Lopi Beach on Vanuatu
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Music at Elsewhere

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Wooden Wand: Blood Oath of the New Blues (Fire/Southbound)

Wooden Wand: Blood Oath of the New Blues (Fire/Southbound)

In the real world “a songwriter's songwriter” usually translates into “respected, but no commercial potential”. Wooden Wand – aka James Jackson Toth – has been been described as having “that picaresque quality Dylan had in his heyday” by Swans' Michael Gira, and some have cited Neil Young, Springsteen and Cohen in reviews. Hard to make... more >>

Southern Colorado Song

Stornoway: Tales from Terra Firma (4AD)

Stornoway: Tales from Terra Firma (4AD)

The Anglofolk 2012 debut album Beachcomber's Windowsill by this Oxford group (named for a small town in the windblown Outer Hebrides) didn't quite cut it with its folksy pop and songs about bird watching, or people preferring to watch television rather than roaming free. Just seemed a bit twee and earnest. However here they paint with bigger brushes and aim for spiritually-imbued... more >>

The Bigger Picture

The Pogues: 30:30 (Rhino)

The Pogues: 30:30 (Rhino)

Few bands did bruised romanticism, battered beauty and boozy narratives as well as the Pogues. In Shane MacGowan they had a songwriter who was a poet of the streets with his heart in some mythical vision of rural Ireland, a visionary who didn't disguise his ideas in florid language but kept his florid nose close to the blunt real world. The Pogues may have been heroic drinkers but they... more >>

Streams of Whiskey

Darkstar: News From Nowhere (Warp)

Darkstar: News From Nowhere (Warp)

The 2010 debut album North by the one-time dub-step British duo of Aiden Whalley and James Young brought in vocals by James Buttery for an album of unexpected and understated beauty full of beat-driven ambience, minimalism and discreet touches of romanticism. Now seemingly an official three-piece with Buttery, Darkstar are purveyors of liquid melodies, Eno'n'Fripp-like sonic textures... more >>

Armonica

Tom Morgan: Orange Syringe (Fire/Southbound)

Tom Morgan: Orange Syringe (Fire/Southbound)

Tom Morgan's name should be better known. Formerly in the Australian indie-rock band Smudge, he came to the attention of Evan Dando (Lemonheads) and co-wrote with him many songs on the Lemonheads' excellent albums It's a Shame About Ray and Come On Feel the Lemonheads, among them Big Gay Heart, It's About Time, Bit Part, It's Shame About Ray and Rick James Style. Big indie-pop... more >>

Taste for Blood

Josh Rouse: The Happiness Waltz (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Josh Rouse: The Happiness Waltz (Yep Roc/Southbound)

I imagine Josh Rouse has long ago accepted that -- despite some fine early albums like Under Cold Blue Stars -- he will perhaps, after almost 20 years in the game, be one of those respected writers whose albums fall into the laps of fans but travel little further. Elsewhere has always followed his career with interest (and occasional disappointment) so this pleasant collection which... more >>

It's Good to Have You

Eric Clapton: Old Sock (Universal)

Eric Clapton: Old Sock (Universal)

As at the start of his career – the Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith in six years – lately Clapton has engaged in short projects with B.B. King (Riding with the King) and J.J. Cale (Road to Escondido), doing his disappointingly patchy Robert Johnson tribute (Me and Mr Johnson) or been a man at ease with himself and taking it easy, albeit professionally and... more >>

The Folks Who Live on the Hill

Tattletale Saints: How Red is the Blood (Old Oak/Aeroplane)

Tattletale Saints: How Red is the Blood (Old Oak/Aeroplane)

The duo behind this debut album of sensitively understated folk and subtle simplicity have a bit of "form", we might say. They are expat Kiwis Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan who were previously in Her Make Believe Band. Their AM Radio album of two years ago got a very good notice here at Elsewhere, and McGowan offered a solo album Mermaids and Whiskey last year. They spent time... more >>

Doctor Doctor

Jesse Will: Hold Your Cards (jesswillmusic)

Jesse Will: Hold Your Cards (jesswillmusic)

Elsewhere rarely bothers with EPs: too many of them; too few songs to glean a picture; too often juvenilia which the artists come to regret . . . But we make an exception for Auckland singer-songwriter Jesse Will who learned some of his craft at MAINZ and late last year won a Songwriter of the Year award which alowed him to record two of these three songs at Roundhead Studio. He has... more >>

Hold Your Cards

Rhian Sheehan: Stories from Elsewhere (Loop)

Rhian Sheehan: Stories from Elsewhere (Loop)

Given its title -- and that I wrote a travel collection called Postcards From Elsewhere -- how could we not be interested in this textured, electronica-cum-ambient outing from New Zealand's Sheehan? And here he brings a real human warmth and some fascinating musical references from a wide palette to this, his first full length album since Standing in Silence about four years ago. This is... more >>

La Boite a Musique

Sam RB: Queen Street Acoustics (samrb.com)

Sam RB: Queen Street Acoustics (samrb.com)

Auckland songwriter Sam RB has been met with some skepticism (if not outright cynicism) by many mainstream music writers on account of her song for the New Zealand Olympic Team (music journalists rarely like patriotic or cheerleading songs, regardless of quality, in my experience) and that her debut album came with assistance from a Mental Health Media Grant. That said – with the... more >>

How Many Rains

The Red Rippers: Over There and Over Here (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound)

The Red Rippers: Over There and Over Here (Paradise of Bachelors/Southbound)

A few years ago Elsewhere was in receipt of the most remarkable box set. It was Next Stop is Vietnam, a 13 CD set and massive book (not booklet) which pulled together songs, photographs and stories from all sides of the Vietnam conflict and came up to the present day with the legacy of that tragic war. Elsewhere reviewed it in depth here, and I have used it as source material for our From... more >>

Firefight

The Bads: Travel Light (Warners)

The Bads: Travel Light (Warners)

In an interview some years ago Graham Brazier said that in the rush to embrace younger artists, New Zealand had created what he called "adult contempt". If you were over 28 you were ignored, he said. In the years since -- with the Heritage Artist and Hall of Fame awards -- some of those older musicians (among them Herbs, Ray Columbus and the Invaders, and Brazier's band Hello... more >>

Fire in a Caravan

Inc: No World (4AD)

Inc: No World (4AD)

If this low lights, gentle, breathy and soul-infused r'n'b album weren't all done by this US duo of Andrew and Daniel Aged you'd imagine it could be an especially horizontal Back to MIne/Late Night Tales collection . . . and you suspect any number of these tracks might end up on in years to come. There were brief moments in the Bee Gees career when -- pre-Night Fever, sans falsetto, then... more >>

Desert Rose

Robyn Hitchcock: Love From London (Yep Roc)

Robyn Hitchcock: Love From London (Yep Roc)

A quintessentially British songwriter in the same company as Ray Davies, the young Damon Albarn and Paul Weller, Hitchcock also possesses an English eccentricity. Few could pull off a song entitled I Want To Be An Anglepoise Lamp as he did for his first band the Soft Boys. Now just turned 60 and still ignored by mainstream attention, he pares things back to crisply simple melodies... more >>

Stupified

Badd Energy: Underwater Pyramid (Flying Nun)

Badd Energy: Underwater Pyramid (Flying Nun)

Existing where irony meets earnestness, Badd Energy offer cheap drum machines, reductive guitar riffs, melodic ennui, and clunky or occasionally borrowed aphoristic rap, as with “you can't take the heat, you're never in the kitchen” on the lukewarm call to arms of the B-grade New Wave pop-rap Riot which includes “I want peace where we have lots of fun, I don't want peace... more >>

Riot

Popstrangers: Antipodes (Unspk)

Popstrangers: Antipodes (Unspk)

Because international writers can often take a more dispassionate view of New Zealand culture -- witness the difference between local and overseas reviews of The Hobbit; ours mostly loved it, theirs went hmmm, yawn -- it is often salutory to look at what the rest of the world is saying about our stuff. If our default position is to be a little more generous then the yawn of indifference... more >>

Jane

David Bowie: The Next Day (Sony)

David Bowie: The Next Day (Sony)

Further proof Bowie's a smart post-modern artist. And not just self-aware, but aware of how the modern world works post-Bowie. Not only does he record his first album in a decade in secret in this gossip-driven Tweetworld, but the no-tour/no-interviews policy guarantees attention turns to the art and not the artist . . . . while listeners scan for clues to both. And he's already... more >>

If You Can See Me

Various Artists: Deutsche Elektronische Musik 2 (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

Various Artists: Deutsche Elektronische Musik 2 (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

Following a previous, generously inclusive double CD collection of Seventies/Eighties German electronic music comes this compilation in an equally unimaginative and horrible cover. It ticks off many main players (Can, Brian Eno with Moebius and Roedelius, the great Popol Vuh who did evocative soundtracks for Herzog, Amon Duul II with weaving guitar, and Faust). But again we get... more >>

Sundance Chant

Pete Galub:Candy Tears (petegalub.com)

Pete Galub:Candy Tears (petegalub.com)

In a world where music is manicured to perfection, it's a pleasure for Elsewhere to introduce someone who didn't come into the game because they wanted to be on an Idol/X-Factor show . . . but because he saw the ramshackle Replacements when he was 14. A more profound rock'n'roll influence it is hard to imagine. Pete Galub is a New Yorker who has achieved some inner-city profile through... more >>

300 Days in July