Music at Elsewhere

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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

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

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

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

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

The Nudge: Big Nudge Pie (Keen)

15 Aug 2011    2

The primal, almost otherwordly moan most often over a relentless thudding rhythm – the sound of rural blues – or a gutteral growl which harks back to something more primitive have seldom been heard from New Zealand bands. Blues artists here generally aim for the raw edge of Chicago blues or the tough twang of Texas rock-blues. But this trio out of Wellington -- which... > Read more

It All Becomes Clear

Punches: Etheria (Punches/Arch Hill)

15 Aug 2011

Singer/bassist Kelly Sherrod and guitarist/singer James Duncan – both formerly in Dimmer among other previous band experiences, she now based in Nashville – follow the dreamy folk-psychedelia of their self-titled 2006 EP with this beguiling, hypnotic album recorded long distance and lowkey in distant home studios, which makes remarkable . . . although also a product of our... > Read more

Tools of the Trade

Various Artists: Waiata; Maori Showbands, Balladeers and Pop Stars (EMI)

15 Aug 2011

After the interest in -- and award-winning success -- of Chris Bourke's marvellous every-home-should-have-one book Blue Smoke, this double disc collection seems almost mandatory. It scoops up a swag of showbands (the Maori Troubadours, the Quin Tikis, Dalvanius and the Fascinations, the Maori Volcanics) and many mainstream performers (Jay Epae, John Rowles as Ja-Ar and also with with his... > Read more

Poi Poi Twist

Various Artists: The Great New Zealand Songbook; Souvenir Edition (Sony)

14 Aug 2011

Well this four CD collection certainly takes the sweat out of present-buying for those Rugby World Cup visitors who will wash up on our shores, and also will fill a gap in the Christmas stockings of family and friends abroad. Here the two previous editions of the Songbook (reviewed Vol 1 here and Vol 2 here) are kicked off by the All Blacks' rendition of the Ka Mate haka and then it is two... > Read more

Not Many

Seth Haapu: Seth Haapu (Sony)

11 Aug 2011

Although this suffers a little, but only a very little, from the showcasing which often attends any debut -- and has one of those now customary intro tracks which seem de rigueur on hip-hop albums, here the tasty but too brief Hurly Burly -- this is one enormously impressive collection from a young man who would seem to have important people at his side (Sony, family, arranger Godfrey de Grut... > Read more

Bones

The Sami Sisters: Happy Heartbreak! (Rhythmethod)

9 Aug 2011

Although a number of struggling and serious musicians have already, in my hearing, bemoaned the amount of publicity and profile this album is generating on, largely, the back of sister Madeleine's acting career, it would be a pretty hard heart that didn't melt just a little in face of these sassy pop songs. What makes it so smart is not just the clever production (Ed Cake with the sisters... > Read more

Oh Boy

AMMP: From the Back of the Sun (ampp.co.nz)

8 Aug 2011

You have to admire -- and be something in awe of -- this four-piece from Wellington. They set their controls at "epic: stadium width" and manage to write and deliver material which matches that enormous ambition. Living rooms feel far too small for their industrial strength, well-crafted U2-like sound so it's no surprise their new single Day One has picked up widespread rock radio... > Read more

Ironman

Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents: Keeping Time (Fuse/Border)

8 Aug 2011    1

Retro seems to be the way of the future if your current CD collection is made up of albums by Pete Molinari, Kittie Daisy and Lewis, Sonny and the Sunsets, the Young Veins etc. Most of these artists are fun but you suspect there's not much longevity in being quite so referential (Molinari is getting by on the skin of his teeth) and while I don't expect to hear another album from Nick Curran... > Read more

Love in Ruins

Katie Thompson: Impossible (Thompson)

8 Aug 2011

New Zealand singer-songwriter Katie Thompson clearly has a following. This album was funded to the tune of US$50,000 through Sellaband (where supporters chip in for the artist to record an album) and she has just been announced as the opening for an Elton John concert in Dunedin later in the year. That's pretty good for a girl from Hokitika on the West Coast. This mature outing -- just... > Read more

Fading Fast

17 Hippies: Phantom Songs (Hipster)

7 Aug 2011

Not the most promising band name in these tougher times, but this multi-lingual German neo-folk outfit (which played the Taranaki Womad this year) don't go the 20-minute guitar solo route, but rather their name reflects their origins in a Berlin squat and their collective mentality. With horns, banjo, ukulele, violin etc. they can move from oddball gypsy folk (Biese Bouwe/Bad Boys), to... > Read more

Blumen im Glas

Ray Manzarek/Roy Rogers: Translucent Blues (Blind Pig)

7 Aug 2011

Given his organ playing was such an integral part of the Doors' sound, it's surprising Ray Manzarek's subsequent four decade career has garnered so little attention, although to be fair it has thrown up few decent albums. I recall trading in his Carmina Burana within a week of getting it in the early Eighties and just last month I paid $5 for a vinyl copy of his '73 Golden Scarab and on... > Read more

River of Madness

The Close Readers: Group Hug (Austin)

3 Aug 2011

From the literary suggestion of the band name and the chief songwriter here – Damien Wilkins – you could guess some serious lyrical chops. Wilkins is founding editor of the literary magazine Sport, and teaches creative writing at Victoria University in Wellington. He also has some small music credentials though. In the early Seventies he was in the Jonahs who once opened... > Read more

The Arch

Panda Bear: Tomboy (Inertia)

2 Aug 2011

At an indie.rock festival in Auckland earlier this year which saw nervous student radio kids blinking into the light, a friend turned to me and noted the number of young bands these days which name themselves after small furry animals. Sort of safe, sort of adolescent, just letting go of the teddy bear perhaps? True. Panda Bear -- aka Noah Lennox of Animal Collective -- isn't quite in... > Read more

Slow Motion