Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Elliott Smith: An Introduction to Elliott Smith (Kill Rock Stars/Southbound)

25 Oct 2010    1

It seems curious that the intelligent, melodic and very dead Elliott Smith hasn't engendered a cult following: his albums were consistently good and the circumstances of his death (if it was suicide it was a strange one in which questions needed to be asked) should have guaranteed him t-shirt status at least. Smith had half a dozen songs in Good Will Hunting and appeared on stage at the... > Read more

Elliott Smith: Needle in the Hay

Various Artists: Murder; Songs from the Dark Side of the Soul (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

25 Oct 2010

The seemingly endless CSI and such like on television, movies about killers and cops, as well as news reports of real life murders suggests that what began with Cain and Abel still fascinates us -- and we didn't need Nick Cave to tell us that murder songs were kind of interesting. This 23 song r'n'b, blues and country collection brings together songs about killing and bloodshed and a... > Read more

Lord Executor: Seven Skeletons Found in the Yard

Various Artists: Native America Calling; Music from Indian Country (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

25 Oct 2010    2

A few Native Amercans have appeared previously at Elsewhere: the late jazz saxophonist Jim Pepper has an Essential Elsewhere album with Comin' and Goin'; the activist, poet, singer and actor John Trudell is interviewed here; and the great Buffy Sainte-Marie appears at From the Vaults with this track from an album which equally might have made the Essential Elsewhere cut. A few "Native... > Read more

Robert Mirabal: Indians Indians

Kasey Chambers: Little Bird (Liberation)

25 Oct 2010

Almost a decade ago this Australian singer-songwriter penned Not Pretty Enough, a penetrating chart-topper about self-doubt. The title track here sounds like its rejoinder with the wisdom of years: Chambers sings of a broken relationship, how a little bird told her what to do the get the guy back, “but I don't want you that bad”. This irrepressibly catchy song and... > Read more

Kasey Chambers: Train Wreck

samRB: Seems I Might Be Human (SRB)

24 Oct 2010    2

samRB is a New Zealand singer-songwriter who has faced mental health issues and this album comes with assistance from NZ Mental Health Media Grant (and some top gun musicians in support of her). I've been on record as looking askance at "the album as therapy" (most recently here) and have run into trouble when denying people their special pleading because of a physical or mental... > Read more

samRB: To Whom It May Concern

Human Instinct: Midnight Sun (Ode)

24 Oct 2010

When thirtysomething guitarist Joel Haines invited me to the launch of the new Human Instinct album he told me he'd joined the group. I said, “ You've joined what used to one of the most dangerous bands in the country! Good luck.” They might not have been, but in the late Sixties/early Seventies New Zealand bands like Human Instinct, Ticket and the Underdogs were... > Read more

Ken Nordine: Word Jazz; The Complete 1950s Recordings (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

18 Oct 2010

Ken Nordine's voice -- assured, resonant, clear -- was his passport into radio where he worked as an announcer and narrator. But he was also of the Jazz Generation and in the Fifties he anticipated the Beats by blending poetry and music and then creating his Word Jazz recordings in which he would recite poems, unusual prose-poems and stories full of whimsy and often slightly disturbing... > Read more

Ken Nordine: Looks Like It' Going to Rain

David Bowie: Station to Station, Expanded Edition (EMI)

18 Oct 2010    1

Rock critics and civilians are generally divided over David Bowie: people on the street seem to prefer the stabbing pop-rock of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane (with party favourite The Jean Genie) and singles like Rebel Rebel and Let's Dance. Critics – because they famously don't dance – gravitate towards the sonic landscapes of “the Berlin trilogy” (Low,... > Read more

David Bowie: Word on a Wing

Isbells: Isbells (Zealrecords)

17 Oct 2010

In which former rocker Gaeten Vandewoude of Belgium discovers his inner Jose Gonzalez and with a few friends and some multi-tracking also realises he had Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel lurking in there too. This is not an unfamiliar path (Gonzalez did the rock thing first, so did Findlay Brown, and Fink used to deal in hip-hop) but it leads to low-key acoustic songs, sensitive lyrics... > Read more

Isbells: BB Chevelle

Wreckless Eric: Hits, Misses, Rags and Tatters; The Complete Stiff Masters (Stiff/Triton)

17 Oct 2010    4

Long overdue for a revival, reconsideration and wider recognition, Eric Goulden aka Wreckless Eric has been usually dismissed as a one-hit wonder (but was it Whole Wide World, Semaphore Signals, Veronica, I Wish It Would Rain or A Pop Song?). Or written off as a kind of punk comedy act (just because he had a sense of humour?) Of course in the late Seventies he was up against some major... > Read more

Wreckless Eric: I Wish It Would Rain

Soundgarden: Telephantism (Universal)

11 Oct 2010

Once they hit their stride around the time of Badmotorfinger in '91, Soundgarden out of Seattle had shaken out the ragged semi-punk and yelping metal for a much more dense and intense attack. Material like Jesus Christ Pose (here in a searing, seven minute live version of deconstructed noise) was a quantum leap from the noise they were making on the SST label, and even Badmotorfinger's... > Read more


The Divine Comedy: Bang Goes the Knighthood (DCDR/Southbound)

11 Oct 2010

The amusing Divine Comedy – Neil Hannon the sole constant the past two decades – effect a kind of elegantly literary and often droll, social commentary, style which often comes with orchestration, or sounds like it has stepped out of a cabaret or music hall. They require, and reward, careful attention because the details are in Hannon's frequently satirical lyrics. Here on... > Read more

The Divine Comedy: When a Man Cries

Aberfeldy: Somewhere to Jump From (Tenement)

11 Oct 2010

This Scottish band -- about whom the words delightful, charming, witty and sensitive come to hand -- deliver a lightly embellished and perfectly enunciated form of folk-pop which at times recalls a less self-centred Morrissey as sung by a young Paul Simon, or a less anxious Belle and Sebastian as sung by Graham Nash (of Crosby Stills and Nash). In fact Nash gets an amusing name-check on the... > Read more

Aberfeldy: Malcolm

Coolies: Master (Chapter)

11 Oct 2010

Coolies -- originally out of South Auckland -- hit a wall about five years ago and despite building a small, very small, local reputation and playing SxSW, their trash/distortion/pop sound which was almost alarming retro (think 1980 alt.indie post-punk) it seemed like it might be all over. But from the ashes . . . With two of the original three-piece (Tina and Sjionel, now joined by... > Read more

Coolies: Searching

Ash and the Matadors: The Mansion Tapes (Ash)

11 Oct 2010

This six-track EP by a Dunedin four-piece fronted by singer-songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player Ash Officer came out in June but has only just landed in Elsewhere -- which means some of the reviews have been done of it down south. Although none that I recall in northern climes. Ash/Matadors have a keen supporter in Southland Times writer Chris Chilton who also had an astute... > Read more

Ash and the Matadors: The Ballad of Cobh

Marc Cohn: Listening Booth; 1970 (Sony)

10 Oct 2010

The way singer-songwriter Cohn remembers it, 1970 was when the Beatles, and Simon and Garfunkel, broke up. It was classic singles, the dawn of the singer-songwriter era (James Taylor, Neil Young and others), great albums by various solo Beatles, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, Creedence . . . So he goes back to that year for this collection of covers of those influences, but turns some of... > Read more

Marc Cohn: No Matter What (with Aimee Mann)

Frazey Ford: Obadiah (Nettwerk/Shock)

4 Oct 2010

Ford was one of the key voices in the Be Good Tanyas, but since they have disbanded she is now out on her own with this debut solo album -- and quite some quiet piece of work it is. Things really start to grip a few tracks in when you identify the idiom: despite the banjo on the lead-off track Firecracker, this is no recreation of backwoods "authenticity" and the warm trumpet on... > Read more

Frazey Ford: If You Gonna Go

The Roulettes: Unread Books (Roulettes)

4 Oct 2010

The openers here by this Auckland trio don't initially seem stray too far from the template of fizzing and slightly fuzzy power pop-rock, but when the spirit of Marc Bolan and early Bowie walk through The Green Lantern things really start to perk up -- and have the effect of making you listen again to those openers (the title track with massive bass line and slightly snearing vocals, Call with... > Read more

The Roulettes: The Green Lantern

Jerry Lee Lewis: Mean Old Man (Verve Forecast)

4 Oct 2010

In a You Tube comment someone said Jerry Lee looked a little rough for someone only 74 years old. In his defense -- he's actually 75 now -- they were pretty full years, especially in the late Fifties, and he wasn't called the Killer for nothing, the man gave it all on the night. And of course there were the tragic (and slightly mysterious, in one case) deaths of two wives. He's had six,... > Read more

Jerry Lee Lewis: Man Old Man (with Ronnie Wood)

Phil Selway: Familial (Shock)

4 Oct 2010

Despite the careers of Phil Collins and Dave Grohl – and Ringo's country music record after the Beatles' break-up – no one expects much of solo albums by drummers: Peter Criss' was the worst seller of the Kiss solo releases in 78. Pussycat whiskers didn't help. But Radiohead's Selway – one of Neil Finn's 7 Worlds Collide project – confounds expectation, as his... > Read more

Phil Selway: Don't Look Down