Music at Elsewhere

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George Harrison: Early Takes Vol 1 (Universal)

30 Apr 2012

George Harrison was perfectionist in the studio – 99 takes of Not Guilty and it still didn't make the Beatles' “White Album” – so there's something endearing, sincere and un-sculpted about these 10 demos, mostly of some of his early solo material (which was a disc included in the expanded Living in the Material World DVD/CD box set of last year). Folky,... > Read more

Behind That Locked Door

Elvis Costello and the Imposters: The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook (Universal)

27 Apr 2012

Some albums you really just have to see, and this is one of those. Some background: Elvis Costello and the Imposters took to the road in the US last year with a few dozen of his song on a spinning wheel and with a quick turn and a dart . . . You get the picture. It's obviously a lot of fun on the night and no one is cruising. Costello and band play like their lives depend on it for... > Read more

Watching the Detectives

Skank Attack: Here On Out (Skank)

26 Apr 2012    3

In theory something from this bold, wide and loud album could have appeared in our daily From the Vaults column, because these tracks date back to 1988 when this three-piece were -- by all accounts -- cutting a swathe through Wellington. That I cannot vouch for, but I can say if the band's name might suggest an alignment with the current reggae/dub scene in New Zealand's capital,... > Read more

Limbs Akimbo

Willis Earl Beal: Acousmatic Sorcery (XL)

23 Apr 2012

Beal's story is as interesting as this often engrossing debut album. In 2007 at age 23 after being discharged from the US army, he went and lived in the New Mexico desert while suffering from depression, then returned to Chicago, lived with his grandma and stole from the supermarket. He put up posters saying if you called his number he'd sing you a song. (Over 300 did). If you... > Read more

Take Me Away

Dictaphone Blues: Beneath the Crystal Palace (EMI)

23 Apr 2012

Like Marty McFly at the high school dance in Back to the Future, Ed Castelow of Dictaphone Blues has beamed himself back to crucial touchstones in pop-rock (classic Fifties chords, Beatles era choruses, Seventies power pop, American stadium rock from the Eighties) and distilled them into this shamelessly enjoyable collection which is smart enough to play spot-the-reference (Cheap Trick,... > Read more


Paul Weller: Sonik Kicks (Island)

23 Apr 2012    1

Aside from the excellent set list, when Paul Weller played the Powerstation in late 2010 what was so impressive and exciting was his impassioned delivery. You were left with the clear impression he was on that stage because he just had to sing those songs. That kind of visible, clenched-teeth commitment is rare -- and, if I'm honest, almost non-existent from so many New Zealand bands -- and... > Read more


Tono and the Finance Company: Up Here for Dancing (Tono)

16 Apr 2012

In one of the most engaging, seemingly simple but quietly resonant and loaded covers on any local album in recent years, comes this delightful collection by Anthonie Tonnon (aka Tono) and the flexible line-up of the Finance Company. Tono impressed hugely with his artful and observant EP Fragile Things in 2010, and those gifts for a memorable melody hitched to fascinating, often almost... > Read more


Bonnie Raitt: Slipstream (Proper)

16 Apr 2012    2

Everyone's favourite slide-playing redhead hasn't had an album since 2005, but from the opener here – a restlessly funky dump on proud snobs who Used to Rule the World – show she's wasting no time staking her claim again. Produced in part by Joe Henry – whose co-write with Loudon Wainwright You Can't Fail Me Now sounds tailor-made and a yearning partner to her... > Read more

You Can't Fail Me

The Dead Leaves: Cities on the Sea (LIberation)

16 Apr 2012

Three years ago with his name out front, Matt Joe Gow – formerly of Dunedin, longtime Australian resident – delivered the promising debut The Messenger which walked a line between and country-rock with some fine lyrics. Here – his name subsumed into the band – there's a smart shift to a kind of alt.pop-rock. Songs like the quietly dramatic Ordinary... > Read more


Gemma Ray: Island Fire (Shock)

13 Apr 2012

At a time when many young bands and singers seem nostalgic for an Eighties pop they never knew, it's refreshing in a weird way this British singer -- here on her third album -- is prepared to trawl rather more widely. Gemma Ray effortlessly notches up references to an oddball take on Fifties pop ( the delightful shoop-shoop ballad sound of "you should, should" Put Your Brain in... > Read more

Flood and a Fire

Michael Chapman: Rainmaker (Light in the Attic)

11 Apr 2012

British folk singer and rather special guitarist Michael Chapman has rarely had his dues outside of his native land, but his edgy style (sometimes with a band so nudging into rock-folk), and fierce intelligence are always worth rediscovering. You can hardly go wrong by starting here if the name is new to you. This is his exciting debut album from '69 reissued with a fine essay and half... > Read more

Thank You PK 1944

Black Seeds: Dust and Dirt (Black Seeds)

10 Apr 2012

Driving away from the recent Womad I said to my wife I hoped there might be a two year moratorium on reggae rhythms, it is just such an easy default position for so many bands and guaranteed to get people up having a good time. Nothing wrong with a good time of course, but the loping rhythm sometimes seem all bands need to do . . . and it gets kinda dull and obvious when one band after... > Read more

Loose Cartilage

The Verlaines: Untimely Meditations (Flying Nun)

10 Apr 2012

Of the original Flying Nun bands, the Verlaines – the flexible vehicle for Graeme Downes – are still the most ambitious. Downes' lyrical depth and mercurial melodies deliver durable albums -- like the previous Corporate Moronic -- which bristle with rage rather succumb to the comforts of age. And this one is no exception. Here in the angry opener Born Again Idiot the... > Read more

Beauty is Truth

Dr John: Locked Down (Warners)

9 Apr 2012    1

With all due respect to Dan Auerbach of Black Keys who helmed this fine album by one of the living legends into life, we have passed this way before with 71-year old Dr John, notably in '98 with the album Anutha Zone where the likes of Paul Weller, Jools Holland, members of Spiritualised, Primal Scream and Supergrass lined up to direct him back to his classic sound of the late Sixties.... > Read more


The Mars Volta: Noctourniquet (Warners)

9 Apr 2012

Cards on the table. Much as I loved the first Mars Volta album Deloused in the Comatorium and parts of Frances the Mute, much of what they have done since -- this demanding and often annoying album especially -- has left me rather cold. There's a willfullness about their being "different" which infects almost every ADHD track here, where ideas start but rarely reach any completion... > Read more


The Bombay Royale: You Me Bullets Love (Hope Street)

8 Apr 2012

Much as I enjoyed the theatrical conceit of this faux-Bollywood outfit from Melbourne at the recent Womad in New Zealand, I could also see immediately why this album of a faux-soundtrack (with a great title, admittedly) would appeal to the Arts Victoria funding agency which supported it. The Bombay Royale have exactly the right balance of irony and authenticity which arts funding people... > Read more


Various Artists: John Cale, Conflict and Catalysis (Big Beat/Border)

2 Apr 2012

Although his former comrade in the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, gets the column inches and slavish devotion, a serious career consideration would say John Cale has made the more interesting music and, as a producer, certainly had his fingerprints on some of the most exceptional and/or interesting albums of the rock era. This non-chronological 20 track collection of some his Cale's... > Read more

Needles for Teeth

Various Artists: Fender; The Golden Age 1950-1970 (Ace/Border)

29 Mar 2012    1

Any album which is dedicated to a brand of guitar -- no matter how legendary, as Fender is -- will always be uneven, depending on what kind of music you like. So right at the end in the ad for Fender guitars when country singer Jan Howard hails the brand for being perfect for country pickers, that hardly sits with material like Dale Hawkins' Susie-Q, the Ventures' Walk Don't Run, Booker T... > Read more

I Fought the Law

Fly My Pretties: Fly My Pretties IV (Loop CD/DVD)

28 Mar 2012

Less a band in the traditional sense and more an umbrella organisation which allows for members of the collective to shine, Fly My Pretties have also taken their own route into the hearts of New Zealand audiences. As with Split Enz all those decades ago, FMP avoid the indignity of boozed-up pub crowds and prefer to play theatre settings where not only do people listen but they can also... > Read more

Space Cadet

Various Artists: Time to Go; The Southern Psychedelic Movement 1981-86 (Flying Nun)

27 Mar 2012    5

When I wrote the liner notes to a couple of collections of New Zealand psychedelic music from the late Sixties/Early Seventies (see here), I was obliged to offer the uncomfortable reminder to cooler-than-thou people who were "there at the time" that the drugs which inspired the movement in the USA and UK were not as readily available in this country as many might have thought, or even... > Read more

Russian Rug