Music at Elsewhere

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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

Hollie Smith and Mara TK: Band of Brothers Vol 1 (EMI)

1 Aug 2011    1

Although this collaboration with Mara TK of the electronica outfit Electric Wire Hustle will doubtless be read in some circles as a departure for Smith, most often known for her sky-scaling soul style -- as she notes in this interview with Elsewhere -- this is just growth. And because Smith's work and difficulties have been lived out in the public domain after that high profile experience... > Read more

Transcendence

Brett Dennen: Lover Boy (Dualtone/Border)

1 Aug 2011

This fine singer-songwriter who is clearly in the pop camp on this outing, has appeared a couple of times previously at Elsewhere but never seems to get much attention elsewhere -- except when some songs appeared on US television shows. On this upbeat collection he manages to turn a funeral into a reason to celebrate life and in the liner notes he says, "This is an ode to the wonderful... > Read more

Can't Stop Thinking About You

STKS: Rhythm and Brown (M4U Records)

1 Aug 2011

In November 2010, when most media people were looking the other way unfortunately, a new Auckland-based record label M4U launched itself with a showcase of its talent in a hip bar on Ponsonby Rd. The two most impressive acts bookended the night: the terrifyingly talented young singer Ria who stopped the chatter from her first soulful notes, and at the end the rather more mature... > Read more

Ignite

Harry Manx and Kevin Breit: Strictly Whatever (Canada Factor/Southbound)

1 Aug 2011

These two "mature" singer-guitarists from Canada have appeared at Elsewhere previously with their fine In Good We Trust album, and Manx on his ownsome with a reissue of a 2001 album (here). It would be fair to observe that their expansive oeuvre (blues, alt.country, folk, nods to recent Dylan etc) on a variety of instruments (lap slide, National steel, electric sitar, mandolin,... > Read more

Carry My Tears Away

Black Wings: Meltwater (Powertool)

29 Jul 2011

When a band names itself Black Wings and opens an album with tracks entitled Grave and Straight Jacket you know it should come with that warning sign they have at theme parks: "This is a dark ride". And these dark rides have their musical references in early Chills and Cure with a smattering of the dreamscape the Church brought to Priest = Aura. The thrum and rolling hum which... > Read more

The Pahiatua Track

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers: Starlight Hotel (Signature/Border)

28 Jul 2011    1

Les alt. than country, Zoe Muth from Seattle invites favourable comparisons with Eilen Jewell and early Emmylou Harris, and a whole host of Nashville writers who are smart enough to still have their hearts in the honky-tonks. These are pedal steel and mandolin stories which cut out the fat and get right down to the sad and lonely bones of heartache or true friendship, or kick along with that... > Read more

New Mexico

Pitch Black: Rarities and Remixes (Remote)

25 Jul 2011

New Zealand's premier electronica act Pitch Black -- Paddy Free and Mike Hodgson -- have also been its most exportable as they have taken their innovative shows (lights, cameras, live action) to a global audience via installations, exclusive parties, fashion shows and the like. Their albums have always been stand alone items however which work just as well in the absence of the light show... > Read more

Kaikoura Dub (from Whale Rider)

Okkervill River: I Am Very Far (Jajaguwar)

25 Jul 2011

The last appearance of Texas' Okkervil River was them providing emotional support and the musical context for damaged cult figure Roky Erickson on his exceptional, moving True Love Cast Out All Evil. Their singer/songwriter Will Sheff is one of the smartest around (he writes the most extraordinary and emotionally insightful ballads) and has a keen sense of pop history which he draws on... > Read more

Rider

Richard Thompson: The Folk City Broadcast (Left Field Media)

25 Jul 2011    2

There seem no half-measures with the legendary English singer-guitarist Richard Thompson. People either “get” him or – despite acclaim as one of Britain's greatest guitarists, the OBE and honorary PhD he received this year, and being credited as founding British folk-rock with Fairport Convention in the early 70s – they remain indifferent to, or ignorant of, his... > Read more

Walking on a Wire

Gomez: Whatever's On Your Mind (Shock)

25 Jul 2011

Split between the UK and USA, seven studio albums into their career and with songwriters Ian Ball and Ben Ottewell having released solo albums (rusty voiced Ottewell's being the excellent alt.folk Shapes and Shadows) hardly seems to have damaged Gomez, who started on a career high when they won the '98 Mercury Prize for their Bring It On debut, an accolade crippling to a lesser band.... > Read more

I Will Take You There

Vetiver: The Errant Charm (SubPop)

25 Jul 2011

Although on the receiving end of polite but unimpressed reviews in some circles, there's no denying the quiet charm of this album which suggests last light in California and the sun glinting off the top of small waves which roll onto a warm beach as lovers are silhouetted at the water's edge. Although they haven't entirely abandoned their former folk influences in favour of Brian Wilson... > Read more

Fog Emotion

Brian Eno: Drums Between the Bells ((Warp)

19 Jul 2011

Brian Eno first encountered the work of poet/spoken word artist Rick Holland more than a decade ago and despite some small attempts to collaborate things didn't come to much. Until now. Here Eno creates the textural soundbeds for these readings of Holland's work by various people (himself included) and sometimes they have a drilling, intense electrostatic quality (Glitch, Sounds Alien,... > Read more

Pour It Out

The Antlers: Burst Apart (French Kiss)

18 Jul 2011

The previous album by New York's Antlers -- Hospice, reviewed here -- was so impressive musically and in its conceptual ambition I'm at a loss to know why I didn't include in the Best of Elsewhere 2010 list. More fool me. It wouldn't have been to everyone's taste as I noted, but my final line about singer/guitarist/writer Peter Silberman ("a major talent emerging") is confirmed by... > Read more

Hounds