Music at Elsewhere

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Ticket: Awake (Aztec/Southbound)

17 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

When Kiwi acid-rockers Ticket from the early Seventies re-formed towards the end of 2010 for a couple of gigs it was hoped that this reissue of their trippy classic, Hendrix-inspired album would be available at the door. But that didn't happen because . . . Lots of reasons I suppose. But here it is now, remastered and in a gatefold sleeve with typically excellent liner notes by Nick... > Read more

Ticket: Broken Wings

The Volcano Diary: The Volcano Diary (NoVo Arts)

17 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

There is a considerable amount I don't know about this outfit from Seattle which is fronted by Alicia Dara. In fact I think I've just told you all I do know. But there is more to be said: this beguiling nine-song album arrived from the same source as the excellent My Pet Dragon (but is completely different), and Dara's enticingly soft but assured vocals just drag you into these... > Read more

The Volcano Diary: Pacifica

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

16 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

Having always been a fan of Bob Seger in that classic period in the mid Seventies (especially the Stranger in Town album) it was a real pleasure to shove this disc in the car player and crank it up . . . because by halfway through the first track I was thinking this was the great and largely forgotten Bob accidentally put in a Kid Rock cover. Only to find . . . Yep, from the raw vocals... > Read more

Kid Rock: Times Like These

Lloyd Cole: Broken Record (Tapete/Yellow Eye)

16 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

Lloyd Cole may not command that massive audience he once did, but his modest tours always pull the loyalists -- and his songwriting skills haven't deserted him, even though his great chart-worrying album Rattlesnakes with the Commotions was closer to 30 years ago than 20. This new album, recorded in New York and spare in its arrangements for acoustic guitar and little more, puts those... > Read more

Lloyd Cole: Oh Genevieve

Daniel Hewson: This Moment (Scrynoose)

16 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

Guitarist Daniel Hewson lives in easy-going Kerikeri at the top of New Zealand's North island -- which perhaps accounts for a couple of impressions after hearing this: it's because of his location that he isn't better known (he's off the radar and keeps to himself as it were), and for the cool vibe that this collection gives off. It's like summertime with the occasional bossa beat. But... > Read more

Daniel Hewson: Because of This

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra: Rockinghorse (Rhino)

10 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

The celebrity-guest collections and R'N'B Orchestra discs from Jools Holland have often been tasty but a few not entirely successful. This sometimes breathless rush of boogie-woogie piano, big brass and handclap gospel-blues comes off a winner from the opener, a thumping and exciting duet with New Orleans piano legend Allen Toussaint and Holland playing organ. Then Ruby Turner –... > Read more

Jools Holland with Allen Toussaint: Whirlawayi

7 Walkers: 7 Walkers (Response/Southbound)

10 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

Singer-guitarist Papa Mali here has a story: the late bluesman John Campbell spotted his talent when Mali (born Malcolm Welbourne in Louisiana) was in his teens; he was given his nickname by reggae figurehead Burning Spear while playing in Jamaica; he brought reggae and Southern funk together with rock'n'roll . . . But he's only one name here: the rest include Willie Nelson (on the... > Read more

7 Walkers: King Cotton Blues (with Willie Nelson)


12 Dec 2010  |  4 min read  |  2

And the people have spoken. In addition to my own Best of Elsewhere 2010 list below, this year readers got to have their say -- and pleasingly many picked albums which I simply didn't get. Sorry, the National still don't do it for me  . . . but came through with a lot of fans. No matter: it's all down to taste, the mood of the moment and such. So here follows the main albums... > Read more

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga: Songs from the Bottom of a Hilltop (SOBCLS)

12 Dec 2010  |  2 min read

Recently I heard this collection -- 400 copies only, two CDs, a thick booklet of artfully rendered lyrics, posters and more delivered in medium-sized pizza box -- being described as a cult item, bound to lose money, an ambitious conceit . . . but also pretty terrific. Right on all counts. Naming your ensemble after an obscure Norwegian politician (deceased) and having a group of around... > Read more

Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga: Pizza Hall

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  2

Some of these songs heard at a distance -- just the sharp pop and guitar jangle coming through -- and you'd pin Justin Currie as a smart power pop singer-songwriter who might give the charts some real damage. But my guess is most people don't want emotional pessimism, venomous songs about partners and a seething rage bordering on self-loathing -- not to say a wide misanthropic streak -- as... > Read more

Justin Currie: As Long As You Don't Come Back

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

After their last album Microcastle (one of Elsewhere's best of '08) this beguiling outfit seemed to go off the map, perhaps in part because of mainman Bradford Cox's side project as the equally fascinating (but different) Atlas Sound. If that last Deerhunter sounded like an astute distillation of diverse influences this slightly more low-key and surreptitious album owes very little obvious... > Read more

Deerhunter: Basement Scene

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Unspk)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  3

The most recent album by the emotionally damaged Daniel Johnston, Is and Always Was, found his often fragile and shaky acoustic pop placed in the context of a band -- and while it was fine to hear his songs that way (as he wanted) there was also a sense that their nakedness had been sacrificed. That isn't the case here as Roky Erickson -- the battered former singer in the Thirteenth Floor... > Read more

Roky Erickson: Please Judge

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Young Veins: Take a Vacation! (One Haven/Southbound)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

Here's my theory about The Young Veins, for what it's worth: they are aliens who crashed landed secretly in California behind a music store, got on the computer late at night and Googled "pop music". Disturbed by the cops they grabbed some band names and songs at random, fled with some instruments and have subsequently launched their pop invasion on the back of a charming hotpotch... > Read more

The Young Veins: Cape Town

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Various Artists: Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

Subtitled “Alternative Takes on Congotronics”, this well-annotated double disc lets loose alternative and post-rock acts on the lo-fi but compelling music from Kinshasa dance clubs where cheap keyboards and beat-machines were slammed alongside traditional thumb piano, found instruments (pots'n'pans), megaphones, electric guitars and drums. The bands Konono No 1 and Kasai... > Read more

Au Vs Masanka Sankayi: Two Labors

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Here's a striking opening couplet on an album: "If you're gonna lead my country and you're gonna say it's free, I'm gonna need a little honesty . . . just a few honest words, it shouldn't be that hard". That these spare but blunt sentiments are delivered over cello rather than angry guitars make them even more powerful, and when Sollee says he doesn't need handshakes, fancy... > Read more

Ben Sollee: Bend

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

12 Dec 2010  |  4 min read  |  3

“You know kids go, 'Hey, when are you gonna make a record?',” Bruce Springsteen said in March 77, “I say, 'One of these days'.” And they were difficult days for the man they call The Boss. After his breakthrough album Born to Run in '75 – which sold around 10 million globally and took him to the covers of Newsweek and Time in the same week in October... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen: Ain't Good Enough For You

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Neil Young: Le Noise (Warners)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

A preference declared: I've never been as smitten as many by Neil Young's acoustic albums -- never had a copy of Harvest for example, although I hardly needed it, everybody else played it incessantly. But I have always cranked up his rowdy albums with Crazy Horse (most of them) and believe albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Arc-Weld are among his best alongside disturbing albums like... > Read more

Neil Young: Walk with Me

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

12 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read

Because music on the ECM label often invites a litany of familiar adjectives -- austere, cool, detached -- it's a pleasure to throw this disc into the player and find yourself thinking more along the lines of . . . muscular, vigorous, assertive.   Even the cover here suggests fireworks --- and while the music isn't exactly incendiary this young Swiss group lead by pianist Bartsch... > Read more

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Modul 55

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

12 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read

You really gotta love the JJ Revue who deliver hotrod rock'n'roll which draws from the Fifties (Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis) as filtered through the most wild and dissolute of Rod Stewart/Faces (or the Quireboys with more rocking honky-tonk blues in their soul) with the kind of trash energy of Grinderman. Produced by Jim Sclavunos (who has done similar for Cave/Bad Seeds), this one... > Read more

The Jim Jones Revue: Big Len

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Giant Sand: Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire/Southbound)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

The next few months sees the re-presentation of the Giant Sand back-catalogue, the Tucson-based band helmed by singer-songwriter Howe Gelb for these past 25 years which has had among its ranks the core of Calexico (John Convertino and Joey Burns) and a guest list which has included M. Ward, the late Vic Chestnutt and Rainer Placek, Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, Neko Case and many other... > Read more

Giant Sand: Better Man Than Me