Music at Elsewhere

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Various Artists: John Cale, Conflict and Catalysis (Big Beat/Border)

2 Apr 2012  |  2 min read

Although his former comrade in the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, gets the column inches and slavish devotion, a serious career consideration would say John Cale has made the more interesting music and, as a producer, certainly had his fingerprints on some of the most exceptional and/or interesting albums of the rock era. This non-chronological 20 track collection of some his Cale's... > Read more

Needles for Teeth

Various Artists: Fender; The Golden Age 1950-1970 (Ace/Border)

29 Mar 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

Any album which is dedicated to a brand of guitar -- no matter how legendary, as Fender is -- will always be uneven, depending on what kind of music you like. So right at the end in the ad for Fender guitars when country singer Jan Howard hails the brand for being perfect for country pickers, that hardly sits with material like Dale Hawkins' Susie-Q, the Ventures' Walk Don't Run, Booker T... > Read more

I Fought the Law

Fly My Pretties: Fly My Pretties IV (Loop CD/DVD)

28 Mar 2012  |  2 min read

Less a band in the traditional sense and more an umbrella organisation which allows for members of the collective to shine, Fly My Pretties have also taken their own route into the hearts of New Zealand audiences. As with Split Enz all those decades ago, FMP avoid the indignity of boozed-up pub crowds and prefer to play theatre settings where not only do people listen but they can also... > Read more

Space Cadet

Various Artists: Time to Go; The Southern Psychedelic Movement 1981-86 (Flying Nun)

27 Mar 2012  |  2 min read  |  5

When I wrote the liner notes to a couple of collections of New Zealand psychedelic music from the late Sixties/Early Seventies (see here), I was obliged to offer the uncomfortable reminder to cooler-than-thou people who were "there at the time" that the drugs which inspired the movement in the USA and UK were not as readily available in this country as many might have thought, or even... > Read more

Russian Rug

Lee Ranaldo: Between the Times and the Tides (Matador)

26 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

Anyone who doesn't hear a throbbing Flying Nun band turned up to 11 here -- Bats, Clean, some solo Chris Knox even -- just hasn't been paying attention. There is a frisson of familiarity about the powerful chords and driving momentum of some of these songs (Lost, but Off the Wall especially where Ranaldo sounds like Michael Stipe fronting a Bats-Clean supergroup) but that takes... > Read more

Xtina As I Knew Her

Michael Kiwanuka: Home Again (Universal)

26 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read

London-born to Ugandan parents, Michael Kiwanuka has become something of a "next big thing" in the British music scene, but on the evidence of this quietly confident debut album he seems to vindicate the praise being heaped on him. It's not just that he connects to the soul and spirit of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks (the Afro-horn influenced opener Tell Me a Tale), and a folk-soul... > Read more


Farrar/Yames/Parker/Johnson: New Multitudes (Universal)

26 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

Some context? Woody Guthrie – whose words prompted this album by an semi-supergroup – died in 1967, around the time Taylor Swift's parents were born. A model for the young Bob Dylan (now 70) and the folk movement of the early 60s, Guthrie also inspired Joe Strummer (who called himself “Woody” in his pre-Clash) and Springsteen. About 15 years ago... > Read more


Sam Gray Singing; Songs About Humans (Raw Onion)

26 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

This album by an expat New Zealander currently in Austria (but clearly itinerant in Europe and he tours, the album recorded in Oslo and released through a company in Denmark), is one which may delight, bewilder and annoy in just about equal proportions . . . and is quite uncategorisable. For want of a better term I would suggest "post-prog avant-classical alt.rock" and should tell... > Read more


Jim White: Where It Hits You (Yep Roc)

19 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read

The idiosyncratic Jim White – whose music is suffused in the dark Southern literary tradition as much as (more alt than most -- was the central figure in the remarkable doco Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus as he traveled around backroads and broke-down townships ruminating on Christianity and country music. A troubled man for troubled times, and now... > Read more

Epilogue to a Marriage

Dion: Tank Full of Blues (Blue Horizon)

19 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

Dion's first hits – the classics Runaround Sue and The Wanderer – came before the Beatles even got into a British recording studio and by then, in his early 20s, he'd already been treated for a heroin habit. In the mid Sixties -- because the Beatles-lead British Invasion swept aside artists like himself --  he quit aiming for the pop charts and delved into blues and for... > Read more

I Read it in the Rolling Stone

Field Music: Plumb (Shock)

19 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

Having been spectacularly underwhelmed by the much acclaimed previous albums by this British band doesn't mean I don't come to another hoping for the best. But the best here has always be the property of their predecssors and it would only be the most short-concentration span -- or 15-year old -- reviewer who didn't start ticking off the accumulation of source material (Beatles and Beach... > Read more

Is This the Picture?

The Eastern: Hope and Wire (Rough Peel Records/Rhythmethod)

12 Mar 2012  |  1 min read  |  3

The self-titled 09 debut and Arrows ('10) by this Christchurch band alerted many to their poetic, political and bare-knuckle country-influenced songs which sit alongside Springsteen's working class balladry, the rambunctious Pogues, whisky-voiced Steve Earle, pub rocking Dr Feelgood and Cold Chisel's open-road truths. Their range is given full rein on this ambitious but exceptional... > Read more

The James Girl

Bruce Springsteen: Wrecking Ball (Sony)

12 Mar 2012  |  3 min read  |  6

By design and sometimes by chance, Bruce Springsteen has frequently tapped into the emotional state of the American republic. He has documented the lives of outsiders and the dispossessed, the blue collar workers, lost boys and lonely girls, and – when more recently linking with the Pete Seeger tradition on the album We Shall Overcome; The Seeger Sessions – the lost spirit of... > Read more

Jack of All Trades

Sharon Van Etten: Tramp (Jagjauwar)

12 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

Among the many this New Jersey singer-songwriter thanks on her third album are Aaron and Bryce Dessner (the National), Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio) and Zach Condon (Beirut); her “recommended listening” list of almost 30 includes Bon Iver, Kurt Vile and War on Drugs; and the album is dedicated to John Cale. All valid reference points for her folk-poetry gone to indie.rock... > Read more


Whirimako Black/Richard Nunns: Te More (Rattle)

7 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read

This gentle, hypnotic and spiritual album seems a natural consequence of all that has gone before from these two artists: Whirimako Black's moving songs in te reo (especially her exceptional Kura Huna with Russel Walder) and Richard Nunns' longtime exploration of the ambient aspects of taonga puoro. Stripped right back to a warm and beautifully spacious simplicity, these original songs are... > Read more

Ororuarangi Suite Part 1

Ruthie Foster: Let It Burn (Fuse/Border)

5 Mar 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

After her thrilling appearance before the sad figure of BB King at a concert last year -- and I retract not a word of what I said here about King, he was woeful -- you'd hardly think Ruthie Foster needs any assistance. She seemed to be quite some package: she had a voice which went from gospel and soul to blues and rock and reggae, could play driving and rhythmic guitar and wrote strong... > Read more

Everlasting Light

Shearwater: Animal Joy (Sub Pop)

5 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read

Jonathan Meiburg -- the mainman in Shearwater, a member of Austin's Okkervil River and a diligent ornithologist with an interest in distant places -- doesn't want for ambition. Shearwater previously released a trilogy of albums (or “triptych” as Sub Pop had it) about the effect of the changing global environment and Mankind on the planet, and specifically on remote islands.... > Read more

You As You Were

The Amazing: Gentle Stream (Subliminal/Southbound)

5 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

If you thought Sweden these days was all The Girl with a Bee in Her Bonnet and the killing sprees on Wallander, then The Amazing are here to reassure you that gentle psychedelic trip-rock with a folk edge is still there to let you lie down in the long grass . . . without the fear some psychokiller former-Nazi is lurking with a knife. While they have a lovely pastoral feel in Christoffer... > Read more

International Hair

Bears: Greater Lakes (Misra/Southbound)

5 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read

Breezy pop – from the Beach Boys through the Shoes and Wannadies to much overlooked recent acts like Camera Obscura, the Clientele and Institut Polaire – is a noble lineage of close harmonies, choruses and a backbeat. The preppy-looking Bears from Ohio (not to be confused with former Bowie guitarist Adrian Belew's “the Bears” also from Ohio) don't mess with... > Read more

You're Going

The Cramps: File Under Sacred Music; Early Singles 1978-81 (Munster Records/Southbound)

27 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

The seriously silly but fright-night funny, ridiculously retro but cutting-edge punk Cramps just kept cracking reductively simple covers of B-grade 50s rock'n'roll, raw rockabilly and thrash-trash two-minute songs beamed in from sci-fi drive-in movies. Their references, at the height of New York punk then New Wave, were surf rock guitars, coffin-kickers like Screaming Jay Hawkins and... > Read more

Love Me