Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

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

The Blind Boys of Alabama: Retrospective (Stem/Southbound)

27 Mar 2011    1

With this long-running gospel-cum-doo wop group due in New Zealand for a concert in April with Aaron Neville and Mavis Staples, this triple disc originally released in 2007 gets a timely re-release. The Blind Boys have been around in name since 1939 and recording since the late Forties -- a couple of their founders only died in the past decade -- and they extended their repertoire from... > Read more

The Blind Boys of Alabama: He's Got What I Want

The Thomas Oliver Band: Baby, I'll Play (Rhythmethod)

23 Mar 2011

As with his fellow Wellingtonian Darren Watson, Thomas Oliver is a finalist in the blues category of the International Song Writing Competition to be judged in April 2011. The song is Goin' Home - which kicks off this rootsy, bluesy and album -- and the video of it released a year ago was named among the top 30 internationally at the Rushes Soho Shorts in London, and it... > Read more

The Thomas Oliver Band: Bad Talkin' Man

The Low Anthem: Smart Flesh (Nonesuch)

21 Mar 2011    2

Sin and death and guilt; archaisms like "apothecary", "Gatling gun" and "player piano"; harmonica, pump organ, violin, saw and cello; whiskey and gin; recorded in a freezing cold room in winter . . . all the right elements would seem to be in place for more rustic music grounded in an older America from educated urbanites. Smart Flesh is another mood piece of... > Read more

The Low Anthem: Golden Cattle

Asian Dub Foundation: A History of Now (Cooking Vinyl)

21 Mar 2011    1

Nobody would thank you for being so politically incorrect as to observe that much of this is just a politicised Asian-British version of nu-metal: lots of raging against the machine; rock guitars colliding with white-knuckle rap (with tabla); plenty of socio-political sloganeering (the title track which yells "you can't download me" and "living the history of now", which... > Read more

Asian Dub Foundation: In Another Life

The Strokes: Angles (Sony)

21 Mar 2011    1

When the Stokes out of New York invaded the airwaves and pop glossies a decade ago they came with an advance guard of salivating journalists and those who heard them as leading a ragged garageband revival by conjuring up the late Sixties/Seventies spirit of the Big Apple by referencing the Velvet Underground and dirty arse art-rock. The Strokes were, put another way, necessary for American... > Read more

The Strokes: Machu Picchu

Matt Langley: Featherbones (Hometown)

18 Mar 2011

Langley's rootsy EP Lost Companions of 2007 – recorded in Wellington – announced a mature lyricist and a singer with a delivery like the best Americana artists (James McMurtry particularly) with a little Dylanesque drawl. It went past most, and this debut album is doing the same with few mainstream media reviews, despite it including 7.13 for which he won... > Read more

Matt Langley: Love and Money

Papercuts: Fading Parade (Sub Pop)

18 Mar 2011

Although San Francisco's Jason Robert Quever – who is for most purposes Papercuts – opens this fourth album with the drilling indie.pop of Do You Really Wanna Know and the dreamy Do What You Will, which puts them in the lineage running from the power pop of Shoes in the late Seventies through the shoegaze dreamscapes of Neil Halstead's Slowdive and to his more... > Read more

Papercuts: The Messenger

Imelda May: Mayhem (Universal)

16 Mar 2011

Irish singer Imelda May Higham started her profesional life singing folk, rock'n'roll and rockabilly but has made her way towards saucy, raunchy old-time jazz while losing none of her original passions. Which is why on the recent Jeff Beck tribute to Les Paul she could weigh in with everything from rockabilly to haunting torch singing, so much so that you could have been mistaken for... > Read more

Imelda May: Sneaky Freak

Marianne Dissard: L'abandon (Dissard/Rhythmethod)

14 Mar 2011

Although her impressive debut album L'entredeux took her to small audience (she sings in French) this Tucson-based singer and film-maker is rather more edgy on this outing which might win her an even bigger following. Dissard -- interviewed here and more recently answering our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here -- lets some of the Americana influences of the previous album take... > Read more

Marianne Dissard: Un gros chat/A Big Cat

R.E.M.: Collapse Into Now (Warners)

14 Mar 2011    1

Thirty years into a career and with this, their 15th studio album, it seems a bit rich for REM bassist Mike Mills to say this one is somehow different with really beautiful slow songs, some nice mid-tempo ones and three or four rockers. That pretty much describes every REM album in the past two decades, and for this one -- despite them talking it up, and Michael Stipe's lyrics even more... > Read more

R.E.M.: Oh My Heart