Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Moana and the Tribe: The Best of Moana and the Tribe (Black Pearl/Ode)

7 Feb 2012  |  4 min read

For many years I had thought the best and most powerful music of Moana Maniapoto -- stretched over four albums -- was deserving of a compilation which would remind people what a singular contribution she has made to New Zealand music, even if it went largely overlooked and most unplayed by New Zealand radio. In late 2011 Moana told me that not only was it happening, but that she would like... > Read more

Ancestors

Doris Troy: I'll Do Anything, The Doris Troy Anthology 1960-1996 (Kent/Border)

31 Jan 2012  |  2 min read  |  1

When Doris Troy died in Las Vegas in 2004 at age 67, her obituaries seemed like a who's who namecheck of her era. No obit for this New York daughter of a preacher was complete without mentioning Solomon Burke and Chuck Jackson, the Hollies, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, James Brown, George Harrison, Billy Preston, Stephen Stills, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Chaka Khan . . . The list goes... > Read more

He Don't Belong to Me

Various Artists: Kinshasa One Two (Warp)

30 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Just as Muhammad Ali used to say that boxing was the way of introducing himself to the world, you start to wonder if Blur wasn't just the initial vehicle to allow Damon Albarn to get on and do other things . . . hence his Mali Music album, The Good The Bad and The Queen, Gorillaz, soundtracks and so on. And now this project in which Albarn and various producer friends (among them Dan the... > Read more

Customs

Little Willies: For the Good Times (Milking Bull/EMI)

27 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

You'd be entitled to wonder if Norah Jones wasn't in Little Willies, would mainstream reviewers who seldom touch country music at any other time be quite so interested in this group from New York? The point is moot of course, because Jones -- who brings a real love for the idiom she grew up on in Texas as a child -- is here on these 12 (mostly) covers of such country classics as Kris... > Read more

Permanently Lonely

Opposite Sex: Opposite Sex (Fishrider)

24 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Opposite Sex out of Dunedin have a lot to live up to with their product description: "Haunting waltzes and hyperactive melodic no wave, darkness and light, good and evil, innocence and guilt. The sound of this young trio is, they say, some kind of of absurdist-logico mix of Euro-pop, Beat poetry and subterranean lo-fi adventuring". Quite a mouthful -- and yet, oddly enough, they... > Read more

Vague Notion

Bannerman: Dearly Departed (Bannerman/Rhythmethod)

23 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Recorded in the same furious sessions as his previous release The Dusty Dream Home (considered "an outstanding album" at Elsewhere in 2010, see here), this companion volume as it were confirms the power and darkness of singer-songwriter Richard Setford who is also a member of Batucada Sound Machine. Away from the Machine however, Setford explores very different sonic and emotional... > Read more

The Year That Has Gone

Batucada Sound Machine: Don't Keep Silent (BSM/Border)

23 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Driven by assertive (and in places aggressive) drumming, boiling bass and propelled by a fist-tight horn section, Batucada Sound Machine here take a major step up from their Rhythm and Rhyme album of three years ago for this sonic implosion where a rock group, a big band and world music rhythms collide at the intersection of funk and jazz. With horn parts which reference Afro-Cuban,... > Read more

Un Poquito

Vorn: Down For It (Powertools)

23 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

In an alternative universe Frank Zappa would be the head of the music school, radio would refuse to play anything by someone who did a photoshoot before writing a song, and Vorn's bent pop would be as big and as popular as Crowded House's. A member of Gold Medal Famous (the point of whose recent album went right past me), Vorn Colgan -- who has an amusingly obscure bio on his website -- now... > Read more

Mental Health Issues in Newtown Part II

The Chaps: Don't Worry 'Bout Your Age (Chaps)

23 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read

Selected as one of the three finalists in folk category at the 2012 New Zealand Music Awards, this album finds Dunedin four-piece the Chaps -- average somewhere early 60s at a guess -- doing exactly what they do best: playing unashamedly self-deprecating songs (the title track especially) and thought-provoking lyrics in the bluegrass-folk-country-meets-swing territory. So here are songs... > Read more

Come See About Me

Nino Tempo and April Stevens: Hey Baby! The Anthology (Atco/Border)

20 Jan 2012  |  3 min read

Right up until opening the booklet to this 24 track anthology of this duo who had the huge hit Deep Purple in 1963/64, I always thought Tempo and Stevens were a couple. The love lyrics of their originals certainly suggested that. But they were brother and sister, born to a first generation Italian-American family in Niagara Falls. Their father was a grocer and mother an aspiring beauty... > Read more

Boys Town

Billy Bragg, Volume II (Yep Roc)

16 Jan 2012  |  4 min read

As anyone who has interviewed a number of musicians would attest, you often never know what you are going to get. The woman who make the nicest music can often be bitter and acerbic, yet the dark Goth-metal guy is the most polite person you ever met. But in my experience Billy Bragg was exactly as I had been lead to believe by his music and what other interviewers had said previously: He... > Read more

Tears of my Tracks (demo)

Little Axe: If You Want Loyalty Buy a Dog (On U/Southbound)

16 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

Guitarist Skip McDonald (aka Little Axe) and On-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood team up once again for an album which exists at the interface of old blues and contemporary dub, and with just enough gospel sensibility (and Nyabinghi drumming on I Got da Blues) to give a spiritual dimension to its innate earthiness. Back in 2006 the Little Axe album Stone Cold Ohio was one of the Best of... > Read more

Grace

Natalia Mann: Pasif.ist (Rattle)

10 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

One of the legitimate complaints made about certain types of New Age music in the Eighties and early Nineties -- and latterly with fusion world music -- is that the music becomes acultural and stateless, existing in a place where cultural resonances are hinted at rather than effected. While that can make for some fascinating "world" music, it can also lead to an emotional... > Read more

Time

Jackie DeShannon: Come and Get Me, The Complete Liberty and Imperial Singles Vol 2 (Ace/Border)

9 Jan 2012  |  2 min read  |  3

Ask anyone of "a certain age" who the best/most interesting women pop singers of the mid Sixties were and they might tick off a familiar list: Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, any of the Spector school of girl groups, the Supremes and so on. It's unlikely Jackie DeShannon from Kentucky would come to mind for most but she was certainly in the top rank, but also one of the most... > Read more

Hold Your Head High

The Cure: Bestival Live 2011 (Lost/Border)

9 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read

Anyone who has seen the Cure recently -- say at the Vector Arena in Auckland -- will know that the band which once played very short songs now plays extremely long sets. For my money you could have snipped 25 minutes out of the middle of their Vector show and not felt short-changed, but definitely less bored. And so it is with this two and a half hour/double disc recorded live before 50,000... > Read more

Primary

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011, READERS' CHOICES

20 Dec 2011  |  16 min read  |  4

If you're lookin' for trouble, you've come to the right place, sang Elvis. And indeed I was when it came to my Best of Elsewhere 2011 albums list. As always – and rightly so – everyone has their own “best” albums list. Sometimes the readers' selections crossed over with mine (which are here) but, as expected, astute listeners heard what I didn't. So here... > Read more

AND HERE THEY ARE, THE BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 ALBUMS

19 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Yep, it is utterly subjective (so I can't be right and you can't be wrong, and vice-versa) but here are the best/most durable/most enjoyable/utterly disturbing 30 albums of the past year which I heard. Yes, I missed a few big ones that connected with you or other critics -- but these are the ones I have listened to repeatedly during the year . . . and fully expect to be listening to in years... > Read more

A song for us music writers??

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 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