Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Michael Hurley: Ida Con Snock (Gnomonsong)

5 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

Michael Hurley's laidback style which bridges traditional and alt.country 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

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

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

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Leonard Cohen: Live in London (DVD, Sony)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  1

Those who saw Cohen's New Zealand concerts earlier this year -- and even those whose wallets couldn't stand the cruel gouging -- will find much to enjoy in this, almost exactly the same show, here filmed live in London's O2 Arena last July. Musically this was an interesting concert (again, what you see here is almost identical, jokes and all, to what he did everywhere on that tour) and his... > Read more

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bob Dylan: Together Through Life (Sony)

17 Dec 2009  |  2 min read

Bob Dylan doesn't exactly make easy listening music, but Together Through Life finds him in a musically mellow mood and although darkness lurks in the lyrics (guns, death, danger, songs of love and loss) there is something relaxed and almost settled about most of these 10 songs. Where its superb predecessor Modern Times (his first number one Billboard album since Desire 30 years... > Read more

Bob Dylan: I Feel A Change Comin' On

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bonnie Prince Billy: Beware (Spin)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  2

The previous album by Bonnie Prince Billy -- aka Will Oldham -- was the uneven but enjoyable Lie Down in the Light which found our former melancholy fellah in a somewhat more upbeat mood. It was bound to divide longtime listeners, most of whom probably preferred his "I see a darkness" side, or his wonderful The Letting Go which made the Best of Elsewhere 2006 list. A consumer... > Read more

Bonnie Prince Billy: You Can't Hurt me Now

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 An Emerald City: Circa Scaria (Banished/Border)

17 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read  |  1

Because the previous EP by this Auckland-based group was widely hailed at Elsewhere, and that there is now a profile of the band posted under Absolute Elsewhere, this will be brief. For my money this band is the most interesting, musically ambitious and creative I have seen in this country in many years. They possess that rarity in New Zealand music, an aesthetic sensibility -- and it... > Read more

An Emerald City: Reindeers Running

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Lawrence Arabia: Chant Darling (Rhythmethod)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  3

In a blog at publicaddress.net about the 2009 Big Day Out I hailed the pop acts on the day while noting that in New Zealand we like pop music, but prefer it to come from somewhere else. We're a little suspicious of it when one of our own starts to make it. At least critics and radio programmers seem to be,  other people just get on and enjoy it. We like our pop with a vinegar lyric or... > Read more

Lawrence Arabia: Look Like A Fool

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 M Ward: Hold Time (4AD)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  2

The previous album by M Ward, Post-War, was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006 albums for its dark hues, free-range musical approach (blues, alt.rock, indie-folk, Americana etc) and the fact it had something to say. At that time I noted his musical magpie tendencies (a good thing) and because of its layers said it would stand the test of time. It has round my way, and although I missed his... > Read more

M Ward: Epistemology

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Puddle: The Shakespeare Monkey (Fishrider/Yellow Eye)

17 Dec 2009  |  2 min read  |  1

Dunedin's The Puddle should have been bigger (and perhaps better) than they were during New Zealand's vibrant indie-rock scene in the Eighties and early Nineties. But they were sometimes "indisposed" during the heyday of their famous label Flying Nun -- although they still managed to release a couple of interesting and almost excellent albums (and probably a single or two, who... > Read more

The Puddle: One Romantic Gesture

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Elvis Costello: Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (Starbucks/Universal)

17 Dec 2009  |  2 min read

On his what is his thirtysomethingth album here's Elvis Costello's problem as I see it: it is his thirtysomethingth album. As with Eric Clapton who could deliver the best album of his career tomorrow and watch it go largely ignored (as McCartney found with Flowers in the Dirt of '89 where he co-wrote with Costello), a lot of people have stopped listening to artists who seem to have always... > Read more

Elvis Costello: She Handed Me a Mirror

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 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 The Beatles Remasters (EMI)

17 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read

Much as it is possible to love every crackle and piece of surface noise on the original vinyl albums which some still have or have inherited, the remastering brought out an energy and vitality in the Beatles catalogue which was undeniable. The music (and the Beatles Rock Band game) was much essayed at Elsewhere on release (I heard the recordings in Abbey Road back in June) but the truth is... > Read more

The Beatles: Happiness is a Warm Gun (from "The White Album", mono version)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Flaming Lips: Embryonic (Warners)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

Anyone coming to this sprawling and musically diverse (not to say sometimes bewildering) 80 minute album because they were seduced by the Lips' earlier album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (with that sublime hit Do You Realise) might want to take a big breath. This is different in many, many ways. This is the Lips' fascinating and eccentrically intellectual Wayne Coyne... > Read more

The Flaming Lips: Powerless

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

After calling it quits in 2002, frontman Chris Robinson going solo, then their resurrection with Warpaint last year (which brought in guitarist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars), the Black Crowes rarely sounded so on top of their game. And they followed Warpaint with a double punch Warpaint Live (the album played live and an extra disc of hits and covers). In front of... > Read more

The Black Crowes: The Last Place That Love Lives

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

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 Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador)

17 Dec 2009  |  2 min read  |  1

Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth recently noted that they were the Grateful Dead or Rolling Stones of their generation. He meant it seemed they had been around a very, very long time and were still out there doing it. And they are. This is, depending on how you are counting, at least their 16th studio album (which sort of puts them around their Some Girls/Emotional Rescue period?) but rather... > Read more

Sonic Youth: Massage the History