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Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Music at Elsewhere

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The Mountain Goats: The Eternal's Deck (Merge)

The Mountain Goats: The Eternal's Deck (Merge)

The dramatic, almost declamatory, voice of John Darnielle (aka The Mountain Goats) is as distinctive as it is well enunciated. You get every word he sings, which means you are dragged from one poetic line to another where images tumble over one another (think Dylan '65-'66) and if there is a story it comes from an accumulation of ideas and impressions rather than from any narrative. A... more >>

The Mountain Goats: For Charles Bronson

Gruff Rhys: Hotel Shampoo (Ovni)

Gruff Rhys: Hotel Shampoo (Ovni)

The singer for Wales' Super Furry Animals here delivers his third album and the reference points are pure Sixties melodic pop (the Vogues, Buckinghams, early Lennon-McCartney, the Beach Boys) and the LA singer-songwriters of the early Seventies (all those various Taylors, Dan Fogelberg etc). And a little mariachi trumpet. This makes for a light and breezy pop confection guaranteed to bring... more >>

Gruff Rhys: Honey All Over

Various Artists: Power of Soul; A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (Sony)

Various Artists: Power of Soul; A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (Sony)

This chock-full 17-track tribute to Jimi Hendrix arrives on no significant Hendrix anniversary: his short career in the headlines was bookended by his arrival in London in late '66 and he died there in September '70. And although this isn't the first (nor will it be the last) tribute to his particular genius, there is always a place to remind a new generation of just how towering his... more >>

Bootsy Collins, George Clinton and P-Funk: Power of Soul

Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (Drag City)

Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (Drag City)

After his last exceptional album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (a Best of Elsewhere 2009 album) it was hard to imagine how this Americana singer-songwriter -- who previously recorded as Smog -- could remain on the margins of mainstream acceptance. That the album demanded, but also commanded, attention might just have put him once more into the too hard category for most. This time... more >>

Bill Callahan: Baby's Breath

Ghost Wave: Ghost Wave (Arch Hill)

Ghost Wave: Ghost Wave (Arch Hill)

With some of the momentum of their labelmates the Clean, urgent droning vocals and pure psychedelic guitar jangle, this debut EP by the Auckland-based three-piece touches a lot of familiar places – you could add JPSE and some of the Manchester guitar bands to those reference points – but they do it with such economy and style it comes off as joyous . . . and the sound of a band... more >>

Ghost Wave: On a Breeze

Obits: "Moody, Standard and Poor" (Sub Pop)

Obits: "Moody, Standard and Poor" (Sub Pop)

Following their derivative but enjoyable I Blame You debut, former Drive Like Jehu's Rick Froberg and pals again deliver post-punk garageband trash-rock (Ramones, Dead Moon, Stooges, the Animals and other Sixties r'n'b-based pop-rockers) on 12 short, sharp and urgent grit-guitar songs which only loses points when it gets too poppy (Shift Operator) or errs towards a pop-metal sound (Killer,... more >>

Obits: I Want Results

Hoquets: Belgotronics (Crammed Discs)

Hoquets: Belgotronics (Crammed Discs)

This quirky trio from Belgium who sing in English, French and Flemish take their name from the form of interlocking musical patterns or “hockets” (From Scratch had an album Global Hockets in the late 90s) which in French rhymes with “okay”. The album title refers to the Congotronics albums out of Kinshasa (also on Crammed Discs) where musicians use... more >>

Hoquets: Stoemp

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez has never had her rediscovery by a new generation, but this reissue of her excellent folk-rock album of ' 92 – with an extra disc of demos including Dylan's early Seven Curses which only appeared on his recent Witmark Demos 1962-64 – is a smart starting place as it found her back in Nashville after a 20 year absence and at the top of her game. With cracking session... more >>

Joan Baez: Steal Across the Border

Aaron Neville: I Know I've Been Changed (Tell It)

Aaron Neville: I Know I've Been Changed (Tell It)

Aaron Neville saying he's been changed is hardly news, and nor is his soulful, vibrating falsetto which is given a florid showcase in the long intro to the gospel-cum-r'n'b opener here Stand By Me. This sounds like an American Idol exaggeration of his quivering sound, but when the band kicks in (Greg Leisz on dobro, Allen Toussaint on piano, a gospel chorus) he reins himself in and... more >>

Aaron Neville: Don't Let Him Ride

Manos Achalinotopoulos: Flight on Light (Rattle)

Manos Achalinotopoulos: Flight on Light (Rattle)

In the rather fruity liner notes here -- admittedly in translation -- the Greek clarinet player Achalinotopoulos speaks of the ocean of his childhood and how he imagined horizons from above, of here flying into uncharted territories of the unconscious, and of "one clarinet narrating seven stories, each in a continuous stream". And of not being limited by "the barriers of pattern,... more >>

Manos Achalinotopoulos and Tim Prebble: Dragonlake

Meat Puppets: Lollipop (Megaforce)

Meat Puppets: Lollipop (Megaforce)

The very great Meat Puppets out of Arizona delivered exciting, desert-baked psychedelic rock with an edge of country and hard rock in the Eighties. If the collected lyrics of Curt Kirkwood would stump even the most dedicated thesis writer with an interest in surrealism, it hardly mattered. The guitars would sear off into the wide open spaces driven by a tight rhythm section of brother Cris... more >>

Meat Puppets: Damn Thing

The Tin Syndrome: Artefacts Which Reason Ate 1980-83 (Jayrem)

The Tin Syndrome: Artefacts Which Reason Ate 1980-83 (Jayrem)

The Tin Syndrome were very much a Wellington band in a number of ways. Their reputation didn't translate much into the rest of New Zealand in the early Eighties, but more than that they also had what we might call "Wellington" concerns to the fore. If you live in the capital city of any Western country you are bound to see a lot of men in grey suits (politicians, bureaucrats,... more >>

The Tin Syndrome: Plastic Bag (1980)

Shane Nicholson: Bad Machines (Liberation)

Shane Nicholson: Bad Machines (Liberation)

Nicholson is one of the finest of Australia's singers-songwriters with his feet in alt.country and Americana, but he's as comfortable with Dylanesque wordplay in a strange narrative (Blueberry Pie with its "monkey with the golden tooth") as he is delivering emotionally weighted acoustic ballads (Trick Knee Blues). And as always he gets strong support from a tight band (which... more >>

Shane Nicholson: Famous Last Words

Maggie Bjorklund: Coming Home (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Maggie Bjorklund: Coming Home (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico have become something of a mark of quality when it comes to spacious sounding albums. They certainly showcased Marianne Dissard in that way and here -- even though they don't produce -- they appear with acclaimed pedal steel player Bjorklund from Denmark on an album which has all the spaciousness of Tucson skies, albeit a little more chilly... more >>

Maggie Bjorklund: Insekt

Raul Malo: Sinners and Saints (Concord)

Raul Malo: Sinners and Saints (Concord)

The former frontman for the seemingly defunct Mavericks continues his credible solo career here on an album which unself-consciously bridges dramatic Spanish-influenced Tex-Mex, alt.country and stinging guitar rock, and which pulls his powerful vocals to the fore. You can't turn away from a voice this nail-hard and when it is arc-welded to his equally forceful guitar playing -- as on the... more >>

Raul Malo: San Antonio Baby

Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style (Born and Bred)

Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style (Born and Bred)

At one level this is another installment of raucous, shot-slamming, singalong rowdiness from Boston's Celtic-punk outfit . . . and in that it is not only effective and enjoyable. It certainly makes you want the bartender to splash another shot of whisky into your jar before you throw an arm around the shoulder of mate and bellow "burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while, I could... more >>

Dropkick Murphys: Memorial Day

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

After a series of fine albums, Ohio's Over the Rhine here -- with sympathetic producer Joe Henry – deliver their most sophisticated album to date, one with an ear on their European-cabaret sounding alt.country (with exceptional players such as steel guitarist Greg Leisz) in songs of uncertainty and reassurance, and torch ballads of love lost. Singer Karin Bergquist has seldom... more >>

Over the Rhine: All My Favourite People

Little Bushman: Te Oranga (Little Bushman)

Little Bushman: Te Oranga (Little Bushman)

Continuing their exploration of folk-influenced rock and the ethos, if not the actual sound, of Sixties psychedelic rock, this quartet (and friends) come over reflective and quasi-cosmic on this third studio album as they attempt to find middle ground between roots music/Maoritanga, social comment and the hi-tech world of the 21st century. That many of these are in opposition plays out... more >>

Little Bushman: Dream of the Astronaut Girl Part II

The Fleshtones (featuring Lenny Kaye): Brooklyn Sound Solution (YepRoc)

The Fleshtones (featuring Lenny Kaye): Brooklyn Sound Solution (YepRoc)

The limited edition of this album comes with a DVD doco about this New York garageband. It's entitled Pardon Us For Living But the Graveyard is Full and that's apt, the Fleshtones have been around forever (well, at least 30 years) and in all that time they have studiously avoided anything like polish or finesse. Here they crank out B-grade rock'n'roll grounded in Eddie Cochran,... more >>

The Fleshtones: Daytripper

Buddy Miller: The Majestic Silver Strings (New West)

Buddy Miller: The Majestic Silver Strings (New West)

Although a supergroup of guitarists is at the core here -- the great Miller (of Emmylou Harris' band and  Robert Plant's Band of Joy among others) brings on board Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz whose names are on albums by Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, many alt and straight country acts as well as ECM jazz albums -- the vehicles they use might not persuade enough... more >>

Buddy Miller et al: Meds (with Lee Ann Womack)