best of elsewhere 2008

best of elsewhere 2008 on Elsewhere by Graham Reid - Browse our selection of content tagged 'best of elsewhere 2008'.

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Toumani Diabate: The Mande Variations (World Circuit/Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Toumani Diabate: The Mande Variations (World Circuit/Elite)

Here's one of the best world music albums of the year: a rare solo outing by the Malian kora master Toumani Diabate who learned from the late guitarist Ali Farka Toure also from his homeland (there is a track here dedicated to Farka Toure with whom he performed on the wonderful In the Heart of the Moon album). Like his mentor, Diabate has...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

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

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

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,...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008:  Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)

You'd think with strip malls, fast food franchises, saturation low-cost reality television and the widespread levelling out of mainstream culture that guys like Carll would have been ironed out of American life But he's one of those crinkles in the texture, an alt.country-cum-trad.country guy who is a little early Steve Earle and Joe Ely,...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Samuel Flynn Scott and Bunnies on Ponies: Straight Answer Machine (Loop)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Samuel Flynn Scott and Bunnies on Ponies: Straight Answer Machine (Loop)

Sam Scott is the singer and main songwriter of the Phoenix Foundation (alongside Luke Buda) and wrote the music for the feature Eagle Vs Shark but this, his second solo album, sounds like a man thoroughly enjoying himself (in a somewhat serious way) out of the confines of both of those. As with the PF this is pop which has a...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Rattlin' Bones (Liberation)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Rattlin' Bones (Liberation)

Chambers -- daughter of the very great singer-songwriter Bill -- is one of Australia's finest alt.country/roots artists and here she teams up with her husband Nicholson for their first album together. Oddly enough although they play together in their casual side-project The Lost Dogs covers band they hadn't previously written together -- yet...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

This Englishman with an unexpectedly soulful voice was one of the first artists posted at Elsewhere back in mid 2006 and that astonishing album People Gonna Talk was easily among the best of that year. But in this country with very little publicity (I saw none) it rose without a trace. Still, those who heard it got a wonderful slice of...

Dennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blue (1977)

Dennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blue (1977)

It was a tragic irony that Dennis Wilson, the only genuine surf-rat in the Beach Boys, should have drowned. But by 1983 when he died in the waters of Marina Del Rey, he was a spent force who had succumbed to alcohol, depression and cocaine -- and he'd only recorded one solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue in 1977. That was also a tragedy because...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Le Trio Joubran: Majaz (Jawwal/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Le Trio Joubran: Majaz (Jawwal/Ode)

They may look like those agency-groomed opera singers you see on the back of buses -- immaculately trimmed stubble, tuxedos with ties hanging loose, brooding good looks and sultry come-hither eyes -- but put aside any preconceptions: this trio of oud-playing Palestinian brothers is the real thing. This exotic, hypnotic and deeply emotionally...

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

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

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

With its references to late 60s folk-rock, baroque pop flourishes, close harmonies, art-rock progressions and the jigsaw-puzzle of arrangements for voices and a small array of instruments (all deployed with precision, skill and understatement), this extraordinary album seems an unlikely one to have been embraced by hip rock magazines.It is is...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death And All Her Friends (EMI)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death And All Her Friends (EMI)

One advantage of not listening to commercial radio is that you don't start going off songs or bands through over-familiarity. Which might explain why I quite like this new album by a band which seems to annoy most right-thinking people and serious music writers.But I hear so little of them -- I rarely play the albums I have -- that this one...

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

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

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,...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

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

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

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...

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Bond Street Bridge: The Mapmaker's Art (Monkey Records)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Bond Street Bridge: The Mapmaker's Art (Monkey Records)

Opening with an arresting, one minute challenge of scraped and stabbing violin you could be forgiven for thinking the one-man band of Sam Prebble who is Bond Street Bridge is being beamed at you from the Contemporary Classical department. It’ll certainly grip you, as will dark alt.folk drone Black Market Soul Transplant which follows...

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

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

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...

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

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

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)...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs, Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006, The Bootleg Series Vol 8

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs, Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006, The Bootleg Series Vol 8

After the less-than-essential Vol 7 which accompanied the brilliant Martin Scorsese Dylan-bioflick No Direction Home (if you got the DVD you could probably pass on the CD) this on-going series of unreleased/rare/alternative versions hits another peak with this exceptional collection. There are a number of reasons for that: look at the period...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Emiliana Torrini: Me and Armini (Rough Trade)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Emiliana Torrini: Me and Armini (Rough Trade)

Only the most diligent Elsewhere reader with perfect recall might remember this Icelandic singer who appeared on the Next Brel compilation/tribute to the singer-songwriter Jacques Brel which appeared here some time last year. Torrini was one of the standout performers on that album and she has certainly drawn enormous praise for her previous...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Omara Portuondo: Gracias (Harmonia Mundi)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Omara Portuondo: Gracias (Harmonia Mundi)

The great Cuban singer - who came to world attention via the Buena Vista Social Club a decade ago - is still going even though she is in her late 70, which may be some kind of testament to the life-affirming powers of Cuban rum or that country's health-care system. As with the final album by her late BVSC colleague Ibrahim Ferrer (the...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Buena Vista Social Club: Live at Carnegie Hall (Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Buena Vista Social Club: Live at Carnegie Hall (Elite)

A decade on and the Buena Vista Social Club story just keeps being told: there was the original album, the Wim Wenders doco, the solo albums by various members, the touring, the t-shirts . . . Not bad for a project about which timbales player Amadito Valdes says, "I still don't know why Buena Vista Social Club became such a success...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu: Gurrumul (Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu: Gurrumul (Southbound)

Funny how music can pounce on you, isn't it? A couple of weeks ago I would have said I had never heard of this blind-from-birth Aboriginal singer from Arnhemland. Then a week ago I mentioned the new-look Elsewhere on another website and invited people to check it and use the search function: the first response I got was from someone who said...

Fripp and Eno: No Pussyfooting (1973) and Evening Star (1975)

Fripp and Eno: No Pussyfooting (1973) and Evening Star (1975)

Context is everything -- or almost everything -- at Essential Elsewhere, these being albums you can return to repeatedly so probably stand outside of time, yet are always born of a specific place and time. Even if they owe nothing to it. And these two albums - the first "pair" of Essential Elsewhere albums -- seem to owe very...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Deerhunter: Microcastle (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Deerhunter: Microcastle (4AD)

To be honest, this album by Bradford Cox and his Athens, Georgia band -- he's also the man behind his solo project Atlas Sounds, an album reviewed very favourably here some weeks ago -- sounds like a lot of other people, but what a lot of great other people: the Velvet Underground, the Church, the Pixies, the Cure, Mojave 3, Jesus and Mary...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE DVDs 2008 Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution (DVD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE DVDs 2008 Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution (DVD)

Not only does this excellent overview of the German electronic scene come in at a whopping and thorough three hours, but it also has good timing: it is released just as Kraftwerk make a rare return appearance in New Zealand. This ambitious (but not officially sanctioned) look at Kraftwerk's place in the techno-cosmos places the group within...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Juana Molina: Un Dia (Domino)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Juana Molina: Un Dia (Domino)

This singer-songwriter from Argentina will confound any expectations you might have of someone who was once a comedy actress and in skit-shows on local televsion. This album with odd elements of percussion, repeated figures in the manner of folktronic minimalists, post-Tropicalia borrowings from Brazilian music, and a kind of urgency driven...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Mavis Staples: Live. Hope at the Hideout (Anti)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Mavis Staples: Live. Hope at the Hideout (Anti)

The last album by the great Mavis Staples, We'll Never Turn Back was picked as one of the best albums of 2007 at Elsewhere, and that was no sympathy vote for one of life's survivors who had grown up with the civil rights movement and has now lived long enough to see Obama heading for the White House. So when she sings "keep your...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Luke Buda: Vesuvius (Arch Hill)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Luke Buda: Vesuvius (Arch Hill)

This exceptional album by Buda of the Phoenix Foundation may take some getting used to for a few people: it is ambitious (and often lyrically funny or provocative) wide-screen pop which unashamedly doesn't shy from a McCartney-like hook, or deploying lap steel to fine effect -- as well as conjuring up the innocence of mid 60s pop (Electric...

JOHN LENNON, THE LIFE by PHILIP NORMAN (2008): Just gimme some truth

JOHN LENNON, THE LIFE by PHILIP NORMAN (2008): Just gimme some truth

John Lennon -- who would have been 68, had he lived, at the time of this pubication -- did not have an unexamined life. In countless hours of drugs, meditation and therapy he analysed himself. Through many thousands of interviews -- some brutally honest, others self-mythologising -- he gave others material to scrutinise his life in intimate...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Johann Johannsson: Fordlandia (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Johann Johannsson: Fordlandia (4AD)

Part romantic and lyrical classical music, part minimalism of the early La Monte Young kind, and deftly orchestrated in the manner of albums on Eno's Obscure label of the Seventies (Gavin Bryars' Sinking of the Titanic comes to mind), this emotionally downbeat but eerily beautiful album is probably of as much appeal to those who like a bit of...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE DVDs 2008 Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: In the Sixties (DVD/ through Triton)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE DVDs 2008 Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: In the Sixties (DVD/ through Triton)

Frank Zappa died 15 years ago this month and while it is hard to make the case his music is still of influence (Zoogz Rift anyone?) this fascinating two hour-plus doco is persuasive in its argument that nothing in rock culture (and perhaps beyond) was the same after Zappa and the Mothers of Invention gatecrashed into pop music and then hippie...

FLEET FOXES INTERVIEWED (2008): Their remarkable year

FLEET FOXES INTERVIEWED (2008): Their remarkable year

The big music story of 2008 wasn’t Britney back on track, Axl Rose finally delivering the Chinese Democracy album or even Kanye West sidestepping the hip-hop that made his name for an album of songs and techno-blips. It was how the self-titled and self-funded debut album from a previously unknown band -- which didn’t exist...

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

American singer-songwriter Bingham's voice was so lived in and road-hardened on his debut Mescalito (a Best of Elsewhere 2008 album) that he sounded like a man far beyond his mid-20s. He seemed to have literally lived the rough roadhouse life and whisky bars that others could only suggest they had. You didn't doubt his stories of...

MOANA MANIAPOTO INTERVIEWED (2003): Kia kaha with a backbeat

MOANA MANIAPOTO INTERVIEWED (2003): Kia kaha with a backbeat

The view from Moana Maniapoto's Grey Lynn apartment is spectacular. Beyond huge windows, which can be flung wide to offer the impression of floor-to-ceiling sky is a vista across rooftops to the Waitemata Harbour beyond. Outside the front door is a pile of kids' basketball boots - the carpets have just been shampooed - and inside...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Midlake: The Courage of Others (Inertia)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Midlake: The Courage of Others (Inertia)

This quintet from Texas -- now on their third album -- has only appeared once previously at Elsewhere, a wonderful track on the collection Secret Love 4. That piece (the sample track posted with that album) was so impressive their name imprinted itself on my memory -- and then this album turns up. In the absence of hearing much else by them...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eels: End Times (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eels: End Times (Shock)

The last album by Eels/Mark Oliver Everett was the split personality of Hombre Lobo where gritty and sexually aggressive  songs were alternated with lovely ballads as if he was exploring two sides of the human condition. It is a terrific album (you may only like half the tracks depending on your current frame of mind) and was Everett...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate: Ali and Toumani (World Circuit)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate: Ali and Toumani (World Circuit)

When the great guitarist Ali Farka Toure from Mali died in late 2005 he left an exceptional legacy of wonderful albums, not the least being the exceptional In the Heart of the Moon with kora player Toumani Diabate. That album was why sites like Elsewhere exist (J.Lo hardly needs our help. right?) Their mesmerising music was like a portal...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (Universal)

This four-piece from London may have a banjo on hand and a similar way with an archaic lyric and alt.folk melody as Fleet Foxes, but here on their debut album with widescreen producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire's Neon Bible) they bring some dramatic urgency which kicks them clearly into the alt.rock territory. With songs which have a...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Unspk)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Unspk)

The most recent album by the emotionally damaged Daniel Johnston, Is and Always Was, found his often fragile and shaky acoustic pop placed in the context of a band -- and while it was fine to hear his songs that way (as he wanted) there was also a sense that their nakedness had been sacrificed. That isn't the case here as Roky Erickson -- the...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

Willie Nelson makes so many albums these days – from Western Swing with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex-Mex to jazz stylings with Wynton Marsalis – that it's helpful this title is a product description. So here's Willie – now 77 – going back to songs by Ernest Tubb, Doc Watson, Hank Williams and others, as well...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 John Grant: Queen of Denmark (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 John Grant: Queen of Denmark (Shock)

Although he recorded three albums with the band the Czars, we should perhaps treat this quite exceptional, moving, funny, droll and heart-breaking singer-songwriter as a new artist. And on those terms he immediately places himself in the company of early Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and a more humorous Rufus Wainwright for songs like Sigourney...

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

The previous album by this white boy singin' soul music -- Roll With You -- was considered a Best of Elsewhere 2008 release but didn't quite make it into mainstream media or thinking. This time around, for a slightly lesser album, he's been picking up big press . . . and again he certainly deserves it. He may have come from Boston but he...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Black Keys: Brothers (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Black Keys: Brothers (Shock)

Albums are usually far too long these days, and this is no exception -- but just when you think you might lose interest here the Keys pull out another angle: around the midpoint there are some superbly dark and soulful blues (Ten Cent Pistol, Sinister Kid) which sound steeped in Howlin' Wolf/Muddy Waters, then a new classic on The Go Getter...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

The name "Ryan Bingham" has been getting a lot of eartime recently -- it was the name of George Clooney's character in the movie Up in the Air. But more importantly in the real world it belongs to one of the most interesting Americana singer-songwriters of the past deacde -- the man who picked up an Oscar for his song The Weary...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Marilyn Crispell and David Rothenberg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Marilyn Crispell and David Rothenberg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM/Ode)

American pianist Marilyn Crispell is one of those rarities: classically trained, she jumped in at the very deep and demanding end of the jazz pool – free jazz, Cecil Taylor, the ferociously intellectual Anthony Braxton Quartet – and used her instincts and training to keep afloat. Then she struck out confidently. Crispell...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Richard Thompson: Dream Attic (Proper)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Richard Thompson: Dream Attic (Proper)

Quite what has enraged the exceptional and much admired English guitarist/songwriter Richard Thompson we can only guess, but let's hope he stays angry because this blistering live album -- of all new material, recorded at various venues in the States -- finds him in top form. With a small band -- guitarist Pete Zorn also pulling out saxes,...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

The first film by many aspiring directors is often a low budget affair about hookers, junkies or/and zombies. Being young they believe there is drama (or at least cool dress-ups) in these worlds -- but as many later realise there is more true human emotion and drama in that most mundane of subjects: life in the suburbs. Behind the curtains...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

Some of these songs heard at a distance -- just the sharp pop and guitar jangle coming through -- and you'd pin Justin Currie as a smart power pop singer-songwriter who might give the charts some real damage. But my guess is most people don't want emotional pessimism, venomous songs about partners and a seething rage bordering on...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Black Crowes: Croweology (Silver Arrow)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Black Crowes: Croweology (Silver Arrow)

Two decades ago when the Black Crowes launched their career with the swaggering Shake Your Money Maker they came off as a version of Rod Stewart and the Faces with a little of the Allman Brothers thrown in: theirs was party-style rhythm'n'booze played out in front of a marijuana leaf banner. But more recently – with vocalist Chris...

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Robert Scott: Ends Run Together (Flying Nun)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Robert Scott: Ends Run Together (Flying Nun)

The last time Robert Scott (of the Clean, the Bats and Magick Heads) appeared at Elsewhere it was for the cupboard cleanout of tapes which made up the lo-fi Tascam Hits. This collection of much more polished, expansive and augmented songs from the sagging shelves of his tapes enjoys assistance from Clean guitarist David Kilgour and...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Naked and Famous: Passive Me Aggressive You (Somewhat Damaged)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Naked and Famous: Passive Me Aggressive You (Somewhat Damaged)

From She Loves You and She's a Mod, pop music has always rung to the affirmation of "yeah yeah yeah" -- and to hear this Auckland band work it so well on their newly minted classic single Young Blood (which recently won the Silver Scroll for songwriting) was thrilling. This debut album has been so well canvassed and reviewed that...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)

After their last album Microcastle (one of Elsewhere's best of '08) this beguiling outfit seemed to go off the map, perhaps in part because of mainman Bradford Cox's side project as the equally fascinating (but different) Atlas Sound. If that last Deerhunter sounded like an astute distillation of diverse influences this slightly more low-key...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

Here's a striking opening couplet on an album: "If you're gonna lead my country and you're gonna say it's free, I'm gonna need a little honesty . . . just a few honest words, it shouldn't be that hard". That these spare but blunt sentiments are delivered over cello rather than angry guitars make them even more powerful, and when...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Neil Young: Le Noise (Warners)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Neil Young: Le Noise (Warners)

A preference declared: I've never been as smitten as many by Neil Young's acoustic albums -- never had a copy of Harvest for example, although I hardly needed it, everybody else played it incessantly. But I have always cranked up his rowdy albums with Crazy Horse (most of them) and believe albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Arc-Weld are among...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

You really gotta love the JJ Revue who deliver hotrod rock'n'roll which draws from the Fifties (Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis) as filtered through the most wild and dissolute of Rod Stewart/Faces (or the Quireboys with more rocking honky-tonk blues in their soul) with the kind of trash energy of Grinderman. Produced by Jim Sclavunos (who...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Dear Time's Waste: Spells (DTW/Isaac)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Dear Time's Waste: Spells (DTW/Isaac)

The previous EP in '08, Room for Rent, by this Auckland singer/writer Claire Duncan was notable for its droning and hypnotic qualities (guitar washes) alongside delicately realised folk, and you detected a talent which could stretch in many directions, from a constrained Bjork-meets-JAMChain to slightly disconcerting meditations on love . . ....

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Great North: Newfoundland (GNMR)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Great North: Newfoundland (GNMR)

This Auckland band impressed mightily with their Soldiers EP of last year and this debut album really steps up to the plate. Coming from an alt.country end but with discreet influences from the likes of Springsteen, Dylan, Neil Young and the Waterboys as much as muscular poetry and indie.rock (the landslide of guitars which bury All Eyes...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Young Veins: Take a Vacation! (One Haven/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Young Veins: Take a Vacation! (One Haven/Southbound)

Here's my theory about The Young Veins, for what it's worth: they are aliens who crashed landed secretly in California behind a music store, got on the computer late at night and Googled "pop music". Disturbed by the cops they grabbed some band names and songs at random, fled with some instruments and have subsequently launched...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

Because music on the ECM label often invites a litany of familiar adjectives -- austere, cool, detached -- it's a pleasure to throw this disc into the player and find yourself thinking more along the lines of . . . muscular, vigorous, assertive.   Even the cover here suggests fireworks --- and while the music isn't exactly incendiary...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Various Artists: Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Various Artists: Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

Subtitled “Alternative Takes on Congotronics”, this well-annotated double disc lets loose alternative and post-rock acts on the lo-fi but compelling music from Kinshasa dance clubs where cheap keyboards and beat-machines were slammed alongside traditional thumb piano, found instruments (pots'n'pans), megaphones, electric guitars...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

“You know kids go, 'Hey, when are you gonna make a record?',” Bruce Springsteen said in March 77, “I say, 'One of these days'.” And they were difficult days for the man they call The Boss. After his breakthrough album Born to Run in '75 – which sold around 10 million globally and took him to the covers...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Giant Sand: Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Giant Sand: Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire/Southbound)

The next few months sees the re-presentation of the Giant Sand back-catalogue, the Tucson-based band helmed by singer-songwriter Howe Gelb for these past 25 years which has had among its ranks the core of Calexico (John Convertino and Joey Burns) and a guest list which has included M. Ward, the late Vic Chestnutt and Rainer Placek, Steve Wynn of...

The Beach Boys: In the Back of My Mind (1965)

The Beach Boys: In the Back of My Mind (1965)

In the very interesting DVD doco Brian Wilson; Songwriter 1962 - 1969,  Bruce Johnston -- who replaced Brian in the touring line-up of the Beach Boys in the mid Sixties -- identifies this song as anticipating the classic BB album Pet Sounds. It appeared on the album The Beach Boys Today!, a record which largely went past many people who...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga: Songs from the Bottom of a Hilltop (SOBCLS)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga: Songs from the Bottom of a Hilltop (SOBCLS)

Recently I heard this collection -- 400 copies only, two CDs, a thick booklet of artfully rendered lyrics, posters and more delivered in medium-sized pizza box -- being described as a cult item, bound to lose money, an ambitious conceit . . . but also pretty terrific. Right on all counts. Naming your ensemble after an obscure Norwegian...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eva Prowse: I Can't Keep Secrets (Eva Prowse/Rhythmethod)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eva Prowse: I Can't Keep Secrets (Eva Prowse/Rhythmethod)

Prowse -- here with her debut album -- has probably crossed more people's paths than they might think: she has toured with Fly My Pretties, opened for Wanda Jackson and appeared on the excellent album Trouble on the Waterfront by her father Chris Prowse. That is emblematic of her musical dexterity, and the fact she has the Phoenix...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010: READERS' CHOICES

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010: READERS' CHOICES

And the people have spoken. In addition to my own Best of Elsewhere 2010 list below, this year readers got to have their say -- and pleasingly many picked albums which I simply didn't get. Sorry, the National still don't do it for me  . . . but came through with a lot of fans. No matter: it's all down to taste, the mood of the...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

Long an Elsewhere favourite, Eli Paperboy Reed's 2008 album Roll With You made the list of Best of Elsewhere for that year, and his follow-up Come And Get It of 2010 also got very favourable notice. Reed is a conduit for the great soul voices of the past -- Sam Cooke, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and others -- but he brings deep...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)

A propos of not much, Fleet Foxes' chief songwriter Robin Pecknold recently recorded New Zealand singer-songwriter Chris Thompson's Where is My Wild Rose? for an EP and it appears on You Tube (just with stills) here. But . . . to the matter in hand. If it's fair to say FFoxes' debut album was unexpected, then we might also observe...

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