Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Malajube: Labyrinthes (Shock)

18 Oct 2009

Elsewhere is certainly not immune to charms of Canada: we have acknowledged Arcade Fire, the collective Broken Social Scene, Patrick Watson, the challenge of vocal contortionist Tagaq and others (as well as watching the Anvil doco with tightening sphincter, hailing the droll TV comedy Corner Gas, and delighting in the landscape and people). But not a lot of Canadian music gets to the far end... > Read more

Malajube: Casablanca

Various: Luaka Bop; Twenty First Year (Luaka Bop/Southbound)

18 Oct 2009

Luaka Bop was the label started by David Byrne in the late Eighties in his first years out of Talking Heads. The idea was for him to record (or re-release) artists who took his fancy and by this time Byrne had embraced Afrobeat and was a pre-Buena Vista supporter of Cuban music, South American sounds and alt.Americana. Luaka Bop was by inclination a "world music" label although... > Read more

Shuggie Otis: Aht Uh Mi Hed

Warren Cate: The Reparation Tapes (Warcat)

18 Oct 2009

Cate is what we might call an "occasional" rock'n'roll singer-songwriter: this is only his fourth album in about 14 years. He has a day job. I recognise on his website some highly favourable comments (uncredited) from me down the years, and his music has always found a place on my Sunday afternoon Kiwi FM show. This album will too. Cate has real feel for a power-pop into... > Read more

Warren Cate: Say What You Will

Damien Binder: While the Wind's At Your Back (Binder)

18 Oct 2009

In a recent interview Greg Johnson told me that after almost seven years in Los Angeles slugging it out writing, playing and hustling he'd made the conscious decision to leave the live work behind and concentrate on being a songwriter. And working with sympathetic others of a similar mindset. Lord knows, we need more good songs. Damien Binder is another former Aucklander like... > Read more

Damien Binder: Damage

Blitzen Trapper: Black River Killer (Sub Pop)

12 Oct 2009    1

This sextet from the Pacific North West hasn’t made much of an impact here, despite three albums which have drawn critical comparisons with Neil Young (in his acoustic and rock personae), Fleet Foxes and Wilco (both of whom they have opened for), folky Dylan and even Rubber Soul-era Beatles (albeit with a country-rock skew). They are fascinating, unpredictable and confident -- and... > Read more

Brendan Benson: My Old, Familiar Friend (Shock)

12 Oct 2009

Singer-songwriter Benson had already pumped out three albums under his own name before he came to greater attention as a member of the Raconteurs alongside Jack White. That profile will gain attention for this often hugely poppy outing in which he seems to channel the spirit (and sometimes the chord changes) of those old, familiar songs and bands he fell in love with while listening to radio... > Read more

Joe Pernice: It Feels So Good When I Stop (RedEye/Southbound)

12 Oct 2009

Most of us will be at a disadvantage when it comes to this album by Joe of the very fine Pernice Brothers: these are songs to accompany his debut novel of the same name -- and my guess is it will go largely unread other than by his Serious Fans. No matter perhaps, this should work as a stand-alone item (different idiom) and it largely does as a lowkey, highly melodic collection of unexpected... > Read more

Joe Pernice: I Go To Pieces

Monsters of Folk: Monsters of Folk (Spunk)

11 Oct 2009

Given who these people are -- Conor Oberst aka Bright Eyes, M Ward, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket (aka Yim Yames) -- you might be forgiven for thinking this is some kind of neo-folk meeting on the mountain top, or possibly a younger, more serious and sprightly version of the Traveling Wilburys. But in the hands of producer -- and fourth Monster -- Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis)... > Read more

Monsters of Folk: Baby Boomer

International Observer: Felt (Dubmission)

11 Oct 2009

The first thing to note about this new album by producer/dubmeister Tom Bailey is that there are 12 tracks. No noodling around or nodding off going on here, Bailey doesn't let any groove outstay its welcome. And throughout Bailey also adds in interesting elements to keep your attention: Is that a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of Eighties synth-pop on Popcorn Slavery? What's that strange... > Read more

International Observer: Binman Dub

Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers: Cottonwood Farm (Proper/Southbound)

5 Oct 2009

Anyone who has followed the career of the great songwriter Jimmy Webb (interviewed at Elsewhere here) will attest to two things: he crafts memorable material (all those hits for Glen Campbell, the gorgeous minimalism of The Moon's A Harsh Mistress made famous by Joe Cocker, the baroque McArthur Park) and he ain't much of a singer. Like Burt Bacharach, you usually need to hear Webb's... > Read more

Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers: Where the Universes Are

David Bremner: Gung-Ho (Atoll)

5 Oct 2009

Subtitled "Virtuoso works for Trombone" this debut album by Bremner of the NZSO is a finalist in the Best Classical Album category at the 2009 New Zealand music awards*, and even if trombone isn't your thing (jazz by Tommy Dorsey perhaps, classical maybe not?) you'd have to concede this is extremely impressive. It does feel a little like a show reel as he engages in duets with... > Read more

David Bremner: Allerseelen

Paloma Faith: Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? (Sony)

5 Oct 2009

For the past few months it seems to have been impossible to miss Pixie Lott: posters and interviews (none of which I've read I must admit), her poppet-features poking out of every corner of popular culture. It came as a surprise to me then to learn just last week that the ubiquitous Pixie -- clearly a talent whose genius requires our on-going interest -- has only just released her debut... > Read more

Paloma Faith: My Legs Are Weak

Chris Smither: Time Stands Still (Shock)

4 Oct 2009

As on his earlier Leave The Light On, this grizzled singer-songwriter now in his mid 60s, covers a Bob Dylan song, this time It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry. He also adds in Mark Knopfler's Madame Geneva's and that's a more useful reference, because Knopfler explores roots music -- but Smither lives it. His low grumble isn't too far removed from Knopfler's although comes on... > Read more

Chris Smither: I Don't Know

Ray Columbus and the Invaders: The Definitive Collection (Zodiac/Ode)

4 Oct 2009    1

The point to note about Ray Columbus and the Invaders being inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame at the 2009 Music Awards is that it is Ray Columbus AND The Invaders. Columbus might have been the charismatic and energetic frontman, but as this 45-song double disc reminds, he had a band that were as good as it got in this country during the early Sixties -- and no surprise that... > Read more

Ray Columbus and the Invaders: Cat's Eyes

Great North: Soldiers (Great North)

4 Oct 2009

New bands often make great claims for themselves -- that is forgivable -- but I especially like the humour of what this Auckland five-piece say of their music: "It is the sound of Bruce Springsteen having a tumultuous affair with Gillian Welch" and "the songs were delivered by angels. Drunk angels. The kind you don't invite round for fear they will break your teapot or burn their... > Read more

Great North: Jericho

Mark Knopfler: Get Lucky (Vertigo)

4 Oct 2009    2

For man who made his reputation with mercurial guitar work and not his rather undistinguished voice, former Dire Straits frontman Knopfler (profiled here) takes a real chance on this solo outing: there’s barely a guitar lick in the first two songs and the album opens in a distinctly Celtic mood with fiddles and flutes, then steps in with some soulful balladry. With some songs which are... > Read more

Mark Knopfler: Hard Shoulder

The Raiders: Indian Reservation/Collage (Raven/EMI)

4 Oct 2009

When this band emerged as Paul Revere and the Raiders in the Sixties they were a rocking, sometimes salacious and rather terrific garageband (albeit one which dressed kinda funny) and so, quite rightly, a compilation of their Greatest Hits appears at Essential Elsewhere. By 1970 the world had turned through hippies, horn-augmented bands like Blood Sweat and Tears, jamming outfits and so on.... > Read more

The Raiders: The Boys in the Band (from Collage, 1970)

Jordan Reyne: How the Dead Live (

1 Oct 2009    1

I guess when Creative New Zealand were looking for someone to write music to raise awareness of the country's historical and cultural heritage they wouldn't have had a long list. Right at the top would have been Reyne anyway. One of this country's most gifted, probing and intelligent writers, she delivered (if nothing else) the stunning Passenger album a few years ago based on her train... > Read more

Jordan Reyne: The Brave

Pearl Jam: Back Spacer (Universal)

28 Sep 2009

Just as some would have you believe there were "Beatles fans" Vs "Stones fans" back in the day (usually by old people styling themselves Stones fans to appear cooler than they actually were at school), so too there was that weird schism set up between Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Nirvana were, of course, "authentic" and Pearl Jam were somehow just pretend-grunge in... > Read more

Pearl Jam: The Fixer

Various: Albums from the Smithsonian Folkways series (Folkways/Southbound)

28 Sep 2009    1

The Smithsonian is one of those great American institutions which, if it says "we're here to help" actually is. In their Smithsonian Folkways collection they have short audio examples of 40,000 tracks and through their Global Sound website they are all available for download. And they have the original liner notes for the relevant albums which you can view for free.Which might make... > Read more

Big Chief Ellis: Dices Blues