Music at Elsewhere

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Various Artists: The Insatiable Moon (Ode)

21 Nov 2010

Soundtrack albums of songs -- as opposed to a commissioned score -- should be perhaps reviewed in the absence of having seen the movie. That way you find if they hang together as a stand alone item. Not having seen this much acclaimed film about marginalised people in an urban society (the mad, unfortunate, deluded and different) means these 11 songs are to be taken at face value as an... > Read more

AJ Bell: Drinking in the Park

Darkstar: North (Hyperdub/Southbound)

21 Nov 2010

By happy coincidence I mistook this band's name for that of a prog outfit I was once curious about -- maybe if I had heard the words "dubstep electronia" (which is how they are sometimes described) I might not have so enthusiastically pulled it out of the pile. Not that prog is my thing, but the Darkstar I was thinking about had a curiously ambient take on it. And by... > Read more

Darkstar: In the Wings

Surf Friends: Confusion (SF)

21 Nov 2010

Auckland two-piece Surf Friends -- guitarist/singer/drum machine handler etc and bassist/keyboards/singer Pete Westmoreland -- are starting out in almost exactly the same place as the early Clean and Chills whose sound they effectively hijack completely for some tracks on this interesting . . . and eventually quite convincing album. Produced by Mark Howden -- who keeps things effectively... > Read more

Surf Friends: No Oil

The Trons: The Trons (Pieplate CD/DVD)

15 Nov 2010

A few decades ago Devo advanced the idea of "devolution", that Mankind wasn't going forward but actually regressing and you could see that in the behaviour of the mob. Regrettably it seems they might have been right if idiot postings on Facebook and You Tube are anything to go by, not to mention the guy who will hold up store at gunpoint for a packet of cigarettes and small change.... > Read more

The Trons: Attack of the Mute Ants

Dudley Benson: Forest, Songs by Hirini Melbourne (Golden Retriever)

15 Nov 2010    1

Those many of us seduced by Dudley Benson's previous album (and EPs which preceded it) might not have anticipated the manner of this new one, an entirely a capella art music project based on the poems (birds, the spider) by the late Hirini Melbourne who, with Richard Nunns, led the revival of taonga puoru (tradional Maori instruments) . . . and it is sung almost entirely in te reo (Maori).... > Read more

Dudley Benson: Tirairaka. Fantail

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (Light in the Attic)

14 Nov 2010

Sex sells. It certainly sells the idea of maturity when former popettes decide to ditch the little sister look and get into barely-there leathers. Adults of course find this tasteless and the kids being manipulated, but it's nothing more than sex selling a product just like any other. Sex gets people hot under the collar (as in outraged) and you can guarantee to get a rise out of some when... > Read more

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: 69 Annee Erotique

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

14 Nov 2010

As with the blues, rockabilly is always out there, but only occasionally gets its time in the spotlight when artists such as the revivalist Stray Cats or -- more recently -- the great original Wanda Jackson get some serious attention. Expect then for rockabilly -- the up-tempo white country-based music which was a precursor to rock'n'roll in the mid Fifties -- to come to the fore then in... > Read more

Don Willis: Boppin' High School Baby

Mark Howden: Horizons (Waht)

14 Nov 2010

Auckland singer-songwriter Howden appeared previously with two short albums: one of him in rock band mode, the other more of the acoustic persuasion, both under the name The Black Leaf. This new album (Horizons may be the title or the nom de disque) is an extension of the acoustic direction in dreamy, literate songs which recall the atmospheric folk-pop of Neil Halstead's wonderful... > Read more

Mark Howden: Pattern Blue

Greg Johnson: Secret Weapon (JMA)

14 Nov 2010

That Greg Johnson seeded funding for this album by a pre-order subscription shows he has a loyal audience in this country – especially as he hasn't lived here for almost a decade and he's getting close to 10 albums under his own name, not counting a couple of best of/hits packages. In part that's because he's an endearing and often amusing entertainer whose shows are always worth... > Read more

Greg Johnson: No Weapons in the Bar

The Vaselines: Sex with an X (SubPop)

14 Nov 2010    1

The little-known Vaselines out of Scotland got their sudden time in the spotlight when Nirvana covered a couple of their songs, notably Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam on their MTV Unplugged session. By that time ('93) the Vaselines - formed around Eugene Kelly and  Frances McKee -- had already broken up but they'd reformed to open for Nirvana in 1990. So that connection gets... > Read more

The Vaselines: The Devil's Inside Me

Paul McCartney and Wings; Band on the Run Remastered. (Universal)

8 Nov 2010

It's sad in a way, but great albums often are a result of bad situations: death, divorce, betrayal, litigation and debilitating substance abuse seem to make for better and more interesting music than cheery times with the family on holiday. Think about it: Neil Young's Tonight's the Night (death, drugs); John Martyn's Grace and Danger (divorce, drink); Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear and In... > Read more

Paul McCartney and Wings: Picasso's Last Words

Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

8 Nov 2010

The prolific Costello's last album – Secret, Profane and Sugarcane of last year – was his most interesting in years with its mix of rock, raw country, edgy ballads and bluegrass, all helmed by co-producer T Bone Burnett. Although Costello is not one to jog on the spot, this new one – in a cover by the same artist, Tony Millionaire – feels like a companion volume... > Read more

Elvis Costello: You Hung the Moon

Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Opal)

8 Nov 2010

In the early Seventies the ambient albums by Brian Eno -- sometimes soundtracks for quiet, imagined films -- ushered in a kind of intelligent ambient music and the music on his Obscure label brought people like Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman and others to a wider audience than they might have otherwise enjoyed. Eno's own Music for Films series, later his Apollo soundtrack and even his... > Read more

Brian Eno: Lesser Heaven

The Puddle: Playboys in the Bush (Fishrider)

7 Nov 2010

For those many of us who lost touch with Dunedin's the Puddle in the Nineties, last year's album The Shakespeare Monkey (a 2009 Best of Elsewhere album) came as quite a revelation for its literary lyricism and captivating alt.pop. This one might not have that same frisson of (re)discovery, but it is no less an album for that: there is a skewed angularity to the music (from mock-pop to bent... > Read more

The Puddle: Weight of the Stars

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

7 Nov 2010

After trying for the same late-career revival as Johnny Cash with producer Rick Rubin - to lesser commercial and critical success -- Diamond now delivers the album he has said he's always wanted to do: a collection of covers, including his own early song I'm A Believer made famously a hit by the Monkees. Diamond is a man who always seems to take himself, and a lyric, seriously and often... > Read more

Neil Diamond: Midnight Train to Georgia

Various Artists: Viva Elvis, The Album (Sony)

7 Nov 2010

Let's be very clear here, this astonishingly awful album has very little to do with Elvis Presley -- the man, as these people have forgotten, who recalibrated popular music and culture. This has a whole lot to do with a Cirque du Soleil show which sampled Elvis' vocals and then pasted them over backings which, in most instancers, sound like they have been created by someone with a Sandy... > Read more

Elvis and others: Blue Suede Shoes

Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union (Mercury)

7 Nov 2010    1

The story of how much Elton has admired Leon Russell for many decades (and who was a profound influence on his playing in the early Seventies) is well known, as is how Russell's star fell slowly from that peak when he was helming Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, then appearing with George Harrison, Dylan and others at the concert for Bangladesh. Russell delivered some terrific... > Read more

Elton John and Leon Russell: Gone to Shiloh

Various Artists: . . . Featuring Norah Jones (Blue Note)

7 Nov 2010

Those who dismiss Norah Jones as some kind of aural wallpaper clearly aren't listening carefully enough. Her albums have been quietly progressive as they step deftly betwen lounge jazz and -- and the lady constantly defies expectation. Not the least by putting herself about a bit, in a professional way. This 18 track album may be something of a stop-gap as it collects some... > Read more

Norah Jones and Q-Tip: Life is Better

Black Country Communion: Black Country Communion (J and R/Southbound)

7 Nov 2010

Some don't fall too far from the tree that Led Zeppelin planted, and this outfit -- a kind of second tier hard-rock supergroup -- certainly reference Jimmy Page's riffery and powerhoue attack. And the drummer is Jason Bonham, son of the late John from Zeppelin. But with guitarist Joe Bonamassa, keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper) and singer/bassist Glenn Hughes (Black... > Read more

Black Country Communion: No Time

Bob Dylan: The Witmark Demos 1962-64 (Sony)

1 Nov 2010

There's a case the most important person in Bob Dylan's early career wasn't his inspiration Woody Guthrie (the folk singer he traveled to New York to meet and whose style he adopted), nor Suze Rotolo (his girlfriend who appeared on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in '63 ) or even Joan Baez (his muse, lover and champion). The key figure – until they bitterly parted... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Ballad For a Friend