Absolute Elsewhere

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JASON ISBELL INTERVIEWED (2014): Living in Different Days

4 Apr 2014    3

Now well out on his own, Jason Isbell was formerly of Drive By Truckers for six years until 2007 and contributed some of their finest songs, like Dress Blue about the death of a school friend in Iraq, their classic Decoration Day and Danko/Manuel about the lives of the members of The Band. But he was young when he joined them, the road took its toll and he started drinking heavily,... > Read more

Different Days

DEAD MOON REVISITED (2014): Back from the graveyard

2 Apr 2014

The promoter John Baker – who brought Dead Moon over to New Zealand for the first time – reminded me recently of when that was: August 1992. I hadn't remembered the month only vaguely had the approximate year, however I have never forgotten the moment Dead Moon came into the highly conservative offices of what people jokingly then called “The Royal New Zealand... > Read more

Walking on My Grave

JYOSNA/JYOSHNA PROFILED (2014): When the spirit moves

31 Mar 2014    1

I first met Jyosna LaTrobe in January '91 after the release of her cassette Reign of Love which I had reviewed for the Herald. I was aware of who she was – she'd been a founding member of the all-women acoustic trio Turiiya – but her album came as “a modest delight” as I called it in my four-star lead review. The musical arrangements embraced sitar and... > Read more

Sakal maner vina

ANE BRUN INTERVIEWED (2014): The selfish art of songwriting

20 Mar 2014

Danish-born and Swedish-resident Ane Brun was one of the highlights at the recent Womad for her crafted songs and pure voice. And with a small ensemble (a drummer and a percussion player plus two women multi-instrumentalist backing singers) she presented quite a colourful palette of sounds. Now in her late 30s, she can look back on a career in music which began more by accident than... > Read more

Do You Remember

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2014): The singer not the song, unfortunately

17 Mar 2014    1

If you type in "world's worst singer" into Google and hit enter, the usual spew of teenage drivel comes up: people having a go at Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and so on. This kind of anti-fan rhetoric backed up by impeccable logic ("I hate her") is fun if you are 14 and doing it, but -- conceding there is no objective method of assessing "the worst" --... > Read more


DELANEY DAVIDSON INTERVIEWED (2014): Christchurch, Colorado and Womad

9 Mar 2014

Singer and songwriter Delaney Davidson has carved out a rare niche in New Zealand music. Along with Marlon Williams, Tami Neilson and others he has rejigged traditional and contemporary country music into something that bridges folk, country and rock. He has twice won the Country Song of the Year award and also picked up the Country Music Album award in 2013. Although he has... > Read more

Lonesome Mile

BENMONT TENCH INTERVIEWED (2014): The Heartbreaker's solo flight

3 Mar 2014    1

Benmont Tench has considerable history. He was a teenage fan in Florida of a local group called Mudcrutch whom he saw, fell in love with, went to their shows and eventually joined them as their keyboard player. When Mudcrutch broke up in '75 he, founding member Tom Petty and guitarist Mike Campbell – by then in California – formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and... > Read more


DON WALKER INTERVIEWED (2104): Cold Chisel, apples, pears and Engelbert

3 Mar 2014    1

The droll, dry and fiercely intelligent Don Walker is consider by many to be among Australia's greatest songwriters -- if not the greatest – because of his songs for Cold Chisel, with the band Catfish and also for Tex, Don and Charlie (with Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen) . . . as well as his lower profile solo releases. From a rural background in North Queensland, he came... > Read more

On the Beach

NATHAN FORD INTERVIEWED (2014): The highly proactive listener

24 Feb 2014

Nathan Ford laughs quietly when I ask him about the strange, whispery folk album by Kitchen Cynics (Scotland's Alan Davidson) he's posted at his music blog. It isn't exactly what I'd call psychedelic, which is the ethos behind his impressive and rapidly expanding blog. “I've probably got a much broader definition of what people think is psychedelic. To me it is often music... > Read more

English Dream

MARTHA DAVIS OF THE MOTELS INTERVIEWED (2014): Still in total control

20 Feb 2014

Martha Davis, frontwoman for a seemingly endless parade of band members as the Motels, has rarely stopped writing and performing since the first Motels line-up formed in 1971. Fame struck them much later however and although their first two albums – Motels and Careful, '79 and '80 respectively – did exceptionally well in the Southern Hemisphere off the back of the... > Read more

Mr Grey

ROTOR PLUS INTERVIEWED (2014): The slow music movement

10 Feb 2014

One of the most interesting albums/projects Elsewhere heard last year came from a New Zealand artist who goes under the name Rotor Plus (variously rotor plus, rotor +). With the release of the album Dust, he completed a trilogy of CDs which were as seductive as they were mysterious. The music was understated and sometimes barely there, surface noise and found sounds were part of the... > Read more

Middle: The Drape of the Curtain

HP LOVECRAFT REMEMBERED (2014): Short-lived psych-folk rock

31 Jan 2014    1

Now, I'm neither ashamed nor proud of this, but some while back – decades ago – I enjoyed perpetrating pranks and hoaxes, especially postal pranks. Of the latter I would, for example, anonymously send increasing large blocks of wood to a friend in some far flung place inviting him to join my “Plank of the Month Club”. Or I would send off elaborate A4-sized... > Read more

The White Ship

PETE SEEGER PROFILED: The conscience of America

29 Jan 2014

When I was growing up and the sound of the Beatles and the Stones was the soundtrack to my life, the folk movement out of the US just seemed quaint and grounded in another era. While artists such as Joan Baez and the young Bob Dylan made an impact, a bunch of buttoned-down college boys in sweaters singing "hang down your head Tom Dooley" or women in chunky-knits whining "we... > Read more

Pete Seeger: Hallelujah, I'm a Bum

DAN WALSH INTERVIEWED (2014): Down the dark path

28 Jan 2014

At 26, British musician Dan Walsh is living the dream. He's highly acclaimed by the media and his peers, has three albums behind him, writes a very interesting and often amusing touring blog at his website, last year was invited to collaborate with some Indian musicians in Kolkata, tours regularly in Britain and now has made his way to New Zealand for a short tour (dates below).... > Read more

Mwawash/Egyptian Cottage

ROSANNE CASH INTERVIEWED (2014): The river that runs through her

27 Jan 2014    1

As the daughter of the late Johnny, Rosanne Cash could have had big boots to fill. But she wisely took out on her own path and, with both her first husband Rodney Crowell and her second John Leventhal, crafted country rock albums which staked out their own territory. Her career has been intermittently interrupt by illness and taking time out to raise children, but she has become... > Read more

The Sunken Lands

OKKERVIL RIVER. AN UPDATE (2014): Watching the river flow

27 Jan 2014    1

One of the most interesting and unexpected albums recently came from the emotionally damaged Roky Erickson – formerly of 60s psychedelic Texas rockers Thirteenth Floor Elevators – who had his brain fried by electroshock treatment and prescription drugs back in the late 60s/70s and spent many years in institutions. The album True Love Cast Out All Evil (2010, see... > Read more

Pink Slips

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO, AGAIN (2014): Still at all tomorrow's parties

24 Jan 2014    1

Every now and again when music magazine editors get bored, or some significant anniversary rolls around, they gather the staff and usually some guests to vote on The Greatest Albums of the Rock Era. Or something like that. In the two decades after its release in 1967, the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's frequently took out the top spot – often juggling it with Marvin Gaye's... > Read more

Run Run Run (live)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LIBBY HOLMAN (2013): Sex, scandal, shooting and suicide

23 Jan 2014    1

When they found singer Libby Holman dead in her Rolls Royce of carbon monoxide poisoning in 1971, her suicide brought an end to a life marked by scandal, sexual promiscuity, one dead husband and a murder trial, overt bisexuality, the death of a son, depression . . . and some pretty steamy blues songs, although among her repertoire was the uncharacteristically domestic Cooking Breakfast for the... > Read more

Why Was I Born?

THE BEATLES' US ALBUMS REISSUED: How America misheard the Beatles

20 Jan 2014    3

Thanks to record company exec Dave Dexter Jnr, Americans got to hear the Beatles . . . although if Dexter had had his way they might not have. Dexter – the Capitol Records man charged with releasing non-American acts in the States – turned down the first Beatles singles on offer from the UK (Love Me Do, Please Please Me, Ask Me Why and She Loves You, plus their... > Read more

Help! (US version)

MATMOS CONSIDERED (2014): The art of understatement and the unusual

20 Jan 2014

In the secretive world of code-breakers and cypher-deciphering the Enigma machine is legendary. It is one of that family of highly complex machines designed by mathematicians and boffins used to crack the codes of Nazi comunications during the Second World War. But for the Baltimore electronica duo Matmos -- Martin Schmidt and Drew Daniel -- it became another tool for creating and... > Read more

For the Trees