Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Pop Mechanix: Now-Then; One Hit Windows (Failsafe)

5 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

It would be fair to observe that when the countback of Kiwi bands of the Eighties is done the name "Pop Mechanix" comes up much less frequently than it should. Yet here was a hard-working and thoroughly entertaining live band from Christchurch which cracked urgent singles like Radio Song ("my music, I want to hear it on the radio") at a time when radio programmers were... > Read more

Pop Mechanix: Jumping Out a Window

Carol Bean: Crossing the Dirty River (carolbean.com)

4 Apr 2010  |  <1 min read

This album by peripatetic British-born, LA-raised country-blues rocker singer-guitarist Bean -- now resident in NZ -- has been around the stereo for perhaps so long I forgot to post it. With a tight, revolving door band which includes slippery and earthy guitar by Mike Petrie, Robbie Duncan, Mark Laurent and Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Bean delivers some serious messages (although the Pacific... > Read more

Carol Bean: Evidence

Jeff Beck: Emotion and Commotion (Atco)

2 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

Jeff Beck's career has certainly seem some troughs -- usually by virtue of his absence from playing when the mood didn't take him -- but latterly he has enjoyed some great highs. His recent touring reminded again of what a colourful palette he commands -- from fusion rock to great delicacy, often within the same piece -- and that he does this with such self-effacement. His most recent... > Read more

Jeff Beck: I Put a Spell on You (featuring Joss Stone)

Her Make Believe Band: AM Radio (Old Oak)

1 Apr 2010  |  <1 min read

This delightful album by two expat Kiwis Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan has been quite rightly picking up favourable notices in the UK where they are now based as part of the group Her Make Believe Band. Certainly the references to Paul Simon (for lightness of touch and literacy in places) make sense but there is as much pop here as folk which tips it right into that category which hooks... > Read more

Her Make Believe Band: Thats Why I Like You Best

The Unthanks: Here's the Tender Coming (Shock)

29 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

Mercury Prize nominated or not, the previous album The Bairns by these Geordies -- then under the name Rachel Unthank and the Winterset -- did not do it for me, and hence didn't get posted at Elsewhere. It sounded far too finger-in-the ear gloom-folk and of marginal interest to anyone outside the English folk circle (and Mercury panels) which embraces such things. Even Rachel now considers... > Read more

The Unthanks: Sad February

Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do (Pias)

29 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

The Truckers inspire great loyalty, but fans may be tested by this outing which was knocked off quickly and suffers for it. Certainly it rocks like Pearl Jam with Neil Young or Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers on a three-day drunk, but songs like the otherwise excellent stripper’s story of Birthday Boy stumble to a halt and others just sound undercooked, if bruisingly effective.... > Read more

Drive-By Truckers: Drag the Lake Charlie

The Coosters: Worn Out Libertines (Coosters)

28 Mar 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

First some background to this one. As you might guess Elsewhere gets music and requests for reviews from many and various places -- but this was a first from Toledo, Ohio. When guitarist/singer Steven J Athanas sent an e-mail asking if I would be interested in their album he seemed smart and witty - and when I replied along the lines of "sure, why not?"I also added that all I knew... > Read more

The Coosters: Anyone Guess

Various Artists: Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (For the Sake of the Song)

22 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

The late Van Zandt is hardly the little-known cult artist he once was: there are many tribute albums (Steve Earle most recently) and his estate must coin it in from all the covers alt.country artists do. Most of Van Zandt’s originals were spare, lowkey and acoustic -- so the surprise here is what an embellishing or reconfiguring approach some of these largely unknown artists or cult... > Read more

Loophole and Ciaran Kirby: Lungs

Graham Parker: Imaginary Television (Bloodshot)

22 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

In Britain’s post-punk era Parker and the Rumour emerged with an urgent, often angry sound that owed as much to pub-rock and venomous Bob Dylan as it did to American soul, r’n’b and rocked-up country. They were real contenders and their early albums still sound full of bile’n’fire. Parker’s solo career became more measured when he relocate to the US and... > Read more

Graham Parker: Weather Report

The Eastern: Arrows (Social End Product/Rhythmethod)

22 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

The Eastern out of Christchurch are new to me although for the past few months their name has been mentioned a lot, always along the lines of, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern." Now I have and I too am saying, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern". Part arse-kickin' Steve Earle (for whom they have opened), part reflective old time country, part Old Crow Medicine Show (for... > Read more

The Eastern: The Steeple

John Hiatt: The Open Road (New West)

22 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

For my money John Hiatt never sounds better than when he gets a rocking band behind and sounds a little venomous or angry. The back-porch Hiatt never much appealed to me -- so this, his 19th album, suits me just fine. With his tight little touring band and at age 57, he (mostly) writes about hitting the highway and some of the songs seem perfectly crafted for top-down driving with a strip... > Read more

John Hiatt: Haulin'

Eden Mulholland: Music for Dance (Isaac)

21 Mar 2010  |  <1 min read

Probably this shouldn't work. Music for dance pieces have to be special to exist without the moving images -- and yet in theory they should be able to do exactly that. These do. Eden Mulholland has written for numerous New Zealand dance productions and is the singer-songwriter in the rock band Motorcade, but here he collects 23 discreet, mostly electronic pieces which utilise backward... > Read more

Eden Mulholland: False Waltz, 2nd Movement

The Watson Twins: Talking to You, Talking to Me (EMI)

21 Mar 2010  |  <1 min read

This album might be surprisingly short -- a mere 33 minutes -- but it represents a significant and reasonably impressive shift in direction for Chandra and Leigh Watson who here call on friends from My Morning Jacket and Everest for an album that is by turns moody bluesy and soulful, all delivered with a pop economy. The folk and rootsy blues which was their hallmark on Southern Manners... > Read more

The Watson Twins: Midnight

Fionn Regan: The Shadow of an Empire (Inertia/Border)

21 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

On the cover he may look like one of the more camp American Idol finalists, but Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan occupies that appealing musical territory between Dylan in '66, Pete Molinari and lo-fi Chris Knox with his urgent, lyrically twisting songs which are punctuated by ear and heart-gripping lines. Catacombs here suggests a story in just a few lines: "I've been noticing... > Read more

Fionn Regan: Protection Racket

Hayseed Dixie: Killer Grass (Cooking Vinyl)

21 Mar 2010  |  <1 min read

You might have thought the Hayseed Dixie joke -- a band from the fanciful Deer Lick Holler playing bluegrass treatments of (mostly) rock songs, interviewed here -- would have run its course by now. But eight albums in they are still going. And of course it is still kinda fun: here they knock off Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody), Black Sabbath, Mozart, The Prodigy and others (as well as seven... > Read more

Hayseed Dixie: Won't Get Fooled Again (the Who)

Hollie Smith: Humour and the Misfortune of Others (EMI)

19 Mar 2010  |  <1 min read

This can be extremely brief given that Smith's story, travails and so on have been much canvassed. But what hasn't been said too often or too loudly is that while her previous album Long Player sold exceptionally well it came encumbered with two shortcomings which probably didn't go unnoticed by those at Manhattan/Blue Note with whom she parted company. It lacked coherent songs (aside from... > Read more

Hollie Smith: Before This Day is Gone

The Durutti Column: A Paean to Wilson (Kooky)

15 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

In the brief liner notes here Durutti Column's Vini Reilly notes how close he had been to the late Tony Wilson who had almost single-handedly founded and shaped the scene which came out Manchester. Reilly notes that Wilson was his close friend (he was at the hospital when Wilson died in '07) and that Durruti Column was the first act signed to play at Wilson's Factory club and the first on... > Read more

The Durutti Column: Brother

Gorillaz: Plastic Beach (EMI CD/DVD)

15 Mar 2010  |  2 min read

Gorillaz aren't the first to make "world music" of no fixed cultural abode (Elsewhere has noted 1 Giant Leap and the Laya Project among others) -- but there is something so diverse yet coherent, musically ambitious yet delivered with a pop sensibility, and just so damn clever and enjoyable about Gorillaz that they stand apart from all other contenders. Mainman and driving force... > Read more

Gorillaz: Broken

Salon Kingsadore: Mountain Rescue (Sarang Bang)

14 Mar 2010  |  <1 min read

Salon Kingsadore is another vehicle for Auckland guitarist Gianmarco Liguori whose earlier albums under his own name (with stellar guests) have appeared at Elsewhere, and who seems a hard man to pigeonhole. Here for example he leads the instrumental group of keyboard player Billy Squire, bassist Hayden Sinclair and drummer Steven Tait (with guests saxophonist Brian Smith and trumpeter Edwina... > Read more

Salon Kingsadore: The Warm War

Edwin Derricutt: Three Hours South (Freefall/Pure)

14 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

The debut by this New Zealand singer-songwriter, Symmetry, found immediate favour at Elsewhere a couple of years ago, but this album is big step up in maturity of songwriting and musicality. There's a depth and muscularity to these songs (the urgent tone of Life Boat, the sharp folk-pop of 30 Seconds, the holy stillness of Soldier) which is immediately affecting and if on the previous... > Read more

Edwin Derricutt: Life Boat