Music at Elsewhere

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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 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 Elbow: Build a Rocket Boys! (Universal)

19 Dec 2011    1

It's interesting to read the comments at Elsewhere after the previous Elbow album The Seldom Seen Kid in 2008 (which won them the Mercury Award that year): essentially the thread was, how come these guys aren't bigger? Good question, and maybe this one -- more reflective but still as gorgeously delivered as their previous outings -- will rectify the oversight. Guy Garvey here looks... > Read more

Elbow: Ticker Tape (non album track)

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 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 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 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 Ryan Adams: Ashes and Fire (Sony)

19 Dec 2011    1

Those with a passing interest in Ryan Adams' highly productive career -- which most recently stretched to published books of poetry -- will be understandably bewildered that there is a new album, given he announced his retirement in '09 . . . and subsequently kept releasing albums from his not inconsiderable song vaults. This solo album however is a return to his career with an album... > Read more

I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 The Bats: Free All the Monsters (Flying Nun)

19 Dec 2011

The rolling, aural signature of the Bats' guitars and locked-in rhythm section has always sounded at its best when it drops the tempo and engages with a romantically woozy sound which -- when married to lyrics of optimism and gentleness -- just brings a smile. This lovely album - which doesn't stray far from their template -- will have you smiling with recognition and warmth as it unveils... > Read more

When the Day Comes

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Tom Waits: Bad As Me (Anti)

19 Dec 2011    4

At the end of the local edition of this exceptional album -- Tom Waits' first studio album in seven years -- there is a disconcerting litany of images entitled with seeming certainty After You Die, but which in fact asks the more pointed question, "what is it like after we die?" Waits yowls through it like a man broken on a rack, and it's a scary ending to an album which touches... > Read more

Satisfied

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 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

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 Juju: In Trance (Real World)

19 Dec 2011

That alt.world between late 60s psychedelic blues-rock, frantic village folk, and fiery world music is a strange place. It's where LedZepp, speedmetal-folk, Afro-blues, the Mississippi Delta and a fiddle-playing Jimi Hendrix (who isn't Nigel Kennedy) come together and live in . . . if not harmony, then at least the same bar where they drink moonshine and palm wine. This album is... > Read more

Nightwalk

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