Music at Elsewhere

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BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wire: Red Barked Tree (Pink Flag)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

In the late Seventies Wire delivered a trifecta of classic post-punk, minimalist and arty albums -- Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 – then called it a day. In subsequent decades they reformed dropping drummer Robert Gotobed to appear as an alt.electro-rock outfit (not much cop), in the past decade their sound became more aggressive and impressive, Gotobed returned -- and now Bruce... > Read more

Wire: Adapt

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

A propos of not much, Fleet Foxes' chief songwriter Robin Pecknold recently recorded New Zealand singer-songwriter Chris Thompson's Where is My Wild Rose? for an EP and it appears on You Tube (just with stills) here. But . . . to the matter in hand. If it's fair to say FFoxes' debut album was unexpected, then we might also observe that this one is highly anticipated. However their... > Read more

Fleet Foxes: Battery Kinzie

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Howe Gelb and a Band of Gypsies: Alegrias (Fire)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  2

The enormously prolific Howe Gelb (interviewed here in depth) is behind the Tucson band Giant Sand (from which Calexico became a more commercially successful split-off) and has also recorded a dozen albums under his own name. And as a reissue programme of about 30 Sand/Gelb albums starts to filter through he also releases this, a beguiling project which saw him taking his dark vocals,... > Read more

Howe Gelb and A Band of Gypsies: The Hangin' Judge

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Tiny Ruins: Some Were Meant for Sea (Spunk)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Tiny Ruins is the nom de disque of Bristol-born, Auckland-raised (from the age of 10) singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook who recorded these songs in "a diminutive [sic] hall, once the local school of South Gippsland's Morraya, Australia" (which doesn't appear on any map of that region south east of Melbourne that I can see, unless they mean Moyarra). No matter, that perhaps adds... > Read more

Tiny Ruins: Old as the Hills

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What (Hear Music)

19 Dec 2011  |  3 min read  |  1

One of the things Paul Simon is seldom given credit for is his sense of humor. He too often comes off the kind of earnest New York Jewish singer-songwriter you imagine reads Dostoevsky at night but listens to doo-wop and old soul because he thinks it might be good for him. Yet this is the man who did that clip for You Can Call Me Al with Chevy Chase, and his lyrics are often punctuated with... > Read more

Paul Simon: Dazzling Blue

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Elbow: Build a Rocket Boys! (Universal)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

It's interesting to read the comments at Elsewhere after the previous Elbow album The Seldom Seen Kid in 2008 (which won them the Mercury Award that year): essentially the thread was, how come these guys aren't bigger? Good question, and maybe this one -- more reflective but still as gorgeously delivered as their previous outings -- will rectify the oversight. Guy Garvey here looks... > Read more

Elbow: Ticker Tape (non album track)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Rumer: Seasons of My Soul (Atlantic)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

There are a lot of wonderful new soul singers around these days -- Mayer Hawthorne, Adele, etc -- and any number of artists who have you reaching for a historical reference in the same territory (Dusty Springfield and Sandie Shaw in the Sixties for the first Duffy album). It is almost to easy to do the same for this British singer-songwriter. So let's do it anyway: Karen Carpenter, Dionne... > Read more

Rumer: Come To Me High

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

Although Lucinda Williams admits things are going well in her life (see interview here), she also adds that no one is ever permanently happy and she lives in this world with all its sadness and misery. And she has had a few encounters with those things herself, notably the estrangement of her brother after the death of their mother, and the death by suicide of Vic Chesnutt a few years back.... > Read more

Lucinda Williams: Ugly Truth

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs: Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs (Full Time Hobby)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

Recorded over a two year period and soaked in strings, this folksy rumination on the state of his nation takes its inspiration from Walt Whitman's poem Pioneers! O Pioneers!, a kind of literal and metaphorical reverse-mirror Times They Are A' Changin' of its day when the young America was flexing its muscles across the continent. Hinson uses this starting point to consider, in places, how... > Read more

Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs: Seven Horses Seen

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

The title here is certainly true: 63-year old Florida-born Bradley -- an exceptional soul singer who sounds like a distillation of James Brown, aching Otis Redding, the troubled Marvin Gaye, searching Al Green and the much overlooked Sonny Charles of the Checkmates -- has barely had a chance to dream in a hard-working life. Bradley seems to have been a cook most of his life (from a mental... > Read more

Golden Rule

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Jeffrey Foucault: Horse Latitudes (Signature)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

For his first album of originals in five years – the follow-up to his gripping Ghost Repeater – this beardy and rustic Americana singer/songwriter ups the stakes as his strong, dark brown and assured voice takes on life, loss and love in iron-hard images which bring to mind Leonard Cohen (“strange birds on the fence line, it's going to get cold tonight”) or Tom... > Read more

Last Night I Dreamed of Television

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 The Checks: Deadly Summer Sway (Pie Club)

19 Dec 2011  |  2 min read

Auckland's Checks could easily have sat on their Sixties rhythm and blues-based style (think young Stones, Yardbirds, Who etc) and won themselves a wide audience, but they were always destined for something bigger than the familiar. Now 10 years on from their first but enormously impressive gigs as teenagers (I think I first saw them in a kitchen at a flat?) they have shifted their ground... > Read more

Winter Sun

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Keith Jarrett: Rio (ECM)

19 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read

In one of the most colourful ECM covers in memory comes this equally vibrant solo piano set by Keith Jarrett, recorded live in Rio in April 2011. This richly textured double disc -- six unnamed pieces on the first, nine on the second -- finds the pianist in total command of his gift for rhythmically complex and melodically unpredictable improvisation. Jarrett dips (and frequently dives... > Read more

Rio Part IX

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 The Black Keys: El Camino (Nonesuch)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

Although Black Keys' previous album Brothers was on the Best of Elsewhere 2010 list and this one will certainly be in this year's final countback, the two albums are very different. Where Brothers was grounded in classic soul and old school r'n'b and blues, this one kicks up the primal rock'n'pop from the get-go. As a touchstone consider Gold on the Ceiling which sounds like the Glitter... > Read more

Run Right Back

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou (World Circuit)

19 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read

Yet another artist out of Mali who confirms that country -- alongside only Jamaica perhaps -- seems to have more gifted and distinctive performers per head of population than any other country on the planet. This debut from the ear-pleasing, hypnotically melodic and folk-framed Diawara is given subtle, warm and clean studio production by label boss Nick Gold in conjunction with Diawara and... > Read more

Bissa

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Ryan Adams: Ashes and Fire (Sony)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Those with a passing interest in Ryan Adams' highly productive career -- which most recently stretched to published books of poetry -- will be understandably bewildered that there is a new album, given he announced his retirement in '09 . . . and subsequently kept releasing albums from his not inconsiderable song vaults. This solo album however is a return to his career with an album... > Read more

I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Marcin Wasilewski Trio: Faithful (ECM/Ode)

19 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read

Pianist Wasilewski who leads this trio has appeared a number of times previously at Elsewhere, with this group, as a member of Tomasz Stanko's ensemble and with trumpetr Enrico Rava. He -- and his trio -- has impressed every time. But this album finds them really pushing themselves: Night Train to You is a 10 minute piece which swings and is full of sparking, energetic piano; the album... > Read more

Woke Up in the Desert

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Azam Ali: From Night to the Edge of Day (Six Degrees)

19 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read

Nominally lullabies from around the Middle East, this breathy and exceptional album by the Iranian-born Canadian-resident Ali -- singer in the band Niyaz -- becomes something much more hypnotic as here keening voice explores those delightful microtones common in the music of the region. Very much the global citizen -- she lived in India as a child, relocated to LA with her mother in '85,... > Read more

Dandini

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Glen Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas (Inertia)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read  |  2

Alongside his Alzheimer's diagnosis and a farewell tour comes this self-announced “final studio album” by the 75-year old legend whose career spans from LA session guitar work in the late 50s as one of the famous Wrecking Crew on Phil Spector productions, to being a touring Beach Boy, solo hits with Jimmy Webb songs and movies all before the close of the Sixties.... > Read more

Hold on Hope

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Blitzen Trapper: American Goldwing (Sub Pop)

19 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read

Still sounding like they were breast-fed equal parts Grateful Dead, early Neil Young, White Album-era Beatles and Elton John's country-flavoured Tumbleweed Connection-gone-grunge, Blitzen Trapper -- an always interesting outfit from Portland -- constantly defy expectation but shift easily from songs about drinkin' whisky in a car to casually psychedelic country, and aren't ashamed to kick... > Read more

Girl in a Coat