Music at Elsewhere

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Grant-Lee Phillips: Little Moon (Yep Roc)

26 Oct 2009

Phillips -- formerly frontman for the LA alt-rock/indie-pop outfit Grant Lee Buffalo in the 90s -- may never release a solo album quite as exceptional as his Mobilize of 2001. But after the country-folk of Virginia Creeper of 04, the 06 covers album Nineteeneighties (you always ask, “Why?” of such projects) and Strangelet of two years ago which was excellent but disappeared... > Read more

Grant-Lee Phillips: Little Moon

Danny McCrum Band: Say What You Mean (Paper Plane)

25 Oct 2009

This bristling, tight, and emotionally taut album by McCrum and his Auckland band is a real step up from their already impressive debut Awake and Restless which found much favour at Elsewhere. This time out everything from the energy levels to the songwriting has been taken up a notch or two, there is a sense of real urgency in these rocking songs (some of which have a terrific and... > Read more

Danny McCrum Band: Cold Outside

Chris Prowse: Trouble on the Waterfront (Proco)

18 Oct 2009

The 1951 waterfront strike in Auckland (which lasted for five months but had repercussions for years, even decades, after) was one of the most significant flashpoints and dividing lines in New Zealand history, certainly as much as the Springbok tour three decades later. The strike, lock-out, state of emergency, troops and farmers coming to town to sort out the wharfies, allegations of... > Read more

Chris Prowse: Proclamation/Sid's Song

2am Orchestra: Impermanence (DJK)

18 Oct 2009

You'd be wise to put aside any preconceptions of what this music might sound like if you simply guessed from the band's name (dark, slow, ambient?), because David Kelley who is the mainman here aims (with a lot of help from his friends) to be nothing less than Arcade Fire with hints of mid-period Radiohead. This is dramatic music full of intense moods -- and mood shifts -- which pulls... > Read more

2am Orchestra: Delilah

Various: Luaka Bop; Twenty First Year (Luaka Bop/Southbound)

18 Oct 2009

Luaka Bop was the label started by David Byrne in the late Eighties in his first years out of Talking Heads. The idea was for him to record (or re-release) artists who took his fancy and by this time Byrne had embraced Afrobeat and was a pre-Buena Vista supporter of Cuban music, South American sounds and alt.Americana. Luaka Bop was by inclination a "world music" label although... > Read more

Shuggie Otis: Aht Uh Mi Hed

The Dodos: Time to Die (Shock)

18 Oct 2009

As a number of overseas critics have noted, it isn’t entirely encouraging to hear singer Meric Long of this San Francisco duo announce repeatedly on Fables here, “I don’t wanna go in the fire, I just wanna stay in my home” on this, only the band’s third album. Not a man to be storming barricades at a guess despite the occasional anthemic effort here. What... > Read more

The Dodos: Time to Die

Tzenka Dianova: DeConstruction (Atoll)

18 Oct 2009

The words "contemporary classical music" probably strike as much fear into the hearts of innocent civilians as "free jazz". For some reason these terms equate to cacophony for many (sometimes, to be fair, that is the case) . . . but on this album where Dianova plays piano, prepared piano and celesta we might have to reconsider what "contemporary classical"... > Read more

Tzenka Dianova: Le piege de Meduse (Satie)

Damien Binder: While the Wind's At Your Back (Binder)

18 Oct 2009

In a recent interview Greg Johnson told me that after almost seven years in Los Angeles slugging it out writing, playing and hustling he'd made the conscious decision to leave the live work behind and concentrate on being a songwriter. And working with sympathetic others of a similar mindset. Lord knows, we need more good songs. Damien Binder is another former Aucklander like... > Read more

Damien Binder: Damage

Warren Cate: The Reparation Tapes (Warcat)

18 Oct 2009

Cate is what we might call an "occasional" rock'n'roll singer-songwriter: this is only his fourth album in about 14 years. He has a day job. I recognise on his website some highly favourable comments (uncredited) from me down the years, and his music has always found a place on my Sunday afternoon Kiwi FM show. This album will too. Cate has real feel for a power-pop into... > Read more

Warren Cate: Say What You Will

Malajube: Labyrinthes (Shock)

18 Oct 2009

Elsewhere is certainly not immune to charms of Canada: we have acknowledged Arcade Fire, the collective Broken Social Scene, Patrick Watson, the challenge of vocal contortionist Tagaq and others (as well as watching the Anvil doco with tightening sphincter, hailing the droll TV comedy Corner Gas, and delighting in the landscape and people). But not a lot of Canadian music gets to the far end... > Read more

Malajube: Casablanca

Brendan Benson: My Old, Familiar Friend (Shock)

12 Oct 2009

Singer-songwriter Benson had already pumped out three albums under his own name before he came to greater attention as a member of the Raconteurs alongside Jack White. That profile will gain attention for this often hugely poppy outing in which he seems to channel the spirit (and sometimes the chord changes) of those old, familiar songs and bands he fell in love with while listening to radio... > Read more

Blitzen Trapper: Black River Killer (Sub Pop)

12 Oct 2009    1

This sextet from the Pacific North West hasn’t made much of an impact here, despite three albums which have drawn critical comparisons with Neil Young (in his acoustic and rock personae), Fleet Foxes and Wilco (both of whom they have opened for), folky Dylan and even Rubber Soul-era Beatles (albeit with a country-rock skew). They are fascinating, unpredictable and confident -- and... > Read more

Joe Pernice: It Feels So Good When I Stop (RedEye/Southbound)

12 Oct 2009

Most of us will be at a disadvantage when it comes to this album by Joe of the very fine Pernice Brothers: these are songs to accompany his debut novel of the same name -- and my guess is it will go largely unread other than by his Serious Fans. No matter perhaps, this should work as a stand-alone item (different idiom) and it largely does as a lowkey, highly melodic collection of unexpected... > Read more

Joe Pernice: I Go To Pieces

International Observer: Felt (Dubmission)

11 Oct 2009

The first thing to note about this new album by producer/dubmeister Tom Bailey is that there are 12 tracks. No noodling around or nodding off going on here, Bailey doesn't let any groove outstay its welcome. And throughout Bailey also adds in interesting elements to keep your attention: Is that a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of Eighties synth-pop on Popcorn Slavery? What's that strange... > Read more

International Observer: Binman Dub

Monsters of Folk: Monsters of Folk (Spunk)

11 Oct 2009

Given who these people are -- Conor Oberst aka Bright Eyes, M Ward, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket (aka Yim Yames) -- you might be forgiven for thinking this is some kind of neo-folk meeting on the mountain top, or possibly a younger, more serious and sprightly version of the Traveling Wilburys. But in the hands of producer -- and fourth Monster -- Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis)... > Read more

Monsters of Folk: Baby Boomer

David Bremner: Gung-Ho (Atoll)

5 Oct 2009

Subtitled "Virtuoso works for Trombone" this debut album by Bremner of the NZSO is a finalist in the Best Classical Album category at the 2009 New Zealand music awards*, and even if trombone isn't your thing (jazz by Tommy Dorsey perhaps, classical maybe not?) you'd have to concede this is extremely impressive. It does feel a little like a show reel as he engages in duets with... > Read more

David Bremner: Allerseelen

Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers: Cottonwood Farm (Proper/Southbound)

5 Oct 2009

Anyone who has followed the career of the great songwriter Jimmy Webb (interviewed at Elsewhere here) will attest to two things: he crafts memorable material (all those hits for Glen Campbell, the gorgeous minimalism of The Moon's A Harsh Mistress made famous by Joe Cocker, the baroque McArthur Park) and he ain't much of a singer. Like Burt Bacharach, you usually need to hear Webb's... > Read more

Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers: Where the Universes Are

Paloma Faith: Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? (Sony)

5 Oct 2009

For the past few months it seems to have been impossible to miss Pixie Lott: posters and interviews (none of which I've read I must admit), her poppet-features poking out of every corner of popular culture. It came as a surprise to me then to learn just last week that the ubiquitous Pixie -- clearly a talent whose genius requires our on-going interest -- has only just released her debut... > Read more

Paloma Faith: My Legs Are Weak

The Raiders: Indian Reservation/Collage (Raven/EMI)

4 Oct 2009

When this band emerged as Paul Revere and the Raiders in the Sixties they were a rocking, sometimes salacious and rather terrific garageband (albeit one which dressed kinda funny) and so, quite rightly, a compilation of their Greatest Hits appears at Essential Elsewhere. By 1970 the world had turned through hippies, horn-augmented bands like Blood Sweat and Tears, jamming outfits and so on.... > Read more

The Raiders: The Boys in the Band (from Collage, 1970)

Chris Smither: Time Stands Still (Shock)

4 Oct 2009

As on his earlier Leave The Light On, this grizzled singer-songwriter now in his mid 60s, covers a Bob Dylan song, this time It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry. He also adds in Mark Knopfler's Madame Geneva's and that's a more useful reference, because Knopfler explores roots music -- but Smither lives it. His low grumble isn't too far removed from Knopfler's although comes on... > Read more

Chris Smither: I Don't Know