Music at Elsewhere

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Stevie Nicks: The Soundstage Sessions (Universal)

26 Apr 2009

There is a word that reviewers deploy sparingly but hopefully with devestating effect: "Why?" It's certainly the word that applies here because these 10 songs taken from Stevie Nicks' filmed-for-DVD concert in 2007 come off as variously dated (the dreadful Eighties synth-sound of Stand Back), or utterly lifeless (the glorious Sara which surged with emotion in its Fleetwood Mac... > Read more

Stevie Nicks: Landslide

Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel: Willie and the Wheel (Bismeaux/Southbound)

26 Apr 2009

For a man who describes himself lazy Willie Nelson has been, we might observe charitably, been putting it about a bit lately. The Willie with Wynton Marsalis album didn't make as much sense as they might like to have thought, but this one is right on the money. In many ways it is the perfect and long overdue pairing: Willie's slightly jazzy country vocals with the Wheel who are not so much... > Read more

Willie and the Wheel: Bring It On Down To My House

Bowerbirds: Hymns for a Dark Horse (Rhythmethod)

26 Apr 2009    1

This delightful alt.folk debut for this small ensemble lead by Phil Moore from North Carolina has already won massive praise from the likes of the Mountain Goats' John Darnelle ("only once every 10 years or so does one hear a new band this good, bursting with ideas and audibly in love with music") and media such as Pitchfork ("hypnotically pretty and a little weird").... > Read more

Bowerbirds: My Oldest Memory

The Bird and the Bee: Ray Guns Are Just Not the Future (Blue Note)

25 Apr 2009

Not quite what you'd expect on the jazz label Blue Note -- nor was Norah Jones -- but this airy pop with lightly exotic Latin references from the LA-duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin (and guests) is just fine from wherever it comes. With slightly cheesy samba licks, a nod to David Lee Roth on Diamond Dave, and some kitsch and cute pop references this may be a bit too twee for its own good... > Read more

The Bird and the Bee: Baby

Giacomo Bondi: A Lounged Homage to the Beatles (Leader)

20 Apr 2009

As someone who has albums of dogs barking out a Hard Days Night and Looney Tunes characters singing Beatles' songs -- as well as a tribute to the Rutles (the Beatles parody band) -- it was inevitable I would pick up this "lounge" version of Beatles songs in Buenos Aires. Giacomo Bondi and the Apple Pies who present this are from Italy, as far as I can tell (much like the great... > Read more

Giancomo and the Apple Pies: Tomorrow Never Knows

Wagons: The Rise and Fall of Goodtown (UK Spin)

20 Apr 2009    2

It's not that encouraging to hear a country-rock outfit have the sound of Skyhooks cited as an aural reference by some writers, but they are Australian after all. This six-piece certainly wear their influences in their songs: splashes of straight Nashville, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allmans, early Wilco, singer-songwriters, and maybe even a bit of Skyhooks pop. They cover Hoyt Axton's... > Read more

Wagons: Moonhorn Lake

Charlie Haden Family and Friends: Rambling Boy (Universal)

19 Apr 2009

Those who only known Charlie Haden as the great jazz bassist who was in the original Ornette Coleman quartet, played with Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny (among many others), is founder of the long-running Quartet West (which features New Zealand-born pianist Alan Broadbent) and any number of other jazz credentials might be wise to give this one a broad swerve. It's old time country music. As... > Read more

Charlie Haden Family: Oh Shenandoah

Melody Gardot: My One and Only Thrill (Verve/Universal)

19 Apr 2009

This extraordinary jazz chanteuse has appeared at Elsewhere previously: her debut album Worriesome Heart was quite something and announced a new singer-songwriter as much as a voice imbued with sensuality and emotional depth. Her interesting backstory (at the Elsewhere posting) is worth checking out, it may explain something. This new album not only confirms that early impression but... > Read more

Melody Gardot: My One and Only Thrill

Phosphorescent: To Willie (Rhythmethod)

19 Apr 2009    1

Willie Nelson may be "quite a character" and the guy who smoked a joint on the White Roof, the golfer and outlaw and so on, but he is also an extraordinary songwriter (check out the'95 Rhino box set of early and unreleased material, three CDs of genius -- from before he became famous) and here he gets a whole tribute album from Phosporescent aka Matthew Houck. Houck from Brooklyn... > Read more

Phosphorescent: The Last Thing I Needed

Sam Phillips: The Disappearing Act 1987-1998 (Raven)

19 Apr 2009    1

When this fine singer-songwriter appeared as Sam Phillips in the late Eighties/early Nineties (she'd been a Christian folk-rocker Leslie Phillips for three albums before her un-conversion) I was smitten straight away. So much so that when her Cruel Inventions rolled around in '91 I interviewed her at great length and put the huge article of the cover of the Herald's entertainment section... > Read more

Sam Phillips: Same Rain (from Martinis and Bikinis, 1994)

Joan Osborne: Little Wild One (Plum)

19 Apr 2009

Osborne is probably already in some One Hit Wonders of The Nineties book for her chart-troubling One of Us. She'll be alongside Crash Test Dummies. But there was always much more to her than that hit, as was clear when I interviewed her after a show in Vermont at the time. On the Relish album which sprung the unlikely One of Us, she acknowledged one of her co-writes as owing a debt to... > Read more

Joan Osborne: Daddy-O

Cassette: The Jingle King (Paydirt)

17 Apr 2009    1

Alt.rockers Cassette from Wellington have pinned with tag "country loving" or "country rock" in some quarters and while that is fair, the definitions need some clarification: Cassette are from the downbeat Neil Young end of country as the Young/Crazy Horse-styled opener Three Four and the melancholy closer Slow Down here suggest. Or nod more towards Gram Parsons and those... > Read more

Cassette:Day Goes By

Willard Grant Conspiracy: Bear Witness (CD/DVD, Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

17 Apr 2009

Those sensible few who caught WGC mainman Robert Fisher when he toured solo last year will need no further urging towards this impressive set which finds him with the "band" of various members: this is a CD of a Radio Bremen session from 2006 and a DVD of a 2004 concert (with outakes and interview footage) with a four-song video clip collection included. And there's a booklet in... > Read more

Willard Grant Conspiracy: Ghost of the Girl in the Well

The Dead C: Secret Earth (Ba Da Bing)

17 Apr 2009

Let it be said immediately The Dead C out of Port Chalmers are a taste that few have acquired: dense, often lo-fi guitar landscapes of scouring sound, feedback and distortion probably don't make it onto the playlists of people who prefer Norah Jones -- or even the more tuneful end of Sonic Youth, in fact. So here for Dead C aficionados -- and I suspect no one else -- is the lowdown on this... > Read more

The Dead C: Plains

Panther and the Zoo: Think About It Not Exploding (PZ)

17 Apr 2009    1

This slight four song EP -- two songs not even making the two minute mark -- might not be much to go on in terms of getting any sense of the breadth of Auckland songwriter Graham Panthers' abilities or potential, but these are lovely little minatures rendered with a lightness of touch and a vocal confidence that belies their fragile textures. P&Zoo belong to that happy and charming vein... > Read more

Panther and the Zoo: Sleep Over

Sola Rosa: Get It Together (Way Up)

14 Apr 2009    1

Sola Rosa (known to his folks as Andrew Spraggon) has frequently recalibrated our expectations of local electronica and for this ambitious outing, his fourth album, he once again sets his sights far over the immediate horizon. On a global sojourn through space and time he seems to stumble into the exotic world of James Bond flicks in the late Seventies (the opener The Ace of Space) and... > Read more

Sola Rosa: Del Ray

Beirut: March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland (Rhythmethod)

13 Apr 2009

After the excellent Francophile-framed The Flying Cup by Beirut (aka peripatetic American Zach Condon), the Mexican music on the first of these two discs (a mere 15 minutes long) comes as a major disappointment and seldom sounds much other than what it is, soundtracks for footage we can't see (unless we go to his website). Setting himself up in a village in the Oaxaca region (from where Lila... > Read more

Beirut: The Concubine (from Realpeople Holland)

Obits: I Blame You (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

13 Apr 2009    1

This new project for New Yorker singer-guitarist Rick Froberg (formerly of Drive Like Jehu) is prickly with energy and spikey pop-rock ideas, keeps things in tight control (short and sharp songs which owe a little to the Pixies, Only Ones, Billy Idol at his early best, the Clash, MC5, the Strokes, Link Wray, B52s) and doesn't outstay its welcome. This is power pop-rock'n'roll of the kind you... > Read more

Obits: Light Sweet Crude

Captain Beefheart: Under Review DVD (Triton)

12 Apr 2009

In the same series as the previously posted DVD overview of the Small Faces, but having more in common with the far superior Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention doco comes this chronological account of Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) and his Magic Band. Van Vliet's idiosyncratic and revolutionary blues-based music is part of rock culture but more properly belongs in some side... > Read more

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band: Run Paint Run Run (from Doc at the Radar Station, 1980)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A Stranger Here (Anti/Shock)

12 Apr 2009

When the previous album by this one-time fellow traveller with Woody Guthrie and mentor to the young Bob Dylan arrived -- I Stand Alone of two years back  -- I had to admit I thought Elliott had long since passed on. But that album not only confirmed he was alive and well, but also pretty darned sprightly. This one produced by Joe Henry and with a band which includes David Hidalgo of... > Read more

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: Soul of a Man