Music at Elsewhere

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Richmond Fontaine: "We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like A River" (Southbound)

24 Aug 2009    4

This exceptional, and exceptionally consistent, group out of Portland with songwriter and novelist Willy Vlautin at its core has appeared at Elsewhere previously. Way back in 2005 with the penetrating album The Fitzgerald, and later for Vlautin's stark novel The Motel Life which invites favourable comparisons with writers such as Larry McMurtry, Cormac (No Country for Old Men) McCarthy and... > Read more

Richmond Fontaine: A Letter to the Patron Saint of Nurses

William Fitzsimmons: The Sparrow and the Crow (Inertia)

23 Aug 2009

If this hushed folk album was written after a divorce as has been suggested then that explains a lot: it is introspective; the lovely vocals barely rise above a whisper; and the lean, pointed lyrics address all manner of separation emotions (We Feel Alone, If You Would Come Back Home, Please Forgive Me, You Still Hurt Me, They'll Never Take The Good Years are among the song titles). While... > Read more

William Fitzsimmons: If You Would Come Back Home

Dr Colossus: Dr Colossus (Independent EP)

23 Aug 2009

As with the Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band which also borrows from gypsy music, klezmer, flat-tack Russian folk and so on, this 4-track EP (actually just three, the 35 second thing at the start is just scene-setting) is mostly high on energy and enjoyment, but seems to be all over the place. In a good way if you are knocking back vodka slammers, I guess. The addition of Sixties surf guitar... > Read more

Dr Colossus: Arrrpegiator

Drive By Truckers: Live from Austin, Tx (New West CD/DVD)

23 Aug 2009    1

You would have thought live albums might have died out shortly after the arrival of MTV when people could finally see the bands whose albums they were hearing. But no, live albums still come -- although the smart bands now combine a CD with a DVD, as do Drive By Truckers, a longtime Elsewhere favourite whose previous albums (and the recent solo outing by Patterson Hood, and that by Bettye... > Read more

Drive By Truckers: Perfect Timing

Rebel Peasant: The Walls of the Well (Rebel Peasant)

23 Aug 2009    1

These mostly gentle instrumentals by a founder member of the Phoenix Foundation (a drummer, but here steering various bandmates and others through his own self-produced material in his home studio) confirms what a rich source of talent that band contains . . . and what Rebel Peasant (aka Richie Singleton) is. Like a moody, layered, slightly dubby soundtrack to movies where the tension is... > Read more

Rebel Peasant: Affair at Fabyan

The Eels: Hombre Lobo (Vagrant)

22 Aug 2009

Some weeks ago I reviewed this album by the wayward and often quite wonderful Eels for the New Zealand Listener. In case you missed it, that column is here. > Read more

Chris Eckman: The Last Side of the Mountain (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

18 Aug 2009

Eckman has been one of the cornerstones of the long-running and very credible alt.country outfit the Walkabouts, has released solo albums, and been a member of the ever-evolving Willard Grant Conspiracy. All of which should recommend him if you follow this particular path of string-augmented, soul-baring songwriting. But the material for the bulk of this album comes from an unusual source:... > Read more

Chris Eckman (with Anita Lipnicka): Who Will Light Your Path?

Joe Henry: Blood From Stars (Anti)

18 Aug 2009

There is something pointless and not a little depressing writing about another fine Joe Henry album: the 18 people who love his work probably already know of the album, and as for the rest . . . ? I guess Henry is always destined to remain something of a private passion, but it is one that Elsewhere would (again) like to share. His last album Civilians was a Best of Elswehere 2007 pick, and... > Read more

Joe Henry: This is my Favourite Cage

Opensouls: Standing in the Rain (Dirty)

17 Aug 2009

To be honest, I wasn't expecting to like this quite as much as I do. Certainly some songs lack a soulful punch and you'd wish for more power in the vocals of Tyra at times. But these people write a good tune -- albeit it grounded in Motown classic riffs and shifts -- and the edgy guitars elevate it a little more than I had anticipated. It is soul with a subtle injection of rock, and that's... > Read more

Opensouls: Dollars

Judith Owen: Mopping Up Karma (Courgette)

17 Aug 2009

This album came out many months ago and for some reason slipped my attention: it might have continued to sit in the pile while more pressing albums came along were it nor for the alarming inner sleeve which I just discovered in which Owen looks like a slightly younger but equally buttoned-up-in-leather version of Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. Not that such an image should... > Read more

Judith Owen: Message From Heaven

Cybiont: A Trilogy of Random Thoughts and Considerations (Cybiont)

17 Aug 2009

First let it be noted that this album by a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Northland is not an easy proposition, and nor does it give up its manic diversity that easily. The title is some kind of clue and you may well think, as I do, that someone outside the project might have been brought in for a little editing as Cybiont doesn't seem capable of it himself. That said... > Read more

Cybiont: Whakaarahia!

Willie Nelson: Lost Highway (Lost Highway)

16 Aug 2009

Another month, another Willie album, huh? This 17 track collection of songs from his period on the Lost Highway label (and some unreleased material) comes hard on the heels of his American Classic album (a sequel of sorts to his excellent Stardust of many years ago, Willie on standards) and prior to that there was the natural pairing with Asleep at the Wheel, the less-than-natural teaming... > Read more

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other

Black Sabbath: Greatest Hits (Universal)

16 Aug 2009

There's no particular reason for mentioning this 14 track collection (which includes Paranoid, Iron Man, War Pigs etc) given that it isn't the first or probably the last such collection: but Elsewhere has always had a special affection for early Sabbath and so we refer you to Paranoid at Essential Elsewhere for further reading and relevant noises. > Read more

Black Sabbath: Never Say Die

Malcolm Middleton: Waxing Gibbous (Pod)

10 Aug 2009

This somewhat eccentric Scottish singer-songwriter Middleton is not "an acquired taste" (which has a pejorative meaning) rather a taste that few in this country have acquired: despite being in Arab Strap and widely hailed by UK critics for his solo albums (this is his fifth) he has barely made a ripple outside of Britain -- although could have changed if his hilariously bleak but... > Read more

Malcolm Middleton: My Delirium

Patterson Hood: Murdering Oscar and other love songs (Shock)

10 Aug 2009

One of the mainmen in Elsewhere favourites Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood here weighs in with the second solo outing under his own name which stalks similar musical territory as the Truckers (alt.country, Stones-riffery, dark ballads) but takes an even more dense emotional turn in some places. Many of the songs here -- as he explains in the interesting liner notes to each -- come from his... > Read more

Patterson Hood: Walking Around Sense

Greg Brown and Dream City: Essential Recordings Vol 2 1997-2006 (Red House)

9 Aug 2009

This extraordinary singer-songwriter-poet appeared at Elsewhere previously with his much recommended Evening Call album although at the time I noted an excellent starting point if he was new to you was the compilation If I Had Known (which covered 1980-96) because it came with a DVD film of his life and work. This double-disc collection picks up where that previous collection left off (16... > Read more

Greg Brown: Blue Car

Son Volt: American Central Dust (Rounder)

3 Aug 2009

For a while in the late Eighties/early Nineties alt.country was an exciting but difficult music to follow: no sooner had you tuned in to Uncle Tupelo than they split (Jay Farrar to found Son Volt, Jeff Tweedy and the rest to form Wilco); then Jay Bennett was out of Wilco and into a solo career (his death a few months ago was a bitter coda to that sad but ultimately redemptive story); and... > Read more

Son Volt: When the Wheels Don't Move

Kronos Quartet: Floodplain (Nonesuch/Warners)

3 Aug 2009

For more than 30 years the Kronos Quartet have been innovators, rarely looking back or playing pieces more than a few times, always on the lookout for contemporary material and daring projects. They have recorded with John Zorn and Allen Ginsberg, played material by Jimi Hendrix, Terry Riley, the remarkable Inuit singer Tagaq, Harry Partch, Sigur Ros, Astor Piazzolla and Philip... > Read more

The Kronos Quartet: Oh Mother, The Handsome Man Tortures Me

Dimmer: Degrees of Existence (Warners)

3 Aug 2009

Already some are saying this fourth album by Dimmer is a return to form by singer/songwriter/guitarist Shayne Carter . . . which I take to mean that is because in places it sounds closer to Dimmer's debut album and -- yes, this is what some will want to hear -- even has some of the more dark and aggressive elements of his former band Straitjacket Fits (the seething surge of Cold Water being the... > Read more

Dimmer: Wrong Bus

The Jayhawks: Anthology; Music from the North Country (American)

3 Aug 2009

This influential alt.country/indie-rock band from Minneapolis has a long and slightly convoluted history: Mark Olson quit in '95 after a decade, but has latterly rejoined co-founder Gary Louris who had carried the band name into their slightly-delic pop-rock albums Sound of Lies and Smile, and the country-rock default position on Rainy Day Music. Given that, it is no surprise this... > Read more

The Jayhawks: The Man Who Loved Life