Music at Elsewhere

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Greg Brown: Freak Flag (YepRoc)

20 Jun 2011

When you get to your 24th album you probably aren't expecting a major breakthrough in terms of having a whole new audience find you. And nothing on this fine album sounds like either a departure, or capable of taking this poet/singer beyond those who already know of him. Formerly the musical director on the famous A Prairie Home Companion radio show, married to Iris De Ment and with a... > Read more

Rain and Snow

Known Associates: Penny Love (Warcat)

15 Jun 2011    1

Auckland singer/writer/guitarist Warren Cate of Known Associates has made some fine and deliberately unpolished rock albums under his own name in the past but here, with a team of equals who hunkered down for weekly sessions last year to toughen themselves up and work out material, he excels himself. Cate always possessed a slightly dangerous edge in his vocals but here he sounds angry and... > Read more

Made of Blue

Various Artists: Forbidden Planets Vol 2 (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

13 Jun 2011

Subtitled "More Music from the Pioneers of Electronic Sound", this double disc with a booklet will not be for everyone. But if the original theme to Dr Who, the Bebe and Louis Barron soundtrack on the film Forbidden Planet and even the more demanding music in 2001: A Space Odyssey (nope, not the Strauss) held any appeal then you should sign up for this collection. Much electronic... > Read more

Serenata (1924)

Seasick Steve: You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks (Liberator)

13 Jun 2011    1

Steve – who makes or adapts his own guitars, counted Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain as friends and had Grinderman, Ruby Turner and KT Tunstall on his raw 08 album Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most of It Left – has been a hobo, busker and record producer in his time, and his blues-infused albums reflect stories of a hard life. He got his break on an '06 Jools... > Read more


The Webb Sisters: Savages (Proper)

6 Jun 2011

Best known in the wider world as part of Leonard Cohen's touring band – the backing vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and cartwheelers – Charley and Hattie from Kent have at the studio desk here uber-producer, heavy-hitter and fan Peter Asher (James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, longtime senior vice-president at Sony). And you can guess they aren't short of studio talent either:... > Read more

Calling This a Life

Boris: Attention Please (Sargent House)

6 Jun 2011

Witnessing the full firepower of this Japanese psychedelic drone-rock band at Sydney's Vivid Festival last year – earplugs supplied – was a revelation. When they were loud they were very, very loud but when guitarist Wata stepped up to bring her ethereal voice into play they were dreamily psychedelic and rather special in a cinematic prog-rock way. This, their 17th studio,... > Read more

Party Boy

The Feelies: Here Before (Pop Frenzy)

30 May 2011

When a band which made one your favourite albums three decades ago -- Crazy Rhythms, an Essential Elsewhere album (here) -- gets together for their first album in 19 years you enter with trepidiation. You know things can't and shouldn't be the same, and you remind yourself that after some dodgy stuff Wire of the same era delivered a more than merely creditable album last year. The... > Read more

On And On

Holly Throbsy: Team (Spunk)

30 May 2011

There has been an audible trend in blockbuster movies to employ actors who speak in a constant whisper which is then amplified for the big screen. The normal speaking voice of these actors we do not know. It happens in music too and a couple of tracks here are little more than amplified whispers (prime offender It's Only Need), and much of this album is in the barely-there category in its... > Read more

To See You Out

Gurrumul: Rrakala (Skinnyfish)

29 May 2011

With his full name on his debut album Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu reduced to more manageable Gurrumul, this blind Aboriginal singer-songwriter (a former member of Yothu Yindi and the Saltwater Band) here continues his way into global domination in the world music/folk genre. Unlike many Aboriginal performers who use traditional instruments or deliver bog-standard reggae, the... > Read more

Gurrumul: Warwu

F in Math: Couch (Flying Nun)

24 May 2011    1

The witty nom de disque here belongs to Michael Logie, former bassist with New Zealand's Mint Chicks who makes some steps as a solo artist working with computers, electrobeat and processed vocals. You can guess the words "squelchy" and "edgy" will be applied to this -- as they invariably are when lo-fi computer sounds are being generated -- but in places Logie has... > Read more

F in Math: Elephant Heart

Bruce Cockburn: Small Source of Comfort (True North)

23 May 2011

Bruce Cockburn – whose sole skirmish with chart success was Wondering Where The Lions Are in 1980 – is the Richard Thompson of Canada. And if you don't get the reference that's the point. Both are respected and influential folk-rock songwriters/guitarists, but their gifts go largely unacknowledged beyond admiring musicians, the critical community and a loyal fan base.... > Read more

Bruce Cockburn: Driving Away

The Waifs: Temptation (Jarrah)

22 May 2011

This award-winning Australian folk-rock-blues outfit is much tougher than their fragile name suggests and over five albums, an EP and considerable touring at home and in the States (where they have recorded in Nashville, this one in Minneapolis) they have made a name for their dry, spare and harmony-embellished songs where emotions are worn upfront. They aren't averse to a little... > Read more

The Waifs: Beautiful Night

Giant Sand: Center of the Universe (Fire)

16 May 2011

In an in-depth interview with Elsewhere, Howe Gelb of Giant Sand was asked which album he would single out for anyone coming to the massive reissue programme of a couple of dozen Giant Sand albums and a dozen release under his own name. His answer was immediate. He picked Center of the Universe from '92. "It was the only time I was allowed to live how I always wanted to live, which... > Read more

Giant Sand: Milkshake Girl

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R/Southbound)

16 May 2011

There are some extraordinary guitar talents -- Roy Buchanan comes to mind immediately -- whose gift just seems to go right past an audience you know would appreciate it, if they just shifted their attention in that direction. Bonamassa -- who also has lungs like leather and can write terrific blues rock songs also -- is another. He's been playing for more than 20 years (he's only 34,... > Read more

Joe Bonamassa: Black Lung Heartache

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (New West)

16 May 2011    1

Perhaps because there is already so much Steve Earle in the world -- this is his 14th studio album by my account -- there is very little frisson of delight or surprise coming from this album. Little Emperor would seem to be addressed to George W Bush ("no pomp and circumstance, no more shock and awe, you're just a little emperor that's all") but seems belated -- although no one... > Read more

Steve Earle: Lonely Are the Free

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

13 May 2011

The captivatingly named rock troubadour Vile from Philadelphia offers a kind of alt.folk-cum-indie rock skew which refers to Cohen as much as Cobain. But he also has an ear for a mainstream rock melody (Puppet the the Man here with AOR guitars behind his echoed alt.rock vocals) and recently said his current listening includes the Stones' Love You Live and Neil Young's On the Beach from... > Read more

Kurt Vile: Runner Ups

The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida (Spunk)

12 May 2011    1

While it's interesting to read in a promo slip that this new album by the so-far fascinating Felice Brothers "casts scenes of dreamy characters and stories interwoven like a block of primetime TV", this is promo-hype. It presumes you will actually be engaged enough to listen with unswerving intensity through the sonic haze of distant voices, lo-fi folk-tropes and ramshackle... > Read more

Felice Brothers: Oliver Stone

Ben Waters: Boogie 4 Stu (Eagle/Shock)

11 May 2011    1

If nothing else -- and there is more "else" -- this album should attract attention for the version here of the Bob Dylan-penned track Watching the River Flow which features, for the first time since '92, the Rolling Stones line-up with former bassist Bill Wyman. Okay, Jagger did his vocals and harmonica parts in France, Keith his guitar in New York and Wyman added his bass later,... > Read more

Ben Waters and the Rolling Stones (with Bill Wyman): Watching the River Flow

L/O/N/G: American Primitive (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

11 May 2011

Those with passion for edgy and Neil Young in vinegary acoustic-rock mode need only know Chris Eckman (the Walkabouts, the innovative Sahara blues-influenced band Dirt Music) is one of those behind this occasionally churning, electro-rock outing with musicians from Slovenia where he now lives. The other prime mover is Rupert Huber (of the European downbeat electronica outfit... > Read more

L/O/N/G: Shame This Darkness

Standard Funk Ensemble: Happenstance (

10 May 2011

Vocalist Georgia Woods here -- who may have been the prime mover behind this project -- has been an actress and stage performer for a number of years (Gilbert and Sullivan in Australia, member of the Auckland Theatre Company) and performed the highly successful Highlights -- Blondes and Their Songs. She is something of a trouper too and sings in restaurants, bars and in cabaret. But for... > Read more

Standard Funk Ensemble: Evenin'