Music at Elsewhere

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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 Juju: In Trance (Real World)

19 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read

That alt.world between late 60s psychedelic blues-rock, frantic village folk, and fiery world music is a strange place. It's where LedZepp, speedmetal-folk, Afro-blues, the Mississippi Delta and a fiddle-playing Jimi Hendrix (who isn't Nigel Kennedy) come together and live in . . . if not harmony, then at least the same bar where they drink moonshine and palm wine. This album is... > Read more

Nightwalk

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 Kimbra: Vows (Warners)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

For most people flicking the music channels and being confronted the relentless and facile bump'n'grind r'n'b or ever-so-serious young men with guitars, the clips by Kimbra -- formerly of Hamilton, now based in Melbourne -- come as delightful surprises. They look fresh and eye-catching, intelligent in the face of the sexed-up drivel (her musings on married life in Settle Down) and just... > Read more

Good Intent

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 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

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wilco: The Whole Love (Warners)

19 Dec 2011  |  2 min read

Artists who make lurching changes of direction often revert to prior form after a while: Certainly after U2's darker trilogy -- Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop -- they went back to their familiar stadium-shaped mainstream ballads, and Radiohead's most recent output has been more accessible than the unsettling Ok Computer and Kid A. Even David Bowie -- after the "Berlin trilogy" of... > Read more

Sunloathe

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 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 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 Jonathan Besser: Campursari (Rattle)

19 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

Since coming to New Zealand more than 30 years ago, the pianist-composer Jonathan Besser has enjoyed a highly successful and diverse career, first with violinist Chris Prosser in the Besser and Prosser duo, with electronic artist Ross Harris in Free Radicals, then his own ensemble and latterly with the small group Bravura. His works have been performed by the NZSO, the New Zealand String... > Read more

Shine