Music at Elsewhere

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The Checks: Alice By The Moon (Pie Club)

8 Jun 2009    3

If this was "the difficult second album" for local rock'n'roll darlings The Checks it certainly doesn't sound it: it struts with well placed self-assurance and if in places the song-craft isn't quite what we might expect you have to hand it to them, they have broadened their palette from that British r'n'b rock '65 sound which was their hallmark. Here they cannon off into thick... > Read more

The Checks: God Birds

The Middle East: The Recordings of the Middle East (Spunk)

8 Jun 2009    2

Okay this is odd: this seems to be a belated five-song EP taken from an album of the same name from early last year by an Australian band (collective?) which has broken up **. So this sampler seems well after the fact, which is disappointing because their alt.folk style would certainly appeal to people with a taste for Espers, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, recent Bonnie "Prince"... > Read more

The Middle East: The Darkest Side

Hikoikoi: Hikoikoi (Hikoikoi)

8 Jun 2009

In a country which has so many pressing social issues it has always struck me as interesting that reggae -- often the voice of the disenfranchised and dispossessed -- has, in this nation, most often erred to the more gentle and less controversial end of the spectrum. Perhaps it is emblematic of our country that we prefer "consciousness" reggae rather than the confrontational kind.... > Read more

Hokoikoi: Children a Delight

Simon and Garfunkel: Live 1969 (Sony)

6 Jun 2009    1

They certainly don't look like this these days (but who does look like their 40 year old photos?) but it isn't impossible that in concert they will sound sufficiently similar, maybe just pitched down an octave or so. Back in '69 when the songs on this album were recorded during their last tour together for well over a decade, the hit-machine that was Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had recorded... > Read more

Simon and Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Waters (1969)

Fat Freddy's Drop: Dr Boondigga and The Big BW (The Drop)

31 May 2009    1

I was among the seven people in the country who wasn't totally besotted with Fat Freddys' debut Based on a True Story (although perhaps a more appropriate title might have been Based on a Best Seller).  Didn't it quickly turn into dinner music for people too cool for Norah Jones? So given that, maybe my opinion on this long awaited follow-up counts for nowt. But here goes. I... > Read more

Fat Freddys Drop: Wild Wind

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest (Warp)

31 May 2009

The only problem New York's Grizzly Bear have as far as I can tell is that they are part of rock culture and, as with Fleet Foxes, are clearly a world away from any expectation that the word "rock" still carries. While stumbling towards descriptive phrases for this album some writers have alighted upon "baroque pop", "psychedelic folk" and so on. So here's the... > Read more

Grizzly Bear: About Face

Jarvis Cocker: Further Complications (Rough Trade)

30 May 2009

Chapter Seven: In which our hero in the company of producer Steve Albini undertakes a daring journey to his inner Bowie but cannot decide between the glam-rock of Ziggy or the avant-rock of Tin Machine  -- so heroically aims for both simultanously, despite the absence of decent songs and Albini's crunching attack. Our hero manfully makes it to the end of the 11 tracks, but it is likely... > Read more

Jarvis Cocker: Caucasian Blues

The Calico Brothers: Tell It To The Sun (Double Happy)

30 May 2009

These "brothers" from Auckland got a nice notice at Elsewhere for their debut EP God Left Town noting however that they seemed an amusing sum of influences such as the Traveling Wilburys (with Lennon not Orbison in the line-up), strum'n'sing Tom Petty and so on. Here those influences are slightly tempered -- although in the case of Is There Anyone There? they've borrowed so... > Read more

The Calico Brothers: Always Said I'd Do

Daby Toure and Skip McDonald: Call My Name (Proper)

30 May 2009

Given that singer/guitarist/bassist Skip McDonald is somewhat of an Elsewhere favourite in his Little Axe guise and here get assistance from drummer Keith LeBlanc, McDonald's fellow traveller in the Sugar Hill Band, then later with On-U Sound and working with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Living Colour, it would be good to like this more. But this six track EP never quite rises to... > Read more

Daby Toure and Skip McDonald: Time Has Come

Melanie Pain: My Name (Cartell/Border)

30 May 2009    2

While Phil Spector was being charged with murder there were any number of stories of how he would wave guns around, but rather fewer people noted that back in 1962 he'd recorded the rather dodgy He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss) -- penned by Gerry Goffin and Carole King curiously enough with lyrics that run "when I told him I had been untrue he hit me and it felt like a kiss . . . he hit... > Read more

Melanie Pain: Everything I Know

Various: Simply the Best; New Wave (Rhino/Warners)

30 May 2009

Billed also as "34 punk pop classics" this double disc illustrates just how bewildering but rewarding that period in the late Seventies was when the punk ethos (energy, short sharp songs) was given a slight sheen of musicianship and production values. Nothing here says "punk" to me as we understand that bristling UK movement spearheaded by the Sex Pistols, the Clash and... > Read more

Wreckless Eric: Whole Wide World

John Martyn: May You Never, The Very Best of John Martyn (Universal)

30 May 2009

Sadly you suspect this compilation would not have appeared if John Martyn hadn't died in January 2009. The great British singer-songwriter had a troubled life but along the way created some exceptional music. His finest record -- and an Essential Elsewhere album -- Solid Air of '73 has been simultaneously reissued in a Deluxe Edition, and last year his dark, post-separation album Grace... > Read more

hn Martyn: Small Hours

The Vaselines: Enter the Vaselines (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

29 May 2009

You'd have thought that by the Vaselines having Kurt Cobain as an uber-fan (Nirvana covered three Vaselines songs including Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam aka Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam) that this duo from Glasgow would have become huge. But rock doesn't work that way: Cobain was also a big fan of Daniel Johnston but as a major label found out after it signed him, that didn't... > Read more

The Vaselines: Slushy

Various: Playing for Change (Hear Music/Universal)

29 May 2009

You leave yourself open to contempt and not supporting the good cause if you slag off a Save the Whales/Orphans/Poor concert if you observe "but the music was awful". So it is with this album. The worthy Playing for Change idea is that of a multi-media global movement which connects people through music and of course brings peace to the world. Healthy scepticism says they've got... > Read more

Playing for Change: One Love

Mel Parsons: Over My Shoulder (Cape Road)

24 May 2009

Many local singer-songwriters have found their voice in what we know as alt.country, but Parsons (originally from the West Coast) goes one step closer to more traditional country music and an unashamed enjoyment of pop for this impressive debut. With a small band driven by the light touch of drummer Shaun Elley and deftly augemented by slide, dobro, organ and the Sami Sisters (among others)... > Read more

Mel Parsons: Pleasure and Pain

Steve Earle: Townes (New West)

24 May 2009

The legend of Townes Van Zandt (who died age 52 on New Year's Day 1997) continues to grow and the somewhat messy details of life -- depression, alcoholism, drugs -- have faded steadily to allow a greater clarity in which his dark but often beautiful work can shine. Down the decades he has been covered frequently by the Flatlanders (together and solo), Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, James... > Read more

Steve Earle: Lungs

Various: The Little Red Box of Protest Songs (Proper/Southbound)

24 May 2009

Perhaps this three-CD box set (with a DVD and booklet) might be subtitled "Songs for the New Recession" as the songs here have an almost alarming resonance, despite them being sourced from the Wobblies of a century ago and making their way into the contemporary world via Depression days and then the likes of Pete Seeger who has kept their spirit alive. Seeger, who is 90, has come... > Read more

Bob Miller: Bank Failures

Eilen Jewell: Sea of Tears (Signature/Rhythmethod)

24 May 2009    2

This wonderful singer-songwriter who bridges alt.country, early Lucinda Williams and a jazzy shuffle beat like some chanteuse from Paris (that would be Paris, Texas) has appeared at Elsewhere with her previous albums, Boundary Country and Letters from Sinners and Strangers. both of which have a kind of world weary quality which was critically acclaimed. Well, if it ain't broke . . . ? But... > Read more

Eilen Jewell: Final Hour

Wilco: Ashes of American Flags (Warners DVD)

21 May 2009

Part way through this insightful, beautifully shot mix of live concert footage and Wilco on the road, mainman Jeff Tweedy notes how he loves representational art and music in that the music can paint a picture which can be etched in the memory, an image of something like an urban landscape. By deliberate counterpoint one of the band members is then heard saying in a voice-over that... > Read more

Tal Wilkenfeld: Transformation (Wilkenfeld/Southbound)

15 May 2009    1

Anyone who saw Jeff Beck in concert will need no second invitation to this one: Wilkenfeld was the exceptionally gifted bassist in the band and who rightly drew unconstrained applause after her solo spots. Australian-born Wilkenfeld, who is still in her early Twenties, moved to Los Angeles in her early teens, and then to New York, and along the way has played with (among others) the Allman... > Read more

Tal Wilkenfeld: Truth be Told