The desert that is beyond Dubai, from the 86th floor of Burj Khalifa
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Music at Elsewhere

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Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

At some time in the mid Nineties I spent an afternoon in Melbourne talking with David McComb, the former singer-songwriter with the Triffids then Blackeyed Susans. He was as intelligent as I had expected given the depth of his lyrics in both of those bands, but he was also hesitant, slightly wary and gun-shy, and I left wondering how he might survive the obvious dependencies he had. Not... more >>

Diving Bell: Tender is the Night

Jimmy Buffett: Buffet Hotel (Mailboat)

Jimmy Buffett: Buffet Hotel (Mailboat)

Buffett has made a career and an excellent living out of writing songs about drinking margaritas, sailing and flying, party moods with good food and better friends, beach bars and so on. He also works in political subtexts which detractors of his freewheeling lifestyle and easy music prefer to ignore. This typically interesting collection addresses the power of waving in friendship, his love... more >>

Jimmy Buffett: Beautiful Swimmers

Hot Chip: One Life Stand (EMI)

Hot Chip: One Life Stand (EMI)

Artists should not be held to their press releases, but after a couple of tracks of wimp-pop for disco-cum-dance clubs you have to wonder why the promo sheet on this album speaks of it being "awash with Hot Chip's trademark creative bravery and a searing emotional intensity from first track to last". Sorry, bullshit on both counts. This is clever and sometimes slightly... more >>

Hot Chip: Brothers

Brian Jonestown Massacre: Who Killed Sgt Pepper? (Southbound)

Brian Jonestown Massacre: Who Killed Sgt Pepper? (Southbound)

This one-time San Francisco outfit which is most often considered a train-wreck of styles helmed by a career-destroying personality (Anton Newcombe) here weighs in with a pretty terrific crash of trash rock'n'roll, grunge-psychedelics, borrowings from world music beats and much more. In fact, given their musically wayward history (indie-pop drone to electronica) this is a kind of extended... more >>

Brian Jonestown Massacre: This is the First of Your Last Warnings

Songs: Songs (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

Songs: Songs (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

This young pop band out of Sydney come, not so much trailing influences but shoving them up ahead of them: variously they sound like nasal Dylan '65 doing early Velvets drone (Farmacy), the Bats jingle-jangle (Something to Believe In), the fuzzy end of the Clean (Oh No), more Velvets-in-Dunedin (Retreat) . . . And those are just the first four tracks. You get the picture. No surprises... more >>

Songs: Different Light

Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces (Curb)

Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces (Curb)

With this fine country/alt.country singer-songwriter due to play in New Zealand soon, with Kasey Chambers (date and details here) and knowing his albums rarely go reviewed, it is timely to consider his most recent release which came out in the pre-Christmas slew of hits and compilations. Lovett has never been an easy one to pigeon-hole: his music can sometimes be straight from the... more >>

Lyle Lovett: Empty Blue Shoes

Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

If you didn't already know anything about Canadian Pallett, from just a couple of tracks here you'd pick him for an arranger more than a singer/songwriter. Here he unloads a container of electronics (strings, keyboards, loops) into his lyrically dense songs. This is an album which can be as oppressive as it impressive. Pallett has done arrangements for Arcade Fire, Mountain Goats,... more >>

Owen Pallett: Midnight Directives

Miho Wada: Postcards to Your Bed (mihowada.com)

Miho Wada: Postcards to Your Bed (mihowada.com)

Although the cover says "Miho Wada plays Japanese punk jazz" you'd be hard pushed to locate much of whatever that is here: it sure doesn't sound like Guitar Wolf going all Ornette Coleman your arse. It opens with a rather lame and light reggae groove over which Wada -- who was born in Japan, schooled in Christchurch and Canterbury Uni then went Trinity College in London -- offers... more >>

Miho Wada: Call Girl

The Horrors: Primary Colours (XL)

The Horrors: Primary Colours (XL)

In my blog at Public Address recently on my impressions of Auckland's somewhat dire Big Day Out 2010 (here), I noted that there were very few bands/artists whose albums I'd want to check out afterwards: the Horrors was one of them. I'd only heard bits and pieces previously and so had no overall impression but on the day they were interesting. (A word which suspends judgement, right?)... more >>

The Horrors: Three Decades

Grant Hart: Hot Wax (Fuse/Southbound)

Grant Hart: Hot Wax (Fuse/Southbound)

Because of the sporadic and sometimes wayward nature of his career after the break-up of Husker Du in '87, it was always going to be hard to predict what this album under their former drummer/singer Hart's own name would come off like. It isn't easy in the sense that it doesn't gives its gifts up readily, and its slightly scattergun nature (it opens with rock blast, next up is a quirky... more >>

Grant Hart: Khalid

J Tillman: Year in the Kingdom (Shock)

J Tillman: Year in the Kingdom (Shock)

Possessing the same kind of intimate, engrossing voice of Nick Drake and with an equal interest in hushed, dreamlike ballads where death, and the transitory nature of life and love are themes, Josh Tillman offers his sixth album where the songs are barely fleshed out but the sinew and strength are immediately apparent. With discreet dulcimer, piano and string arrangements around the... more >>

J Tillman: Age of Man

Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL)

Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL)

Coming to this second album by a very buttoned down and upper crust outfit from New York (who met at Columbia University) will be a surprise if you took from their name they were some dark and moody emo outfit. When the second track White Sky kicks in you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd spent their vacation on Long Island sipping iced tea and immersing themselves in Paul Simon's Boy in... more >>

Vampire Weekend: Run

Pink Martini: Splendor in the Grass (Inertia/Border)

Pink Martini: Splendor in the Grass (Inertia/Border)

The soundtrack for a sophisticated, cocktail-sipping summer afternoon starts here with the classy amalgam of pop and classical by the ensemble out of Portland, Oregon lead by pianist Thomas Lauderdale and featuring the pristine, unassuming voice of China Forbes. The title track, by way of example, lifts the melody of Lalo Schifrin's Burning Bridges (the theme to Kelly's Heroes if I recall),... more >>

Pink Martini: Splendor in the Grass

Besser and Bravura: Decadence Live (Atoll)

Besser and Bravura: Decadence Live (Atoll)

The music of Auckland-based, New York-raised pianist/composer Jonathan Besser -- often with the group Bravura -- has long deserved a broader audience than the classical world which it inhabits. Working with guitarist Nigel Gavin, bassist Peter Scott and violin player Miranda Adams (among others) whose reach stretches to experimental music, soundtracks, jazz and contemporary classical, and... more >>

Besser and Bravura: Hudson River 1

Joe Robinson: Time Jumpin' (Universal)

Joe Robinson: Time Jumpin' (Universal)

Not being a great watcher of mainstream television means I happily get to miss things like Australia's Got Talent. (I didn't doubt it, the Easybeats, the Church and AC/DC are great.) But that also means people like me miss someone like 18-year old acoustic guitarist Robinson who won the "play-off" in 2008. Let it be said immediately this guy isn't like that dance troupe who... more >>

Joe Robinson: Fleabites

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

Seattle’s claims to musical fame run from 60’s garage bands (the Sonics) through Hendrix, grunge and more recently Modest Mouse -- but it also once boasted a strong (if largely overlooked) soul-funk scene. Here some of its senior citizens -- most players are in their 60s -- get tight (and loose) on some fatback sounds which are sometimes urban (Everything Good is Bad, Baddest)... more >>

Wheedle's Groove: Jesus Christ Pose

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: The Road (Mute)

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: The Road (Mute)

The most difficult test for any film score is if it works in the absence of images, and even more so if it does when the listener hasn't seen the movie. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have had a long association (Bad Seeds, the booze-rock blues-rock Grinderman) and here on the score to the forthcoming film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's dark novel The Road they mostly keep things elementally... more >>

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: Memory

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

Although his previous album This Old Road won some critical plaudits, it is hard to hear Closer to the Bone as much other than a collection of sentimental songs, some of which border on the trite. Kristofferson, especially in recent years, has never been much of a singer (he concedes that) but here his voice really has lost most of its gritty and gruff appeal as he wobbles uneasily and... more >>

Kris Kristofferson: Good Morning John

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Very belated acknowledgement of an album that was recorded in 2007, came out Stateside in 2008 (to little fanfare) but to the best of my knowledge only appeared in New Zealand in late 2009. This dark, edgy country-rock (and beyond) band with a revolving door membership -- who perhaps take their name from the Doors song of the same title? -- deliver a convincing line of tense uptempo but... more >>

Hyacinth House: Whiskey Nights

Blakroc: Blakroc (Blakroc)

Blakroc: Blakroc (Blakroc)

While nu-metal spawned some horrible offspring in terms of rap/rock collaborations or assimilations of one into the other, there has always been more in common between the two genres than many would concede. If nothing else, some of that bad nu-metal at least prepared the mind for this collection where the one-time blues-rock duo Black Keys (Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney) get... more >>

Blakroc: What You Do To Me (with Nicole Wray)