Music at Elsewhere

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Various: The Great New Zealand Songbook (Thom/Sony)

2 May 2009    1

This nattily packaged double disc with Dick Frizzell's clever twist on an iconic and familiar Kiwi image as the cover arrives in time for New Zealand Music Month -- but already has the feel of the perfect Christmas gift for those living abroad. Especially when it includes Frizzell postcards to send off-shore. There are two versions: the ordinary double disc set, and the A4-sized book which... > Read more

Liam Finn: Better to Be

David Kilgour and Sam Hunt: Falling Debris (Arch Hill)

2 May 2009    2

As we all know, song lyrics are rarely poetry -- and conversely poems, especially contemporary poems which don't bother with rhyme schemes, can't often be readily adapted into the service of a song. Singer-guitarist David Kilgour of the Clean here takes some of Sam Hunt's poems (despite the attribution, Hunt's distinctive sing-song voice isn't heard here) and works them into a breezy... > Read more

David Kilgour and Sam Hunt: Every Time It Rains Like This

Various: Motown Love (Motown/Universal)

1 May 2009

This triple-disc set suffers from the same problem as the previously released and quite dreadful Motown 50 collection: an unacceptable and unnatural inclusion of Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 and Diana Ross -- and in this instance of course you get a dollop of soppy Lionel Richie as well. Alarmingly Smokey Robinson, who wrote some of the label most beautiful (and adult love) songs gets only... > Read more

Rita Wright: Where is the Love

Jon Hopkins: Insides (Domino)

1 May 2009

This quietly wonderful electronica album certainly didn't announce itself (my advance copy came with no cover, no promo information) but it has been a constant repeat play item on the stereo since I got it about three months back. It has been music while I worked, music while I drank wine, music while I did nothing in the heat. That I have been so delighted by it in the absence of knowing... > Read more

Jon Hopkins: The Low Places

Chris Isaak: Mr Lucky (Universal)

29 Apr 2009

I've got a soft spot for Chris Isaak for a couple of reasons: I interviewed him and he was a genuinely likable and funny man, and his television series was an astute and self-deprecating show about the life of a musician in which he didn't spare himself from ridicule for his self-delusion, pomposity and arrested adolescence.. In one episode Isaak --- who played "himself", the... > Read more

Chris Isaak:Cheater's Town

Grand Prix: The Speed of Sound (Arch Hill)

28 Apr 2009

While Neil Young berates his way down the highway on Fork in the Road, this well-established Wellington four-piece just get on with the business of making music which conjures up the driving energy and magic of an accelerator and open road, and in some places the wide terrain of Texas (or maybe Southland). With throbbing guitars which recall the offspring of a Velvet Underground/Tom Petty... > Read more

Grand Prix: El Baile de la Calaca

Richard Adams and Nigel Gavin: Recent Works (Ode)

26 Apr 2009    1

Rather than me write about this terrific album, why don't I just reproduce the liner notes that I was very happy to write for it? Here they are, they should tell you all you need to know, other than it is also handsomely packaged with Adams' artwork . . . "My belief is that great music comes about by some kind of alchemy: it is the result of painstaking study, a rare mix of... > Read more

Richard Adams and Nigel Gavin: Roundhead

Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes Special Edition (SubPop)

26 Apr 2009

This wonderful self-titled debut album by Seattle's Fleet Foxes has already appeared at Elsewhere and was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2008 albums -- but it makes a return because this belatedly released Special Edition packages it up with the band's equally sublime Sun Giant EP which they recorded shortly before the album. The critical acclaim for their album caught them by surprise (see... > Read more

Fleet Foxes: Mykonos (from the Sun Giant EP)

Stevie Nicks: The Soundstage Sessions (Universal)

26 Apr 2009

There is a word that reviewers deploy sparingly but hopefully with devestating effect: "Why?" It's certainly the word that applies here because these 10 songs taken from Stevie Nicks' filmed-for-DVD concert in 2007 come off as variously dated (the dreadful Eighties synth-sound of Stand Back), or utterly lifeless (the glorious Sara which surged with emotion in its Fleetwood Mac... > Read more

Stevie Nicks: Landslide

Neil Young: Fork in the Road (CD/DVD Reprise)

26 Apr 2009

The sometimes tetchy Neil Young has long lead his followers and record company on a merry dance: he has delivered some of the most exceptional albums in rock (Tonight's The Night, On the Beach which is an Essential Elswhere album, Arc-Weld, and Live Rust among them) -- but equally he has offered self-indulgent nonsense (the over-rated and belated anti-Bush rant Living with War, the faintly... > Read more

Neil Young: Light a Candle

Bowerbirds: Hymns for a Dark Horse (Rhythmethod)

26 Apr 2009    1

This delightful alt.folk debut for this small ensemble lead by Phil Moore from North Carolina has already won massive praise from the likes of the Mountain Goats' John Darnelle ("only once every 10 years or so does one hear a new band this good, bursting with ideas and audibly in love with music") and media such as Pitchfork ("hypnotically pretty and a little weird").... > Read more

Bowerbirds: My Oldest Memory

Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel: Willie and the Wheel (Bismeaux/Southbound)

26 Apr 2009

For a man who describes himself lazy Willie Nelson has been, we might observe charitably, been putting it about a bit lately. The Willie with Wynton Marsalis album didn't make as much sense as they might like to have thought, but this one is right on the money. In many ways it is the perfect and long overdue pairing: Willie's slightly jazzy country vocals with the Wheel who are not so much... > Read more

Willie and the Wheel: Bring It On Down To My House

The Bird and the Bee: Ray Guns Are Just Not the Future (Blue Note)

25 Apr 2009

Not quite what you'd expect on the jazz label Blue Note -- nor was Norah Jones -- but this airy pop with lightly exotic Latin references from the LA-duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin (and guests) is just fine from wherever it comes. With slightly cheesy samba licks, a nod to David Lee Roth on Diamond Dave, and some kitsch and cute pop references this may be a bit too twee for its own good... > Read more

The Bird and the Bee: Baby

Giacomo Bondi: A Lounged Homage to the Beatles (Leader)

20 Apr 2009

As someone who has albums of dogs barking out a Hard Days Night and Looney Tunes characters singing Beatles' songs -- as well as a tribute to the Rutles (the Beatles parody band) -- it was inevitable I would pick up this "lounge" version of Beatles songs in Buenos Aires. Giacomo Bondi and the Apple Pies who present this are from Italy, as far as I can tell (much like the great... > Read more

Giancomo and the Apple Pies: Tomorrow Never Knows

Wagons: The Rise and Fall of Goodtown (UK Spin)

20 Apr 2009    2

It's not that encouraging to hear a country-rock outfit have the sound of Skyhooks cited as an aural reference by some writers, but they are Australian after all. This six-piece certainly wear their influences in their songs: splashes of straight Nashville, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allmans, early Wilco, alt.country singer-songwriters, and maybe even a bit of Skyhooks pop. They cover Hoyt Axton's... > Read more

Wagons: Moonhorn Lake

Phosphorescent: To Willie (Rhythmethod)

19 Apr 2009    1

Willie Nelson may be "quite a character" and the guy who smoked a joint on the White Roof, the golfer and outlaw and so on, but he is also an extraordinary songwriter (check out the'95 Rhino box set of early and unreleased material, three CDs of genius -- from before he became famous) and here he gets a whole tribute album from Phosporescent aka Matthew Houck. Houck from Brooklyn... > Read more

Phosphorescent: The Last Thing I Needed

Melody Gardot: My One and Only Thrill (Verve/Universal)

19 Apr 2009

This extraordinary jazz chanteuse has appeared at Elsewhere previously: her debut album Worriesome Heart was quite something and announced a new singer-songwriter as much as a voice imbued with sensuality and emotional depth. Her interesting backstory (at the Elsewhere posting) is worth checking out, it may explain something. This new album not only confirms that early impression but... > Read more

Melody Gardot: My One and Only Thrill

Sam Phillips: The Disappearing Act 1987-1998 (Raven)

19 Apr 2009    1

When this fine singer-songwriter appeared as Sam Phillips in the late Eighties/early Nineties (she'd been a Christian folk-rocker Leslie Phillips for three albums before her un-conversion) I was smitten straight away. So much so that when her Cruel Inventions rolled around in '91 I interviewed her at great length and put the huge article of the cover of the Herald's entertainment section... > Read more

Sam Phillips: Same Rain (from Martinis and Bikinis, 1994)

Charlie Haden Family and Friends: Rambling Boy (Universal)

19 Apr 2009

Those who only known Charlie Haden as the great jazz bassist who was in the original Ornette Coleman quartet, played with Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny (among many others), is founder of the long-running Quartet West (which features New Zealand-born pianist Alan Broadbent) and any number of other jazz credentials might be wise to give this one a broad swerve. It's old time country music. As... > Read more

Charlie Haden Family: Oh Shenandoah

Joan Osborne: Little Wild One (Plum)

19 Apr 2009

Osborne is probably already in some One Hit Wonders of The Nineties book for her chart-troubling One of Us. She'll be alongside Crash Test Dummies. But there was always much more to her than that hit, as was clear when I interviewed her after a show in Vermont at the time. On the Relish album which sprung the unlikely One of Us, she acknowledged one of her co-writes as owing a debt to... > Read more

Joan Osborne: Daddy-O