '60s slid into the '70s. Most of the sounds seem more like meditations upon this period than any attempt at recreation, however, which also aligns the band with certain threads that emerged in the '80s UK psych underground just before raves took over. Limited to 650 copies.

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