Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters: Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar (Warners)

15 Sep 2014

Although singing a generous number of highly reconfigured Led Zeppelin songs at his 2013 Vector show with this band, Plant continues to distance himself from Zepp's hard rock-cum-folk catalogue, leaving former bandmate Jimmy Page to mine the past while he moves further sideways through world music, American country, rebooted blues and even simple pop. With the Space Shifters discreetly... > Read more

Embrace Another Fall

The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers (4AD)

15 Sep 2014

At times sounding filled with the overconfident swaggering, embellished pop of McCartney around Magical Mystery Tour or early Mika and Empire of the Sun glitterball fun, at others chugging like glam-rock or referring to the Mamas and the Papas and widescreen power-pop aimed at stadiums, this enormously enjoyable sixth outing by the Canadian collective around songwriter AC Newman deftly dance... > Read more

Champions of Red Wine

Mirel Wagner: When the Cellar Children See The Light of Day (subPop)

8 Sep 2014    2

Pitched somewhere between a weary self-analysing Kurt Cobain acoustic session, Mazzy Star raised on death ballads and P.J Harvey's most introspective work, this concise collection – 10 songs, 32 minutes – comes from an unlikely but powerfully impressive source. Wagner is a 23-year old Ethiopian adoptee who was raised in Finland from the age of 18 months and considers... > Read more

What Love Looks Like

Mahoney Harris: We Didn't Feel Alone (mahoneyharris)

8 Sep 2014    1

At the midpoint of this debut album by Auckland singer-songwriter Mahoney Harris there is a lyric that can stop you in your tracks: just when you think you've got her pegged there is Miss You. On a cursory listen this piece -- which comes with an elegant musical setting with guitar by Tom Healy -- seems to be a piece about a former partner: "What would you say if I saw you today, would... > Read more

Miss You

Various Artists: Bowie Heard Them Here First (Ace/Border)

8 Sep 2014

The glue that barely holds this diverse 24-song collection together -- Paul Revere and the Raiders through Johnny Mathis, Lotte Lenya and Roxy Music -- is that these are the originals of songs David Bowie covered in his long and shapeshifting career. The timeframe is as wide as the songs: It runs from Revere's oddball garageband Louie Go Home which Bowie recorded when he was Davie Jones and... > Read more

I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship

Jonah Tolchin: Clover Lane (YepRoc)

8 Sep 2014

As enjoyably familiar as this rough-edged country-folk-blues album is, you can't help feel that you have traveled these paths many times from Bob Dylan through the Band and Tom Waits to Steve Earle in bluegrass mode and beyond. With some stellar assistance from the likes of harmonica player Mickey Raphael, Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin and others, Tolchin and his band shift from barn... > Read more

Hybrid Automobile

Willis Earl Beal: Experiments in Time (CD Baby)

1 Sep 2014    1

Wllis Earl Beal has released two such different albums -- Acoustmatic Society which were home recordings pulled together from the scores he had made, then the soulful and more straightahead Nobody knows -- that you could never anticpate where he might go next. Beal has also been one of the most insightful and self-aware musicians it has been Elsewhere's privilege to interview and he... > Read more

Traveling Eyes

J. Mascis: Tied to a Star (SubPop)

1 Sep 2014    1

The 2012 album I Bet on Sky by Dinosaur Jr – the band singer/guitarist J. Mascis helms with once-estranged Lou Barlow – divided loyalists, some heard it as a return to form and others (like me) thought it obvious. Mascis' albums under his own name have been more consistently interesting since Free So Free (with the Fog) over a decade ago, and especially 2011's Several... > Read more


Spoon: They Want My Soul (Spunk)

1 Sep 2014    1

For New Zealand listeners, there is a peculiar but interesting cover on this album by the never-predictable psych-cum-alt rockers Spoon from Texas. It is their rather straight version of Ann-Margret's bluesy I Just Don't Understand which the Beatles used to do live and which Tommy Adderley covered in the early Sixties in a very Merseybeat style. It's hardly out of place here on an album... > Read more

Let Me Be Mine

IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent releases

27 Aug 2014

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column which scoops up international artists, in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column picks up New Zealand artists. Comments will be short . . . Various Artists: Country Funk II 1967-74 (LITA/Southbound). The excellent archive label Light in the Attic continues its exploration of this loosely... > Read more

Don't Be Cruel

ONE WE MISSED: Bobby Bare Jr: Undefeated (Bloodshot/Southbound)

25 Aug 2014

Country music fans know Bare's dad as the voice out front of a string of mainstream but smart hit singles and albums in the 60s and 70s. But Jr – now close to 50 – has turned hard left into dark and some bruising boogie rock. However on this – which he has referred to as his break-up record – he's not beyond melancholy ballads (If She Cared comes on... > Read more

The Elegant Imposter

Sinead O'Connor: I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss (Nettwerk/Southbound)

25 Aug 2014

Too often in popular culture, controversy and craziness are substitutes for, or get in the way of us seeing, real talent. O'Connor has courted her share of both and that often blurred the focus of her. Strangeness still circles her private life, but this straightforward album – 12 well-arranged, emotionally and musically direct songs – finds her at top form on economic songs,... > Read more

The Vishnu Room

Ron Gallipoli: Ron Gallipoli Loves You All (Freezing Works Music)

25 Aug 2014

In the other real world Ron Gallipoli is Sam Bradford who was the singer in New Zealand's Sharpie Crows, but here he nails down some droll, pleasingly weird, socio-political lo-fi electronica-cum-light industrial post-punk. It might be all over quickly -- nine songs in 34 minutes -- but he crams a lot of information (satirical comment) and sounds (nods towards bedroom-solo Chris Knox, what... > Read more

16000 Dead Pigs in the Huangpu River

Into Orbit: Caverns (bandcamp)

21 Aug 2014

This Wellington duo of Paul Stewart and Ian Moir (guitars and drums respectively) work the line of dynamically delivered astral psychedelica with nods to widescreen drone rock, but really make something of their own out of it. The emotional breadth and sonic textures on display here -- and our reference points might be Jakob, Wooden Shjips, Kerretta, early Explosions in the Sky etc -- are... > Read more

Set Adrift

Wire: Document and Eyewitness (Pink Flag/Southbound)

20 Aug 2014

Post-punk arty-smarties Wire have delivered some excellent albums in recent years, notably Red Barked Tree in 2011 and more recently last year's Change Becomes Us for which they went back to tapes from the period covered here as the starting point for new configurations and ideas. Most people perhaps remember them from this formative period at the end of the Seventies and those three... > Read more

Eastern Standard

Various Artists: XL Recordings, Pay Close Attention (XL)

19 Aug 2014

Elsewhere rarely ventures towards compilations from record labels but this double CD (available on four album vinyl here) is so outstanding we think we should draw it you attention as both a sampler and a standalone collection of great songs from important artists in the 25 year history of this London-based indie labe. It's quite some journey from the Prodigy's Firestarter and Peaches' Fuck... > Read more

Sea Within a Sea

Benjamin Booker: Benjamin Booker (Rough Trade)

18 Aug 2014

Although he had some considerable advance hype, this New Orleans-based punk-edged rocker lives up to the claims being made on this debut album, simply by delivering gutsy rock'n'roll with a tight band and songs with titles like Violent Shiver, Wicked Waters, Spoon Out My Eyeballs and I Thought I Heard You Screaming. But those titles don't really tell the story because far from being some... > Read more

Old Hearts

Kimbra: The Golden Echo (Warners)

18 Aug 2014

When Kimbra appeared at this year's Womad in Taranaki I observed at the time it allowed her to roadtest new material away from the prying eyes of the international -- and even local -- music media. She wasn't quite the unusual choice that many thought for a world music festival (other mainstream pop acts have been on previous bills) and she delivered a vigorously enthusiastic set full of... > Read more


Eric Clapton and Friends: The Breeze; An Appreciation of J.J. Cale (Universal)

18 Aug 2014    1

Eric Clapton frequently speaks of himself as a messenger, originally passing on the blues then in the Seventies discovering the music of Bob Marley and J.J. Cale whose songs he covered to great success. Although not a close friend of the late Tulsa-based Cale until they collaborated on the Grammy-winning Road to Escondido in 2006, Clapton felt strongly enough about the man and his... > Read more

The Old Man and Me

Mike Cooper: Trout Steel (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound)

15 Aug 2014

A few weeks ago when Elsewhere reviewed the predominantly guitar instrumental/experimental album Cantos de Lisboa by Steve Gunn and Mike Cooper, we confessed to knowing little about Cooper who counted among his folk and blues peers and admirers the likes of Bert Jansch and Davy Graham. This album -- its title lifted from stoner-favourite Richard Brautigan's famous book Trout Fishing in... > Read more

Sitting Here Watching