Music at Elsewhere

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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

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

Helen Henderson: Twisting Wind (Ranui)

11 Jan 2010

Tough and often earthy blues rock/alt.country 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 alt.country 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

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

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

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

17 Dec 2009    3

In a blog at publicaddress.net 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 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 Bonnie Prince Billy: Beware (Spin)

17 Dec 2009    2

The previous album by Bonnie Prince Billy -- aka Will Oldham -- was the uneven but enjoyable Lie Down in the Light which found our former melancholy fellah in a somewhat more upbeat mood. It was bound to divide longtime listeners, most of whom probably preferred his "I see a darkness" side, or his wonderful The Letting Go which made the Best of Elsewhere 2006 list. A consumer... > Read more

Bonnie Prince Billy: You Can't Hurt me Now

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, alt.country, 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 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 Leonard Cohen: Live in London (DVD, Sony)

17 Dec 2009    1

Those who saw Cohen's New Zealand concerts earlier this year -- and even those whose wallets couldn't stand the cruel gouging -- will find much to enjoy in this, almost exactly the same show, here filmed live in London's O2 Arena last July. Musically this was an interesting concert (again, what you see here is almost identical, jokes and all, to what he did everywhere on that tour) and his... > Read more

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 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 Bob Dylan: Together Through Life (Sony)

17 Dec 2009

Bob Dylan doesn't exactly make easy listening music, but Together Through Life finds him in a musically mellow mood and although darkness lurks in the lyrics (guns, death, danger, songs of love and loss) there is something relaxed and almost settled about most of these 10 songs. Where its superb predecessor Modern Times (his first number one Billboard album since Desire 30 years... > Read more

Bob Dylan: I Feel A Change Comin' On