Music at Elsewhere

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Blur: The Magic Whip (Warners)

4 May 2015  |  2 min read  |  1

To accuse Damon Albarn of being a mannered singer does rather somewhat miss the point. His Sixties role models -- Ray Davies, David Bowie et al -- were much the same. So when Blur's Modern Life is Rubbish and Parklife albums rolled around back in the mid Nineties at the zenith of Britpop it meant nothing that he adopted a vocal style which was far removed from his speaking voice. In... > Read more


The Very Best: Makes a King (Moshi Moshi)

4 May 2015  |  <1 min read

In some circles this album by the duo of Malawi-born singer Esau Mwamwaya with Swedish beatmaker Johan Hugo may be labelled world music. Admittedly it was recorded by Lake Malawi, features Baaba Maal on one piece and is sung in the local language Chichewa. But -- on this their third album together -- with some bashing or ambient electronica, bassist Chris Baio from Vampire Weekend... > Read more

Let Go

The Cleves: The Musical Adventures of the Clevedonaires, Cleves and Bitch (Frenzy)

3 May 2015  |  2 min read

Buried away in the typically interesting liner notes of this compilation by Grant Gillanders, he writes this: “The Cleves' second single You and Me was released during May 1970, the same month that they made their 100th appearance on Australian television”. Huh? One hundred appearances on Australian television? How many – how few – New Zealand artists... > Read more

He's Ready (The Clevedonaires)

Princess Chelsea: The Great Cybernetic Depression (Lil' Chief)

1 May 2015  |  1 min read

The 2011 debut album Little Golden Book by Chelsea Nikell (aka Princess Chelsea) was an Elsewhere favourite for its subtle blend of coquettish and slightly childlike charm with an adult sophistication. Nikkel sounded like an adult in child's body, and sometimes vice-versa. As Elsewhere has noted however, that didn't translate effectively at this year's Laneway where she appeared mannered... > Read more

We're So Lost

Alan Brown: Silent Observer (

1 May 2015  |  2 min read

Despite what many amateurs in the New Age world may think -- and Brian Eno's Bloom app allows you to pretend you can do it -- creating respectable ambient music isn't quite as easy as it sounds. We default to Eno again because he has some form in this area and he said this genre was about creating music which should be as ignorable as it was enjoyable. In other words it could be aural... > Read more

Unanswered Question

Doldrums: The Air Conditioned Nightmare (SubPop)

27 Apr 2015  |  <1 min read  |  1

On this second album under the band moniker Doldrums, the Montreal-based experimental electronica-rock artist and DJ Airick (actually “Eric”) Woodhead delivers an enjoyably noisy and unpredictable clatter which happily slides from dancefloor thumpers (Hotfoot) to dreamy astral-plane sonics (the prog-lite Funeral for Lightning) and a few pop-influenced points in between.... > Read more

Funeral for Lightning

Hannah in the Wars: Hannah in the Wars (99X-10/Aeroplane)

25 Apr 2015  |  1 min read

Get past the usefully scene setting but irritatingly repetitious opener here (Burning Through the Night where Hannah Curwood's voice becomes more shrill and annoying than desperate as seems the intention) and a very interesting album reveals itself. Curwood from Central Otago is now based in London and caught the ear of the Cure's keyboard player Roger O'Donnell who produced this frequently... > Read more

Sweet Release

Beth Hart: Better Than Home (Provogue/Warners)

20 Apr 2015  |  <1 min read

Hart may have a troubled soul – junk, booze and family matters all took their toll – but at her extraordinary Powerstation show last month she proved a good-humoured survivor with powerful stories to tell, and an exceptional voice to convey the hurts, optimism and energy required to pull herself through. And here across 11 originals she drops personae and dives into her... > Read more

Might As Well Smile

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: Chasing Yesterday (Warners)

20 Apr 2015  |  <1 min read

Neither Gallagher brothers' previous albums – Liam's enjoyable Oasis-like swagger on Different Gear Still Speeding and BE with Beady Eye, Noel's more po-faced self-titled outing with High Flying Birds – scaled particular heights. But here the more ambitious one rises to the challenge. Despite opening with “there's something in the way she moves me . . .... > Read more

The Girl With X-Ray Eyes

Mel Parsons: Drylands (Border)

13 Apr 2015  |  2 min read

As Elsewhere mentioned in the wrap-up of this year's Womad, New Zealand artists – notably women singers – were among the highpoints. And one in particular was Mel Parsons who exuded a mature confidence, showcased some of the excellent songs from this new album and with a small band kept the attention of a large audience which could have easily drifted away to see some... > Read more

Driving Man

Larry's Rebels: I Feel Good (Frenzy)

13 Apr 2015  |  2 min read

This weekend for Record Store Day there is a vinyl release of a Larry's Rebels collection which pulls together their r'n'b sound on one side and the later psych-pop on the other. But for those wanting a more full picture this 25 song CD collection -- subtitled The Essential Purple Flashes of Larry's Rebels 1965-1969 -- is a useful companion to some previous collections, notably the 2013... > Read more

Painter Man (NZ version)

Brian Wilson: No Pier Pressure (Universal)

10 Apr 2015  |  1 min read

As many senior Elsewhere readers or young scholars will know, Greil Marcus once famously opened his review of Bob Dylan's Self Portrait album with, "What is this shit?" So, eschewing originality, we might say that about the second song on this new album by the still-damaged but still occasionally brilliant Brian Wilson. Between the beautifully layered vocals of the brief... > Read more

The Last Song

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


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


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