Absolute Elsewhere

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EILEN JEWELL INTERVIEWED (2016): Bringing it all back home

7 Mar 2016  |  10 min read

There's no category for Eilen Jewell's music: Some will call it country and some alt.country, but there is also a clear European jazz quality in many songs, she acknowledges Billie Holliday and Bob Dylan as early influences, does a sultry cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' 1960 hit Shakin' All Over and can break your heart with a straight-ahead ballad. Oh, and in 2010 she did a fine... > Read more

My Hometown

JAMES MACKINTOSH OF SHOOGLENIFTY INTERVIEWED (2016): From the Scottish Highlands to northwest India

2 Mar 2016  |  10 min read

Percussionist James Mackintosh sees the irony. When he was a teenager growing up in the picturesque Scottish Highlands at Fort William he was in a spiky-haired punk band playing Clash covers. It was only when he went to the big smoke of Edinburgh – once nicknamed Auld Reekie for the smoke from coal fires – that he started to play traditional Scottish music. These days,... > Read more

The High Road to Jodhpur/Am Bothan a Bh'aig Fionnghuala

DAVID THOMAS OF PERE UBU INTERVIEWED (2016): Walking with noise and ghosts

26 Feb 2016  |  19 min read

David Thomas is his customary garrulous, funny but incisive and sometimes his visibly irritated self . . . at least he would be if we could see him on this Skype call to his home in England. Somewhere behind the screenshot of his much younger self there is muttering and mumbling as someone, who I take to be his partner, laughing and telling him to push connections. “He's... > Read more

All The Dogs Are Barking (alt mix)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . SANDY BULL: He had the whole world in his hands

26 Feb 2016  |  5 min read  |  1

Just a thought, but if Sandy Bull had been British, magazines like Uncut and Mojo would be running major, rediscovery features about him and placing him in the pantheon of innovative guitarists like Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Richard Thompson and – especially – Davy Graham. But Bull – who recorded fewer than a dozen albums between his debut in '63 and death in 2001... > Read more

Improvisation for Oud 1 (live 1969)

VIOLENT FEMMES REVISITED (2106): Gone baby gone . . . but back?

24 Feb 2016  |  3 min read  |  1

Having witnessed the adoration New Zealanders were prepared to pour on the Violent Femmes, Elsewhere would frequently joke that they -- like Cheap Trick -- could turn up in Auckland tomorrow and fill the Town Hall with sweaty, party-ready fans from across at least two generations. They made the kind of singalong, acoustic-rock music we liked . . . and we proved it by being the first country... > Read more

Country Death Song

JOHN CALE RECONSIDERING (2016): The new society still ain't pretty

15 Feb 2016  |  3 min read  |  2

Most musicians in rock culture establish their sound and reputation over a few early albums and consolidate both if their careers are of any length. The late Lemmy and Lou Reed for example released albums which became their hallmarks, and their personae – wildman Lemmy and pugnacious Reed – became our enduring image of them. That said, in each case there were frequently... > Read more

Library of Force (from M:FANS)

PERE UBU REISSUED, PART ONE (2016): On a thin wire dancing above the abyss

15 Feb 2016  |  6 min read

In his 1974 philosophical narrative Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the American author Robert M. Pirsig writes of being at the home of some friends where there is a constantly dripping tap. “If you try to fix a faucet and your fixing doesn’t work then it’s just your lot to live with a dripping faucet,” he writes. “This made me wonder... > Read more


LANCE FERGUSON INTERVIEWED (2016): Bringing back an exotic personal and popular past

8 Feb 2016  |  9 min read  |  1

Lance Ferguson is among New Zealand's most successful, hardest working but perhaps the least known of our musical exports. The grandson of Tongan-born, New Zealand lap steel legend Bill Wolfgramm (who enjoyed a friendly rivalry with the more successful Bill Sevesi from the Forties onward, and who died in 2003), Lance Ferguson left New Zealand 20 years ago. In Melbourne he founded... > Read more

The Kava Diary

SHOEGAZE CONSIDERED (2016): Trippin' back in time and feelin' fine

5 Feb 2016  |  4 min read

It was a British music writer, of course, who first coined the term “shoegaze”. Writing a mid-'91 review in Sounds of the band Moose, Andy Hurt encapsulated the look – if, unhelpfully, not the sound – of many bands which, heads bowed, explored a kind of widescreen pop irradiated by wide swathes of guitar noise, sometimes droning vocals and dreamy psychedelia.... > Read more

Godlike, by the Dylans

THE AUCKLAND LANEWAY FESTIVAL (2016): Shall we talk about the weather . . .

2 Feb 2016  |  5 min read

At some level, the weather for an Auckland Laneway Festival is as much discussed as the music. Since the festival moved from the inadequate make-do sites behind Britomart and then Aotea Square to the flatland of Silo Park – little shade, the main stages on an asphalt carpark – the heat has often been the memory many take away. So it was almost like good news that this... > Read more

Cheap Beer (by Fidlar)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . EVIE SANDS: Ever the bridesmaid

1 Feb 2016  |  3 min read

When the pub quiz question comes up, be prepared: The guy who wrote Wild Thing, Chip Taylor, is the brother of actor Jon Voight and therefore the uncle of Angelina Jolie. For bonus points, he also wrote the country song Angel of the Morning which was a big hit for Merrilee Rush and further popularised by Olivia Newton-John and Juice Newton. Unfortunately it wasn't a hit for the first... > Read more

Women in Prison

THIS HEAT REISSUED (2016): An uncommon collusion

28 Jan 2016  |  4 min read

It has long been accepted that much of the music which came out of the British punk explosion in the mid-late Seventies was the least of. Alongside songs and albums which were often inchoate noise and anger broadcasting a narrow political or social agenda were the more important aspects of punk: the DIY ethic which gave the marginalised and disenfranchised a game-plan to get their... > Read more

Makeshift Swahili

LINK WRAY REISSUED (2016): Ragged but right country

25 Jan 2016  |  5 min read  |  2

Mention the name “Link Wray” these days and most people will draw a blank. A few might confidently say, “Rumble” – the gang-fight title of his raw, distorted guitar instrument from '58 – but after that things might get murky. Link Wray – born Fred Lincoln Wray -- died in late 2005 age 76, and is frequently confused with other guitar twangers of... > Read more

La De Da

GILLIAN WELCH INTERVIEWED (2016): Taking sad songs to make it better

18 Jan 2016  |  8 min read

It has been almost five years since Gillian Welch's Grammy-nominated album The Harrow and the Harvest, and over a decade since she and longtime partner Dave Rawlings appeared in New Zealand. They will correct the latter oversight when they play the Civic in Auckland on January 28, but in conversation Welch says there's no new album forthcoming under her own name. No matter,... > Read more


DAVID BOWIE REMEMBERED (2016): The man, now in the rearview mirror

17 Jan 2016  |  3 min read

David Bowie frequently changed his musical colours, but to call him a chameleon — as many have done since his unexpected death just days after the release of his stunning new album blackstar — is wrong. A chameleon blends into the colours of the background, Bowie took the colours and used them to stand out. In the early Seventies he leapt past Marc Bolan of T. Rex to... > Read more

PHIL COLLINS REVISITED (2016): Don't take him at face value

15 Jan 2016  |  2 min read

When looking for a short-cut into buying Phil Collins many might say, “Just don't”. And maybe it's true, because there's not a lot to recommend his MOR soul covers or the annoying Sussudio. But there are depths in his catalogue, especially when he was going through fairly regular separations. So – accepting the Eighties production values – let's reconsider... > Read more

DAVID BOWIE REINVENTED, AGAIN (2016): Out of the blue and into the blackstar

11 Jan 2016  |  4 min read  |  3

Although we shouldn't presume the “I” in any song belongs to the singer, it was widely taken that David Bowie was referring to himself in 1980 when he sang, “I've never done good things, I've never done bad things, I've never done anything out of the blue”. The song was Ashes to Ashes, his self-referential hit off the Scary Monsters album (“We know Major... > Read more


FLEETWOOD MAC, TUSK AGAIN (2106): Walk a tightrope line

11 Jan 2016  |  4 min read

When we take the long view on various artists' careers we can see the pattern. After the enormously successful album many artists consolidate to hold their ground – Michael Jackson's Dangerous after Bad, most things by Foo Fighters – or they can be courageous and put a stake in the ground and just say, “No”. As Bruce Springsteen did with Nebraska after The... > Read more

Tusk outtake

SEQUEL SONGS (2016): And you'll never guess what happened next . . .

11 Jan 2016  |  2 min read

In the late Fifties and early Sixties the idea of answer songs (Dodie Stevens' Yes I'm Lonesome Tonight for example) was pretty common, as were sequel songs. The most obvious sequel song was Peggy Sue Got Married by Buddy Holly and most in the genre were cash-ins, replication songs (Wanda Jackson's follow-up to Let's Have a Party was the photocopied Man We Had a Party) and pretty gimmicky.... > Read more

Man We Had a Party

ELTON JOHN REVISITED (2016): Once was a well-known gun

4 Jan 2016  |  2 min read

Elton John's new album Wonderful Crazy Night is his 33rd studio release . . . so speculating just for a moment that there are people out there who might say, "Yeah, heard of him but . . ." Let's help them out just a little by offering a few starting points into his vast and diverse catalogue. A kind of "how to buy Elton" as it were . . . or at least how to listen to... > Read more