Music at Elsewhere

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BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wire: Red Barked Tree (Pink Flag)

19 Dec 2011

In the late Seventies Wire delivered a trifecta of classic post-punk, minimalist and arty albums -- Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 – then called it a day. In subsequent decades they reformed dropping drummer Robert Gotobed to appear as an alt.electro-rock outfit (not much cop), in the past decade their sound became more aggressive and impressive, Gotobed returned -- and now Bruce... > Read more

Wire: Adapt

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 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 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 Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs: Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs (Full Time Hobby)

19 Dec 2011

Recorded over a two year period and soaked in strings, this folksy rumination on the state of his nation takes its inspiration from Walt Whitman's poem Pioneers! O Pioneers!, a kind of literal and metaphorical reverse-mirror Times They Are A' Changin' of its day when the young America was flexing its muscles across the continent. Hinson uses this starting point to consider, in places, how... > Read more

Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs: Seven Horses Seen

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

19 Dec 2011

Although Lucinda Williams admits things are going well in her life (see interview here), she also adds that no one is ever permanently happy and she lives in this world with all its sadness and misery. And she has had a few encounters with those things herself, notably the estrangement of her brother after the death of their mother, and the death by suicide of Vic Chesnutt a few years back.... > Read more

Lucinda Williams: Ugly Truth

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Iron and Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean (4AD)

19 Dec 2011    1

The previous album The Shepherd's Dog by Texas' Iron and Wine (Sam Beam) was fully three years ago and was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2007 albums. So anticipation is high for this -- although might have been higher a year ago, but I guess he works at his own pace. And we forgive him because he delivered the excellent Around the Well collection of unreleased song and rarities in mid '09.... > Read more

Iron and Wine: Half Moon

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 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 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 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

Space

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Gin Wigmore: Gravel and Wine (Universal)

19 Dec 2011

Although the remarkable Gin Wigmore mostly co-wrote here, you'd have to say it is her voice -- not just her musical voice -- which comes through with utter clarity. And yes, this extraordinary album is full of her stylistic vocal signature . . . but there is something much more interesting and exciting going on here. These days many young artists drown themselves in references: the... > Read more

If Only

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Keith Jarrett: Rio (ECM)

19 Dec 2011

In one of the most colourful ECM covers in memory comes this equally vibrant solo piano set by Keith Jarrett, recorded live in Rio in April 2011. This richly textured double disc -- six unnamed pieces on the first, nine on the second -- finds the pianist in total command of his gift for rhythmically complex and melodically unpredictable improvisation. Jarrett dips (and frequently dives... > Read more

Rio Part IX

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 The Black Keys: El Camino (Nonesuch)

19 Dec 2011

Although Black Keys' previous album Brothers was on the Best of Elsewhere 2010 list and this one will certainly be in this year's final countback, the two albums are very different. Where Brothers was grounded in classic soul and old school r'n'b and blues, this one kicks up the primal rock'n'pop from the get-go. As a touchstone consider Gold on the Ceiling which sounds like the Glitter... > Read more

Run Right Back

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

Dandini

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

Shine

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

19 Dec 2011    1

The title here is certainly true: 63-year old Florida-born Bradley -- an exceptional soul singer who sounds like a distillation of James Brown, aching Otis Redding, the troubled Marvin Gaye, searching Al Green and the much overlooked Sonny Charles of the Checkmates -- has barely had a chance to dream in a hard-working life. Bradley seems to have been a cook most of his life (from a mental... > Read more

Golden Rule

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Jeffrey Foucault: Horse Latitudes (Signature)

19 Dec 2011    1

For his first album of originals in five years – the follow-up to his gripping Ghost Repeater – this beardy and rustic Americana singer/songwriter ups the stakes as his strong, dark brown and assured voice takes on life, loss and love in iron-hard images which bring to mind Leonard Cohen (“strange birds on the fence line, it's going to get cold tonight”) or Tom... > Read more

Last Night I Dreamed of Television

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Kimbra: Vows (Warners)

19 Dec 2011

For most people flicking the music channels and being confronted the relentless and facile bump'n'grind r'n'b or ever-so-serious young men with guitars, the clips by Kimbra -- formerly of Hamilton, now based in Melbourne -- come as delightful surprises. They look fresh and eye-catching, intelligent in the face of the sexed-up drivel (her musings on married life in Settle Down) and just... > Read more

Good Intent

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wilco: The Whole Love (Warners)

19 Dec 2011

Artists who make lurching changes of direction often revert to prior form after a while: Certainly after U2's darker trilogy -- Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop -- they went back to their familiar stadium-shaped mainstream ballads, and Radiohead's most recent output has been more accessible than the unsettling Ok Computer and Kid A. Even David Bowie -- after the "Berlin trilogy" of... > Read more

Sunloathe