Music at Elsewhere

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The Aliens: Luna (Pet Rock)

6 Jan 2009

Back in the late Ninenties the Beta Band from Britain were, for some of us at least, the most exciting and promising thing around. They released three charming folkadelic EPs -- packaged on CD as, you guessed it, The Three EPs -- and they were heard at the best barbecues. They were pastoral, trippy, sort of hip-hop if you only had acoustic instruments (although they had a turntablist), and... > Read more

The Aliens: Dove Returning

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Duffy: Rockferry (Rough Trade)

22 Dec 2008    2

Funny how the UK rock press works, innit? Just a month or so ago this soulful, young Welsh singer who has a mainline to Dionne Warwick, Spector girl groups and Motown was being hailed as the next big thing/one to watch etc. Her record company had slipped out an advance sampler CD/7 inch which was so terrific it was posted here at Elsewhere about three months back as a very early heads-up.... > Read more

Duffy: Serious

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Van Morrison: Keep It Simple (Lost Highway)

22 Dec 2008

Another year and another Van album on yet another label . . . And with the reissue of his earlier albums drawing attention to great work like It's Too Late to Stop Now (read about it in Essential Elsewhere) it would hardly be surprising if this one was ignored by even longtime followers, many of whom might be picking up the remastered back-catalogue or one of the new greatest hits... > Read more

Van Morrison: No Thing

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Loudon Wainwright: Strange Weirdos (Universal)

22 Dec 2008

Longtime cynic, straight-shooter and occasionally misanthropic singer-songwriter Wainwright shows no sign of losing his touch even though he is now in his 60s. His subjects will always provide plenty of material: they are life in general, himself, his family, and sometimes astute socio-political observation. He is a sensitive singer-songwriter -- if that also means being sensitive to... > Read more

Loudon Wainwright III: Grey in LA

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: MGMT: Oracular Spectacular (Sony/BMG)

22 Dec 2008

As regular visitors to Elsewhere are aware, not everything posted here is a work of unalloyed genius which will be treasured down many lifetimes. (Although there are however more than a few like that I would hope.) But sometimes albums just come along that you are very glad to have heard and simply enjoy for what they mean to you on some odd subconscious level. I suspect this one is like... > Read more

MGMT: The Youth

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Ryan Bingham: Mescalito (Lost Highway)

22 Dec 2008    1

We live and we learn -- and I have been living and relearning by repeat plays of this exceptional debut by someone called Ryan Bingham of whom I know nothing. And in a way, I'm grateful he has lived whatever he has in my place. The hard lessons he seems to have learned, I'm happy to just hear from this distance. I hear dark alt.country, brittle back-country, outsider art, folk-framed... > Read more

Ryan Bingham: Sunrise

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Moana and the Tribe: Wha (Black Pearl/Ode)

22 Dec 2008

Across her previous three albums Moana Maniapoto confirmed her status as one of New Zealand's most significant voices whose sound could just as comfortably incorporate politics and culture as seduce with her flowing lyrics in te reo and her astute ear for using the traditional within a contemporary context. This album might lack the obviously powerful and overt statements of material like... > Read more

Moana and the Tribe: Te Apo

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Radiohead: In Rainbows (XL)

22 Dec 2008    3

Over the Christmas 07-08 period I heard a radio interview with a young musician denouncing the gross villany of major record companies -- about which I expect he had no personal experience -- and pointing to Radiohead's on-line/download release in October 2007 of In Rainbows (with buyers paying what they liked for it) as evidence the music industry was tottering like a mortally wounded... > Read more

Radiohead:Nude

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride (4AD)

22 Dec 2008    3

Co-produced by John Vanderslice, the typically opaque lyrics by John Darnielle are given space and clarity so as to bewilder and bemuse you by turns. Not many people write songs with titles like Sax Rohmer #1, How to Embrace a Swamp Creature, Marduk T-Shirt Men's Room Incident and Michael Myers Resplendent. But here augmented by some discreetly dramatic strings and the small band, and with... > Read more

The Mountain Goats: Heretic Pride

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (New West/Elite)

22 Dec 2008    2

The Truckers inspire passionate loyalty for their Southern-framed country rock'n'roll and literate, sometimes provocative, lyrics. They often make you want to crack the top off a beer and kick back, but the words touch some deep and dark places as well. Here they open with a weary song about a guy at the gates of Heaven ("two daughters and a beautiful wife"), blast through... > Read more

Drive-By Truckers: Daddy Needs A Drink

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James McMurtry: Just Us Kids (Lightning Rod/Elite)

22 Dec 2008

The murky photo of a small, barroom audience on the inner sleeve of this brittle and typically dark album by singer-poet McMurtry might have included me. It looks like it was taken in the Continental Club in Austin where I caught him and his band the Heartless Bastards a couple of years ago playing their regular gig. Since his remarkable debut Too Long in the Wasteland at the opening of... > Read more

James McMurtry: Ruins of the Realm

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Emmylou Harris: All I Intended To Be (Warners)

22 Dec 2008    1

The crystalline quality of Emmylou Harris' voice is often so admired that people can look past that she is also a great interpreter of a lyric and has effortlessly brought traditional or familiar songs together with her originals.This time out she calls on kindred spirits (the McGarrigle sisters, Mike Auldridge, Buddy Miller) with her band which includes keyboard player Glenn D Hardin, drummer... > Read more

Emmylou Harris: Not Enough

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Eli Paperboy Reed and The True Loves: Roll With You (Shock)

22 Dec 2008    2

For the past week or so I have been listening to old vinyl by Dusty Springfield and Southside Johnny (a New Jersey bar-band chum of Springsteen and Stevie Van Zandt) and have been reminded again just how many white singers have been immersed in soul/r'n'b.And there seems to be a new wave again with James Hunter, Duffy and Beth Rowley, all of whom have been Elsewhere favourites. Of course Van... > Read more

Eli Paperboy Reid: I'll Roll With You

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 TV on the Radio: Dear Science (4AD)

22 Dec 2008    5

There are very few bands in rock culture that you could describe as genuinely avant-garde, but this ambitious New York outfit certainly fits the job prescription: they are musically ambitous, possess a sense of history but also a 21st century grandeur in their sonic approach, and write on a big scale. It's enough to observe that there are elements of Prince and Bowie-funk in here as much as... > Read more

TV on the Radio: Golden Age

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Lucinda Williams: Little Honey (Universal)

22 Dec 2008

After her last, quite exceptional but largely melancholy album West (in part influenced by death in the family) it is almost as if Williams is here staking her claim again to some sassy rock'n'roll threads. The opener Real Love blazes off the disc and the closer is a cover of AC/DC's It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock'n'Roll) which, it must be said, she delivers in her... > Read more

Lucinda Williams: Little Rock Star

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra (Inertia)

22 Dec 2008    3

This slight American singer-songwriter impressed hugely on a brief New Zealand tour a few years ago when he delivered his reflective acoustic songs and wry between-songs banter to very small but appreciative audiences.Cult figure then -- and much the same today I am guessing.Here with a small string section (and his own impressive catalogue of keyboard and string instruments) he takes his dark... > Read more

Micah P Hinson: Sunrise Over the Olympus Mons

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Teddy Thompson: A Piece of What You Need (Verve)

22 Dec 2008    1

This son of Richard and Linda keeps good company: among his friends and fellow travellers are the Wainwrights (Rufus, Martha, and their father Loudon), guitarist Marc Ribot, the Band's Garth Hudson and other hip congnoscenti.His last album Upfront and Down Low was mostly a country covers outing. And despite possessing the same kind of effete world weariness and post-sexual languor that infects... > Read more

Teddy Thompson: In My Arms

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Paul Weller: 22 Dreams (Shock)

22 Dec 2008

A couple of months ago I was invited to give a lecture to Auckland Uni music students about a contemporary songwriter of my choosing whose catalogue of work was interesting and worth studying.I picked Paul Weller on strength of this quote from him about his forthcoming album: "It takes in soul, rock'n'roll, there are some folky moments, some psych bits, a classical piece, some avant free... > Read more

Paul Weller: Echoes Around the Sun

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Felice Brothers: The Felice Brothers (Shock)

22 Dec 2008

These three actual brothers (and a friend) weighed in with the Tonight at the Arizona which made the Best of Elsewhere 2007 list and turned up as many a critic's favourite Americana album.This long-awaited sequel follows an interim album sold at gigs, and a few of those songs are now available on this self-titled album (and some other tracks were, confusingly, recorded before their debut... > Read more

Felice Brothers: Murder by Mistletoe

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Beck: Modern Guilt (DGC)

22 Dec 2008

For my money there are only two indispensible Beck albums: Odelay of '96 and Mutations of two years later. That said, there are another couple I'd prefer not to live without -- and this one produced by Danger Mouse shapes up to be one of those, and is still climbing in stature on repeat plays.As always this gifted, musical changeling and sonic shapeshifter filterfeeds his way through... > Read more

Beck: Replica