Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Music at Elsewhere

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The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Orange + Experimental Remixes (Shout Factory/Southbound)

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Orange + Experimental Remixes (Shout Factory/Southbound)

The JSB Explosion's early catalogue has undergone the remastering/expansion process but here's the essential starting point on any investigation: Orange from '94 was their career highpoint, an album which dragged their alt.rock/Elvis-on-speed, rock'n'roll blues into mainstream attention for its concise, harmonica-wheezing, Cramps-like energy and challengingly brittle sound. By this time they... more >>

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Brenda

17 Jan 2011    1

Joe Cocker: Hard Knocks (Sony)

Joe Cocker: Hard Knocks (Sony)

Cocker at 66 is candid enough to say that the idea behind this album was to get him on radio because -- good though his last one Hymn For My Soul was -- it didn't sell as expected. That meant bringing in another producer (Matt Serletic who had done good work for Collective Soul and Matchbox 20), getting the word out for radio-friendly singles from songwriters and tweaking things with... more >>

Joe Cocker: I Hope

17 Jan 2011

Chris Thompson: Chris Thompson (Sunbeam)

Chris Thompson: Chris Thompson (Sunbeam)

Although it is common enough to acclaim great New Zealand bands from the late Sixties/early Seventies -- especially those with an acid-rock tinge -- as never quite getting their due internationally (Human Instinct, Ticket, the Fourmyula etc), the story of folk singer Chris Thompson has rarely been told. I have just the one album by him -- the hugely impressive Minstrelsy from '77 -- but (as... more >>

Chris Thompson: Where is My Wild Rose?

17 Jan 2011

Dale Hawkins: Oh! Suzy-Q; The Definitive and Remastered Edition (Hoodoo)

Dale Hawkins: Oh! Suzy-Q; The Definitive and Remastered Edition (Hoodoo)

If he'd done nothing else other than his tough-edged swamp-rockabilly hit Suzy-Q, Dale Hawkins out of Louisiana would still have made the rock'n'roll history books: Suzy-Q was co-written with guitarist James Burton who plays the stinging and memorable solo, and it took Hawkins to the Apollo in Harlem where he was the first white rock'n'roll/rockabilly singer to play that prestigious place.... more >>

Dale Hawkins: Suzy-Q

17 Jan 2011

Ticket: Awake (Aztec/Southbound)

Ticket: Awake (Aztec/Southbound)

When Kiwi acid-rockers Ticket from the early Seventies re-formed towards the end of 2010 for a couple of gigs it was hoped that this reissue of their trippy classic, Hendrix-inspired album would be available at the door. But that didn't happen because . . . Lots of reasons I suppose. But here it is now, remastered and in a gatefold sleeve with typically excellent liner notes by Nick... more >>

Ticket: Broken Wings

17 Jan 2011

The Volcano Diary: The Volcano Diary (NoVo Arts)

The Volcano Diary: The Volcano Diary (NoVo Arts)

There is a considerable amount I don't know about this outfit from Seattle which is fronted by Alicia Dara. In fact I think I've just told you all I do know. But there is more to be said: this beguiling nine-song album arrived from the same source as the excellent My Pet Dragon (but is completely different), and Dara's enticingly soft but assured vocals just drag you into these... more >>

The Volcano Diary: Pacifica

17 Jan 2011    1

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

Having always been a fan of Bob Seger in that classic period in the mid Seventies (especially the Stranger in Town album) it was a real pleasure to shove this disc in the car player and crank it up . . . because by halfway through the first track I was thinking this was the great and largely forgotten Bob accidentally put in a Kid Rock cover. Only to find . . . Yep, from the raw vocals... more >>

Kid Rock: Times Like These

16 Jan 2011

Lloyd Cole: Broken Record (Tapete/Yellow Eye)

Lloyd Cole: Broken Record (Tapete/Yellow Eye)

Lloyd Cole may not command that massive audience he once did, but his modest tours always pull the loyalists -- and his songwriting skills haven't deserted him, even though his great chart-worrying album Rattlesnakes with the Commotions was closer to 30 years ago than 20. This new album, recorded in New York and spare in its arrangements for acoustic guitar and little more, puts those... more >>

Lloyd Cole: Oh Genevieve

16 Jan 2011

Daniel Hewson: This Moment (Scrynoose)

Daniel Hewson: This Moment (Scrynoose)

Guitarist Daniel Hewson lives in easy-going Kerikeri at the top of New Zealand's North island -- which perhaps accounts for a couple of impressions after hearing this: it's because of his location that he isn't better known (he's off the radar and keeps to himself as it were), and for the cool vibe that this collection gives off. It's like summertime with the occasional bossa beat. But... more >>

Daniel Hewson: Because of This

16 Jan 2011

7 Walkers: 7 Walkers (Response/Southbound)

7 Walkers: 7 Walkers (Response/Southbound)

Singer-guitarist Papa Mali here has a story: the late bluesman John Campbell spotted his talent when Mali (born Malcolm Welbourne in Louisiana) was in his teens; he was given his nickname by reggae figurehead Burning Spear while playing in Jamaica; he brought reggae and Southern funk together with rock'n'roll . . . But he's only one name here: the rest include Willie Nelson (on the... more >>

7 Walkers: King Cotton Blues (with Willie Nelson)

10 Jan 2011

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra: Rockinghorse (Rhino)

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra: Rockinghorse (Rhino)

The celebrity-guest collections and R'N'B Orchestra discs from Jools Holland have often been tasty but a few not entirely successful. This sometimes breathless rush of boogie-woogie piano, big brass and handclap gospel-blues comes off a winner from the opener, a thumping and exciting duet with New Orleans piano legend Allen Toussaint and Holland playing organ. Then Ruby Turner –... more >>

Jools Holland with Allen Toussaint: Whirlawayi

10 Jan 2011

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010: READERS' CHOICES

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010: READERS' CHOICES

And the people have spoken. In addition to my own Best of Elsewhere 2010 list below, this year readers got to have their say -- and pleasingly many picked albums which I simply didn't get. Sorry, the National still don't do it for me  . . . but came through with a lot of fans. No matter: it's all down to taste, the mood of the moment and such. So here follows the main albums... more >>

12 Dec 2010    2

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga: Songs from the Bottom of a Hilltop (SOBCLS)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga: Songs from the Bottom of a Hilltop (SOBCLS)

Recently I heard this collection -- 400 copies only, two CDs, a thick booklet of artfully rendered lyrics, posters and more delivered in medium-sized pizza box -- being described as a cult item, bound to lose money, an ambitious conceit . . . but also pretty terrific. Right on all counts. Naming your ensemble after an obscure Norwegian politician (deceased) and having a group of around... more >>

Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga: Pizza Hall

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

Some of these songs heard at a distance -- just the sharp pop and guitar jangle coming through -- and you'd pin Justin Currie as a smart power pop singer-songwriter who might give the charts some real damage. But my guess is most people don't want emotional pessimism, venomous songs about partners and a seething rage bordering on self-loathing -- not to say a wide misanthropic streak -- as... more >>

Justin Currie: As Long As You Don't Come Back

12 Dec 2010    2

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)

After their last album Microcastle (one of Elsewhere's best of '08) this beguiling outfit seemed to go off the map, perhaps in part because of mainman Bradford Cox's side project as the equally fascinating (but different) Atlas Sound. If that last Deerhunter sounded like an astute distillation of diverse influences this slightly more low-key and surreptitious album owes very little obvious... more >>

Deerhunter: Basement Scene

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Unspk)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Unspk)

The most recent album by the emotionally damaged Daniel Johnston, Is and Always Was, found his often fragile and shaky acoustic pop placed in the context of a band -- and while it was fine to hear his songs that way (as he wanted) there was also a sense that their nakedness had been sacrificed. That isn't the case here as Roky Erickson -- the battered former singer in the Thirteenth Floor... more >>

Roky Erickson: Please Judge

12 Dec 2010    3

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Young Veins: Take a Vacation! (One Haven/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Young Veins: Take a Vacation! (One Haven/Southbound)

Here's my theory about The Young Veins, for what it's worth: they are aliens who crashed landed secretly in California behind a music store, got on the computer late at night and Googled "pop music". Disturbed by the cops they grabbed some band names and songs at random, fled with some instruments and have subsequently launched their pop invasion on the back of a charming hotpotch... more >>

The Young Veins: Cape Town

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Various Artists: Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Various Artists: Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

Subtitled “Alternative Takes on Congotronics”, this well-annotated double disc lets loose alternative and post-rock acts on the lo-fi but compelling music from Kinshasa dance clubs where cheap keyboards and beat-machines were slammed alongside traditional thumb piano, found instruments (pots'n'pans), megaphones, electric guitars and drums. The bands Konono No 1 and Kasai... more >>

Au Vs Masanka Sankayi: Two Labors

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

“You know kids go, 'Hey, when are you gonna make a record?',” Bruce Springsteen said in March 77, “I say, 'One of these days'.” And they were difficult days for the man they call The Boss. After his breakthrough album Born to Run in '75 – which sold around 10 million globally and took him to the covers of Newsweek and Time in the same week in October... more >>

Bruce Springsteen: Ain't Good Enough For You

12 Dec 2010    3

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

Here's a striking opening couplet on an album: "If you're gonna lead my country and you're gonna say it's free, I'm gonna need a little honesty . . . just a few honest words, it shouldn't be that hard". That these spare but blunt sentiments are delivered over cello rather than angry guitars make them even more powerful, and when Sollee says he doesn't need handshakes, fancy... more >>

Ben Sollee: Bend

12 Dec 2010    1