Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Solomon Burke: Nothing's Impossible (Shock)

31 May 2010

The extraordinary Solomon Burke has enjoyed that rarity in popular music, not just a second coming but a sustained one. Music history is full of acts who come back after their first seminal period but few of them -- Dylan a notable exception, the Searchers' story the more common -- have a sustained run of artistic as well as commercial success. Commercial success is a relative term in... > Read more

Solomon Burke: I'm Leaving

Joe South: A Look Inside/So The Seeds Are Growing (Raven/EMI)

31 May 2010

Joe South wrote some classic songs which others took to great heights: Hush (Deep Purple); I Never Promised You A Rose Garden (Lynn Anderson); Down in the Boon Docks (Billy Joe Royal) and others. Of his own career he is best known for the terrific Games People Play which was also much covered (in New Zealand by Allison Durban) and the weary Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home Lord. He had a... > Read more

Joe South: Oprah Cried (2009)

Villagers: Becoming a Jackal (Domino)

24 May 2010

Engrossing though the clear, strong voice of Conor J O'Brien out of Dublin is -- the chief feature of this quietly gripping album -- it is the insistent, poetic first-person, image-carving narratives which become irritating at times. O'Brien frequently writes songs from that perspective of what I call The Knowledgeable One and he will "show you the backroom where I saw the dead"... > Read more

Villagers: Home

Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks (Atlantic)

24 May 2010

East London 'ard-man rapper Ben Drew -- aka Plan B -- can deliver some bruising rap about utterly nasty characters (and in an uncompromising manner which suggests you shouldn't mess with him). But he also showcases another side on this, his second studio album. That of an aching falsetto-Smokey Robinson/Motown-styled soul singer. He goes from grime and the ghetto to Hitsville and Stax-Volt,... > Read more

Plan B: Hard Times

Jack Rose: Two Originals of Red Horse, White Music and Opium Musick (VHF)

23 May 2010

Quite why this 2004 instrumental album -- actually guitarist Rose's two even earlier albums on a single disc, appparently -- has turned up now is a bit of a mystery, but those with a taste for Anglo-folk blues, Davey Graham, John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Bert Jansch, Doug Cox and others will find a lot to enjoy in this six and 12-string finger-picking. As with Graham and then Jimmy Page, Rose --... > Read more

Jack Rose: Linden Avenue Stomp

Grayson Gilmour: No Constellation (Flying Nun)

19 May 2010

We shouldn't feel too sorry for the profoundly talented Grayson Gilmour -- but I do sympathise with him at the moment: being the first act signed to the resurrected Flying Nun label means that has become the story and not this quite superb album. I have heard and seen Gilmour interviewed repeatedly and most of the time has been taken up with asking him what he thinks about being on such a... > Read more

Grayson Gilmour: Our Heads Colide

Ocean Colour Scene: Saturday (Keep on Keeping On)

17 May 2010

Despite being one of the most exciting and interesting bands of the Britpop Nineties -– singer Simon Fowler had a rough and soulful voice, guitarist Steve Cradock a member of Paul Weller's touring band –- this outfit from Birmingham never really took hold in New Zealand. On their home turf they had Weller as a vocal supporter, opened for Oasis and scored five top 10 albums,... > Read more

Ocean Colour Scene: Rockfield

Band of Horses: Infinite Arms (Sony)

16 May 2010

Where the last and quite terrific Band of Horses album Cease to Begin opened with the strained alt.rock of Is There a Ghost, this new one -- again after some line-up changes around sole founder member Ben Bridwell -- stretches to life with a string-coloured melancholy ballad Factory. It -- like Is There a Ghost -- is an immediate winner, but of a very different kind. And it... > Read more

Band of Horses: On My Way Back Home

Managers: The Grove St Tapes (Hoi)

16 May 2010

While it's hardly a tabloid heading -- "Ska band in reggae shock!" -- it is something of a surprise to hear Auckland's long-running and popular live act shift from upbeat ska to downbeat reggae grooves on this four track EP of originals cut from the same cloth as roots reggae of four decades ago. Singer Paul Frewin has a smooth style which suits these chipping, consciousness songs... > Read more

Managers: Jealousy

Ian King: Panic Grass and Fever Few (Wing and a Prayer)

10 May 2010

King is in the vanguard of a diferent kind of British folk -- witness that this debut album is co-produced with Adrian Sherwood and Skip (Little Axe) McDonald. So this is folk with a world view and a dub feel -- and sounds all the better for it. King is straight out of that earnest, well-enunciated and slightly stern school of vocal delivery, and his material draws from old recordings (some... > Read more

Ian King: Death and the Lady

Polar Bear: Peepers (Leaf/Southbound)

10 May 2010

This fiery UK jazz quintet helmed by acclaimed young drummer/composer Seb Rochford (interviewed here) has really caught the attention of the British jazz (and elsewhere) imagination: they were nominated for a Mercury Prize a few years ago; Rochford picks up awards; the various members work in other outside (and very interesting) projects; and they bring a 21st century/post-modern ethic to their... > Read more

Polar Bear: Drunken Pharaoh

Lewis McCallum: Syntheology (Finch Studios)

10 May 2010

To be honest, because of how his previous album Wake went, I was going to review this in the jazz column I have in Real Groove -- but this doesn't conform to even my very, very broad church definition of "jazz". Which, I hasten to add, doesn't demean or diminish it any way -- it is a very sassy, smart and funky album of synths'n'sax, old school references (yep, Seventies Afro-hair... > Read more

Lewis McCallum: Tales of Mingus

Catherine Russell: Inside This Heart of Mine (World Village/Ode)

9 May 2010

With an excellent ensemble of understated but very classy players, jazz-cum-r'n'b singer Russell takes a sophisticated journey down the byways of ol' New Orleans, finger-snapping Swing Era sounds, cool blues and other related styles on a warmly produced album which includes materiaal by Fats Waller, Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington, early r'n'b star Wynonie Harris, Willie Dixon (Spoonful), Louis... > Read more

Catherine Russell: Troubled Waters

Deadstring Brothers: Sao Paulo (Bloodshot)

9 May 2010

With the impending 40th anniversary re-issue of the Stones' Exile on Main Street, the time might be right to rediscover rootsy, toxic, blues-driven rock'n'roll which slews sideways out of the speakers fueled by whisky and weed. If that's the case, then this album is neatly timed to anticipate the Stones. On their fourth album this outfit from Detroit offer that strained yelp... > Read more

Deadstring Brothers: Can't Make It Through the Night

Jeremy Mason: Distorted Vision (self released)

9 May 2010

Expat Mason was bassist in the Kiwi punk band Kill the Fake Patient (2005-07) but clearly the Northern Hemisphere has blown a new wind through him: he's now an acoustic/alt.folk singer living in a one bedroom flat in Glasgow and this self-produced EP of songs written in Wellington and London (available here) is the first flickering of a new direction. An album follows apparently. As a... > Read more

Jeremy Mason: The Labyrinth

Various Artists: 135 Grand Street New York 1979 (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

9 May 2010

New York's short-lived No Wave movement was sort of punk with pretention: the untutored would collide with instruments, throw up "art statements" or aggressive political and/or social views, and appealed to an alarmingly small audience of like-minded people. Lydia Lunch is credited with the first using the term to describe bands like Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and Brian Eno... > Read more

Jill Kroesen: Fay Schism Blues

How to Kill: Like Angels (Failsafe)

9 May 2010

If the band name, the album cover, titles like And Death Shall Have Dominion and the black on black postcards within don't give you the clue, then I shall flip all the cards and tell you: this four-piece from Christchurch delve into the dark stuff . . . but not in some kind of death-metal/horror-kitschy way at all. These guys are a wall of sonics instrumental band who have a widescreen... > Read more

How to Kill: Bad Day at Black Rock

Rufus Wainwright: All Days Are Nights; Songs for Lulu (Decca)

9 May 2010

It's perhaps enough to note that this is Art Music in which Wainwright sings largely chorus-free, sweeping lyrics over the top of grandiose and often grandiloquent solo piano and addresses the death of his mother Kate (his greatest supporter and critics, he says) and dedicates it to his sister Martha, "the bright lady". This is also a song cycle (Lulu is that which lurks within us... > Read more

Rufus Wainwright: Zebulon

The Twitch: Time for Change (Rangi)

8 May 2010

The album title is slightly misleading: if it is a time for change then acccording to Auckland's Twitch it is back to the future -- back to stabbing post-punk power-pop with a sharp New Wave delivery. Rock'n'roll Mirror could have come from any time in the past three decades: a touch of metal in the guitar chords, a boastful Joan Jett-style lyric, Cheap Trick-cum-punk energy, short and... > Read more

The Twitch: Rock'n'Roll Mirror

The Phoenix Foundation: Buffalo (EMI)

3 May 2010

After their excellent, Best of Elsewhere 2007 album Happy Ending -- and in the interim solo projects and the amusing, enticing and experimental pre-Christmas EP Merry Kriskmass -- expectation is high for this album by one of New Zealand's most interesting and enjoyable acts. More so even than the mostly laidback, slightly-delic Happy Ending, there is a dreamy languor here and... > Read more

The Phoenix Foundation: Bailey's Beach