Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

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

The Bads: So Alive (Mana/Warners)

15 May 2009

At the tail end of their emotionally probing Say Your Goodbyes here Dianne Swann and Brett Adams sing "see how much we've grown", a line that might be autobiographical about this duo which has confidently moved past rock to a place in country-framed singer-songwriter territory, while keeping one ear on a pop hook and arrangment. So Alive bristles with fine songs by the Swann-Adams... > Read more

The Bads: Baby Come Home

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

Attack in Black; Years (by one thousand fingertips): (Dine Alone/Shock)

14 May 2009

Maybe it helps not to know that this Canadian band's debut Marriage was some kind of rootsy punk/rock/alternative album (I'm quoting from the bio, never heard it myself). Or that their vinyl-only follow-up was a limited edtion.  It means that you comes to this one -- their fourth studio album apparently, so they are mature, because they've been at it for a few years -- with no... > Read more

Attack in Black: Birmingham

White Lies: To Lose My Life (Fiction/Universal)

14 May 2009

We can probably keep this fairly simple: this English three-piece went to number one in Britain the week after the releasse of this, their dramatic, brooding and big sounding debut. Every generation gets the Teardrop Explodes it needs? Yes, you cannot help but hear early Teardrops (and Echo and the Bunnymen, moody Bowie, Arcade Fire, Joy Division . . . .) in their sky-scaling sound, but... > Read more

White Lies: Unfinished Business

Madness: Complete Madness (Union Square/Triton)

13 May 2009

When the so-called "2 Tone Revolution" appeared in Britain in the late Seventies/early Eighties -- ska music, white shirts and black suits -- of all the bands in the vanguard, Madness seemed the least likely to go the distance against the serious intentions of the Specials and more pop-politics of The Beat. Madness -- the self-styled Nutty Boys -- seemed a bit lightweight in that... > Read more

Madness: One Step Beyond

Ivashkin, Barlow, Halliday: Pacific Voyage (Alma)

12 May 2009

This probing, challenging and at times quite thrilling project by cellist Alexander Ivashkin -- with Ora Barlow and Kim Halliday of Pacific Curls) on various flutes, gourds, ukulele and other instruments -- is, in the words of Ivashkin, "an attempt to repeat Gauguin's voyage [to New Zealand] on a symbolic level". The French Impressionist laid over in Auckland on his voyage around... > Read more

Ivashkin, Barlow, Halliday: I Jisu (with the Vunimono Village Choir, Fiji

The Flatlanders: Hills and Valleys (New West)

10 May 2009

The great Flatlanders from West Texas - Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock, each one a name in their own right -- record together so infrequently that every album (they average one a decade about 40 years) is an occasion. Unfortunately it is never quite the special occasion you wish for. This one starts with the exceptional Homeland Refugee which is as a harrowing and true... > Read more

The Flatlanders: Sowing on the Mountain

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: Outer South (UN SPK)

10 May 2009    2

You don't have to get too far into this album -- maybe just a few chords in fact -- to click that this isn't the Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes) of previous releases, the guy who started by juggling electronica dabbles with folksiness, then moved into alt.folk and bent pop. This time out with a bunch of friends who share an affection for Seventies pop-rock and singer-songwriters -- as well... > Read more

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: To All The Lights in the Windows

Marissa Nadler: Little Hells (UN SPK)

10 May 2009

Sounding as if she is being beamed in from some strange part of space down a shimmeringly beautiful cosmic line, this dreamy alt.folk singer from Boston manages to bring together a slightly eerie quality and distant guitar with a voice which could lure sailors onto rocks. There's a slightly Gothic charm at work here (she's referred to Edgar Allan Poe in the past), but you can also hear why... > Read more

Marissa Nadler: Ghosts and Lovers

Cyril Neville: Brand New Blues (MC Records)

10 May 2009

As with the Marleys (Bob, Rita, Damian, Ziggy et al), we are hardly short of Nevilles in the world: there are the original Neville Brothers and their offspring (notably Ivan) as well as others in the extended family (Charmaine). Here Cyril, the 61-year old Brother and co-founder of the classic pre-Nevilles band The Meters, delivers a winning blend of soulful blues in which he gets the... > Read more

Cyril Neville: Brand New Blues

Soname: Plateau (Harmonia Mundi)

10 May 2009

Latterly it seems that the world is resigning itself to having a Tibet in the absence of Tibet: holding the notion of Tibetanism and that country being kept alive by the diaspora, even if the country doesn't exist as it used to. Most people in the West have a misty-eyed Lost Horizon/Shangri-La view of that country as a place of deep mysticism and benign lamas, but that would deny the... > Read more

Soname: Mother and I

Booker T: Potato Hole (Anti)

9 May 2009    1

This was either going to be brilliant, or . . .  First the background: here is the great soul-funk Hammond B3 organ player Booker T (he of Green Onions fame with the MGs, and that band behind dozens of Stax artists) teamed up with Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers who know this sound and style inside out. Oh, and Neil Young (who toured with Booker T and the MGs in the early Nineties... > Read more

Booker T: Get Behind the Mule

Dictaphone Blues: On the Down and In (Blah-Lah-Lah)

4 May 2009

If this year's New Zealand Music Month of May is anything like the last -- and there's no reason to think it will be otherwise -- then somewhere in excess of 50 albums will be released by local artists to coincide with it. Some will rise to the top by virtue of publicity more than merit, some will be lousy (that's not unpatriotic, just a fact Jack), some will be terrific but probably always... > Read more

Dictaphone Blues: 100 Suns Inside My Lungs