Music at Elsewhere

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Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

24 Jan 2010

If you didn't already know anything about Canadian Pallett, from just a couple of tracks here you'd pick him for an arranger more than a singer/songwriter. Here he unloads a container of electronics (strings, keyboards, loops) into his lyrically dense songs. This is an album which can be as oppressive as it impressive. Pallett has done arrangements for Arcade Fire, Mountain Goats,... > Read more

Owen Pallett: Midnight Directives

Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces (Curb)

24 Jan 2010

With this fine country/ singer-songwriter due to play in New Zealand soon, with Kasey Chambers (date and details here) and knowing his albums rarely go reviewed, it is timely to consider his most recent release which came out in the pre-Christmas slew of hits and compilations. Lovett has never been an easy one to pigeon-hole: his music can sometimes be straight from the... > Read more

Lyle Lovett: Empty Blue Shoes

Miho Wada: Postcards to Your Bed (

24 Jan 2010

Although the cover says "Miho Wada plays Japanese punk jazz" you'd be hard pushed to locate much of whatever that is here: it sure doesn't sound like Guitar Wolf going all Ornette Coleman your arse. It opens with a rather lame and light reggae groove over which Wada -- who was born in Japan, schooled in Christchurch and Canterbury Uni then went Trinity College in London -- offers... > Read more

Miho Wada: Call Girl

The Horrors: Primary Colours (XL)

24 Jan 2010

In my blog at Public Address recently on my impressions of Auckland's somewhat dire Big Day Out 2010 (here), I noted that there were very few bands/artists whose albums I'd want to check out afterwards: the Horrors was one of them. I'd only heard bits and pieces previously and so had no overall impression but on the day they were interesting. (A word which suspends judgement, right?)... > Read more

The Horrors: Three Decades

Grant Hart: Hot Wax (Fuse/Southbound)

18 Jan 2010    1

Because of the sporadic and sometimes wayward nature of his career after the break-up of Husker Du in '87, it was always going to be hard to predict what this album under their former drummer/singer Hart's own name would come off like. It isn't easy in the sense that it doesn't gives its gifts up readily, and its slightly scattergun nature (it opens with rock blast, next up is a quirky... > Read more

Grant Hart: Khalid

J Tillman: Year in the Kingdom (Shock)

18 Jan 2010

Possessing the same kind of intimate, engrossing voice of Nick Drake and with an equal interest in hushed, dreamlike ballads where death, and the transitory nature of life and love are themes, Josh Tillman offers his sixth album where the songs are barely fleshed out but the sinew and strength are immediately apparent. With discreet dulcimer, piano and string arrangements around the... > Read more

J Tillman: Age of Man

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

18 Jan 2010

Seattle’s claims to musical fame run from 60’s garage bands (the Sonics) through Hendrix, grunge and more recently Modest Mouse -- but it also once boasted a strong (if largely overlooked) soul-funk scene. Here some of its senior citizens -- most players are in their 60s -- get tight (and loose) on some fatback sounds which are sometimes urban (Everything Good is Bad, Baddest)... > Read more

Wheedle's Groove: Jesus Christ Pose

Vampire Weekend: Contra (XL)

18 Jan 2010

Coming to this second album by a very buttoned down and upper crust outfit from New York (who met at Columbia University) will be a surprise if you took from their name they were some dark and moody emo outfit. When the second track White Sky kicks in you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd spent their vacation on Long Island sipping iced tea and immersing themselves in Paul Simon's Boy in... > Read more

Vampire Weekend: Run

Joe Robinson: Time Jumpin' (Universal)

18 Jan 2010    1

Not being a great watcher of mainstream television means I happily get to miss things like Australia's Got Talent. (I didn't doubt it, the Easybeats, the Church and AC/DC are great.) But that also means people like me miss someone like 18-year old acoustic guitarist Robinson who won the "play-off" in 2008. Let it be said immediately this guy isn't like that dance troupe who... > Read more

Joe Robinson: Fleabites

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: The Road (Mute)

18 Jan 2010

The most difficult test for any film score is if it works in the absence of images, and even more so if it does when the listener hasn't seen the movie. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have had a long association (Bad Seeds, the booze-rock blues-rock Grinderman) and here on the score to the forthcoming film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's dark novel The Road they mostly keep things elementally... > Read more

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: Memory

Pink Martini: Splendor in the Grass (Inertia/Border)

18 Jan 2010

The soundtrack for a sophisticated, cocktail-sipping summer afternoon starts here with the classy amalgam of pop and classical by the ensemble out of Portland, Oregon lead by pianist Thomas Lauderdale and featuring the pristine, unassuming voice of China Forbes. The title track, by way of example, lifts the melody of Lalo Schifrin's Burning Bridges (the theme to Kelly's Heroes if I recall),... > Read more

Pink Martini: Splendor in the Grass

Besser and Bravura: Decadence Live (Atoll)

18 Jan 2010

The music of Auckland-based, New York-raised pianist/composer Jonathan Besser -- often with the group Bravura -- has long deserved a broader audience than the classical world which it inhabits. Working with guitarist Nigel Gavin, bassist Peter Scott and violin player Miranda Adams (among others) whose reach stretches to experimental music, soundtracks, jazz and contemporary classical, and... > Read more

Besser and Bravura: Hudson River 1

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

18 Jan 2010

Although his previous album This Old Road won some critical plaudits, it is hard to hear Closer to the Bone as much other than a collection of sentimental songs, some of which border on the trite. Kristofferson, especially in recent years, has never been much of a singer (he concedes that) but here his voice really has lost most of its gritty and gruff appeal as he wobbles uneasily and... > Read more

Kris Kristofferson: Good Morning John

Helen Henderson: Twisting Wind (Ranui)

11 Jan 2010

Tough and often earthy blues rock/ from a New Zealand-born LA raised singer-songwriter who here calls up some big names (guitarist Doug Pettibone, Spooner Oldham on keyboards) whose credentials (Dylan, Ronstadt, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams) adds lustre to what is a fine collection of self-produced, mostly original co-writes (with guitarist Matt Downs). When Henderson unleashes... > Read more

Helen Henderson: Stateless

Blakroc: Blakroc (Blakroc)

11 Jan 2010    1

While nu-metal spawned some horrible offspring in terms of rap/rock collaborations or assimilations of one into the other, there has always been more in common between the two genres than many would concede. If nothing else, some of that bad nu-metal at least prepared the mind for this collection where the one-time blues-rock duo Black Keys (Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney) get... > Read more

Blakroc: What You Do To Me (with Nicole Wray)

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

11 Jan 2010    2

Very belated acknowledgement of an album that was recorded in 2007, came out Stateside in 2008 (to little fanfare) but to the best of my knowledge only appeared in New Zealand in late 2009. This dark, edgy country-rock (and beyond) band with a revolving door membership -- who perhaps take their name from the Doors song of the same title? -- deliver a convincing line of tense uptempo but... > Read more

Hyacinth House: Whiskey Nights

Michael Hurley: Ida Con Snock (Gnomonsong)

5 Jan 2010

Michael Hurley's laidback style which bridges traditional and hasn't gone overlooked by his musical peers although their audiences seem a little slower to catch on: he has toured with Lucinda Williams, Bill Callahan, the Palace Brothers (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) and others, and he counts Cat Power and Vetiver among those who have covered his songs. Perhaps it is because he falls... > Read more

Michael Hurley: I Can't Help Myself

Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend (Acony)

4 Jan 2010

The quiet and often largely invisible power beside Gillian Welch, guitarist/singer-songwriter Rawlings here comes into the spotlight with a collection of folk-country and alt.folk-rock songs which would mostly not fit Welch's canon but here have an understated charm of their own. They still possess some of that old time quality which has been a hallmark of his work with Welch but here (with... > Read more

Dave Rawlings Machine: Bells of Harlem

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed (Epitaph)

4 Jan 2010

One part youthful Billy Bragg and another of very early Springsteen (the Asbury Park period) and a Pogues-styled energy propels this manic, politicised, wordy outing by this English post-punk folk poet who does a terrific line in taking down myths: "There's no such things as rock stars there's just people who play music, and some of them are just like us and some of them are dicks. So... > Read more

Frank Turner: Live Fast Die Old

Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed: Me and Jerry, Me and Chet (Raven/EMI)

4 Jan 2010

Doubtless one for guitarists (of the country pickin' persuasion too perhaps), this two-fer pulls the '70 and '72 Grammy-grabbing duet albums by Atkins and Reed onto one disc and adds eight bonus tracks. There is a small band (which includes pianist Floyd Cramer) on the Me and Chet album. With Chet on the right and Jerry on the left you can discern their stylistic differences (Reed rocks,... > Read more

Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed: I Saw the Light