Music at Elsewhere

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Batucada Sound Machine: Don't Keep Silent (BSM/Border)

23 Jan 2012

Driven by assertive (and in places aggressive) drumming, boiling bass and propelled by a fist-tight horn section, Batucada Sound Machine here take a major step up from their Rhythm and Rhyme album of three years ago for this sonic implosion where a rock group, a big band and world music rhythms collide at the intersection of funk and jazz. With horn parts which reference Afro-Cuban,... > Read more

Un Poquito

Vorn: Down For It (Powertools)

23 Jan 2012

In an alternative universe Frank Zappa would be the head of the music school, radio would refuse to play anything by someone who did a photoshoot before writing a song, and Vorn's bent pop would be as big and as popular as Crowded House's. A member of Gold Medal Famous (the point of whose recent album went right past me), Vorn Colgan -- who has an amusingly obscure bio on his website -- now... > Read more

Mental Health Issues in Newtown Part II

The Chaps: Don't Worry 'Bout Your Age (Chaps)

23 Jan 2012

Selected as one of the three finalists in folk category at the 2012 New Zealand Music Awards, this album finds Dunedin four-piece the Chaps -- average somewhere early 60s at a guess -- doing exactly what they do best: playing unashamedly self-deprecating songs (the title track especially) and thought-provoking lyrics in the bluegrass-folk-country-meets-swing territory. So here are songs... > Read more

Come See About Me

Nino Tempo and April Stevens: Hey Baby! The Anthology (Atco/Border)

20 Jan 2012

Right up until opening the booklet to this 24 track anthology of this duo who had the huge hit Deep Purple in 1963/64, I always thought Tempo and Stevens were a couple. The love lyrics of their originals certainly suggested that. But they were brother and sister, born to a first generation Italian-American family in Niagara Falls. Their father was a grocer and mother an aspiring beauty... > Read more

Boys Town

Billy Bragg, Volume II (Yep Roc)

16 Jan 2012

As anyone who has interviewed a number of musicians would attest, you often never know what you are going to get. The woman who make the nicest music can often be bitter and acerbic, yet the dark Goth-metal guy is the most polite person you ever met. But in my experience Billy Bragg was exactly as I had been lead to believe by his music and what other interviewers had said previously: He... > Read more

Tears of my Tracks (demo)

Little Axe: If You Want Loyalty Buy a Dog (On U/Southbound)

16 Jan 2012    1

Guitarist Skip McDonald (aka Little Axe) and On-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood team up once again for an album which exists at the interface of old blues and contemporary dub, and with just enough gospel sensibility (and Nyabinghi drumming on I Got da Blues) to give a spiritual dimension to its innate earthiness. Back in 2006 the Little Axe album Stone Cold Ohio was one of the Best of... > Read more


Natalia Mann: (Rattle)

10 Jan 2012

One of the legitimate complaints made about certain types of New Age music in the Eighties and early Nineties -- and latterly with fusion world music -- is that the music becomes acultural and stateless, existing in a place where cultural resonances are hinted at rather than effected. While that can make for some fascinating "world" music, it can also lead to an emotional... > Read more


Jackie DeShannon: Come and Get Me, The Complete Liberty and Imperial Singles Vol 2 (Ace/Border)

9 Jan 2012    3

Ask anyone of "a certain age" who the best/most interesting women pop singers of the mid Sixties were and they might tick off a familiar list: Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, any of the Spector school of girl groups, the Supremes and so on. It's unlikely Jackie DeShannon from Kentucky would come to mind for most but she was certainly in the top rank, but also one of the most... > Read more

Hold Your Head High

The Cure: Bestival Live 2011 (Lost/Border)

9 Jan 2012

Anyone who has seen the Cure recently -- say at the Vector Arena in Auckland -- will know that the band which once played very short songs now plays extremely long sets. For my money you could have snipped 25 minutes out of the middle of their Vector show and not felt short-changed, but definitely less bored. And so it is with this two and a half hour/double disc recorded live before 50,000... > Read more



20 Dec 2011    4

If you're lookin' for trouble, you've come to the right place, sang Elvis. And indeed I was when it came to my Best of Elsewhere 2011 albums list. As always – and rightly so – everyone has their own “best” albums list. Sometimes the readers' selections crossed over with mine (which are here) but, as expected, astute listeners heard what I didn't. So here... > Read more


19 Dec 2011    1

Yep, it is utterly subjective (so I can't be right and you can't be wrong, and vice-versa) but here are the best/most durable/most enjoyable/utterly disturbing 30 albums of the past year which I heard. Yes, I missed a few big ones that connected with you or other critics -- but these are the ones I have listened to repeatedly during the year . . . and fully expect to be listening to in years... > Read more

A song for us music writers??

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Adele: 21 (XL)

19 Dec 2011

Adele's debut album of two years ago -- 19, when she was 19 -- announced the arrival of a great British soul voice even if some of her original material wasn't quite as strong as it could have been. Still, she was only 19 -- but she hardly deserved to be lumped in with the new breed of British women singers coming through (notably Amy Winehouse, Duffy et al). Not that she needed to worry,... > Read more

Adele: Someone Like You

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

19 Dec 2011    1

A propos of not much, Fleet Foxes' chief songwriter Robin Pecknold recently recorded New Zealand singer-songwriter Chris Thompson's Where is My Wild Rose? for an EP and it appears on You Tube (just with stills) here. But . . . to the matter in hand. If it's fair to say FFoxes' debut album was unexpected, then we might also observe that this one is highly anticipated. However their... > Read more

Fleet Foxes: Battery Kinzie

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What (Hear Music)

19 Dec 2011    1

One of the things Paul Simon is seldom given credit for is his sense of humor. He too often comes off the kind of earnest New York Jewish singer-songwriter you imagine reads Dostoevsky at night but listens to doo-wop and old soul because he thinks it might be good for him. Yet this is the man who did that clip for You Can Call Me Al with Chevy Chase, and his lyrics are often punctuated with... > Read more

Paul Simon: Dazzling Blue

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Rumer: Seasons of My Soul (Atlantic)

19 Dec 2011

There are a lot of wonderful new soul singers around these days -- Mayer Hawthorne, Adele, etc -- and any number of artists who have you reaching for a historical reference in the same territory (Dusty Springfield and Sandie Shaw in the Sixties for the first Duffy album). It is almost to easy to do the same for this British singer-songwriter. So let's do it anyway: Karen Carpenter, Dionne... > Read more

Rumer: Come To Me High

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Howe Gelb and a Band of Gypsies: Alegrias (Fire)

19 Dec 2011    2

The enormously prolific Howe Gelb (interviewed here in depth) is behind the Tucson band Giant Sand (from which Calexico became a more commercially successful split-off) and has also recorded a dozen albums under his own name. And as a reissue programme of about 30 Sand/Gelb albums starts to filter through he also releases this, a beguiling project which saw him taking his dark vocals,... > Read more

Howe Gelb and A Band of Gypsies: The Hangin' Judge

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Tiny Ruins: Some Were Meant for Sea (Spunk)

19 Dec 2011    1

Tiny Ruins is the nom de disque of Bristol-born, Auckland-raised (from the age of 10) singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook who recorded these songs in "a diminutive [sic] hall, once the local school of South Gippsland's Morraya, Australia" (which doesn't appear on any map of that region south east of Melbourne that I can see, unless they mean Moyarra). No matter, that perhaps adds... > Read more

Tiny Ruins: Old as the Hills

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Azam Ali: From Night to the Edge of Day (Six Degrees)

19 Dec 2011

Nominally lullabies from around the Middle East, this breathy and exceptional album by the Iranian-born Canadian-resident Ali -- singer in the band Niyaz -- becomes something much more hypnotic as here keening voice explores those delightful microtones common in the music of the region. Very much the global citizen -- she lived in India as a child, relocated to LA with her mother in '85,... > Read more


BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Jonathan Besser: Campursari (Rattle)

19 Dec 2011

Since coming to New Zealand more than 30 years ago, the pianist-composer Jonathan Besser has enjoyed a highly successful and diverse career, first with violinist Chris Prosser in the Besser and Prosser duo, with electronic artist Ross Harris in Free Radicals, then his own ensemble and latterly with the small group Bravura. His works have been performed by the NZSO, the New Zealand String... > Read more


BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts (Matador)

19 Dec 2011

The solo projects and collaborations of Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) have certainly covered a lot of musical landscapes from visceral guitar noise to . . . Well, to this which is mostly gentle, dreamy singer-songwriter work with acoustic guitar, harp, violin and producer Beck on synths, vocals and bass. To a great extent -- because of the intricacies of the arrangements which... > Read more