Music at Elsewhere

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Lauren Thomson: Chanteuses and Shotguns (Ode)

31 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

Auckland singer-songwriter Thomson deservedly struck lucky when she went to Canada with Tami Neilson to assist on Neilson's follow-up to The Kitchen Sessions Vol 1 . . . Thomson got this new album at the same time. As she writes in the liner notes here, "Playing music and hanging out with the Neilson family in the hot Canadian sun was an unbeatable cocktail of banjos and harmonicas,... > Read more

Lauren Thompson: Peter

The Duke and The King: Long Live the Duke and The King (Shock)

31 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

Hilarious. If there's another Austin Power movie and our spy gets dropped into the early Seventies in California -- the time of all those self-centred, earnest singer-songwriters in the Canyon -- then the formerly interesting The Duke and The King already have a few songs here which sound like pitch-perfect parodies of the style. Okay, I get that much of this is about the dislocated... > Read more

The Duke and the King: Children of the Sun

Red Hot Chilli Pipers: Music for the Kilted Generation (Rel Records)

31 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

This can be brief, and perhaps something of a consumer warning for those who only scan things. Look very, very carefully at the band name here. Yes, this is Scotland's revenge, a group of rock'n'roll bagpipers (Bagrock by any other name), and if you don't like the sound of the pipes then you should pass by rather quickly. It's a weird and rather clever one though, because with so much... > Read more

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers: Baba O'Riley

Andrew McKenzie: The Edge of the World (Arch Hill)

30 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Andrew McKenzie is the singer-guitarist in the New Zealand band Grand Prix which has long delivered a very pointed kind of slightly snarling with a rock'n'roll heartbeat and a dark, unsettling edge. For this album under his own name McKenzie (who plays almost everything from drums and bass to harmonica and sitar) mines some of that same rich vein, but also steps off into other... > Read more

Andrew McKenzie: The End of Summer

Blonde Redhead: Penny Sparkle (4AD)

24 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

This album by the US-based trio (Italian-born Montreal-raised twins and a Japanese singer, here with a keyboardist and a Moog player) arrived late last year but is timely to now address given they will appear at the forthcoming Laneway Festivals in New Zealand -- and what an enticing, dreamy and dim-the-lights collection this is to persuade you along to see them. Doubtless these songs will... > Read more

Blonde Redhead: There Will Be Stars

Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art)

24 Jan 2011  |  <1 min read

Their name might not inspire much confidence -- the sort of band name 12-year olds think up -- but this rootsy, and indie-rock outfit from Seattle on a SubPop imprint label have a mainline connection to the same core of music (Neil Young, the Band) as informs the Felice Brothers, early Wilco and Richmond Fontaine. They certainly know their way around a melody (the... > Read more

Moondoggies: A Lot of People on My Mind

The Doobie Brothers: World Gone Crazy (Shock)

24 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

The Doobies' great Listen to the Music, Long Train Running and China Grove in the late 60s/early 70s were driven by urgent guitars and hammering keyboards delivering a forward momentum (which denied the stoner reference of their chosen name). But surely no old fans could fall for the limp, lame and geriatric opener here A Brighter Day (with steel drums and, of all things, a narrative)... > Read more

The Doobie Brothers: Law Dogs

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Orange + Experimental Remixes (Shout Factory/Southbound)

17 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

The JSB Explosion's early catalogue has undergone the remastering/expansion process but here's the essential starting point on any investigation: Orange from '94 was their career highpoint, an album which dragged their alt.rock/Elvis-on-speed, rock'n'roll blues into mainstream attention for its concise, harmonica-wheezing, Cramps-like energy and challengingly brittle sound. By this time they... > Read more

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Brenda

Joe Cocker: Hard Knocks (Sony)

17 Jan 2011  |  <1 min read

Cocker at 66 is candid enough to say that the idea behind this album was to get him on radio because -- good though his last one Hymn For My Soul was -- it didn't sell as expected. That meant bringing in another producer (Matt Serletic who had done good work for Collective Soul and Matchbox 20), getting the word out for radio-friendly singles from songwriters and tweaking things with... > Read more

Joe Cocker: I Hope

Chris Thompson: Chris Thompson (Sunbeam)

17 Jan 2011  |  2 min read

Although it is common enough to acclaim great New Zealand bands from the late Sixties/early Seventies -- especially those with an acid-rock tinge -- as never quite getting their due internationally (Human Instinct, Ticket, the Fourmyula etc), the story of folk singer Chris Thompson has rarely been told. I have just the one album by him -- the hugely impressive Minstrelsy from '77 -- but (as... > Read more

Chris Thompson: Where is My Wild Rose?

Dale Hawkins: Oh! Suzy-Q; The Definitive and Remastered Edition (Hoodoo)

17 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

If he'd done nothing else other than his tough-edged swamp-rockabilly hit Suzy-Q, Dale Hawkins out of Louisiana would still have made the rock'n'roll history books: Suzy-Q was co-written with guitarist James Burton who plays the stinging and memorable solo, and it took Hawkins to the Apollo in Harlem where he was the first white rock'n'roll/rockabilly singer to play that prestigious place.... > Read more

Dale Hawkins: Suzy-Q

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