Music at Elsewhere

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Manos Achalinotopoulos: Flight on Light (Rattle)

14 Apr 2011

In the rather fruity liner notes here -- admittedly in translation -- the Greek clarinet player Achalinotopoulos speaks of the ocean of his childhood and how he imagined horizons from above, of here flying into uncharted territories of the unconscious, and of "one clarinet narrating seven stories, each in a continuous stream". And of not being limited by "the barriers of pattern,... > Read more

Manos Achalinotopoulos and Tim Prebble: Dragonlake

Meat Puppets: Lollipop (Megaforce)

12 Apr 2011

The very great Meat Puppets out of Arizona delivered exciting, desert-baked psychedelic rock with an edge of country and hard rock in the Eighties. If the collected lyrics of Curt Kirkwood would stump even the most dedicated thesis writer with an interest in surrealism, it hardly mattered. The guitars would sear off into the wide open spaces driven by a tight rhythm section of brother Cris... > Read more

Meat Puppets: Damn Thing

The Tin Syndrome: Artefacts Which Reason Ate 1980-83 (Jayrem)

12 Apr 2011

The Tin Syndrome were very much a Wellington band in a number of ways. Their reputation didn't translate much into the rest of New Zealand in the early Eighties, but more than that they also had what we might call "Wellington" concerns to the fore. If you live in the capital city of any Western country you are bound to see a lot of men in grey suits (politicians, bureaucrats,... > Read more

The Tin Syndrome: Plastic Bag (1980)

Shane Nicholson: Bad Machines (Liberation)

11 Apr 2011

Nicholson is one of the finest of Australia's singers-songwriters with his feet in alt.country and Americana, but he's as comfortable with Dylanesque wordplay in a strange narrative (Blueberry Pie with its "monkey with the golden tooth") as he is delivering emotionally weighted acoustic ballads (Trick Knee Blues). And as always he gets strong support from a tight band (which... > Read more

Shane Nicholson: Famous Last Words

Maggie Bjorklund: Coming Home (Bloodshot/Southbound)

11 Apr 2011

Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico have become something of a mark of quality when it comes to spacious sounding albums. They certainly showcased Marianne Dissard in that way and here -- even though they don't produce -- they appear with acclaimed pedal steel player Bjorklund from Denmark on an album which has all the spaciousness of Tucson skies, albeit a little more chilly... > Read more

Maggie Bjorklund: Insekt

Raul Malo: Sinners and Saints (Concord)

11 Apr 2011

The former frontman for the seemingly defunct Mavericks continues his credible solo career here on an album which unself-consciously bridges dramatic Spanish-influenced Tex-Mex, alt.country and stinging guitar rock, and which pulls his powerful vocals to the fore. You can't turn away from a voice this nail-hard and when it is arc-welded to his equally forceful guitar playing -- as on the... > Read more

Raul Malo: San Antonio Baby

Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style (Born and Bred)

11 Apr 2011

At one level this is another installment of raucous, shot-slamming, singalong rowdiness from Boston's Celtic-punk outfit . . . and in that it is not only effective and enjoyable. It certainly makes you want the bartender to splash another shot of whisky into your jar before you throw an arm around the shoulder of mate and bellow "burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while, I could... > Read more

Dropkick Murphys: Memorial Day

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

8 Apr 2011

After a series of fine albums, Ohio's Over the Rhine here -- with sympathetic producer Joe Henry – deliver their most sophisticated album to date, one with an ear on their European-cabaret sounding alt.country (with exceptional players such as steel guitarist Greg Leisz) in songs of uncertainty and reassurance, and torch ballads of love lost. Singer Karin Bergquist has seldom... > Read more

Over the Rhine: All My Favourite People

Little Bushman: Te Oranga (Little Bushman)

8 Apr 2011

Continuing their exploration of folk-influenced rock and the ethos, if not the actual sound, of Sixties psychedelic rock, this quartet (and friends) come over reflective and quasi-cosmic on this third studio album as they attempt to find middle ground between roots music/Maoritanga, social comment and the hi-tech world of the 21st century. That many of these are in opposition plays out... > Read more

Little Bushman: Dream of the Astronaut Girl Part II

The Fleshtones (featuring Lenny Kaye): Brooklyn Sound Solution (YepRoc)

6 Apr 2011

The limited edition of this album comes with a DVD doco about this New York garageband. It's entitled Pardon Us For Living But the Graveyard is Full and that's apt, the Fleshtones have been around forever (well, at least 30 years) and in all that time they have studiously avoided anything like polish or finesse. Here they crank out B-grade rock'n'roll grounded in Eddie Cochran,... > Read more

The Fleshtones: Daytripper

Buddy Miller: The Majestic Silver Strings (New West)

4 Apr 2011

Although a supergroup of guitarists is at the core here -- the great Miller (of Emmylou Harris' band and  Robert Plant's Band of Joy among others) brings on board Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz whose names are on albums by Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, many alt and straight country acts as well as ECM jazz albums -- the vehicles they use might not persuade enough... > Read more

Buddy Miller et al: Meds (with Lee Ann Womack)

k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang: Sing It Loud (Nonesuch)

4 Apr 2011

A common complaint amongst those who interpret the lyrics of others is that very few people write good words anymore. Incidentally Sinatra had the same gripe in the late Forties, although some might say he was just picking badly. Lang here with her new band (and they are superb, more in a minute) has no such problem with classy material, she co-write five songs with producer Joe Pisapia and... > Read more

k.d. lang: Perfect Word

Poly Styrene: Generation Indigo (Future Noise/Southbound)

4 Apr 2011

The voice, face and braces of X-Ray Specs back in the punk era, Poly Styrene had a sassy line in probing and poking at convention (even the codes of punk) and despite an intermittent career ever since she bounces back with this often satirical album driven by techno-beats and Seventies synths. She nails relationships on the internet (Virtual Boyfriend), the consumer socity (I Luv Ur... > Read more

Poly Styrene: I Luv Ur Sneakers

Peter Bjorn and John: Gimme Some (Cooking Vinyl)

4 Apr 2011

By giving themselves three thumbs up on the cover of this, their sixth album, Sweden's pop-friendly outfit are doubtless hoping for some similar critical consensus for their return to a more power pop sound after the rather more interesting but failed experiment of the darker Living Thing two years ago. Nothing here will rattle rafters or make anyone rewrite the book of pop, but these are... > Read more

Peter Bjorn and John: Down Like Me

Ben Ottewell:Shapes and Shadows (Shock)

1 Apr 2011

The name might not be familiar but from the first bar the voice certainly is. It belongs to that rusty balladeer in Gomez who here steps out with a classy, soulful solo debut of originals co-written with Sam Genders of the rather bent UK alt.folk outfit Tuung who have barely raised a ripple in this country. With a sound as distinctive as any in rock, Ottewell could get away with... > Read more

Ben Ottewell: Chose

Chris Hurn: Too Busy Dreamin' (Monkey)

1 Apr 2011

While owing a clear debt to Paul Simon, the young Dylan, early Donovan and others in the acoustic singer-songwriter category, this young guy from Lower Hutt just north of Wellington, New Zealand brings a pop sensibility to his writing (the openers here Watch Got and Only One I Need hook you immediately) and often a deliberately light touch (whistles, handclaps). Maybe that is in part due to... > Read more

Chris Hurn: Day of My Escape

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones: Here We Go Again (Blue Note)

29 Mar 2011

This cross-generational/cross-genre superstar triumvirate isn't as unusual as it appears on paper: There are two or fewer degrees of separation between the protagonists. Jones has toured and performed with Nelson (here); Willie and Waylon got together for their less-than-thrilling Two Men with the Blues project (CD/DVD); and Jones began life in Wynton's hometown of jazz. Given all that... > Read more

Willie, Wynton and Norah: I Love You So Much It Hurts

Sean Rowe: Magic (Anti)

28 Mar 2011

Because of the nature of his burred baritone -- and these profound and emotionally deep songs -- it would be wrong to say this debut by New York singer-songwriter Rowe is "exciting". That might give the impression of pulse-racing music  . . . and this isn't like that at all. Quite the opposite, it can be heart-stopping. But it is genuinely exciting to hear such a mature,... > Read more

Sean Rowe: Wet

Will Crummer: Shoebox Lovesongs (Ode)

28 Mar 2011    1

Perhaps because my father-in-law was a member of the short-lived and largely anonymous Sixties band the Samoan Surfriders (one album, a gem, no names on the cover) or maybe because I came to New Zealand from the chillier climes of Scotland, I have always felt a great affection for music of the Pacific. Probably not helped by my dad being in a danceband in New Zealand -- Roy Reid's... > Read more

Will Crummer: Naringa Koe

Who Slapped John: She Had Picasso's Child (UrbanHeadMusic)

28 Mar 2011

On a late-night (for him) phone call from the UK, Allan Evans -- who is Who Slapped John -- says although he hasn't lived in New Zealand for decades he still feels himself a Kiwi. Which is unusual for someone who was born in Liverpool, emigrated to New Zealand with his parents in the early Sixties, played in bands at high school and around Auckland (among them the Snipes which played at... > Read more

Who Slapped John: In Your Shadow