Music at Elsewhere

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Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro (ECM/Ode)

8 Feb 2010

The album title here perhaps suggest rather more shadowland than is evident in these beautiful, sometimes light-filled duets by acoustic guitarist Towner and flugel/trumpet player Fresu. Certainly they head to the shadows for a lovely treatment of Blue in Green (from Miles Davis' classic Kind of Blue), but with Towner's rich and inclusive playing which alludes to his Brazilian influences and... > Read more

Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu: Postlude

Scalper: Flesh and Bones (Border)

8 Feb 2010

Scalper is Nadeem Shafi who was previously a vocalist in the exciting London mutli-culti hip-hop (and beyond) outfit Fun-Da-Mental. These days he lives in New Zealand but little of the rather more benign South Pacific atmosphere intrudes on this dark, brooding and menacing mood-piece where his up-close and urgently delivered vocals speak of a spiritual fog, the horrors of war, bloodshed,... > Read more

Scalper: Treacherous Disciple

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: The Live Anthology (Universal)

8 Feb 2010

They used to say you could always judge a band by its covers. But today many bands write "originals" which sound exactly like their influences (like these people), or seem to be above such direct referencing. You suspect only the most confident of bands play other people's songs simply because they love and respect them. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were always confident and... > Read more

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Louisiana Rain

Basia Bulat: Heart of My Own (Rough Trade)

8 Feb 2010

Canadian singer/songwriter and auto-harp player Bulat appeared at Elsewhere with her confident if slightly disconcerting debut album Oh My Darling of '07. She has the kind of vibrato you might not have heard since Melanie's Brand New Key. But she is a powerful folk-rock singer and here really lets her passions fly (the folk-psychedelics of the fiddle-driven Gold Rush) while also letting her... > Read more

Basia Bulat: Sugar and Spice

John Morales: The M&M Mixes (BBE)

7 Feb 2010

Recently I have been reading some interesting political histories of disco: how anti-gay and anti-black elements (notably in white radio and rock culture) conspired to kill the music, and how the combination of cocaine, money and the hijacking of the culture by the Studio 54 types ripped the music away from its roots. When all those factors came into play disco was effectively shut out and... > Read more

Margie Joseph: Move to the Groove

Various Artists: Come Fly With Me; Great New Zealand Rock’n’Roll 1964-72 (Sony)

7 Feb 2010

A decade ago it wasn’t easy to find collections of local rock’n’roll but today we’re tripping over them: John Baker’s excellent compilations of 60s garage band rock like Pie Cart Rock’n’Roll and Get A Haircut (the latter coming up to the D4 and Datsuns); the Johnny Devlin collection; EMI’s Day in My Mind’s Mind series of... > Read more

Music Convention: Footsteps on my Mind

Various: Alice Russell; The Pot of Gold Remixes (Little Poppet)

7 Feb 2010

This may well be for a minority audience for a few reasons: not as many people liked UK soul singer Alice Russell's late 2008 album Pot of Gold quite as much as I did (but seemed to like her Auckland gig a whole lot more than me, I quit out of despair). And this is a double disc of remixes of those album tracks by the likes DJ Vadim, Mr Scruff, Mocean Worker, Kid Gusto, Shawn Lee and others.... > Read more

Alice Russell: Got the Hunger? (Ticklah remix)

G. Love and Special Sauce: Long Way Down (Philadelphonic/Shock)

7 Feb 2010

After the terrific debut single Cold Beverage in the mid 90s (a slice of lazy blues hip-hop for which Sony resurrected the old Okeh label to release), this trio from Philadelphia fell from sight and commercial viability, then broke up for a while. Pity, because they nailed a laidback acoustic hip-hop style which anticipated the folkadelic movement, owed a little to Beck, and were much more... > Read more

G. Love and Special Sauce: Crumble

Pauly Fuemana: RIP

1 Feb 2010

The passing of Pauly Fuemana (aka OMC) cannot not go un-noted at Elsewhere: but I have said my piece here at Public Address and so need not revisit it. Other than to say this: in the coming months we will doubtless hear the customary gossip, rumour and innuendo about Pauly's recent years. Some of it will be true. None of it however should diminish what he achieved, albeit briefly.... > Read more

OMC: How Bizarre; Instrumental mix

Daniel Johnston: Is and Always Was (Feraltone)

31 Jan 2010    1

I'm probably not alone in thinking of Daniel Johnston, not just as some untutored genius and outsider artist, but as someone whose life has often been pitiable and sad. That he is disturbed is beyond question. That said, Johnston's no-fi cassette recordings (some of which have turned up on CD over the years), can be transfixing for their sheer naked honesty -- and sometimes great tunes just... > Read more

Daniel Johnston: High Horse

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

31 Jan 2010    1

At some time in the mid Nineties I spent an afternoon in Melbourne talking with David McComb, the former singer-songwriter with the Triffids then Blackeyed Susans. He was as intelligent as I had expected given the depth of his lyrics in both of those bands, but he was also hesitant, slightly wary and gun-shy, and I left wondering how he might survive the obvious dependencies he had. Not... > Read more

Diving Bell: Tender is the Night

Hot Chip: One Life Stand (EMI)

30 Jan 2010    1

Artists should not be held to their press releases, but after a couple of tracks of wimp-pop for disco-cum-dance clubs you have to wonder why the promo sheet on this album speaks of it being "awash with Hot Chip's trademark creative bravery and a searing emotional intensity from first track to last". Sorry, bullshit on both counts. This is clever and sometimes slightly... > Read more

Hot Chip: Brothers

Brian Jonestown Massacre: Who Killed Sgt Pepper? (Southbound)

30 Jan 2010    1

This one-time San Francisco outfit which is most often considered a train-wreck of styles helmed by a career-destroying personality (Anton Newcombe) here weighs in with a pretty terrific crash of trash rock'n'roll, grunge-psychedelics, borrowings from world music beats and much more. In fact, given their musically wayward history (indie-pop drone to electronica) this is a kind of extended... > Read more

Brian Jonestown Massacre: This is the First of Your Last Warnings

Jimmy Buffett: Buffet Hotel (Mailboat)

30 Jan 2010

Buffett has made a career and an excellent living out of writing songs about drinking margaritas, sailing and flying, party moods with good food and better friends, beach bars and so on. He also works in political subtexts which detractors of his freewheeling lifestyle and easy music prefer to ignore. This typically interesting collection addresses the power of waving in friendship, his love... > Read more

Jimmy Buffett: Beautiful Swimmers

Songs: Songs (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

29 Jan 2010

This young pop band out of Sydney come, not so much trailing influences but shoving them up ahead of them: variously they sound like nasal Dylan '65 doing early Velvets drone (Farmacy), the Bats jingle-jangle (Something to Believe In), the fuzzy end of the Clean (Oh No), more Velvets-in-Dunedin (Retreat) . . . And those are just the first four tracks. You get the picture. No surprises... > Read more

Songs: Different Light

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

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/alt.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 (mihowada.com)

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

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