Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

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 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

Son Volt: American Central Dust (Rounder)

3 Aug 2009

For a while in the late Eighties/early Nineties 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

Various artists: Woodstock and Woodstock Two (both Rhino/Warners)

2 Aug 2009    3

My guess is that more journalists have written about Woodstock in the past four decades than there were people in attendance: the analysis started within a week of the August 1969 event when Time gave over a couple of pages to an essay (insightful even today) and a photo spread to address and try to interpret what had just happened at a farm in up-state New York. That essay starts:... > Read more

Jefferson Airplane: Saturday Afternoon/Won't You Try

Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells, The 2009 Stereo Mixes (Universal)

2 Aug 2009    1

For some reason I largely missed the Tubular Bells phenomenon back in '73 when the album was orginally released and launched the careers of 19 year old multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield and Richard Branson (on whose Virgin label it originally came out). I caught the famous little bit when it was used in The Exorcist, but even when the album was released on CD I missed it again. It... > Read more

Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells edited single, 1974 (remixed 2009)

Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5: The Motown Years (Motown/Universal)

2 Aug 2009    2

Presumably scheduled for the Motown 50th anniversary rather than Recent Events, this three-disc collection soaks up 32 tracks of Michael Jackson with the 5, and on the third disc 16 outings under his own name. Aside from it being a typically cheap product in its packaging etc (no liner notes), this is a fair-enough overview but serves to remind of two things: what a precocious talent Jackson... > Read more

The Jackson 5: I Am Love (Parts 1 and 2)

Neil Young: Greatest Hits (Warners)

2 Aug 2009    1

After the indifferent Fork in the Road and the Archives Vol 1 collection you could hardly suggest that there hasn't been enough Neil Young released this year. But this re-presented, remastering of an '04 collection might just pushing things to a limit: most fans would have these songs (if not a few times) and even latter day casual listeners would likely have a number of them (a complaint... > Read more

Neil Young: Like A Hurricane

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women: Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women (YepRoc/Southbound)

22 Jun 2009

Dave Alvin appeared at Elsewhere recently as the man behind the all-star tribute to his friend and accordionist in his band The Guilty Men, Chris Gaffney. This album owes its origins to the death of Gaffney in 2008: Alvin's Guilty Men weren't working after Gaffney's death but there was a gig scheduled so he needed to put something together and started with dobro player Cindy Cashdollar. One... > Read more

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women: Potter's Field

Iron and Wine: Around the Well (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

15 Jun 2009    2

As a nom de disque/stage name Iron and Wine seems as inappropriate and unhelpful as a product description as Mojave 3. Don't know about you but Iron and Wine sounds a bit on the metal side of mayhem to me. Of course Sam Beam who is Iron and Wine is anything but noisy, he's one of those quiet and considered and sometime eccentric singer-songwriters in the poetics... > Read more

Iron and Wine: Carried Home

Rodriguez: Coming from Reality (Light in the Attic)

15 Jun 2009    2

Seventies cult singer-songwriter Rodriguez appeared at Elsewhere when his terrific debut Cold Fact got a long overdue reissue. He's the kind of person you know and love, or simply don't get at all. Oddly enough he was "got" in South Africa and Australia back in the day, although his two albums -- Cold Fact and Coming From Reality -- virtually died in the States. After the... > Read more

Rodriguez: Climb Up On My Music

Beck: One Foot in the Grave (XL)

15 Jun 2009

For a very brief period in the early Nineties Beck was hailed as the Dylan of his generation (another in the "new Dylan" lineage which began back with Donovan, Loudon Wainwright III etc in the mid Sixties) and it was because of music like this from '94, an indie album which was recorded before Mellow Gold but released after the success of that album. Its (release) position between... > Read more

Beck: Hollow Log

Various: Man of Somebody's Dreams: A Tribute to Chris Gaffney (YepRoc/Southbound)

15 Jun 2009

The late Chris Gaffney was not only a member of the justifiably acclaimed Hacienda Brothers (whose albums What's Wrong With Right? and Arizona Motel have been Elsewhere favourites), but he was a gifted songwriter who could write across many Americana idioms from country to norteno polka, rock'n'roll to soulful r'n'b. He also made a lot of friends as he toured relentlessly, among them... > Read more

Tom Russell: If Daddy Don't Sing Danny Boy

The Middle East: The Recordings of the Middle East (Spunk)

8 Jun 2009    2

Okay this is odd: this seems to be a belated five-song EP taken from an album of the same name from early last year by an Australian band (collective?) which has broken up **. So this sampler seems well after the fact, which is disappointing because their alt.folk style would certainly appeal to people with a taste for Espers, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, recent Bonnie "Prince"... > Read more

The Middle East: The Darkest Side

The Checks: Alice By The Moon (Pie Club)

8 Jun 2009    3

If this was "the difficult second album" for local rock'n'roll darlings The Checks it certainly doesn't sound it: it struts with well placed self-assurance and if in places the song-craft isn't quite what we might expect you have to hand it to them, they have broadened their palette from that British r'n'b rock '65 sound which was their hallmark. Here they cannon off into thick... > Read more

The Checks: God Birds

Hikoikoi: Hikoikoi (Hikoikoi)

8 Jun 2009

In a country which has so many pressing social issues it has always struck me as interesting that reggae -- often the voice of the disenfranchised and dispossessed -- has, in this nation, most often erred to the more gentle and less controversial end of the spectrum. Perhaps it is emblematic of our country that we prefer "consciousness" reggae rather than the confrontational kind.... > Read more

Hokoikoi: Children a Delight

Simon and Garfunkel: Live 1969 (Sony)

6 Jun 2009    1

They certainly don't look like this these days (but who does look like their 40 year old photos?) but it isn't impossible that in concert they will sound sufficiently similar, maybe just pitched down an octave or so. Back in '69 when the songs on this album were recorded during their last tour together for well over a decade, the hit-machine that was Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had recorded... > Read more

Simon and Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Waters (1969)

Fat Freddy's Drop: Dr Boondigga and The Big BW (The Drop)

31 May 2009    1

I was among the seven people in the country who wasn't totally besotted with Fat Freddys' debut Based on a True Story (although perhaps a more appropriate title might have been Based on a Best Seller).  Didn't it quickly turn into dinner music for people too cool for Norah Jones? So given that, maybe my opinion on this long awaited follow-up counts for nowt. But here goes. I... > Read more

Fat Freddys Drop: Wild Wind

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest (Warp)

31 May 2009

The only problem New York's Grizzly Bear have as far as I can tell is that they are part of rock culture and, as with Fleet Foxes, are clearly a world away from any expectation that the word "rock" still carries. While stumbling towards descriptive phrases for this album some writers have alighted upon "baroque pop", "psychedelic folk" and so on. So here's the... > Read more

Grizzly Bear: About Face

Jarvis Cocker: Further Complications (Rough Trade)

30 May 2009

Chapter Seven: In which our hero in the company of producer Steve Albini undertakes a daring journey to his inner Bowie but cannot decide between the glam-rock of Ziggy or the avant-rock of Tin Machine  -- so heroically aims for both simultanously, despite the absence of decent songs and Albini's crunching attack. Our hero manfully makes it to the end of the 11 tracks, but it is likely... > Read more

Jarvis Cocker: Caucasian Blues