Music at Elsewhere

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Bierut: The Rip Tide (Pompeii)

1 Sep 2011

Within the very bland cover - despite the gold impressed lettering -- lies the typically colourful, romantic sound which we have to come associate with Zach Condon and his associates who bring accordion, horns, a touch of "South of the Border" as well as ukulele and pump organ. Although scrupulously crafted -- you don't write horn lines like these without considerable skills --... > Read more

Goshen

Randy Crawford: The Best of Randy Crawford (Rhino)

31 Aug 2011

Gosh and oh gee. Another Randy Crawford compilation. Is there no end to these things? They seem to come around about every five years or so -- and of course the track listing is always much the same. So rather than "review" this one here is an interview with Randy from '99 in advance of a New Zealand tour which you might take some amusement from . . . On the line from her... > Read more

Rainy Night in Georgia

My Pet Dragon: Mountains and Cities (Gimme That Sound)

30 Aug 2011

About 16 months ago Elsewhere gave a Heads Up on an impending album by this group out of New York (here). As far as I can tell the impending album never arrived . . . but this seems to be it. A long time in the pot, obviously. Now a fully formed band around singer-songwriter Todd Michaelsen, this album has a chest-swelling urgency in places which belies its long gestation period. The... > Read more

Moonshine

Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (ECM New Series)

30 Aug 2011    1

Meredith Monk's ethereal vocal music often seems to exist between the chapel and the arthouse, at home being bookended by a choral group and Laurie Anderson. Over the decades her work has extended from its minimalist origins into instrumental works, theatrical productions, opera (Atlas) and film (Book of Days), and yet its spare, skeletal structure is commanding by virtue of its... > Read more

Respite

Various Artists: Rucks, Tries and Choruses; The History of NZ Rugby . . . in Song (EMI)

29 Aug 2011

Could any other country on the planet compile a disc of rugby songs? Maybe Wales? South Africa? But how many could get two discs worth of songs (comedy, serious, some sung by former players) which are this much nostalgic fun. We might take rugby seriously in New Zealand, but are clearly not that po-faced when you go through this exceptional 33 track compilation pulled together by the... > Read more

Rugby Rock (1960)

Jolie Holland and the Grand Chandeliers: Pint of Blood (Anti)

29 Aug 2011

This being Holland's first album since 2008's excellent The Living and the Dead, it naturally arrives much anticipated. But while some have suggested it harkens back to her style on the very popular Escondida of '04, to these ears it sounds the natural extension of its predecessor. She again has the same producer Shahzad Ismaily, her songs have a slightly battered and emotional quality,... > Read more

Little Birds

The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

29 Aug 2011

From the amusing band name (yep, the bad guys won that particular war, bro) through their swooning post-REM pop-rock, this fine and play-loud album so adeptly juggles Tom Petty/Byrds, slacker alt rock and post-grunge 90s pop (Evan Dando/Buffalo Tom) you can't help but like it. And Philadelphian songwriter Adam Granduciel's has seriously smart takes on that period when the word-spewing... > Read more

Come to the City

The Bambi Molesters: As the Dark Wave Swells (Glitterhouse)

29 Aug 2011

Although “surf rock” sounds a limiting description, echoing guitar twang can equally conjure up wide-open dry spaces (albums by Australia's Cruel Sea) or brooding spaghetti westerns. And this memorably named Croatian instrumental group manage sea, sky and gunplay – and more. The producer/string arranger is Chris Eckman formerly of the American alt.country folk... > Read more

Leslie Stevens and the Badgers: Roomful of Smoke (Fuse)

29 Aug 2011

Although a reviewer for America's No Depression said Stevens' voice reminded of Emmylou Harris' (although confusingly added “but you will never be confused it”) Harris' crystalline sound doesn't come to mind at all for me. (Maybe Melanie's high-pitched folksiness in places.) But this former LA punk has convincingly moved into alt.country/singer-songwriter territory and... > Read more

Ballpark Lights

Brigitte DeMeyer: Rose of Jericho (BDM)

28 Aug 2011

Although now five albums into her career, it is highly likely few have heard of this soulful country-rock singer who here co-produces with Brady Blade. She has a little gospel and blues in her (religion is scattered throughout) and marries that to fiddle and mandolin-coloured tunes which are instantly memorable. And many shine with the optimism which comes from having done the hard work and... > Read more

West Side Mama, South Side Me

Gotye: Making Mirrors (Universal)

24 Aug 2011    1

No New Zealander has to apologise for noting the most outstanding track on this third album by Australian wunderkind singer/producer Gotye -- aka Wally de Backer who slayed them on home turf with his '06 album Like Drawing Blood -- is the third track Somebody I Used To Know which features expat Kiwi singer Kimbra. That Kimbra has her own classy, intelligent and exceptional debut album Vows... > Read more

Bronte

Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins: A Scarcity of Miracles (MPL)

23 Aug 2011

With the (almost) complete Pink Floyd catalogue being re-presented shortly, the Moody Blues arriving on our shores and bands like The Mars Volta, Radiohead and Porcupine Tree pushing the boundaries, there seems to be quite a lot of progressive rock, if not exactly old school prog-rock, out there. Of course it never really went away and certainly guitarist/experimentalist Robert Fripp, a... > Read more

The Price We Pay

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: Mirror Traffic (Domino)

22 Aug 2011

The previous album by Malkmus (formerly of Pavement) with the Jicks was the very trippy Real Emotional Trash. But here, after touring again with Pavement, he gets into the studio with Beck Hansen as producer for 15 focused songs which place emphasis on, if nothing else, audability. His words -- droll, slightly self-torturing and geekish, delivered with that slight strain -- are now... > Read more

Stick Figures in Love

Simon Comber: The Right to Talk to Strangers (CPR)

22 Aug 2011

On singer-songwriter Comber's earlier album Endearance there was an exceptional song, Please Elvis (which you can read about here), and it alerted the listener to the poetic shifts in his lyrics. This EP confirms Comber's lyrical smarts and in places goes even deeper than that impressive album. His voice sounds more resonant, stronger and deeper in places also -- and that makes for a... > Read more

Twin Insomniacs

Phil Spector: Wall of Sound; The Very Best of Phil Spector 1961-1966 (Sony Legacy)

22 Aug 2011    1

This judiciously selected, 19-song collection arrives half a century after Spector's distinctive "wall of sound" started to make an impact on the charts and his "little symphonies for the kids" changed the way people thought about how to use a recording studio. And what talent Phil Spector had on his hands at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood and later in New York: Gene... > Read more

Walking in the Rain

Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges (Blue Note)

18 Aug 2011

After his multiple awards-winning turn as broken down country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, and the spin-off T Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack, there should be interest in this (also produced by Burnett) where Bridges again sings persuasively on originals and material by John Goodwin, Stephen Bruton (who wrote most of the Crazy Heart soundtrack), Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey. Although... > Read more

Nothing Yet

Wilberforces: Vipassana (Muzai)

17 Aug 2011

Not having heard the first album by this group -- which appears to have "well documented" problems with a changing line-up around singer/writer/guitarist Thom Burton -- is no particular disadvantage. But apparently the Auckland indie label Muzai thought so highly of their '09 debut Haunted that it sought Burton out and was delighted when he signed with them. Here's the reason... > Read more

Bones Bones Dead Down

Ricardo Villalobos/Max Loderbauer: Re: ECM (ECM)

17 Aug 2011

The usually restrained ECM isn't a risk-averse label -- how well some remember the textural noise of Lask and the guitar abuse of David Torn -- so when they open the vaults for manipulation you know the result will be nothing like the Verve and Blue Note remix albums. Here this Berlin-based electronica duo improvise with pre-existing tracks by John Abercrombie, Miroslav Vitous, Enrico... > Read more

Rebird

Trembling Bells: The Constant Pageant (Fuse/Border)

16 Aug 2011

This Glasgow quartet fronted by the powerful folk-vocals of Lavinia Blackwall have previously delivered folkadelia but right from the ringing guitars of this, their third album, they have moved more firmly into the psychedelic rock area where Celtic hippies roam wind-swept moors and have anthemic Jefferson Airplane and Fairport Convention turned up to 11 on their ghetto blasters. New... > Read more

All My Favourite Mistakes

Giant Sand: The Love Songs (Fire)

16 Aug 2011

One of the most interesting (and lengthy) interviews at Elsewhere this year has been with Howe Gelb of Giant Sand. During that long and digressive conversation I asked Gelb which albums of the massive reissue campaign of his 25 year career he would recommend to newcomers. He singled out Center of the Universe of '92 saying it was the post-separation album and the only one where he... > Read more

Wearing the Robes of Bible Black