Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Music at Elsewhere

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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 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

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 Neil Young: Le Noise (Warners)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Neil Young: Le Noise (Warners)

A preference declared: I've never been as smitten as many by Neil Young's acoustic albums -- never had a copy of Harvest for example, although I hardly needed it, everybody else played it incessantly. But I have always cranked up his rowdy albums with Crazy Horse (most of them) and believe albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Arc-Weld are among his best alongside disturbing albums like... more >>

Neil Young: Walk with Me

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

Because music on the ECM label often invites a litany of familiar adjectives -- austere, cool, detached -- it's a pleasure to throw this disc into the player and find yourself thinking more along the lines of . . . muscular, vigorous, assertive.   Even the cover here suggests fireworks --- and while the music isn't exactly incendiary this young Swiss group lead by pianist Bartsch... more >>

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Modul 55

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

You really gotta love the JJ Revue who deliver hotrod rock'n'roll which draws from the Fifties (Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis) as filtered through the most wild and dissolute of Rod Stewart/Faces (or the Quireboys with more rocking honky-tonk blues in their soul) with the kind of trash energy of Grinderman. Produced by Jim Sclavunos (who has done similar for Cave/Bad Seeds), this one... more >>

The Jim Jones Revue: Big Len

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Giant Sand: Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Giant Sand: Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire/Southbound)

The next few months sees the re-presentation of the Giant Sand back-catalogue, the Tucson-based band helmed by singer-songwriter Howe Gelb for these past 25 years which has had among its ranks the core of Calexico (John Convertino and Joey Burns) and a guest list which has included M. Ward, the late Vic Chestnutt and Rainer Placek, Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, Neko Case and many other... more >>

Giant Sand: Better Man Than Me

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Great North: Newfoundland (GNMR)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Great North: Newfoundland (GNMR)

This Auckland band impressed mightily with their Soldiers EP of last year and this debut album really steps up to the plate. Coming from an alt.country end but with discreet influences from the likes of Springsteen, Dylan, Neil Young and the Waterboys as much as muscular poetry and indie.rock (the landslide of guitars which bury All Eyes right at the end), this album has a broad reach.... more >>

Great North: Hands

12 Dec 2010    2

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Dear Time's Waste: Spells (DTW/Isaac)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Dear Time's Waste: Spells (DTW/Isaac)

The previous EP in '08, Room for Rent, by this Auckland singer/writer Claire Duncan was notable for its droning and hypnotic qualities (guitar washes) alongside delicately realised folk, and you detected a talent which could stretch in many directions, from a constrained Bjork-meets-JAMChain to slightly disconcerting meditations on love . . . and throughout pastel shadings which were quite... more >>

Dear Time's Waste: Son of a Fright

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eva Prowse: I Can't Keep Secrets (Eva Prowse/Rhythmethod)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eva Prowse: I Can't Keep Secrets (Eva Prowse/Rhythmethod)

Prowse -- here with her debut album -- has probably crossed more people's paths than they might think: she has toured with Fly My Pretties, opened for Wanda Jackson and appeared on the excellent album Trouble on the Waterfront by her father Chris Prowse. That is emblematic of her musical dexterity, and the fact she has the Phoenix Foundation's Samuel Flynn Scott producing and playing here,... more >>

Eva Prowse: Complacency

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

The name "Ryan Bingham" has been getting a lot of eartime recently -- it was the name of George Clooney's character in the movie Up in the Air. But more importantly in the real world it belongs to one of the most interesting Americana singer-songwriters of the past deacde -- the man who picked up an Oscar for his song The Weary Kind in the film Crazy Heart (in which he also played... more >>

Ryan Bingham: Junky Star

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

Willie Nelson makes so many albums these days – from Western Swing with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex-Mex to jazz stylings with Wynton Marsalis – that it's helpful this title is a product description. So here's Willie – now 77 – going back to songs by Ernest Tubb, Doc Watson, Hank Williams and others, as well the traditional I Am a Pilgrim, Nobody's Fault But... more >>

Wille Nelson: My Baby's Gone

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 John Grant: Queen of Denmark (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 John Grant: Queen of Denmark (Shock)

Although he recorded three albums with the band the Czars, we should perhaps treat this quite exceptional, moving, funny, droll and heart-breaking singer-songwriter as a new artist. And on those terms he immediately places himself in the company of early Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and a more humorous Rufus Wainwright for songs like Sigourney Weaver in which he laments his life in terms of... more >>

John Grant: Queen of Denmark

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Marilyn Crispell and David Rothenberg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Marilyn Crispell and David Rothenberg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM/Ode)

American pianist Marilyn Crispell is one of those rarities: classically trained, she jumped in at the very deep and demanding end of the jazz pool – free jazz, Cecil Taylor, the ferociously intellectual Anthony Braxton Quartet – and used her instincts and training to keep afloat. Then she struck out confidently. Crispell – now in her early 60s – has never... more >>

Crispell and Rothenberg: Stay, Stray

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Naked and the Famous: Passive Me Aggressive You (Somewhat Damaged)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Naked and the Famous: Passive Me Aggressive You (Somewhat Damaged)

From She Loves You and She's a Mod, pop music has always rung to the affirmation of "yeah yeah yeah" -- and to hear this Auckland band work it so well on their newly minted classic single Young Blood (which recently won the Silver Scroll for songwriting) was thrilling. This debut album has been so well canvassed and reviewed that little remains to be said about it: it feels like a... more >>

The Naked and the Famous: Spank

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Richard Thompson: Dream Attic (Proper)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Richard Thompson: Dream Attic (Proper)

Quite what has enraged the exceptional and much admired English guitarist/songwriter Richard Thompson we can only guess, but let's hope he stays angry because this blistering live album -- of all new material, recorded at various venues in the States -- finds him in top form. With a small band -- guitarist Pete Zorn also pulling out saxes, mandolin and flute; Joel Zifkin on violin --... more >>

Richard Thompson: Sidney Wells

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (Universal)

This four-piece from London may have a banjo on hand and a similar way with an archaic lyric and alt.folk melody as Fleet Foxes, but here on their debut album with widescreen producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire's Neon Bible) they bring some dramatic urgency which kicks them clearly into the alt.rock territory. With songs which have a sharp sense of dynamics – a rush of blood and... more >>

Mumford and Sons: Thistle and Weeds

12 Dec 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Devils Elbow: Sand on Chrome (Hit Your Head)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Devils Elbow: Sand on Chrome (Hit Your Head)

This raw, sometimes wilfully ragged and largely terrific duo of Alec Withers (vocals, guitars) and drummer-singer Andrew Gladstone formerly in Garageland (and a couple of friends in places) deliver up hook-filled alt.country rock which owes a nod to Joe Strummer as much as Steve Earle, and they also possesses that free-wheeling spirit which made the Replacements so special. As with the... more >>

Devils Elbow: These Days

12 Dec 2010    1

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

The first film by many aspiring directors is often a low budget affair about hookers, junkies or/and zombies. Being young they believe there is drama (or at least cool dress-ups) in these worlds -- but as many later realise there is more true human emotion and drama in that most mundane of subjects: life in the suburbs. Behind the curtains and the seeming mundane daily lives in ordinary... more >>

Arcade Fire: Wasted Hours

12 Dec 2010    1