Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Them Crooked Vultures: Them Crooked Vultures (Sony)

13 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read

This will be brief for a couple of reasons: this genuine supergroup of Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) has already been given wide-exposure, and that in this instance Elsewhere has been running a bit late. (Got waylaid by a Guy Clark album or somesuch) So the short of it is that this is usefully mature and loud hard... > Read more

Them Crooked Vultures: Spinning in Daffodils

Linda Ronstadt: Hand Sown . .. Home Grown/Silk Purse (Raven/EMI)

13 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

Long before she was a country-rock cover star and dating California governor Jerry Brown in the late Seventies, Linda Ronstadt was a singer struggling to find her forte. Her albums with the Stone Poneys showed her folk-rock chops and their cover of Mike Nesmith's Different Drum gave them a hit but also signalled a solo career beckoning for Ronstadt. Her first two solo albums from '69... > Read more

Linda Ronstadt: Lovesick Blues (from Silk Purse)

Lisa Germano: Magic Neighbor (Young God Records)

13 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read

Given that the cover art here is by Auckland's West Coast artist Dean Buchanan, we might guess that singer/violinist/composer Germano encountered his work when she was in New Zealand in April 2001 for Neil Finn's 7 Worlds Collide project. Certainly Buchanan's dark and mysterious work is appropriate here because Germano's music is much the same: there is a surface loveliness hinted at but... > Read more

Lisa Germano: Snow

Baskery: Fall Among Thieves (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

13 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

Recently I flipped on yet another faux-country alt.folk album and listened to university educated people pretending they were Appalachian mountain dwellers imbued with a rural spirit and old time religion. I thought, "Spare me much more of this!" And then comes this album to reinvigorate my interest in a mighty crowded genre -- and of course they are the furtherest thing from... > Read more

Baskery: Haunt You

The Phoenix Foundation: Merry Kriskmass EP (Phoenix Foundation)

13 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read

If you believe the anti-hype, this isn't exactly the Phoenix Foundation's cash-in on Christmas but has been inspired by The Krisk who is -- and I am just quoting here -- "a small stuffed white man who rides a reindeer". It is he who appears on the cover, has inspired this six-song EP (plus uncredited but uninteresting soundscapes buried away at the end) and is the subject of the... > Read more

The Phoenix Foundation: Everybody's Money

New and Noted

13 Dec 2009  |  3 min read

At this time of year -- Christmas but 10 days away -- there is a slew of releases and while no sane reviewer would want to deal with every Yuletide-themed album (Dylan's worthy outing doesn't get a mention at Elsewhere, you can figure that one out for yourself) there are still a number of albums clamouring for attention which at least deserve to be acknowledged. Here then are potted reviews... > Read more

Carla Bley/Stev Swallow: O Holy Night (from Carla's Christmas Carols, see below))

Various Artists: The Lennon and McCartney Songbook (EMI)

12 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

While there have been quite a number of such compilations in the past interest alights on this one in particular because it has been pulled together by EMI New Zealands in-house memoryman Bruce Ward who does a fine job on such collections -- and here writes the intelligent liner essay. The Lennon and McCartney team were giving away hits in their early career until about late '65 and a few of... > Read more

Bernard Cribbins: When I'm Sixty Four

Bap Kennedy: Howl On (Lonely Street Discs)

7 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

After time in the Irish band Energy Orchard, Kennedy spent many years in the America he was obsessed with as a child. For this moving tribute to the America of his dreams -- and specifically the days of the Apollo Mission to the moon and Woodstock -- he gives concept albums a good name. Now back in Belfast after his Nashville period, he reflects on his recent passion for the moon landings... > Read more

Bap Kennedy: The Right Stuff

Guy Clark: Somedays the Song Writes You (Dualtone)

7 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read

Now in his late 60s -- he turned 68 in November -- this great Texas singer-songwriter is sounding very weak'n'weary in these 10 co-writes and his cover of Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You. And that is its very strength. Clark brings a melancholy reflectiveness or quiet gravitas to these lyrics and whether it be considering the mysteries of the songwriting process ("you can search... > Read more

Guy Clark: Eamon

Strike: Sketches (Strike)

6 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

Don't know about you, but just out of curiosity I'd listen to a piece of music which featured "water nipple gong". That particular instrument -- and I'm not going to ask further -- is but one in the battery of percussion played by the New Zealand ensemble Strike: water vibes, spoons, PVC pipes, various bowls and flower pots (in the manner of Stephan Micus), plastic tubs and brake... > Read more

Strike: Hydrophonics

Rupa and the April Fishes: Este Mundo (Cumbancha)

6 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

The implosion of Latin American party music, gypsy-swing, klezmer jazz and loping reggae is familiar enough in this country: from Kantuta, the Nairobi Trio and the Jews Brothers Band to the Mamaku Project and the somewhat questionable Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band we in New Zealand have been seduced, educated, charmed and dragged onto dance floors. We seem to like it, although the... > Read more

Rupa and the April Fishes: La Estrella Caida

Fatcat and Fishface: Birdbrain (Jayrem)

6 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read  |  3

This irreverent outfit who sing songs ostensibly for children but with major adult appeal, have appeared at Elsewhere previously with their very silly The Bestest and Most Horriblest Songs for Children. They are more Spike Milligan and Monty Python than Teletubbies and Play School. This one is aimed rather further up the kiddie demographic than Bestest (8 to 14 would be my guess) because it... > Read more

Fatcat and Fishface: Kea

Brilleaux: Decade (Brilleaux)

6 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  2

You -- well, I -- admire a rock'n'roll r'n'b band that names itself after the late lead singer of the British pub rock band Dr Feelgood whose Stupidity album from '76 is mandatory in any Essential Elsewhere collection. And this four-piece who make their energetic pub-rock sound at jazz and blues festivals (and I am guessing excellent parties), don't stray too far from the Feelgood... > Read more

Brilleaux: It Wasn't Me

Robyn Hitchcock: I Often Dream of Trains in New York (Yep Rock/Southbound DVD)

30 Nov 2009  |  2 min read

Robyn Hitchcock is one of those enjoyably intellectual, slightly eccentric English singer-songwriters who are either central to your life or barely come to your attention. He first made his name in the punk era with the folkadelic punk band the Soft Boys, and there were few bands of that era which wrote songs with titles such as It's Not Just the Size of a Walnut, Where are the Prawns?,... > Read more

Karen Hunter: Words and Groove (Rawfishsalad)

29 Nov 2009  |  1 min read

Those who have followed Auckland singer-songwriter Hunter's long career will confirm that she has progressively moved from a kind of alt.indie outsider status with albums such as The Private Life of Clowns ('98) and Inside Outside ('03) which bristled with ideas from rock, spoken word, jazz-blues and alt.folk to something closer to mainstream jazz cabaret and boho-Beat poetics on her '07 album... > Read more

Karen Hunter: Purify

Graham Coxon: The Spinning Top (Transgressive)

29 Nov 2009  |  1 min read

Damon Albarn has had the more visible profile outside of Blur -- Gorillaz, his Mali Music album, The Good, The Bad and The Queen -- but for the band’s former guitarist Coxon (who left after Think Tank of 03) The Spinning Top is his seventh solo outing and extends his interest in Anglofolk of the Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and Richard Thompson kind. To Blur, Coxon brought US indie-rock... > Read more

Graham Coxon: In the Morning

Bert Jansch: The Essential Bert Jansch (Union Square)

29 Nov 2009  |  1 min read

In the liner notes to this 26-track double CD collection Jansch says, "I only know how to play a guitar and write songs. I don't know anything else when it comes down to it." The likes of Jimmy Page who was influenced by Jansch's acoustic folk style and fans such as Devendra Banhardt, Johnny Marr, Graham Coxon and dozens of others in the new folk movement (Fleet Foxes etc) would... > Read more

Bert Jansch: In This Game (1972)

Pylon: Chomp More (DFA)

29 Nov 2009  |  <1 min read  |  1

Anyone taken by the jerky and anxious sound of the Essential Elsewhere album by the Feelies, Crazy Rhythms, might find this one a similarly enticing proposition. Released in '83 by a four-piece out of Athens, Georgia fronted by Vanessa Briscoe's yelp'n'edgy vocals, this was the second album for Pylon who were much admired by the young REM. But it is the tense, sometimes surf-guitar... > Read more

Pylon: Gyrate

The Renderers: Monsters and Miasma (Last Visible Dog)

29 Nov 2009  |  1 min read

Once known as “the only country band on Flying Nun" (Trail of Tears in 90, their sole album for the label), this on-going project of Brian and Maryrose Crook has progressively taken a darker and deeper path the past decade. These 10 songs owes debts to old murder ballads, the Velvet Underground and the Doors, acoustic Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt and Marianne... > Read more

The Renderers: A Little to the Left

Port O'Brien: Threadbare (Dew Process/Isaac)

29 Nov 2009  |  1 min read

I have been to pretty, but pretty dull Cambria in California where the core of this group hail from and I can understand why they might want to take to the road. They did and seem to have spent a lot of time in Alaska where one of them is a fisherman and the other works as a baker in Larson Bay. Then they started touring and touring after their debut album in 2008. They are a small... > Read more

Port O'Brien: In the Meantime