Music at Elsewhere

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Various Artists: The Ramones Heard Them Here First (Ace/Border)

21 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

Always intertesting to quote Shakespeare in the context of the Ramones, but the Bard said (in King Lear), "Nothing will come of nothing". And the minimalist sound of the Ramones didn't come from nothing. They unashamedly drew on Fifties and Sixties pop like girl groups, Phil Spector productions (such as shame he would screw them over when recording them), the Beach Boys, the... > Read more

Time Has Come Today

Dead Rat Orchestra: The Guga Hunters of Ness (Critical Heights/Southbound)

20 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

Although their name suggests they aren't making a bid for mainstream attention, this British ensemble here serve up a soundtrack album which is rather more interesting than its odd title. As in New Zealand where certain families have a traditional right to collect mutton birds from remote islands way to the south in dangerously unforgiving waters, so too the people of Ness on the isle of... > Read more

The Geshin and the Guga

Pin Group: Ambivalence (Flying Nun)

19 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

In his liner notes to this important reissue from Flying Nun, Bruce Russell makes the point that this collection has not only historical significance -- the Pin Group's Ambivalence was the first single on the fledgling Flying Nun label in '81 and ushered in a whole genre of underground New Zealand rock -- but that musically they exemplified a sound which still has resonance. Their early... > Read more

A Thousand Sins

Dylan LeBlanc: Cast the Same Old Shadow (Rough Trade)

17 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

The 2010 debut album Pauper's Field by this 22-year old traveler from the dark side of alt.country was quite the quiet killer with its broody-noir quality leaven by flickers of Southern soul. But for this occasionally hypnotic outing he reaches even further, because his voice now possesses more power and emotional range as he aims for Buckley-like grandeur. The musical settings are... > Read more

The Ties That Bind

JEFF the Brotherhood: Hypnotic Nights (Warners)

17 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Perhaps this Nashville duo should call themselves “Jeff the Bruvverhood” as their debts to the Ramones (dense and fuzzy pop, aural references to Sixties girl groups etc) are splattered across many of these 11 songs co-produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach who has brought out a marginally more pop element from them. So reference points might now include garageband Beach... > Read more

Country Life

Seva Hifi: Early (Sugarlicks)

17 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

As a genre, Pacific Soul has some very credible ancestors, not the least being Grace (who seem largely forgotten these days) and the funk-influenced Ardijah. Each generation will bring what they will to the encompassing style and so this trio -- Baz Suamili of Niuean heritage, Fijian percussionist Levani Vosasi and Lebanese-Kiwi producer Gmuva -- pull threads of reggae (Fiafia Dub is here),... > Read more

Fiafia Dub

James Yorkston: I was a Cat from a Book (Domino)

13 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

Much as I have enjoyed and admired a couple of previous albums by this Scottish folk singer, this album -- under the most fey title in living memory -- just strikes me as inane, precious, pretentiously understated, awkwardly and unpoetically phrased . . . Just phenomenally dull in my hearing (and this from someone who actually liked the guy's previous stuff remember). An album of... > Read more

Just as Scared

Chuck Perkins: A Love Song for Nola (Trikont)

12 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

Those with a rose-tinted view of New Orleans are usually those who haven't been there and taken a wrong turn into a street where menace seeps from the walls at knifepoint. They are often people seduced by the idea of "jazz" and partytime and haven't heard the bruising and distinctive rap which slams out of the place, or read a Big Easy crime statistic. In recent times there have... > Read more

We Ain't Dead Yet

The xx: Coexist (Young Turks)

10 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

With this lush but spare, sometimes emotionally cool but always warmly realised second album The xx run the happy risk of being the new Portishead for downbeat lovers, pouting girls and sensitive boys. There are broken hearts aplenty here - like Blue Nile easing towards the Cocteau Twins -- but the spacious settings, low-key delivery and quasi-ambient sound tip this into considered... > Read more

Missing

Mark Knopfler: Privateering (Mercury)

10 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Be interesting to know how many of the 30 million who bought Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms could name singer-guitarist Mark Knopfler's previous album (Get Lucky and not bad, since you ask). Given his naturally glum and sanguine demeanor – in interviews anyway, he might be a prankster at home – his disposition always seemed more inclined to the melancholic than Twisting by... > Read more

Haul Away

Bob Dylan: Tempest (Sony)

10 Sep 2012  |  2 min read  |  3

While music magazines and rock bloggers are exercising their opinion about the Rolling Stones announcing a new tour after five years – just four dates so far – to celebrate 50 years since their formation (most writers asking “Why?” or commenting on their irrelevance), Bob Dylan just keeps traveling on his own road, indifferent to opinion, time and the world in... > Read more

Scarlet Town

Andre Williams and the Sadies (Yep Roc)

10 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

The rum-gargling mid-70s soulman Williams speak-sings from the pit of anger, despair and his gravel-pit throat about America (“the mens are dogs, the women are hogs, but that's not a bad thing, it's better than livin' in . . . Africa”) and offers a streetlife philosophy of tough times, crime, addiction and poverty. This tough ol' bird wrote Shake a Tail Feather back in the... > Read more

Bored

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Wreck and Ruin (Liberation)

10 Sep 2012  |  2 min read  |  1

One of the more extraordinary achievements of Australian husband-wife team Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson hasn't been top selling albums and awards (together or solo), it has been how they have won over those outside of the mainstream country audience. Certainly they bring some alt.country cachet and Nicholson's songs on his solo albums have been more along that trajectory, but for the... > Read more

Your Sweet Love

Ray Woolf: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy)

7 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

The problem with any Ray Woolf compilation -- a man who has been in the New Zealand entertainment game for 50 years -- is even if it narrows the focus to just his first decade as this does, is: What agenda does it serve? Even in that decade -- in fact more so, given the tectonic shifts of taste and styles in the Sixties -- Woolf was moving constantly in his musical career: from working with... > Read more

Bengal Tiger

Various Artists: With Love, A Pot of Flowers (Big Beat/Border)

5 Sep 2012  |  2 min read

By curious coincidence (nope, not ironic just chance) this collection of slightly garageband but lightlydelic US pop arrived the same day I learned Scott McKenzie -- of San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) fame -- had died. He was 73, which struck me as ridiculously old, but then again that makes sense when you do the maths: 1967 when that was a big soundtrack to the hippie... > Read more

Slave of Desire

Cat Power: Sun (Matador)

4 Sep 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

On the haunting Human Being here, a slinky electronica-driven piece which slides under the skin and into the subconscious, Cat Power -- out from under the cloak of bankruptcy and a broken relationship -- speaks of the rights you have: you've got your own voice so sing, you've got two hands so go make anything, we've got rules to break and mistakes to make . . . She also notes you can see... > Read more

3,6,9

Sean Rowe: The Salesman and the Shark (Anti)

3 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

New York singer-songwriter Rowe's indie release Magic of 2009 (re-released by his new label Anti 18 months ago) inevitably drew comparisons with Tom Waits for its sobering and poetic reflections on life, religion and an America gone to seed. His road-worn baritone, musical references to battered blues and empty-bottle ballads equally recalled label-mate Waits. While those aural and... > Read more

The Lonely Maze

Los Straitjackets: Jet Set (Yep Roc)

3 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

With guitarist Peter Posa's White Rabbit retrospective topping the charts for the fourth week, this collection of echo-heavy cocktail hour and retro-rock guitar tracks by this long-running American cult outfit (in Mexican wrestling masks) might just have the serendipity of timing. From the dramatic blackjack crack and pistol shot of the opener Crime Scene and the increasingly furious... > Read more

Aerostar

Greg Fleming and the Trains: Edge of the City (LucaDiscs)

27 Aug 2012  |  3 min read  |  1

Some albums come with lyrics sheets which you think must be embarrassing for the "songwriter". Not so Aucklander Greg Fleming whose lyrics are so economic that as you listen you can picture the scenarios and characters. Yet look at the printed words and you realise how refined and crisp they are, and have left huge gaps where you've filled in the faces, places and details. In... > Read more

More Time

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes (4AD)

27 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read

Pink's unfocused, shapeless and sometimes lazy turn at the Aotea Square Laneway Festival was disappointing for all but deaf loyalists. And surprising too, because he'd seemed an oddball perfectionist plundering pop's past and obscure byways for ideas. Mercifully this album's title is a joke: the surreal and often rude lyrics (the nympho song), stylistic pastiches (disco to Beach Boys?... > Read more

Kinski Assassin