alt.country

Recent content on Elsewhere by Graham Reid tagged as alt.country.

Neko Case: Live From Austin, Texas (Elite)

Neko Case: Live From Austin, Texas (Elite)

Although a belated release -- it was recorded in August 2003 -- there is some serendipity of timing: Case's 2006 Fox Confessor Brings The Flood popped up in many "best of the year" lists. On release I gave Fox five stars in the New Zealand Herald and in the end of year "best of" wrap-up wrote of it, "This typically...

The Last Town Chorus: Wire Waltz (Shock)

The Last Town Chorus: Wire Waltz (Shock)

Why don't I step back here and let others tell you about the beguiling voice of Megan Hickey who is front and centre of this alt.country outfit, and whose lap steel playing is stellar? Here is a selection of quotes: "She sings like an angel and plays lap steel like the Devil" -- Village Voice "Hickey spellbinds listeners...

Po' Girl: Home To You (Shock)

Po' Girl: Home To You (Shock)

The previously posted Po' Girl album Vagabond Lullabies was actually a few years old and only given belated release in this country. But it was too good to ignore, and allowed me to set you up for this new one by the one-time trio (now-quartet on the cover photo, but a quintet in the credits!) of rootsy singers from Canada which includes Trish...

John Mellencamp: Freedom's Road (Universal)

John Mellencamp: Freedom's Road (Universal)

If this guy hadn't been such a dickhead when he was John Cougar in the early 80s, or so arrogant when he became John Cougar Mellencamp we'd probably be falling all over him now as one of the authentic voices of Americana/alt.country rock. He reinvented himself as a man with a conscience and in touch with the spirit of small towns in the...

Kelly Flint: Drive All Night (BePop)

Kelly Flint: Drive All Night (BePop)

It probably means nothing to most of us -- it certainly doesn't to me -- to know that Kelly Flint was the singer with Dave's True Story. DTS was a New York band various described as hipster/jazzy/witty/cool/cult favorites/sophisticated and so on. Apparently they have made five albums, and not having heard a note they played makes it hard to...

Elvis Perkins: Ash Wednesday (XL/Rhythmethod)

Elvis Perkins: Ash Wednesday (XL/Rhythmethod)

A publisher once told me that if I wanted to write a successful book I should put the word "Elvis" in the title. I said my next book would be called "Elvis in the Title". It's an odd fact though that the very word commands attention, whether it be the singer Elvis Phuong in Vietnam (who does MOR Beatles covers...

Co-Pilgrim: Pucker Up Buttercup (Rhythmethod)

Co-Pilgrim: Pucker Up Buttercup (Rhythmethod)

A few years ago there was a hopeful movement started in the UK: it came with the slogan "Quiet is the New Loud". Movements which get a slogan before a following are usually shortlived, and so it was with that one -- although to be fair a lot of pretty and quiet albums arrived subsequently, but most from bands we never heard of...

King Wilkie: Low Country Suite (Zoe)

King Wilkie: Low Country Suite (Zoe)

Although nominally a bluegrass band, this six-piece from Virginia (here produced by Jim Scott who did similar duties for Johnny Cash and Tom Petty) have staked a claim in alt.country and country-rock, so it is no surprise to see some overseas writers namechecking the late-period Byrds, the Band and early Wilco in articles. King Wilkie...

Joan Osborne: Pretty Little Stranger (Shock)

Joan Osborne: Pretty Little Stranger (Shock)

While going through some papers last week I came on the interview I had done with Joan Osborne in smalltown Vermont as she was riding the crest of her unexpected radio hit that went, "what if God is one of us, just a slob like one of us?" I felt sorry for 32-year old Osborne who knew soul and the blues, had studied Pakistani qawwali...

Findlay Brown; Separated by the Sea (PeaceFrog) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Findlay Brown; Separated by the Sea (PeaceFrog) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Earnest young men of the Anglo-folk persuasion aren't exactly thin on the ground these days, but Brown is worth your attention. His voice is gentle but has some depth and restrained power, and if his lyrics stray sometimes into that self-obsession/broken love/"darkness of the soul and mind" axis then that pretty much comes with this...

The Greencards: Viridian (Dualtone)

The Greencards: Viridian (Dualtone)

Canny name for a band of two Australians and an Englishman who formed in Austin in 2003 to play high-energy fiddle-driven bluegrass and alt.country. The following year these imports were named Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards, they subsequently opened for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, and last year they were nominated in the best new...

Eleni Mandell: Miracle of Five (Shock)

Eleni Mandell: Miracle of Five (Shock)

I have no doubt Mandell will be dismissed in some circles as an alt.country Norah Jones -- but that would be a little lazy. What this album (Mandell's sixth) shares with Jones is an overall low lights mood and the sometimes seductive delivery, but Mandell is more like a torch singer in a hip Nashville club. However it is uneven and...

Harry Manx and Kevin Breit: In Good We Trust (Stony Plain/Southbound)

Harry Manx and Kevin Breit: In Good We Trust (Stony Plain/Southbound)

These two guitarists are among the best in the wide country/alt.country/roots music arena. The evidence, should you doubt it, is all over this intimate and intelligent collection which opens with a Indo-blues reworking of Springsteen's I'm On Fire, touches moods in the JJ Cale/Mark Knopfler territory (Manx sounds like a croaky Knopfler in the...

Over The Rhine: The Trumpet Child (RedEye/Southbound)

Over The Rhine: The Trumpet Child (RedEye/Southbound)

When this Cincinnati-based duo came to New Zealand 18 months ago I did an interview with them and noted they were receiving media interest more befitting Really Big Stars: lining up for a chat were the Herald; Kim Hill; the Listener and student radio; and there was an intimate gig before well-placed radio and retail people. Not that they...

Peter Case: Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (YepRoc Records)

Peter Case: Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (YepRoc Records)

Case used to be the mainman in the Plimsouls, a terrific and slightly ragged power pop band but he has enjoyed a long and diverse alt.country/alt.rock solo career -- as befits a man who was once married to Victoria Williams. On his superb self-titled debut in '86 he had John Hiatt and Roger McGuinn helping out, and down the decades he has...

Delgirl: two, maybe three, days ride (Yellow Eye)

Delgirl: two, maybe three, days ride (Yellow Eye)

This Dunedin-based, folk-country three-piece of Deidre Newall, Erin Morton and Lynn Vare impressed with an earlier EP Live at the Wunderbar which hinted at something special, but wasn't quite strong enough to be placed on Elsewhere. But that promise has come with this album of close harmony, suggestions of alt.country and Polynesia,...

Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

There are some images which are imprinted in my rock’n’roll memory -- one was when the young Elton John played at Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium in October 1971. That’s a long time gone so you have to remember the context: Elton wasn’t the glittery star he later became, in fact he seemed a pretty straight...

KASEY CHAMBERS AND SHANE NICHOLSON INTERVIEWED 2008: The family that plays together . . .

KASEY CHAMBERS AND SHANE NICHOLSON INTERVIEWED 2008: The family that plays together . . .

Backstage after a performance for invited guests and a camera crew in a studio room at the Sydney Opera House, Kasey Chambers and her husband Shane Nicholson are greeting fans and well-wishers. Just minutes before they had unplugged after an intimate and affecting set -- with their small band which includes Kasey’s father Bill on guitar --...

Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain Look out Sea (UNSpin/EMI)

Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain Look out Sea (UNSpin/EMI)

This US indie-rock band with loose links to early Pavement might not be to everyone's taste -- but singer-songwriter David Berman's easy blend of the occasional Johnny Cash gravitas in his delivery, his shaggy-dog stories, unexpected metaphors and rhymes, skewed stories and memorable alt.country pop has had this one on steady Elsewhere play at...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Willard Grant Conspiracy: Pilgrim Road (Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Willard Grant Conspiracy: Pilgrim Road (Southbound)

For some people the radar-avoiding WGC are like an alt.country version of the late and lamented Australian band the Go-Betweens. Not for any similarity in sound, but in that if you discovered the songwriting skills early you tended to follow the central members' every move (solo or with the band).WGC has largely been the vehicle of Robert Fisher...

White Swan Black Swan: White Swan Black Swan (Arch Hill)

White Swan Black Swan: White Swan Black Swan (Arch Hill)

An excellent earlier EP by this Auckland duo and friends made repeat appearances at Elsewhere previously -- and this follow-up is their "double mini album".W/B Swan are Sonya Waters and Ben Howe who have long and illustrious careers (in bands such as the Instigators, ICU in London, Orange, Superette) and they were together in the...

The Rosie Taylor Project: This City Draws Maps (Bad Sneakers/Ode)

The Rosie Taylor Project: This City Draws Maps (Bad Sneakers/Ode)

This six-piece from Leeds have a charming alt.folk/indie.pop thing going which also has one ear on Americana. Okay, you've heard all that before, right? But there is something quite beguiling and emotionally disarming about their understatement, the wee splashes of colour from trumpet and French horn, the haiku-like lyrics ("cut from...

MICAH P HINSON INTERVIEWED (2008): We won't have to be lonesome

MICAH P HINSON INTERVIEWED (2008): We won't have to be lonesome

Micah P Hinson is one those artists who is just starting to appear on the radar for many people, this despite much touring, two excellent albums before his current Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra album, and a back-story that has been of interest to music writers. The slight Hinson -- who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian...

Carrie Rodriguez: She Ain't Me (Manhattan)

Carrie Rodriguez: She Ain't Me (Manhattan)

This alt.country/rock singer out of Austin and Berklee College of Music in Boston came to attention with her 2006 solo album Seven Angels on a Bicycle which won great praise from the likes of Lucinda Williams and Elsewhere for its melodic darkness delivered by Rodriguez in a voice pitched somewhere between innocence and experience. And she...

OVER THE RHINE INTERVIEWED (2006): Coming out quietly

OVER THE RHINE INTERVIEWED (2006): Coming out quietly

Karin Berquist and Linford Detweiler get the treatment usually reserved for big stars. A year ago few people here were aware of Over the Rhine, the Cincinnati band formed around the song-writing core of Karin Berquist and Linford Detweiler, whose seductive blend of alt.country and American folk had quietly been captivating an American...

WILLARD GRANT CONSPIRACY'S ROBERT FISHER INTERVIEWED (2008): Strange bedfellows: economics and music

WILLARD GRANT CONSPIRACY'S ROBERT FISHER INTERVIEWED (2008): Strange bedfellows: economics and music

For a band which has released eight albums the alt.country/indie.rock band Willard Grant Conspiracy has - like Calexico, Giant Sand, Lambchop and others - rarely broken into mainstream consciousness. Despite favourable reviews for live shows and albums, WGC remains the private passion of small but significant audience. Yet those who have...

BONFIRE OF ROADMAPS by JOE ELY (2008)

BONFIRE OF ROADMAPS by JOE ELY (2008)

Joe Ely who grew up in Lubbock, West Texas (Buddy Holly's hometown) is something of a legend in Americana/alt.country rock: he was on the road in the early 70s hitching around to play gigs far and wide but also formed the formidable band the Flatlanders with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (both of whom have gone on to remarkable...

The Whispertown 2000: Swim (Acony)

The Whispertown 2000: Swim (Acony)

This alt.country/indie-pop four-piece from LA will doubtless be an acquired taste: but they are certainly alt.country (Jenny Lewis appeared on their debut which makes sense and they are the first signings on Gillian Welch's label so that means something); they do indie okay (a wee bit of fuzzy guitar) and pop pretty well too (jangle...

AA Bondy: American Hearts (Fat Possum/Shock)

AA Bondy: American Hearts (Fat Possum/Shock)

From what I have read, this dark folk album isn't what we should have expected from Mr Bondy out of Alabama. It seems he was previously the lead singer of an alt.rock band and drew favourable comparisons with Kurt Cobain. Quite what made him drop the volume, pick up acoustic guitar and harmonica, craft literate and questioning songs, and aim...

Mark Olson and Gary Louris: Ready for the Flood (Hacktone/Elite)

Mark Olson and Gary Louris: Ready for the Flood (Hacktone/Elite)

Given that albums aren't recorded in the order we hear them it's surprising how many peter out after the halfway mark: I guess that's what you call "playing your aces first". This album by alt.country/Americana luminaries Olson and Louris who last played together in the Jayhawks over a decade ago does the opposite however: after...

The Clientele: Bonfires on the Heath (PopFrenzy)

The Clientele: Bonfires on the Heath (PopFrenzy)

The charming, wispy and intimate pop of this London outfit has long been an Elsewhere favourite: their album God Save the Clientele was among The Best of Elsewhere 2007 and they share the same PopFrenzy label as equally delightful pop bands such as Camera Obscura, Lightning Dust, Radio Dept and Institut Polaire. The Clientele embark here on...

Carol Bean: Crossing the Dirty River (carolbean.com)

Carol Bean: Crossing the Dirty River (carolbean.com)

This album by peripatetic British-born, LA-raised country-blues rocker singer-guitarist Bean -- now resident in NZ -- has been around the stereo for perhaps so long I forgot to post it. With a tight, revolving door band which includes slippery and earthy guitar by Mike Petrie, Robbie Duncan, Mark Laurent and Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Bean delivers...

Mark Olson: Many Colored Kite (Ryko)

Mark Olson: Many Colored Kite (Ryko)

As a founder member of the Jayhawks - and for the album '09 Ready for the Flood with former-Hawk Gary Louris -- Olson would always command a fair hearing, but this 11 track outing with roots of fingerpicking Anglofolk as much as Americana becomes a very difficult haul. Although Olson seems to have put some of his demons behind him his vocals...

Jon Langford and Skull Orchard: Old Devils (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Jon Langford and Skull Orchard: Old Devils (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Langford was in the UK punk-era Mekons way back but has in more recent times embraced a kind of folk-punk Americana and played with the likes of Ryan Adams and Alejandro Escovedo. Chicago-based, he's also a well-known artist (lots of covers for the Chicago label Bloodshot). With Skull Orchard he parlays a rough-edged country-rock with a...

Peter Case: Peter Case (1986)

Peter Case: Peter Case (1986)

For six months after its release, at least three times a week, I would play this album. Night after night. I had been given a cassette tape which I had in the kitchen and while making dinner for my kids, only stopping to hear Alistair Cooke's Letter From America on the radio, Peter Case would be on permanant repeat. One night one of my...

Eels: Tomorrow Morning (Shock)

Eels: Tomorrow Morning (Shock)

The story of Eels - aka E, or Mark Oliver Everett -- has been one of the most interesting, and often autobiographical, journeys to follow in recent years. There were many, rather too many, dark days in Everett's earlier life and he scrupulously recorded them in a way which made them universal. His candour and lyrical directness was not only...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Devils Elbow: Sand on Chrome (Hit Your Head)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Devils Elbow: Sand on Chrome (Hit Your Head)

This raw, sometimes wilfully ragged and largely terrific duo of Alec Withers (vocals, guitars) and drummer-singer Andrew Gladstone formerly in Garageland (and a couple of friends in places) deliver up hook-filled alt.country rock which owes a nod to Joe Strummer as much as Steve Earle, and they also possesses that free-wheeling spirit which made...

Bannerman: The Dusty Dream Hole (Rhythmethod)

Bannerman: The Dusty Dream Hole (Rhythmethod)

Bannerman is New Zealand singer-songwriter Richard Setford whose purpose in life seems to be to confound those who would easily pigeonhole him. He appeared at Elsewhere previously with his quietly intense EP (here) which stood at some distance from his work with the roiling Batucada Sound Machine and the soulful One Million Dollars. For this...

Mark Eitzel, Klamath (101/Southbound)

Mark Eitzel, Klamath (101/Southbound)

Eitzel was the former frontman for the very wonderful but poorly named American Music Club (probably still is, I think they have reformed) but this solo album dates from a retreat to a cabin (around Klamath Falls in central Oregon I guess) a year or so ago. As befits it origins this is very intimate music -- although far from the...

7 Walkers: 7 Walkers (Response/Southbound)

7 Walkers: 7 Walkers (Response/Southbound)

Singer-guitarist Papa Mali here has a story: the late bluesman John Campbell spotted his talent when Mali (born Malcolm Welbourne in Louisiana) was in his teens; he was given his nickname by reggae figurehead Burning Spear while playing in Jamaica; he brought reggae and Southern funk together with rock'n'roll . . . But he's only one...

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

The truth about Billy Joe Shaver is much more interesting than anything anyone might make up about the guy. Shaver has lived on the hard edge of life. Born in Corsicana in Texas in late 1941 or '39 depending on where you read it (“just a cotton-gin town, the same one Lefty Frizzell came from") and raised in Waco, he lost two...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Lloyd Cole

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Lloyd Cole

Lloyd Cole sprung to success with his band the Commotions on the highly literate and pop-memorable album Rattlesnakes in '84 but within a few years had moved to New York where he fell in with the likes of Robert Quine and Matthew Sweet. He has continued to explore his intelligent, probing and exquisitely crafted pop over a series of solo...

Lloyd Cole: Broken Record (Tapete/Yellow Eye)

Lloyd Cole: Broken Record (Tapete/Yellow Eye)

Lloyd Cole may not command that massive audience he once did, but his modest tours always pull the loyalists -- and his songwriting skills haven't deserted him, even though his great chart-worrying album Rattlesnakes with the Commotions was closer to 30 years ago than 20. This new album, recorded in New York and spare in its...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

These are more good days for Lucinda Williams: happily married and comfortable, a Grammy nomination for Kiss Like Your Kiss (best song in a film or television series, it appeared in True Blood) and acclaim from her peers, critics and an increasing fan base. And she has a new album out, Blessed which was produced by Don Was, her husband...

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me (Nonesuch)

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me (Nonesuch)

With a languid delivery not dissimilar to Lucinda Williams but with a whole swag more alt.rock in her system, Mayfield certainly keeps excellent company: she appeared on the Black Keys' album Attack and Release (the Keys' Dan Auerbach produced this); she has opened for familiar Elsewhere names such as the Avett Brothers, Ray LaMontagne and Jay...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

Although Lucinda Williams admits things are going well in her life (see interview here), she also adds that no one is ever permanently happy and she lives in this world with all its sadness and misery. And she has had a few encounters with those things herself, notably the estrangement of her brother after the death of their mother, and the...

Buffalo Tom: Skins (Scrawny/Southbound)

Buffalo Tom: Skins (Scrawny/Southbound)

When Boston band Buffalo Tom disappeared for almost a decade in the mid 2000s it would be hard to argue they were in the "much missed" category for most people. But their loyal core had their albums Birdbrain, Let Me Come Over (which included the wonderful Taillights Fade) and Sleepy Eyed as cornerstones in their collection. Their...

SLIM WHITMAN PROFILED (1923-2013): A song to save the world

SLIM WHITMAN PROFILED (1923-2013): A song to save the world

In the early Eighties, the late Slim Whitman – who had recorded more than 65 albums -- still held down the record for the longest number one on the British charts, 11 consecutive weeks, a feat unmatched by Elvis or the Beatles. But back home in the States he was a singer without a song. He was a household name but few Americans...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

In the late Seventies, Tom Paxton was still appearing in rock encyclopedias. It was a time when rock was still close enough to some of its folk roots (post-Dylan) for him to still be relevant. These days Paxton -- now in his early 70s and still performing -- may seem just a footnote in rock (usually mentioned in passing with regard to...

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

After a series of fine albums, Ohio's Over the Rhine here -- with sympathetic producer Joe Henry – deliver their most sophisticated album to date, one with an ear on their European-cabaret sounding alt.country (with exceptional players such as steel guitarist Greg Leisz) in songs of uncertainty and reassurance, and torch ballads of...

Emmylou Harris: Hard Bargain (Nonesuch)

Emmylou Harris: Hard Bargain (Nonesuch)

Emmylou Harris is now 64 but her voice sounds as beautiful as it always was, although it seems a little lower these days, but no less affecting. On this album the woman known for her interpretations of songs by others writes three and co-pens eight others with Will Jennings, which brings a more autobiographical quality to some. The...

John Hiatt: She Loves the Jerk (1983)

John Hiatt: She Loves the Jerk (1983)

Songs of spousal abuse or domestic violence are never going to be pretty or common, in fact on a countback the most outstanding one prior to this by Hiatt was probably the gloomy and dark He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King in the early Sixties. They'd heard from Little Eva (who'd had a chart hit with...

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

The captivatingly named rock troubadour Vile from Philadelphia offers a kind of alt.folk-cum-indie rock skew which refers to Cohen as much as Cobain. But he also has an ear for a mainstream rock melody (Puppet the the Man here with AOR guitars behind his echoed alt.rock vocals) and recently said his current listening includes the Stones'...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2007): Out of the Blue

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2007): Out of the Blue

Almost 20 years ago on her self-titled album, Lucinda Williams sang Am I Too Blue, a penetratingly drained song about loneliness and self-doubt. If it hadn’t been for some flashes of jangling pop and a few light-hearted romps in the intervening years, the essence of Am I Too Blue and its honest weariness might stand as Williams’...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Katie Thompson

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Katie Thompson

Singer-songwriter Katie Thompson doesn't let the remoteness of her hometown on New Zealand's West Coast prevent her from engaging with an international audience. And she reaches out in many ways, not the least by getting on to Sellaband in which fans can donate money towards the recording of an album. And they did, to the tune of US$50,000....

Leslie Stevens and the Badgers: Roomful of Smoke (Fuse)

Leslie Stevens and the Badgers: Roomful of Smoke (Fuse)

Although a reviewer for America's No Depression said Stevens' voice reminded of Emmylou Harris' (although confusingly added “but you will never be confused it”) Harris' crystalline sound doesn't come to mind at all for me. (Maybe Melanie's high-pitched folksiness in places.) But this former LA punk has convincingly moved...

Brigitte DeMeyer: Rose of Jericho (BDM)

Brigitte DeMeyer: Rose of Jericho (BDM)

Although now five albums into her career, it is highly likely few have heard of this soulful country-rock singer who here co-produces with Brady Blade. She has a little gospel and blues in her (religion is scattered throughout) and marries that to fiddle and mandolin-coloured tunes which are instantly memorable. And many shine with the...

THE JAYHAWKS, MARK OLSON INTERVIEWED (2011): Today in the green grass again

THE JAYHAWKS, MARK OLSON INTERVIEWED (2011): Today in the green grass again

Whenever anyone speaks of the No Depression movement – the alt.country and roots music which emerged in the early Nineties -- one band's name is always mentioned: The Jayhawks. Out of Minneapolis, the five-piece Jayhawks influenced bands such as Uncle Tupelo (which split to form Wilco and Son Volt) and their first two major label...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ryan Adams, Gold and Demolition (Universal)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ryan Adams, Gold and Demolition (Universal)

With a new album by Ryan Adams due in a month (Ashes and Fire) some might wonder why this guy holds such a powerful place in many people's affections. After all he -- Prince-like -- became so prolific for a while he was impossible to keep up with a pain for record company. Many lost track of him. But the five star Gold from exactly a decade...

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

First released in 1972 and only now available on CD (here expanded with  five extra songs including a 2002 version of his classic Mr Bojangles), this album was one which introduced Texan Walker as part of the left-field non-Nashville country acts of the day alongside Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings. In...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wilco: The Whole Love (Warners)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wilco: The Whole Love (Warners)

Artists who make lurching changes of direction often revert to prior form after a while: Certainly after U2's darker trilogy -- Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop -- they went back to their familiar stadium-shaped mainstream ballads, and Radiohead's most recent output has been more accessible than the unsettling Ok Computer and Kid A. Even David...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Ryan Adams: Ashes and Fire (Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Ryan Adams: Ashes and Fire (Sony)

Those with a passing interest in Ryan Adams' highly productive career -- which most recently stretched to published books of poetry -- will be understandably bewildered that there is a new album, given he announced his retirement in '09 . . . and subsequently kept releasing albums from his not inconsiderable song vaults. This solo album...

Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska (1982)

Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska (1982)

From this distance it is hard to remember just how huge Springsteen was in the late 70s and early 80s: these days disco and punk/new wave get more pages in rock history books, but Bruce Springsteen deserves a chapter on his own. In the States alone Born to Run in '75 sold in excess of seven million, it's follow-up the more bleak Darkness on...

Camera Obscura; Let's Get Out of This Country (Popfrenzy/Rhythmethod) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Camera Obscura; Let's Get Out of This Country (Popfrenzy/Rhythmethod) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Gentle, shimmering pop where the guitars swell up and envelope you like sunshine and you can't help but nod along or tap your feet. Music that has you making a fool off yourself in the car as you sing along loudly and bang the steering wheel when the big chorus kicks in. I've just described the effect of this glistening album by a Scottish...

Guy Clark: Workbench Songs (Dualtone)

Guy Clark: Workbench Songs (Dualtone)

Clark has been one of the pillars of West Texas/Mex-influenced singer-songwriters, and of his dozen or so albums at least half would be in any serious country and alt.country collection. For this album he sometimes sounds much older than his 65 years, sometimes considerably younger. That's a measure of how he puts himself into his...

Pernice Brothers: Live a Little (EMI) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Pernice Brothers: Live a Little (EMI) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

The vehicle for Joe Pernice, this band make slightly askew alt.pop and haven't been averse to pulling in orchestration when required. Where once Pernice made alt.country with his band the Scud Mountain Boys he now nods to Brian Wilson and classic pop of the mid 60s. In many ways it is unfashionable music because it isn't as alternative as...

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