Music at Elsewhere

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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 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

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wilco; Wilco (the album): (Warners)

17 Dec 2009  |  2 min read  |  3

While no one would suggest that Wilco's Jeff Tweedy is on happy pills -- the glum Country Disappeared and Bull Black Nova here would deny that -- he is clearly a very different man than he was around the time of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The chunky rockist opener on this seventh studio album -- yes, it is called "Wilco (the album)" -- is Wilco (the song) and asks the listener "do... > Read more

Wilco: You Never Know

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 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 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 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 Antony and the Johnsons: The Crying Light (EMI)

17 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  1

In a lecture to some university music students recently I attempted to explain what an all-inclusive category "rock culture" has become: alongside hip-hop, pop, alt.country, metal and so on, it also includes artists as dispirate as Leonard Cohen, Bjork, Rod Stewart and Amy Winehouse -- and even Antony Hegarty who is the ethereal voice up-front here, and who sings back-up with Lou... > Read more

Antony and the Johnsons: Daylight and the Sun

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Wild Bill Ricketts: John Dryden (Ricketts)

17 Dec 2009  |  <1 min read

Certainly not what you might expect: an outlaw reading the poems or plays of Dryden. The Ricketts here is the percussion player (and songwriter) in the wonderful Phoenix Foundation (Dryden was an ancestor apparently) and here he coaxes various members of Trinity Roots, Opensouls, Fat Freddys and the Black Seeds to assist on an album of gently Pacific-flavoured songs which are gorgeously... > Read more

Wild Bill Ricketts: New J

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

Gordon Gano and the Ryans: Under the Sun (YepRoc)

14 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

While the solo career of multi-instrumentalist Brian Ritchie has been the most rewarding of the Violent Femmes because of his interest in world music and the jazz of Sun Ra, as the Femmes vocalist Gano was always going to have a more distinctive profile. With the Femmes effectively disbanded -- Ritchie lives in Tasmania -- Gano steps out under his own name with the Ryans (guitarist Billy and... > Read more

Gordon Gano and the Ryans: Home

Various Artists: Ten Guitars, the New Zealand Heartland Soundtrack (Universal)

14 Dec 2009  |  1 min read  |  1

Walking in to a CD/DVD store recently I heard the most unexpected song playing, it was Amigo by Black Slate, a British reggae band which had a brief fliration with the charts at the dawn of the Eighties with this pop-reggae crossover single. They came to Auckland and played a Town Hall gig with Herbs and my recollection, seared in my memory actually, was of going to the gig and being one... > Read more

Patea Maori: Poi E

Tom Waits: Glitter and Doom Live (Anti/Shock)

14 Dec 2009  |  2 min read  |  1

Barney Hoskyn's recent useful but flawed Waits biography Lowside of the Road ended with the writer going to see Tom Waits in concert on this brief tour which was widely acclaimed as the best of 2008. Waits hadn't been out live in some while (11 years since he'd last appeared in the UK) and as a result his cachet had grown and expectation was high. And Waits -- ever the entertainer -- didn't... > Read more

Tom Waits: The Part You Throw Away

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))

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

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

Various Artists: s3d (ear and eye) Atoll CD/DVD

13 Dec 2009  |  1 min read

In 1996 Ellipsis Arts in the US released a CD and book package entitled Gravikords, Whirlies and Pyrophones: Experimental Musical Instruments. It was compiled by Bart Hopkin who had edited the journal Experimental Musical Instruments for over a decade at that point. The foreward was written by Tom Waits who had begun his career-changing journey into using odd instruments and machinery, some... > Read more

Yek Koo on cardboard record players

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)

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