Music at Elsewhere

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BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Of Montreal: Skeletal Lamping (Pop Frenzy/Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009

Unless they come with a DVD (rare), there's not much added-value with CDs. Not like in olden days when you could get a gatefold sleeve on an album. This camp, goodtime pop-funk and sex obssessed outfit from Georgia offer much added value if you buy the CD: it comes with an elaborate, multi-coloured fold-out sleeve that reaches 60cm across. That's a lot of colourful flowers, writing bodies,... > Read more

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wild Bill Ricketts: John Dryden (Ricketts)

17 Dec 2009

Certainly not what you might expect: an outlaw reading the poems or plays of Dryden. The Ricketts here is the percussion player (and songwriter) in the wonderful Phoenix Foundation (Dryden was an ancestor apparently) and here he coaxes various members of Trinity Roots, Opensouls, Fat Freddys and the Black Seeds to assist on an album of gently Pacific-flavoured songs which are gorgeously... > Read more

Wild Bill Ricketts: New J

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Elvis Costello: Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (Starbucks/Universal)

17 Dec 2009

On his what is his thirtysomethingth album here's Elvis Costello's problem as I see it: it is his thirtysomethingth album. As with Eric Clapton who could deliver the best album of his career tomorrow and watch it go largely ignored (as McCartney found with Flowers in the Dirt of '89 where he co-wrote with Costello), a lot of people have stopped listening to artists who seem to have always... > Read more

Elvis Costello: She Handed Me a Mirror

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 St Vincent:Actor (4AD)

17 Dec 2009

Not having heard the (apparently) much acclaimed debut Marry Me by St Vincent (aka Annie Clark out of Texas) means coming to her particular talents with fairly high expectations -- and she doesn't disappoint. This is a sonic circus with her gentle and melodic voice as the centrepiece, but it is the crashing arrangements for strings, voices and distorted guitars around it which command... > Read more

St Vincent: The Strangers

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Puddle: The Shakespeare Monkey (Fishrider/Yellow Eye)

17 Dec 2009    1

Dunedin's The Puddle should have been bigger (and perhaps better) than they were during New Zealand's vibrant indie-rock scene in the Eighties and early Nineties. But they were sometimes "indisposed" during the heyday of their famous label Flying Nun -- although they still managed to release a couple of interesting and almost excellent albums (and probably a single or two, who... > Read more

The Puddle: One Romantic Gesture

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Lawrence Arabia: Chant Darling (Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009    3

In a blog at about the 2009 Big Day Out I hailed the pop acts on the day while noting that in New Zealand we like pop music, but prefer it to come from somewhere else. We're a little suspicious of it when one of our own starts to make it. At least critics and radio programmers seem to be,  other people just get on and enjoy it. We like our pop with a vinegar lyric or... > Read more

Lawrence Arabia: Look Like A Fool

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Antony and the Johnsons: The Crying Light (EMI)

17 Dec 2009    1

In a lecture to some university music students recently I attempted to explain what an all-inclusive category "rock culture" has become: alongside hip-hop, pop,, metal and so on, it also includes artists as dispirate as Leonard Cohen, Bjork, Rod Stewart and Amy Winehouse -- and even Antony Hegarty who is the ethereal voice up-front here, and who sings back-up with Lou... > Read more

Antony and the Johnsons: Daylight and the Sun

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 M Ward: Hold Time (4AD)

17 Dec 2009    2

The previous album by M Ward, Post-War, was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006 albums for its dark hues, free-range musical approach (blues, alt.rock, indie-folk, Americana etc) and the fact it had something to say. At that time I noted his musical magpie tendencies (a good thing) and because of its layers said it would stand the test of time. It has round my way, and although I missed his... > Read more

M Ward: Epistemology

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 An Emerald City: Circa Scaria (Banished/Border)

17 Dec 2009    1

Because the previous EP by this Auckland-based group was widely hailed at Elsewhere, and that there is now a profile of the band posted under Absolute Elsewhere, this will be brief. For my money this band is the most interesting, musically ambitious and creative I have seen in this country in many years. They possess that rarity in New Zealand music, an aesthetic sensibility -- and it... > Read more

An Emerald City: Reindeers Running

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador)

17 Dec 2009    1

Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth recently noted that they were the Grateful Dead or Rolling Stones of their generation. He meant it seemed they had been around a very, very long time and were still out there doing it. And they are. This is, depending on how you are counting, at least their 16th studio album (which sort of puts them around their Some Girls/Emotional Rescue period?) but rather... > Read more

Sonic Youth: Massage the History

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Beatles Remasters (EMI)

17 Dec 2009

Much as it is possible to love every crackle and piece of surface noise on the original vinyl albums which some still have or have inherited, the remastering brought out an energy and vitality in the Beatles catalogue which was undeniable. The music (and the Beatles Rock Band game) was much essayed at Elsewhere on release (I heard the recordings in Abbey Road back in June) but the truth is... > Read more

The Beatles: Happiness is a Warm Gun (from "The White Album", mono version)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wilco; Wilco (the album): (Warners)

17 Dec 2009    3

While no one would suggest that Wilco's Jeff Tweedy is on happy pills -- the glum Country Disappeared and Bull Black Nova here would deny that -- he is clearly a very different man than he was around the time of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The chunky rockist opener on this seventh studio album -- yes, it is called "Wilco (the album)" -- is Wilco (the song) and asks the listener "do... > Read more

Wilco: You Never Know

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Various: Stroke; Songs for Chris Knox (Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009    2

There's an unstated but obviously very sensible practice that most critics adopt: you never review a show or album which is raising money for a good cause. If the show is lousy and you say as much then that can be misread as you not supporting the cause. Same goes for an album. Didn't like the kiddie choir at the Plunket show means you are anti-motherhood, right? That kind of thing. The... > Read more

The Mountain Goats: Brave

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Flaming Lips: Embryonic (Warners)

17 Dec 2009

Anyone coming to this sprawling and musically diverse (not to say sometimes bewildering) 80 minute album because they were seduced by the Lips' earlier album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (with that sublime hit Do You Realise) might want to take a big breath. This is different in many, many ways. This is the Lips' fascinating and eccentrically intellectual Wayne Coyne... > Read more

The Flaming Lips: Powerless

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Miriam Clancy: Magnetic (Desert Road/Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009    1

Elsewhere is pleased to say it discovered the gifts of Miriam Clancy very early in the piece and hailed her debut album Lucky One of 2006 as one of the best of that year. At Elsewhere there is also an interview with Miriam done in advance of that album. Since then she has toured to much acclaim, took time out to have a baby, and now is back with this new album -- and a lot has changed.... > Read more

Miriam Clancy: Ghost Town

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

17 Dec 2009

After calling it quits in 2002, frontman Chris Robinson going solo, then their resurrection with Warpaint last year (which brought in guitarist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars), the Black Crowes rarely sounded so on top of their game. And they followed Warpaint with a double punch Warpaint Live (the album played live and an extra disc of hits and covers). In front of... > Read more

The Black Crowes: The Last Place That Love Lives

Tom Waits: Glitter and Doom Live (Anti/Shock)

14 Dec 2009    1

Barney Hoskyn's recent useful but flawed Waits biography Lowside of the Road ended with the writer going to see Tom Waits in concert on this brief tour which was widely acclaimed as the best of 2008. Waits hadn't been out live in some while (11 years since he'd last appeared in the UK) and as a result his cachet had grown and expectation was high. And Waits -- ever the entertainer -- didn't... > Read more

Tom Waits: The Part You Throw Away

Gordon Gano and the Ryans: Under the Sun (YepRoc)

14 Dec 2009

While the solo career of multi-instrumentalist Brian Ritchie has been the most rewarding of the Violent Femmes because of his interest in world music and the jazz of Sun Ra, as the Femmes vocalist Gano was always going to have a more distinctive profile. With the Femmes effectively disbanded -- Ritchie lives in Tasmania -- Gano steps out under his own name with the Ryans (guitarist Billy and... > Read more

Gordon Gano and the Ryans: Home

Various Artists: Ten Guitars, the New Zealand Heartland Soundtrack (Universal)

14 Dec 2009    1

Walking in to a CD/DVD store recently I heard the most unexpected song playing, it was Amigo by Black Slate, a British reggae band which had a brief fliration with the charts at the dawn of the Eighties with this pop-reggae crossover single. They came to Auckland and played a Town Hall gig with Herbs and my recollection, seared in my memory actually, was of going to the gig and being one... > Read more

Patea Maori: Poi E

Linda Ronstadt: Hand Sown . .. Home Grown/Silk Purse (Raven/EMI)

13 Dec 2009

Long before she was a country-rock cover star and dating California governor Jerry Brown in the late Seventies, Linda Ronstadt was a singer struggling to find her forte. Her albums with the Stone Poneys showed her folk-rock chops and their cover of Mike Nesmith's Different Drum gave them a hit but also signalled a solo career beckoning for Ronstadt. Her first two solo albums from '69... > Read more

Linda Ronstadt: Lovesick Blues (from Silk Purse)