Music at Elsewhere

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Tom Russell: Blood and Candle Smoke (Proper/Southbound)

16 Nov 2009

Tom Russell is a cinematic singer-songwriter whose storytelling is compelling, and whose whisky’n’grit vocals can take you to the heart of Tex-Mex territory. The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti said he was “Johnny Cash, [poet and novelist] Jim Harrison and [barfly writer] Charles Bukowski rolled into one“. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Russell spent time in Nigeria... > Read more

Tom Russell: Crosses of San Carlos

The Pines: Tremolo (Red House/Ode)

15 Nov 2009    1

Quite why the Pines -- who are Branson, the son of the legendary singer-songwriter Bo Ramsey, and David Huckfelt -- didn't get more alt.country/indie.rock traction with their excellent Sparrows in the Bell album was a mystery to me. Maybe the father association put people off in that Lennon-kids way?  To me they sounded like a bridge between cryptic Seventies Dylan and... > Read more

The Pines: Heart and Bones

White Denim: Fits (Inertia)

15 Nov 2009

This three-piece from Austin were everywhere in the UK media when they were touring while I was in England and Scotland in the middle of the year -- and I kept missing them. And the more I read the more interested I became: no one seemed to have a clear bead on them and while some cited Hendrix (it's the wah-wah pedal, folks) others mentioned a meltdown of the White Stripes and the Allman... > Read more

White Denim: Everybody Somebody

Various: Michael Jackson; the Remix Suite (Universal)

15 Nov 2009    2

Motown may have missed their golden opportunity with the shoddily compiled 50th anniversary albums, but they aren't so stupid as to let yet another marketing opportunity go by -- and so here comes wee Michael with (mostly) the life remixed out of him. There will be a great Jackson remix album (it won't be official of course, it'll be out there in webworld) but Motown had inferior dance... > Read more

Michael Jackson: ABC (Salaam Remi remix)

Julian Temple Band: Quiet Earth (Oscillosonic/Yellow Eye)

15 Nov 2009

Noticed how in action movies so few actors speak these days? They tend use an amplified whisper which has the effect of raising tension -- even when very little is happening. San Francisco-born, Dunedin-based singer-songwriter Temple is like that: his husky whisper is everywhere on this acoustic-driven, sometimes folk/sometimes funk, occasionally bluesy album. It raises tension where... > Read more

Julian Temple Band: American Dream

The Topp Twins: Honky Tonk Angel (Topp)

15 Nov 2009

To be perfectly honest I went off the Topp Twins very quickly: around the time of the Women's Web Collective album Out of the Corners of '82 and in a few subsequent years I thought they were terrific and iconoclastic, and their stage shows howlingly funny. But then their humour seemed to become more tame, mainstream and -- at a time when sophisticated comedy was all over television -- I... > Read more

The Topp Twins: Palamino Moon

Jim Capaldi: Oh How We Danced/Whale Meat Again (Raven)

15 Nov 2009

Drummer, singer and songwriter Capaldi recorded these two solo albums in '72 and '74 when he was still a member of Traffic alongside Stevie Winwood, Dave Mason and Chris Wood -- all of whom appear here as part of a stellar cast which also includes the Muscle Shoals Horns, guitarist Paul Kossoff of Free, Rick Grech, drummer Gaspar Lawal, Jim Gordon and others. Pretty much a who's who of the... > Read more

Jim Capaldi: How Much Can a Man Really Take?

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band: Between My Head and the Sky (Chimera/Rhythmethod)

10 Nov 2009

When Yoko Ono released her artistically packaged Onobox in 1992 -- a six CD retrospective of a solo career which had ceased in the mid Eighties -- that would seemed to have been it from the most famous widow in the world. She was almost 60; had stopped recording because as she wryly noted "there seemed no great call" from the public for any more albums by her; and her attention was... > Read more

Yoko Ono: Higa Noboru

Harmonia and Eno '76: Tracks and Traces Reissue (Gronland/Rhythmethod)

9 Nov 2009

Even during his days in Roxy Music, Brian Eno professed an admiration for not just the music coming out of the German electronic movement (Can and so on) but for their collective spirit. They often lived communally and kept outside the mainstream, and (the commune thing excepted) so did he. That they had so many musical interests in common meant it was inevitable at some point they would... > Read more

Harmonia and Eno: Vamos Companeros

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Intentions: Through the Devil Softly (Shock)

9 Nov 2009

Sandoval was the emotionally cool, quietly mesmerising singer in Mazzy Star who has been off the radar for some while as a front person. (She has collaborated widely however, a new Mazzy album soon.) Here she fronts the band of her partner Colm O Ciosoig (of My Bloody Valentine) and various others on their first outing in about eight years. Little has changed in her emotionally close but... > Read more

Hope Sandoval: Blue Bird

BLK JKS: After Robots (Secretly Canadian)

9 Nov 2009

It would be hard to imagine a more musically diverse, genre-defying and largely bewildering album than this by a South African rock band which has been swept off to Electric Ladyland Studios in New York where Brandon Curtis (of Secret Machines) has produced this meltdown of mad psychedelics, MOR ballads, reggae and African mbaqanga. Nine tracks like nine different radio stations. At... > Read more

BLK JKS: Molalatladi

Tami Neilson: The Kitchen Table Sessions Vol 1 (Ode)

9 Nov 2009    1

It's a curious thing that in New Zealand where country and alt.country of various persuasions has become increasingly popular that an album like this slips past most people. It slipped past me until very recently, although I'm pleased to note her previous one Red Dirt Angel, didn't go around the judges at the 2009 music awards who picked it as the country album of last year. Without having... > Read more

Tami Neilson: Girl on the Moon

Bill Chambers: Drifting South (Whitewater)

9 Nov 2009

Bill Chambers -- quite apart from being the father of singer-songwriter Kasey and producer Nash -- is one of Australia's great singer-songwriters whose work just seems to be getting deeper and more resonant. He is suitably road-grizzled these days and his work (just a reference point) sits somewhere between Paul Kelly, Kris Kristofferson and Greg Brown. Here he sings of "deisel and... > Read more

Bill Chambers: Tail Lights

Bear Cat: Presents Xiong Mao (Bear Cat)

8 Nov 2009

Blenheim-raised Jocee Tuck -- one half of this duo with Dan Trevarthen -- recently won Auckland University’s inaugural School of Music singer-songwriter award. Against tough competition -- a soul-pop belter, earnest young men with guitars -- Tuck delivered her original songs with lowkey charm and her ace was a complex arrangement for vibes, marimba and vocals which took her close the... > Read more

Bear Cat: Set, Set, Set My Eyes On Fire

Sarah Blasko: As Day Follows Night (Universal)

6 Nov 2009

In what looked like a joke, a recent issue of the Australian Rolling Stone described Sarah Blasko as "music's most reluctant star" in the blurb above a story which ran for pages, included a lot of intimate and arty photos, and had the singer-songwriter extensively quoted. As "reluctant" goes it was hardly in the league of Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes or Scott Walker.... > Read more

Sarah Blasko: Lost and Defeated

Delgirl: Porchlight (Yellow Eye)

4 Nov 2009

This trio from Dunedin impressed on their debut album two, maybe three, days ride which saw them nominated for a Tui award and, as I noted at that time, it was a real step up from their first EP. This even better album -- 15 tracks -- confirms what I have always believed, the more you work (ie play, perform and record) the chances are the better you will get. There is a musical maturity... > Read more

Delgirl: Stars

The Brunettes: Paper Dolls (Lil' Chief)

3 Nov 2009

The cute and coy pop of the Brunettes has always been much enjoyed here at Elsewhere for its humour and slightly twee quality, and their previous album Structure and Cosmetics remains a Firm Favourite, as they say. But frankly on this one some of the charm is wearing off: they work the same lyrical quirkiness about domestic matters and observations as always; the "relationship"... > Read more

The Brunettes: Magic (No Bunny)

Wolfmother: Cosmic Egg (Universal)

3 Nov 2009

To be honest I rarely watch music television, but the other night I caught about 30 seconds of these Australian rockers and was hooked: they seemed to be nothing especially new but were genuinely exciting. I heard a bit of early Black Sabbath, some terrific guitar sounds of the kind that used to be common in the late Sixties, a swag of Seventies pre-stadium rock (Black Oak Arkansas) and whole... > Read more

Wolfmother: New Moon Rising

Wall of Voodoo: Dark Continent/Call of the West (Raven)

2 Nov 2009

Stan Ridgway, frontman for Wall of Voodoo, was one of the smartest, story-telling songwriters -- and nervously energetic singers -- to emerge in the wake of American new wave in the early Eighties. Sadly most people might only know them for their terrific single Mexican Radio and relegate them to that one-hit-wonder category reserved for bands which turned Japanese (the Vapors) or sang of... > Read more

Wall of Voodoo: Call of the West

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: Advance Base Battery Life (Tomlab)

2 Nov 2009

When the superbly named CFTPA (Owen Ashworth from Chicago) played before a couple of dozen in Auckland a few years back he was utterly beguiling: a small selection of lo-fi keyboards; a voice soaked in melancholy; and pointed songs which had a bed-sit consciousness without moping or self-pitying. His 06 album Etiquette was chock full of poetic miniatures, but this collection of singles,... > Read more

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: Sunday St