Music at Elsewhere

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Tom Kerstens' G Plus Ensemble: Utopia (Real World/Southbound)

9 Aug 2010

Although nominally a contemporary classical album -- English acoustic guitarist Kerstens and a string quartet -- this delightful, deep, meditative and probing album should find wide favour beyond the recital hall. Kerstens has commissioned from outside the classical world for this debut of his G Plus ensemble (which includes The Tippett Quartet) and among the composers are New Zealander... > Read more

Tom Kerstens: The Number 88

Various Artists: All We Wanna do is Rock (Bear Family/Yellow Eye)

9 Aug 2010

The great thing about Fifties rock'n'roll songs is they give you more bang for your buck -- this single disc from the German reissue label Bear Family (sort of Ryko-and-Rhino out of Hambergen) delivers 36 -- yep, count 'em, 36 -- tracks "carefully selected for moondogs and hepcats". There are many familiar names here for sure and a number deliver their classic songs: Smiley Lewis... > Read more

Screamin' Jay Hawkins: Little Demon

Sarah McLachlan: Laws of Illusion (Sony)

9 Aug 2010

This prime mover behind the Lilith Fair all-women-artists tours of over a decade ago (and resurrected this year) hasn't released a new album in seven years, so in some quarters expectation must be very high. A gifted, emotionally-driven singer-songwriter, McLachlan here comes out with all guns blasting on the rocking opener Awakenings which starts restrained then opens out when the electric... > Read more

Sarah McLachlan: Out of Tune

Koop: Best of Koop 1997-2007 (K7)

8 Aug 2010

When it comes to cool, sophisticated, swinging and intelligent clubland-cum-lounge pop, Koop out of Sweden take some beating. The electronica duo of Oscar Simonsson and Magnus Zungmark sensibly bring in acoustic players (clarinet, vibes, sax, flute, bass and so on) to ground their music in the world of jazz, and also pick up classy female vocalists who bring a breathy, sensual quality to... > Read more

Koop: Let's Elope

Mark Olson: Many Colored Kite (Ryko)

8 Aug 2010

As a founder member of the Jayhawks - and for the album '09 Ready for the Flood with former-Hawk Gary Louris -- Olson would always command a fair hearing, but this 11 track outing with roots of fingerpicking Anglofolk as much as Americana becomes a very difficult haul. Although Olson seems to have put some of his demons behind him his vocals here are narrow in emotional range and often... > Read more

Mark Olson: Bluebell Song

Various Artists: Eccentric Soul; Smart's Palace (Numero/Southbound)

2 Aug 2010

An earlier volume of not dissimilar desperate, crazy, urgent, cheaply-recorded and often exciting soul from the Sixties and Seventies drew great praise at Elsewhere (see here) -- and, once again -- although you might never have heard a single name previously -- you can't help but be hooked by the sheer energy these artists bring. Smart's Palace was a somewhat seedy club in -- improbably --... > Read more

Theron and Darrell: It's Your Love (1970)

Lotus Mason: Lotus Mason (Glowb)

2 Aug 2010

London-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Blair Jollands (interviewed in 2004 here) is one of New Zealand's best-kept expat secrets. With his band El Hula he crafted some of the finest post-Bowie dramatic ballads (with a touch of and his strong, elegant voice has drawn favourable comparisons with Scott Walker and Bowie at his peak in the late Seventies. He... > Read more

Lotus Mason: Dream of You

Upper Hutt Posse: Tohe (Kia Kaha)

2 Aug 2010

For quite a while it seemed that the seminal Aotearoa/New Zealand hip-hop outfit Upper Hutt Posse might have been reduced down to Dean Hapeta, who was actually appearing under the name Te Kupu (aka The Word). But here, on an album which kicks along on the back of staccato, minimalist dubstep beats and huge reggae style bass, the Posse are again at it . . . this time Hapeta and his brother... > Read more

Upper Hutt Posse: Mana Motuhake

Various Artists: Teach Me to Monkey (Vampisoul/Southbound)

2 Aug 2010

Chris Kenner wasn't kidding when he wrote Land of 1000 Dances in '62 – which became a minor hit for Cannibal and the Headhunters, then the wicked Wilson Pickett and dozens of others. In the early 60s it seemed like America was kicking up a new dance craze – the Monkey, the Pony, the Jerk, the Mashed Potato, the Watusi – every other week and teen magazines had pages... > Read more

Carol Ford: Your Well Ran Dry (1964)

Donna Dean: What Am I Gonna Do? (Ode)

2 Aug 2010    1

When it comes to country music (alt. or country-rock) Donna Dean has the credentials: the gal has done it all -- marriage, kids, divorce, rehab, bars and clubs, opening for the likes of Willie Nelson, Jimmy Webb and the Penn-Oldham team . . . She spent time in London and Europe, recorded her debut album Money with The Amazing Rhythm Aces in Nashville, and for this follow-up recorded in... > Read more

Donna Dean: Empty Big Blue Sky

Wai: Ora (Wai/Jayrem)

2 Aug 2010

When the debut album, 100%, by Maaka McGregor and Mina Ripia (aka Wai) was released in 2000 (see here) it was hailed as a ground-breaking event for its deft blend of te reo (Maori language) and electronica. Yet in many ways the musical landscape had been laid by the likes of Dalvanius with Patea Maori, and then Moana who had also sung in te reo and used the sound of amplified poi (and, in... > Read more

Wai: Hone Taiapa

Tono and the Finance Company: Fragile Thing EP (Border)

1 Aug 2010    1

One of the nicest things about small indie artists is the care they lavish on the presentation of their low-key albums. Witness the delightful Tokey Tones albums or even the more rough-hewn albums on Flying Nun where the art was a signifier of the contents. And so it is with this terrific, confident, witty and repeat-play six-song EP which comes in an "exquisite corpse" cover (the... > Read more

Tono and the Finance Company: Barry Smith of Hamilton

Renee Geyer: The Definitive Collection 1973 - 1998 (Mushroom)

1 Aug 2010

This great Australian soul, funk and blues singer appeared at Elsewhere recently -- more of that in a minute -- but here by coincidence is 18 track collection of some of her finest moments from her four decade career, including her gutsy take on James Brown's classic It's A Man's Man's Man's World on which she really shines. Also here is her version of If Lovin' You is Wrong, the live... > Read more

Renee Geyer: Shakey Ground

Emilie Simon: Presents The Big Machine (Cartell)

1 Aug 2010    1

Frankly I was stunned when I read a recent review of this astonishingly annoying, very ordinary album which awarded it five stars. That kind of rating I think should be reserved for albums you will be still listening to in a year . . . and a decade. I found it hard to get through this one twice. French singer Simon (known more for classy videos than her musical talent) brings to the table... > Read more

Emile Simon: Ballad of the Big Machine

Flip Grater: While I'm Awake I'm At War (Maiden)

1 Aug 2010

New Zealand singer-songwriter Flip Grater has a rare distinction at Elsewhere: she's the only artist so far who has previously had music posted (here) as well as recipe (here) which she picked up on the road for her cookbook. This beautifully arranged album, produced by Tim Guy, delivers through understatement as Grater's vocals are soft, almost hinting at the style of introspective French... > Read more

Flip Grater: Low Light

Bob Dylan: Folksinger's Choice (Left Field/Triton)

31 Jul 2010

One of the revelations of the first of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series was the maturity of his voice for one so young. Songs like Moonshiner showed a wisdom and understanding well beyond his years. And this remarkable, and previously rare, album confirms that point -- and many more about the young Dylan and how he saw himself. Not as a folksinger, he says in one of the interesting snippets of... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Smokestack Lightnin'

Blitzen Trapper: Destroyer of the Void (Sub Pop/Rhythmethod)

26 Jul 2010

More so than their previous releases, this band from the Pacific Northwest seem to ladle in dollops of trippy glam-adelica in the opening overs of this thoroughly enjoyable outing. It's as if a thinking person's band from the late Sixties or mid Seventies has beamed down into the post-grunge pop world (or vice-versa) of Portland and whatever the images and angst in the lyrics are wrapped in... > Read more

Blitzen Trapper: Laughing Lover

Pete Molinari: A Train Bound for Glory (Clarksville)

26 Jul 2010

English music magpie Molinari's previous two albums alerted you to a folk-driven singer-songwriter who was unashamed of wearing influences but bringing a neat twist to them: his Walking off the Map in '06 cheerfully plundered Hank Williams and pre-66 Bob Dylan (and delivered a beautiful new standard in Indescribably Blue); his follow-up A Virtual Landscape added Sam Cooke soul, Lonnie... > Read more

Pete Molinari: To Be Close to Your Heart's Desire

Katie Melua: The House (Dramatico)

26 Jul 2010

Those who have followed Melua's career might be a little surprised by this outing -- and if you haven't then this might be the album to tune in for: dramatic, dark, hypnotic, cabaret-noir, lovely ballads, enough pop-smarts everywhere . . . and a strange sense of sonic discloaction from producer Wiliam Orbit. They all make this quite a grower. Although she previously worked with Mike Batt... > Read more

Katie Melua: The One I Love is Gone

Laurie Anderson: Homeland (Nonesuch)

19 Jul 2010

From the accompanying DVD, you sense this should have been a double CD for us to fully appreciate the long arc and nuances of this, Anderson's first album in a decade. Anderson's work is allusive rather than literal or descriptive, but in these often disturbing, melancholy and dislocated meditations on the state of her country, some thread is missing between her feeling... > Read more

Laurie Anderson: Strange Perfumes