Posts Tagged ‘Alison Cotton’

At last, a new studio album from superb London duo, The Left Outsides, to follow up on 2018’s amazing All That Remains.

The basic building blocks remain the same — half of the sound is Alison Cotton and her viola and keys, the other half is Mark Nicholas with a stunning array of guitars — but the structures they create this time are darker and more forbidding than their antecedents. This album feels very much a piece of the season in which it is being released, as the leaves strip themselves from trees and the sky grows colder, greyer by the hour. More than once while “Are You Sure I Was There” spun I was put in mind of the classic Rainy Day LP, masterminded by Kendra Smith back in 1984. The Left Outsides possess the same sure grasp of that place where sorrow, ecstasy and psychedelics meet in a shower of dying stars.

The tunes here are wonderful. Most are new, although a few have been heard before in different forms (if you knew where to listen.) “The Wind No Longer Stirs the Trees” (with its glorious blend of backwards and forward motion) was on a 7” lathe, backed with “As Night Falls” (a beautiful ode to the promise of winter.) The track “Seance” was first recorded as part of a celebration of Help the Witch, the debut novel by former music critic Tom Cox (whose words were used for most of the lyrics.) And “My Reflection Once Was Me” (which recalls The Trees’ epic tunes by combining massive blocks of raging guitar with Alison’s steady vocals) was featured on the live A Place to Hide LP.

The other compositions are all-new and utterly great. The tunes that Mark sings tend to evoke a certain ’60s whisp. Whether it’s the Floydian lilt of “Only Time Will Tell,” the freakbeat pop of “November on My Mind,” or “Pictures of You,” which stacks a dreamy ’60s overlay upon contempo pop structuring. Alison’s vocals often display a more folky essence. “The Stone Barn” has a vibe very similar to some of Sandy Denny’s later solo work, grounded by stately piano chords. “Things Can Never Be the Same” centers on a gorgeous mid-paced vocal performance, encased in spinning webs of very elegant guitar. And the conjoined vocals on “A Face in the Crowd,” sit atop a huge fuzz riff, sounding like the perfect anthem for the new Slow Music Movement. They wont back down!.

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And you shouldn’t either. I’m not exactly sure where anyone gets their records these days but wherever that is, you should march there tout de suite (even if only figuratively) and demand a copy of Are You Sure I Was There? today. And yes, I am sure. Today!

The Left Outsides are: Mark Nicholas and Alison Cotton, a wife and husband duo based in London, England whose atmospheric, hypnotic songs echo Nico’s icy European folk, pastoral psychedelia and chilly English fields at dawn. Released October 9th, 2020 All songs by The Left Outsides (Alison Cotton / Mark Nicholas)
Produced by Mark Nicholas. At last, a new studio album from superb London duo, The Left Outsides, to follow up on 2018’s amazing All That Remains.

The basic building blocks remain the same — half of the sound is Alison Cotton and her viola and keys, the other half is Mark Nicholas with a stunning array of guitars — but the structures they create this time are darker and more forbidding than their antecedents. This album feels very much a piece of the season in which it is being released, as the leaves strip themselves from trees and the sky grows colder, greyer by the hour. More than once while “Are You Sure I Was” There spun I was put in mind of the classic Rainy Day LP, masterminded by Kendra Smith back in 1984. The Left Outsides possess the same sure grasp of that place where sorrow, ecstasy and psychedelics meet in a shower of dying stars.

The tunes here are wonderful. Most are new, although a few have been heard before in different forms (if you knew where to listen.) “The Wind No Longer Stirs the Trees” (with its glorious blend of backwards and forward motion) was on a 7” lathe, backed with “As Night Falls” (a beautiful ode to the promise of winter.) The track “Seance” was first recorded as part of a celebration of Help the Witch, the debut novel by former music critic Tom Cox (whose words were used for most of the lyrics.) And “My Reflection Once Was Me” (which recalls The Trees’ epic tunes by combining massive blocks of raging guitar with Alison’s steady vocals) was featured on the live A Place to Hide LP.

http://

The other compositions are all-new and utterly great. The tunes that Mark sings tend to evoke a certain ’60s whisp. Whether it’s the Floydian lilt of “Only Time Will Tell,” the freakbeat pop of “November on My Mind,” or “Pictures of You,” which stacks a dreamy ’60s overlay upon contempo pop structuring. Alison’s vocals often display a more folky essence. “The Stone Barn” has a vibe very similar to some of Sandy Denny’s later solo work, grounded by stately piano chords. “Things Can Never Be the Same” centers on a gorgeous mid-paced vocal performance, encased in spinning webs of very elegant guitar. And the conjoined vocals on “A Face in the Crowd,” sit atop a huge fuzz riff, sounding like the perfect anthem for the new Slow Music Movement. They wont back down!

And you shouldn’t either. I’m not exactly sure where anyone gets their records these days but wherever that is, you should march there tout de suite (even if only figuratively) and demand a copy of Are You Sure I Was There? today. And yes, I am sure. Today!

The Left Outsides are: Mark Nicholas and Alison Cotton, a wife and husband duo based in London, England whose atmospheric, hypnotic songs echo Nico’s icy European folk, pastoral psychedelia and chilly English fields at dawn.
Much needed vinylization of an amazing live set, previously issued as a CDR in an edition of 100 by the fine Borley Rectory label. Finally, for the good of all mankind, the music from this great night, opening for Robyn Hitchcock at London’s Betsey Trotwood in October 2018, is turntable ready.

A Place to Hide begins with the album’s one new original tune “My Reflection Once Was Me.” The song brims with harmonium-iced vocals that cannot fail to bring a certain German-born chanteuse to mind. Built over a lovely droning base, and slow, martial pulsing, the song answers a rarely asked question — what might it have sounded like if Tim Buckley had written a tune for Nico to do on Chelsea Girl? I think you’ll be damn happy with this reply.

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About half the the album is made up of songs from their then-newly-released masterpiece, All That Remains (FTR 404). But the way they attack those tunes here has an additional shroud of moodiness drawn over it, adding a whole ‘nother layer of dark richness. This is not always the tone the band shoots for in a live setting, but it’s a truly otherworldly treat when they do. Because they really nail it

Released February 6th, 2020

Originally released as a limited limited edition CDR on the Borley Rectory Label, August 2nd, 2019

“All That Remains” is the fifth album by Walthamstow’s finest duo The Left Outsides since at least the halcyon days of Bevis Frond’s Inner Marshland.
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 drony duo, Opal (on “Down to the Waterside”), to PJ Harvey covering an old Blondie tune as a dirge (on “Naming Shadows Was Your Existence”).
But the basic pulse of All That Remains most often reminds me of either current work by Massachusetts’ estimable Damon and Naomi, or the sound of Pearls Before Swine around the time of their third LP, These Things Two. 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. 

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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.
All of which makes this a beautiful and outstanding record, and one that especially rewards the deep concentration of what is euphemistically called “late night listening.” It’s a very special spin. 

The Left Outsides are: Mark Nicholas and Alison Cotton, a husband and wife duo based in London, England whose atmospherichypnotic songs echo Nico’s icy European folk, pastoral psychedelia and chilly English fields at dawn. 

“We’ve probably run out of superlatives with which to shower on wife/husband duo Alison Cotton (viola and voice) and Mark Nicholas (guitar and vocals) . Such is the siren-like allure of this their fifth album (their second on Cardinal Fuzz and which gets a US release courtesy of old ‘Scope mate Byron Coley’s Feeding Tube imprint), though, that we just can’t resist trying to do  it something approaching justice without, hopefully, resorting to too many tired clichés of our own making……..It has a foot in the past and gives a nod to the present, while the Left Outsides have their eye firmly fixed to the future. Nothing here outstays its welcome. Long may it, and they, run”.

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“‘All That Remains’ is the fifth album by The Left Outsides and it is one of those albums which merits full album, in the correct order of songs headphone listening.  The classic way, so to speak. Because that is what this albums encapsulates: ….. “All That Remains” is a classical folk album that is inspired by its creators and imprinted with their unmistakable musical trademark”

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“Woozily narcotic of tempo and bathed in reverb, minor chord-heavy songs…glide by in a melancholy swoon….there’s a bewitching aura of moonlight dappled languor.
“Packed with atmospheric, gentle psychedelic folk…this is a delicate and sublime mix of swooning melodies and haunting, intelligent arrangements.”

“It’s dark yet playful; ‘quintessentially English’ yet worldly and well- travelled as if part acid folk with hints of portentous balladry and filmic imagery as viewed through a gypsy campfire and all thoroughly delightful.” 
“Its ethereal folk and dreamy psychedelic songs have the power to hypnotise. Heartfelt, introspective Englishness has
never sounded so good.” 

The Left Outsides - The Shape Of Things To Come

This is a limited edition vinyl release of The Left Outsides: The Shape Of Things To Come album – 300 copies only in 140 gsm vinyl with a high-gloss artwork sleeve.including lyric sheet and album download code.

The Left Outsides, Mark Nicholas and Alison Cotton, are a husband and wife duo from the Midlands and Sunderland based in London, England whose atmospheric, hypnotic songs echo Nico’s icy European folk, pastoral psychedelia and chilly English fields at dawn.

Their new album is The Shape Of Things To Come, mixed by Martin Noble of British Sea Power and Graham Sutton of Bark Psychosis – 13 songs including modern-day murder ballads, 60s beat psychedelia and outsider folk, with music and lyrics inspired by memories, dreams and Gregorian chants.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=60&v=rr8Ee2dkQoM

Before The Left Outsides, Mark and Alison were in psych folk group The Eighteenth Day of May. Alison was also in Saloon, and over the past decade she’s played viola live with British Air Powers (an early version of British Sea Power), Cheval Sombre, Pete Astor and Mathew Sawyer. She plays with Plinth and her viola arrangements can be heard throughout Comet Gain’s latest album, Paperback Ghosts.

The Left Outsides have played across the UK, France, Germany and in the USA on their own, supported Dead Meadow, The Clientele, Mark Mulcahy and the Bevis Frond and also appeared at Phil McMullen’s Terrascope festival. They’ve recorded radio sessions for Stuart Maconie’s Freakzone, Tom Robinson’s show on BBC6 Music and Pete Paphides show for Soho Radio.