Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

The Rubens: The Rubens (Ivy League)

8 Oct 2012  |  <1 min read

Australia's earnest Rubens may wrap their album in bright colours but that floral-delic rocket crashed into a wasteland is a metaphor: this is teen agony pop-rock about having love shot down (My Gun), coming to terms with yourself (“took something bad to show me what I had” on Never Be the Same), struggling with putting the blame on someone (the aching but tune-avoiding Lay It... > Read more


Van Morrison: Born to Sing; No Plan B (Exile)

1 Oct 2012  |  1 min read  |  3

Because he's released many indifferent or awful albums in recent decades (the prosecution calls What's Wrong With This Picture of 2004), one of Van Morrison's best – the appropriately titled Keep It Simple, 2008 – went largely overlooked. It was refined, focused and he sounded almost at ease with the world. Almost. While this isn't quite up there with that, its... > Read more

If in Money We Trust

Sera Cahoone: Deer Creek Canyon (Sub Pop)

1 Oct 2012  |  <1 min read

Seattle-based Cahoone keeps good company. Early on she drummed in Band of Horses, has toured with Grand Archives, and co-produced this with Thom Monahan who does those duties for Devendra Banhart and Vetiver. Her album Only As the Day is Long four years ago announced a mature, thoughtful writer taking a lead from Neil Young's early acoustic albums into rewarding areas of self-analysis... > Read more

And Still We Move

The Doubtful Sounds: The Pop Album (

1 Oct 2012  |  1 min read

On the brief opening track here Doubtful Sounds promise "a pop album you'll want to listen to" and thereafter deliver a sort of early Flying Nun guitar strum'n'jangle which brings to mind early Chills, Bats et al. So the promise of "a pop album that'll make you smile" is true in one aspect, smiles of recognition. Recorded in Auckland, sounding Christchurch/Dunedin... > Read more


Go Stop Go: Go Stop Go (Luca Discs)

30 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

Elsewhere has always had a soft spot for decent pop music of all persuasions, whether it be uplifting power pop, jangly guitars, affecting heartbreak/bedroom mope Pop Frenzy stuff or . . . The thing about disposable pop music is that it can be hard to shake off. So, not so disposable after all. Go Stop Go from Auckland deliver various kinds of pop from the driving single/opener If You... > Read more


Antony and the Johnsons: Cut the World (Unspk)

24 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

There are many people these days -- Leonard Cohen, Laurie Anderson, Bjork, Rufus Wainwright (who delivered an exceptional, witty, sometimes emotionally intense, upbeat then flamboyantly outre show on Friday night in Auckland), Scott Walker, Dudley Benson and many others -- who exist within the broad parameters of "rock culture" (because that's where they are mostly interviewed,... > Read more

I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy

Beachwood Sparks: The Tarnished Gold (Sub Pop)

24 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Given this is the first album in over a decade by this Californian jangle-pop/country-rock group – whose reference points are Buffalo Springfield and Laurel Canyon bands of the late 60s/early 70s -- it's perhaps best to trace their lineage backwards. Drummer Aaron Sperske recently spent time in Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (Mr Pink guests here), guitarist Dave Scher toured as... > Read more

Leave That Light On

The Bemsha Swing: Against Friends and Lovers (Muzai)

24 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Courageous and/or foolhardy is a furious post-punk bassist and guitaring duo (with a pneumatic drill drum machine, buzz-shred guitar chords) which would name itself after a Thelonious Monk tune. That seems designed to incur wrath and condemnation, but fortunately jazz aficionados are not going to venture into this world of bruising but white heat pop-rock delivered with widescreen intensity... > Read more

Piano Wire Promises

Dinosaur Jr: I Bet on Sky (Play It Again Sam)

24 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

The favourable reviews and fan reception for this album -- their third since hatchets were buried and they reformed in 2005 -- have tended to emphasise that there is something comfortable and familiar about Dinosaur Jr here, and that it somewhat downplays the thrilling noise of their first incarnation. All true. So another way of looking at that might be a disappointing, unchallenging... > Read more

Pierce the Rain

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 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


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

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