Music at Elsewhere

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Grant Hart: Hot Wax (Fuse/Southbound)

18 Jan 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Because of the sporadic and sometimes wayward nature of his career after the break-up of Husker Du in '87, it was always going to be hard to predict what this album under their former drummer/singer Hart's own name would come off like. It isn't easy in the sense that it doesn't gives its gifts up readily, and its slightly scattergun nature (it opens with rock blast, next up is a quirky... > Read more

Grant Hart: Khalid

J Tillman: Year in the Kingdom (Shock)

18 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read

Possessing the same kind of intimate, engrossing voice of Nick Drake and with an equal interest in hushed, dreamlike ballads where death, and the transitory nature of life and love are themes, Josh Tillman offers his sixth album where the songs are barely fleshed out but the sinew and strength are immediately apparent. With discreet dulcimer, piano and string arrangements around the... > Read more

J Tillman: Age of Man

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

18 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

Seattle’s claims to musical fame run from 60’s garage bands (the Sonics) through Hendrix, grunge and more recently Modest Mouse -- but it also once boasted a strong (if largely overlooked) soul-funk scene. Here some of its senior citizens -- most players are in their 60s -- get tight (and loose) on some fatback sounds which are sometimes urban (Everything Good is Bad, Baddest)... > Read more

Wheedle's Groove: Jesus Christ Pose

Pink Martini: Splendor in the Grass (Inertia/Border)

18 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

The soundtrack for a sophisticated, cocktail-sipping summer afternoon starts here with the classy amalgam of pop and classical by the ensemble out of Portland, Oregon lead by pianist Thomas Lauderdale and featuring the pristine, unassuming voice of China Forbes. The title track, by way of example, lifts the melody of Lalo Schifrin's Burning Bridges (the theme to Kelly's Heroes if I recall),... > Read more

Pink Martini: Splendor in the Grass

Joe Robinson: Time Jumpin' (Universal)

18 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

Not being a great watcher of mainstream television means I happily get to miss things like Australia's Got Talent. (I didn't doubt it, the Easybeats, the Church and AC/DC are great.) But that also means people like me miss someone like 18-year old acoustic guitarist Robinson who won the "play-off" in 2008. Let it be said immediately this guy isn't like that dance troupe who... > Read more

Joe Robinson: Fleabites

Besser and Bravura: Decadence Live (Atoll)

18 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read

The music of Auckland-based, New York-raised pianist/composer Jonathan Besser -- often with the group Bravura -- has long deserved a broader audience than the classical world which it inhabits. Working with guitarist Nigel Gavin, bassist Peter Scott and violin player Miranda Adams (among others) whose reach stretches to experimental music, soundtracks, jazz and contemporary classical, and... > Read more

Besser and Bravura: Hudson River 1

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: The Road (Mute)

18 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read

The most difficult test for any film score is if it works in the absence of images, and even more so if it does when the listener hasn't seen the movie. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have had a long association (Bad Seeds, the booze-rock blues-rock Grinderman) and here on the score to the forthcoming film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's dark novel The Road they mostly keep things elementally... > Read more

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: Memory

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

18 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

Although his previous album This Old Road won some critical plaudits, it is hard to hear Closer to the Bone as much other than a collection of sentimental songs, some of which border on the trite. Kristofferson, especially in recent years, has never been much of a singer (he concedes that) but here his voice really has lost most of its gritty and gruff appeal as he wobbles uneasily and... > Read more

Kris Kristofferson: Good Morning John

Helen Henderson: Twisting Wind (Ranui)

11 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read

Tough and often earthy blues rock/ from a New Zealand-born LA raised singer-songwriter who here calls up some big names (guitarist Doug Pettibone, Spooner Oldham on keyboards) whose credentials (Dylan, Ronstadt, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams) adds lustre to what is a fine collection of self-produced, mostly original co-writes (with guitarist Matt Downs). When Henderson unleashes... > Read more

Helen Henderson: Stateless

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

11 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read  |  2

Very belated acknowledgement of an album that was recorded in 2007, came out Stateside in 2008 (to little fanfare) but to the best of my knowledge only appeared in New Zealand in late 2009. This dark, edgy country-rock (and beyond) band with a revolving door membership -- who perhaps take their name from the Doors song of the same title? -- deliver a convincing line of tense uptempo but... > Read more

Hyacinth House: Whiskey Nights

Blakroc: Blakroc (Blakroc)

11 Jan 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

While nu-metal spawned some horrible offspring in terms of rap/rock collaborations or assimilations of one into the other, there has always been more in common between the two genres than many would concede. If nothing else, some of that bad nu-metal at least prepared the mind for this collection where the one-time blues-rock duo Black Keys (Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney) get... > Read more

Blakroc: What You Do To Me (with Nicole Wray)

Michael Hurley: Ida Con Snock (Gnomonsong)

5 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

Michael Hurley's laidback style which bridges traditional and hasn't gone overlooked by his musical peers although their audiences seem a little slower to catch on: he has toured with Lucinda Williams, Bill Callahan, the Palace Brothers (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) and others, and he counts Cat Power and Vetiver among those who have covered his songs. Perhaps it is because he falls... > Read more

Michael Hurley: I Can't Help Myself

Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend (Acony)

4 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read

The quiet and often largely invisible power beside Gillian Welch, guitarist/singer-songwriter Rawlings here comes into the spotlight with a collection of folk-country and alt.folk-rock songs which would mostly not fit Welch's canon but here have an understated charm of their own. They still possess some of that old time quality which has been a hallmark of his work with Welch but here (with... > Read more

Dave Rawlings Machine: Bells of Harlem

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed (Epitaph)

4 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

One part youthful Billy Bragg and another of very early Springsteen (the Asbury Park period) and a Pogues-styled energy propels this manic, politicised, wordy outing by this English post-punk folk poet who does a terrific line in taking down myths: "There's no such things as rock stars there's just people who play music, and some of them are just like us and some of them are dicks. So... > Read more

Frank Turner: Live Fast Die Old

Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed: Me and Jerry, Me and Chet (Raven/EMI)

4 Jan 2010  |  <1 min read

Doubtless one for guitarists (of the country pickin' persuasion too perhaps), this two-fer pulls the '70 and '72 Grammy-grabbing duet albums by Atkins and Reed onto one disc and adds eight bonus tracks. There is a small band (which includes pianist Floyd Cramer) on the Me and Chet album. With Chet on the right and Jerry on the left you can discern their stylistic differences (Reed rocks,... > Read more

Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed: I Saw the Light

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 St Vincent:Actor (4AD)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

Not having heard the (apparently) much acclaimed debut Marry Me by St Vincent (aka Annie Clark out of Texas) means coming to her particular talents with fairly high expectations -- and she doesn't disappoint. This is a sonic circus with her gentle and melodic voice as the centrepiece, but it is the crashing arrangements for strings, voices and distorted guitars around it which command... > Read more

St Vincent: The Strangers

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (UK Spin)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  2

At a time when yet another Neil Young album and a truly dire Stevie Nicks live outing command major media attention, it could be slightly depressing that this one by the great Bill Callahan will probably go straight past most reviewers, and his potential audience. Often appearing under the name Smog, Callahan has always appealed to people attuned to Bonnie Prince Billy, the Handsome Family... > Read more

Bill Callahan: The Wind and the Dove

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Miriam Clancy: Magnetic (Desert Road/Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  1

Elsewhere is pleased to say it discovered the gifts of Miriam Clancy very early in the piece and hailed her debut album Lucky One of 2006 as one of the best of that year. At Elsewhere there is also an interview with Miriam done in advance of that album. Since then she has toured to much acclaim, took time out to have a baby, and now is back with this new album -- and a lot has changed.... > Read more

Miriam Clancy: Ghost Town

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Various: Stroke; Songs for Chris Knox (Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009  |  3 min read  |  2

There's an unstated but obviously very sensible practice that most critics adopt: you never review a show or album which is raising money for a good cause. If the show is lousy and you say as much then that can be misread as you not supporting the cause. Same goes for an album. Didn't like the kiddie choir at the Plunket show means you are anti-motherhood, right? That kind of thing. The... > Read more

The Mountain Goats: Brave

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Of Montreal: Skeletal Lamping (Pop Frenzy/Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read

Unless they come with a DVD (rare), there's not much added-value with CDs. Not like in olden days when you could get a gatefold sleeve on an album. This camp, goodtime pop-funk and sex obssessed outfit from Georgia offer much added value if you buy the CD: it comes with an elaborate, multi-coloured fold-out sleeve that reaches 60cm across. That's a lot of colourful flowers, writing bodies,... > Read more