Music at Elsewhere

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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 M Ward: Hold Time (4AD)

17 Dec 2009    2

The previous album by M Ward, Post-War, was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006 albums for its dark hues, free-range musical approach (blues, alt.rock, indie-folk, Americana etc) and the fact it had something to say. At that time I noted his musical magpie tendencies (a good thing) and because of its layers said it would stand the test of time. It has round my way, and although I missed his... > Read more

M Ward: Epistemology

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (UK Spin)

17 Dec 2009    2

At a time when yet another Neil Young album and a truly dire Stevie Nicks live outing command major media attention, it could be slightly depressing that this one by the great Bill Callahan will probably go straight past most reviewers, and his potential audience. Often appearing under the name Smog, Callahan has always appealed to people attuned to Bonnie Prince Billy, the Handsome Family... > Read more

Bill Callahan: The Wind and the Dove

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 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

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Beatles Remasters (EMI)

17 Dec 2009

Much as it is possible to love every crackle and piece of surface noise on the original vinyl albums which some still have or have inherited, the remastering brought out an energy and vitality in the Beatles catalogue which was undeniable. The music (and the Beatles Rock Band game) was much essayed at Elsewhere on release (I heard the recordings in Abbey Road back in June) but the truth is... > Read more

The Beatles: Happiness is a Warm Gun (from "The White Album", mono version)

Gordon Gano and the Ryans: Under the Sun (YepRoc)

14 Dec 2009

While the solo career of multi-instrumentalist Brian Ritchie has been the most rewarding of the Violent Femmes because of his interest in world music and the jazz of Sun Ra, as the Femmes vocalist Gano was always going to have a more distinctive profile. With the Femmes effectively disbanded -- Ritchie lives in Tasmania -- Gano steps out under his own name with the Ryans (guitarist Billy and... > Read more

Gordon Gano and the Ryans: Home

Various Artists: Ten Guitars, the New Zealand Heartland Soundtrack (Universal)

14 Dec 2009    1

Walking in to a CD/DVD store recently I heard the most unexpected song playing, it was Amigo by Black Slate, a British reggae band which had a brief fliration with the charts at the dawn of the Eighties with this pop-reggae crossover single. They came to Auckland and played a Town Hall gig with Herbs and my recollection, seared in my memory actually, was of going to the gig and being one... > Read more

Patea Maori: Poi E

Tom Waits: Glitter and Doom Live (Anti/Shock)

14 Dec 2009    1

Barney Hoskyn's recent useful but flawed Waits biography Lowside of the Road ended with the writer going to see Tom Waits in concert on this brief tour which was widely acclaimed as the best of 2008. Waits hadn't been out live in some while (11 years since he'd last appeared in the UK) and as a result his cachet had grown and expectation was high. And Waits -- ever the entertainer -- didn't... > Read more

Tom Waits: The Part You Throw Away

Lisa Germano: Magic Neighbor (Young God Records)

13 Dec 2009

Given that the cover art here is by Auckland's West Coast artist Dean Buchanan, we might guess that singer/violinist/composer Germano encountered his work when she was in New Zealand in April 2001 for Neil Finn's 7 Worlds Collide project. Certainly Buchanan's dark and mysterious work is appropriate here because Germano's music is much the same: there is a surface loveliness hinted at but... > Read more

Lisa Germano: Snow

Various Artists: s3d (ear and eye) Atoll CD/DVD

13 Dec 2009

In 1996 Ellipsis Arts in the US released a CD and book package entitled Gravikords, Whirlies and Pyrophones: Experimental Musical Instruments. It was compiled by Bart Hopkin who had edited the journal Experimental Musical Instruments for over a decade at that point. The foreward was written by Tom Waits who had begun his career-changing journey into using odd instruments and machinery, some... > Read more

Yek Koo on cardboard record players

The Phoenix Foundation: Merry Kriskmass EP (Phoenix Foundation)

13 Dec 2009

If you believe the anti-hype, this isn't exactly the Phoenix Foundation's cash-in on Christmas but has been inspired by The Krisk who is -- and I am just quoting here -- "a small stuffed white man who rides a reindeer". It is he who appears on the cover, has inspired this six-song EP (plus uncredited but uninteresting soundscapes buried away at the end) and is the subject of the... > Read more

The Phoenix Foundation: Everybody's Money

New and Noted

13 Dec 2009

At this time of year -- Christmas but 10 days away -- there is a slew of releases and while no sane reviewer would want to deal with every Yuletide-themed album (Dylan's worthy outing doesn't get a mention at Elsewhere, you can figure that one out for yourself) there are still a number of albums clamouring for attention which at least deserve to be acknowledged. Here then are potted reviews... > Read more

Carla Bley/Stev Swallow: O Holy Night (from Carla's Christmas Carols, see below))

Them Crooked Vultures: Them Crooked Vultures (Sony)

13 Dec 2009

This will be brief for a couple of reasons: this genuine supergroup of Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) has already been given wide-exposure, and that in this instance Elsewhere has been running a bit late. (Got waylaid by a Guy Clark album or somesuch) So the short of it is that this is usefully mature and loud hard... > Read more

Them Crooked Vultures: Spinning in Daffodils

Linda Ronstadt: Hand Sown . .. Home Grown/Silk Purse (Raven/EMI)

13 Dec 2009

Long before she was a country-rock cover star and dating California governor Jerry Brown in the late Seventies, Linda Ronstadt was a singer struggling to find her forte. Her albums with the Stone Poneys showed her folk-rock chops and their cover of Mike Nesmith's Different Drum gave them a hit but also signalled a solo career beckoning for Ronstadt. Her first two solo albums from '69... > Read more

Linda Ronstadt: Lovesick Blues (from Silk Purse)

Baskery: Fall Among Thieves (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

13 Dec 2009

Recently I flipped on yet another faux-country alt.folk album and listened to university educated people pretending they were Appalachian mountain dwellers imbued with a rural spirit and old time religion. I thought, "Spare me much more of this!" And then comes this album to reinvigorate my interest in a mighty crowded genre -- and of course they are the furtherest thing from... > Read more

Baskery: Haunt You

Various Artists: The Lennon and McCartney Songbook (EMI)

12 Dec 2009

While there have been quite a number of such compilations in the past interest alights on this one in particular because it has been pulled together by EMI New Zealands in-house memoryman Bruce Ward who does a fine job on such collections -- and here writes the intelligent liner essay. The Lennon and McCartney team were giving away hits in their early career until about late '65 and a few of... > Read more

Bernard Cribbins: When I'm Sixty Four

Bap Kennedy: Howl On (Lonely Street Discs)

7 Dec 2009

After time in the Irish band Energy Orchard, Kennedy spent many years in the America he was obsessed with as a child. For this moving tribute to the America of his dreams -- and specifically the days of the Apollo Mission to the moon and Woodstock -- he gives concept albums a good name. Now back in Belfast after his Nashville period, he reflects on his recent passion for the moon landings... > Read more

Bap Kennedy: The Right Stuff

Guy Clark: Somedays the Song Writes You (Dualtone)

7 Dec 2009

Now in his late 60s -- he turned 68 in November -- this great Texas singer-songwriter is sounding very weak'n'weary in these 10 co-writes and his cover of Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You. And that is its very strength. Clark brings a melancholy reflectiveness or quiet gravitas to these lyrics and whether it be considering the mysteries of the songwriting process ("you can search... > Read more

Guy Clark: Eamon

Fatcat and Fishface: Birdbrain (Jayrem)

6 Dec 2009    3

This irreverent outfit who sing songs ostensibly for children but with major adult appeal, have appeared at Elsewhere previously with their very silly The Bestest and Most Horriblest Songs for Children. They are more Spike Milligan and Monty Python than Teletubbies and Play School. This one is aimed rather further up the kiddie demographic than Bestest (8 to 14 would be my guess) because it... > Read more

Fatcat and Fishface: Kea