Music at Elsewhere

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SJD: Saint John Divine (Round Trip Mars)

7 Apr 2015  |  1 min read

In many places on previous albums SJD (Sean James Donnelly) has reached towards an almost spiritual sensibility in music which is elevating and airy, and suggests the sublime . . . albeit in a secular setting and with lyrics which have been droll or touched by ennui, or sadness. The title here -- nodding towards his own nom de disque -- as well a cover painting which seems a skewed... > Read more

Jet Planes

Josh Rouse: The Embers of Time (YepRoc/Southbound)

6 Apr 2015  |  <1 min read

For more than two decades this singer-songwriter – who started in Nashville and now works from his decade-long home in Spain -- has released under-appreciated albums (Under Cold Blue Stars in 02 and Nashville of 05) But also some which were slight and polite but felt half-hearted. But even then he was worth hearing and very much in the laconic, Paul Simon mold. With... > Read more

When You Walked Through the Door

Pokey LaFarge: Something in the Water (Universal)

6 Apr 2015  |  <1 min read  |  1

The curious thing about Pokey LaFarge's retro-sounding music which draws on ragtime, old blues and New Orleans jazz is that lyrically he keeps things timeless and universal. So his songs resonate for a contemporary audience. He also know where to place a memorably simple chorus and (as on the ballad When Did You Leave Heaven here) how to milk a traditional theme. He also gets... > Read more

Underground

Van Morrison: Duets; Re-working the Catalogue (Universal)

30 Mar 2015  |  <1 min read  |  4

Duet albums are often the last refuge of senior citizen scoundrels, the deceased (current artists singing along with a dead hero's classics) or phoned-in studio constructions. In his defense Morrison – senior at 69 – has a history of duets and collaborations, so this exploration of mostly lesser-known songs from his extensive catalogue is not career desperation.... > Read more

Bjork: Vulnicura (One Little Indian/Inertia)

30 Mar 2015  |  1 min read

As with many interesting musicians -- Cohen, Dylan, Faithfull, Cave, Waits et al come to mind -- Bjork is of rock culture (in that she is written about in the rock press) but not really part of it. She makes sometimes very demanding art music which musically and often conceptually transcends the limitations of genre work and has created a territory in which at times she seems the sole... > Read more

Atom Dance (w Antony Hegarty)

Trinity Roots: Citizen (Trinity Roots/Rhythmethod)

30 Mar 2015  |  <1 min read

Those many of us who believed the two albums by the first incarnation of Trinity Roots were important statements about life here in Aotearoa will be disappointed – if not insulted – by this superbly produced but woefully undercooked album. There are frequently threadbare lyrics (“We got to find the diamond in the rough” is the least of it) and it's mostly dated... > Read more

El Kaptain

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

30 Mar 2015  |  3 min read

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this, in the same way it does IN BRIEF about international releases. Comments will be brief. Paper... > Read more

Skulls

Surf City: Jekyll Island (Fire/Southbound)

30 Mar 2015  |  1 min read

On previous albums the Auckland-bred but now much traveled Surf City delivered increasingly impressive opening salvoes and you heard an increasing confidence . . . and a band finding its own voice. They have always worn their influences overtly -- Flying Nun, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ramones -- so they certainly weren't about reinventing anything. In part that was a measure of their success... > Read more

Hollow Veins

Anthonie Tonnon: Successor (Canape King/Southbound)

23 Mar 2015  |  1 min read

Strange isn't it, how a single song by an artist can resonate in ways you can't comprehend? For me Anthonie Tonnon's song Barry Smith from Hamilton (on his Fragile Thing EP of 2010, when he was Tono and the Finance Company) had a strange frisson of sadness about it, and I played it repeatedly after a first hearing. Then I moved on to the other songs on the EP -- all equally good as it... > Read more

The Songs of Our Youth

Mark Knopfler: Tracker (Universal)

23 Mar 2015  |  <1 min read

Mark Knopfler's double album Privateering three years ago was his finest solo outing for its intelligent diversity of his often dour songs and his ability to weave a narrative. These 11 songs follow in the self-created genre (with thanks to the late J.J. Cale, notably on the boxer's story of Broken Bones) so there are slow shuffles, street songs and the occasional upbeat track.... > Read more

The Lights of Taormina

Gang of Four: What Happens Next (Shock)

16 Mar 2015  |  <1 min read

Among the remarkable things about Britain's post-punk Gang of Four – aside from their excellent albums Entertainment! and Solid Gold (in 79 and 81) where they pulled pulled politics, sonic punch and aggressive dance into the same space – is that they are still here . . . Albeit after various periods off-duty and now without founder member/singer Jon King whose style... > Read more

First World Citizen

Steve Earle and the Dukes: Terraplane (New West/Warners)

9 Mar 2015  |  <1 min read

The only surprising thing about Earle making a blues album – given he's done rock, country, folk and bluegrass – is that it took him so long. As a Texan where the tough electric players and Lightnin' Hopkins' backporch acoustic style came from, blues was certainly in his blood. And these songs – many written while back-packing around Europe by himself, presumably... > Read more

The Tennessee Kid

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

9 Mar 2015  |  3 min read  |  1

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this, in the same way it does IN BRIEF about international releases. Comments will be brief. Various... > Read more

Tuareg

Various Artists: Black America Sings Sam Cooke (Ace/Border)

9 Mar 2015  |  1 min read

It was perhaps obvious that the on-going series Black America Sings -- which has seen compilations of black artists singing the songbooks of Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, Bacharach and David, and Otis Redding: see here -- would come around to compiling covers of the smoothest and, some might say, the most popular soul singer of them all. Sam Cooke's move from gospel to soul-infused pop... > Read more

When a Boy Falls in Love

IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent releases

6 Mar 2015  |  2 min read

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 brief. Jake Xerxes Fussell; Jake Xerxes Fussell (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound): North Carolina singer/guitarist Fussell's father was a folklorist and... > Read more

Star Girl

Various Artists: Hang on Sloopy; The Bert Berns Story Vol 3 (Ace/Border)

4 Mar 2015  |  3 min read  |  1

In his excellent 1989 collection of writing Ball the Wall, Nik Cohn included a superb and insightful piece about Phil Spector, who at that time – the very early Seventies – had retreated behind the walls of his LA mansion. “Money, music, style: in each of them his breakthrough was absolutely basic,” wrote Cohn.  “In the early Sixties, he seemed... > Read more

Am I Groovin' You

Public Service Broadcasting: The Race for Space (Southbound)

2 Mar 2015  |  <1 min read

The 2013 debut album Inform-Educate-Entertain by this British duo married sometimes driving rock or evocative soundscapes with spoken word samples from old British and American documentaries and films. The result was a thrilling mix which, with almost Futurist enthusiasm, embraced a time when progress (mail trains of the Thirties, the Spitfire), adventure (the ascent of Everest)... > Read more

Tomorrow

Proton Beast: Digitizer (Muzai)

2 Mar 2015  |  1 min read

The naked light bulb on the cover of this debut album by Auckland's self-described "disco doom" trio is more apt than that mirrorball. This is sonic density -- mastered by Brad Boatright who has done the deed for Sun O))) among others -- from a band which has supported Boris and Beastwars. So there you have your visual and aural references for eight tracks (recorded... > Read more

Cimmerians

Various Artists: Follow Me Down; Vanguard's Lost Psychedelic Era 1966-70 (Vanguard/Border)

27 Feb 2015  |  2 min read

Fact is, if  -- as the cover title suggests -- the psychedelic era was "lost" to anyone during the four/five years on this collection, it wasn't to the label's tripped-out audience at the time. It was perhaps to the label itself. Vanguard released many psych-albums including the exceptional debut by Country Joe and the Fish, Electric Music for the Mind and Body.... > Read more

A Nickel's Worth of Benny's Help

Kiasmos: Kiasmos (Erased Tapes/Southbound)

23 Feb 2015  |  <1 min read

One of the most interesting, if not visually engaging, artists at Laneway was electronica boffin Jon Hopkins who added edge and scratchy beats to elevate his sound above the quasi-ambience of his albums. As with Hopkins, you suspect this duo of Iceland's Olafur Arnalds and Faroe Islander Janus Rasmussen, could also up their game for a live audience. Because here across eight... > Read more

Dragged