Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Devils Elbow: Broken Record Syndrome (Hit Your Head Music)

Devils Elbow: Broken Record Syndrome
Devils Elbow: Broken Record Syndrome (Hit Your Head Music)

Devils Elbow -- the core of which is singer/guitarist Alec Withers -- deliveerd one of Elsewhere's best of 2010 albums with the excellent Sand on Chrome, an album that picked up favourable notices everywhere in New Zealand for its gritty country-flavoured folk-punk which drew on ragged alt.country and bar band rock'n'roll.

Another album is due later this year -- the title track here is to be on it -- but meantime this collection of B-sides from singles and other songs isn't by any means a stop-gap.

With eight tracks it comes of as something more than an EP and an almost-album in its own right.

Again Withers -- and here pals Ben Lee (bass) and Adam Lamberg (drums) plus guests -- plug into the spirit of early inner-city'n'angry Jam (the title track), Joe Strummer and the Pogues, but also pull in some edgy atmospherics (Endless Dedication, the menacing two minute interlude of  Bones Below) and plenty of stuff that would play well in any bar called O'Malley's on St Paddy's night (Like a Flash, Trouble).

So, sort of rebel music on most fronts. Devils Elbow would play well in workingclass bars in Dublin and Dallas.

But right at the end is a solo, overdubbed instrumental by Withers which, at almost eight minutes, might test the mettle of some for its slow unveiling and melodic reiterations.

However to these ears Withers has written a wonderfully spacious and evocative piece for his own Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid movie soundtrack. And as someone said about that Dylan album, it was music for funerals and weddings.

So here you have it: a not-quite album (34 minutes) of music for dancing, possiby fighting, fist-raising against wrongdoers . . . and reflection.

Cannot wait for the new album. Meantime.

Broken Record Syndrome is available from here. And at just $8 it is ludicrously cheap.

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Tags: new zealand music