best of elsewhere 2012
best of elsewhere 2012 Content tagged as best of elsewhere 2012.
Because he is now 77 and has weighed words heavily all his life, we should look at the amusing ambiguities in this album's title.
Songs about aging and darkness, failed love, apologising to women in his past, angels scratching at the door to come in, non-specific religious imagery . . .
For anyone who has followed Cohen's career,...
As with Nick Cave, Mark Langean knows the idiom that suits his mood and voice best . . . and it is a similarly dark place, as the title of this deeply impressive album suggets.
But Lanegan -- who has appeared in these pages on albums by the Queens of the Stone Age, Gutter Twins, Soulsavers and others (see here) -- knows how to mix up the...
If you thought Sweden these days was all The Girl with a Bee in Her Bonnet and the killing sprees on Wallander, then The Amazing are here to reassure you that gentle psychedelic trip-rock with a folk edge is still there to let you lie down in the long grass . . . without the fear some psychokiller former-Nazi is lurking with a knife.
Among the many this New Jersey
singer-songwriter thanks on her third album are Aaron and Bryce
Dessner (the National), Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio) and Zach Condon
(Beirut); her “recommended listening” list of almost 30 includes
Bon Iver, Kurt Vile and War on Drugs; and the album is dedicated to
The self-titled 09 debut and Arrows
('10) by this Christchurch band alerted many to their poetic,
political and bare-knuckle country-influenced songs which sit
alongside Springsteen's working class balladry, the rambunctious
Pogues, whisky-voiced Steve Earle, pub rocking Dr Feelgood and Cold
Chisel's open-road truths.
Their range is...
The idiosyncratic Jim White – whose music is suffused in the dark Southern literary
tradition as much as alt.country (more alt than most alt.country) --
was the central figure in the remarkable doco Searching for the Wrong
Eyed Jesus as he traveled around backroads and broke-down townships
ruminating on Christianity and country music....
At the launch of this classy album recently, the graphic designer Andrew B White -- who had done the cover for both this and Kevin Field's Field of Vision -- made an interesting aside.
He noted that Haines' new album -- all acoustic -- sounded more like Field's previous one Irony, and that Field of Vision -- with electronic keyboards and...
Of the original
Flying Nun bands, the Verlaines – the flexible vehicle for Graeme
Downes – are still the most ambitious.
Downes' lyrical depth and
mercurial melodies deliver durable albums -- like the previous Corporate Moronic -- which bristle with rage
rather succumb to the comforts of age. And this one is no exception....
With all due respect to Dan Auerbach of Black Keys who helmed this fine album by one of the living legends into life, we have passed this way before with 71-year old Dr John, notably in '98 with the album Anutha Zone where the likes of Paul Weller, Jools Holland, members of Spiritualised, Primal Scream and Supergrass lined up to direct him back...
Like Marty McFly at the high school
dance in Back to the Future, Ed Castelow of Dictaphone Blues has beamed himself
back to crucial touchstones in pop-rock (classic Fifties chords, Beatles
era choruses, Seventies power pop, American stadium rock from the Eighties) and distilled them
into this shamelessly enjoyable collection which is smart...
Beal's story is as interesting as this often engrossing debut album.
In 2007 at
age 23 after being discharged from the US army, he went and lived in the New
Mexico desert while suffering from depression, then returned to Chicago,
lived with his grandma and stole from the supermarket.
He put up posters saying if you called his
In a reproduction of what must have been the original cheap cover, this minimal and curiously religious/sexual album by Rob from Ghana has all the look -- and resonance -- of a rare reggae album from Jamaica, the kind of music which comes with an air of mystery because you are hypnotosed by the sheer peculiar nature of the thing....
The thing about unpredictable Neil Young is just how predictable he has become, shuffling the deck of acoustic, country, self-referencing and noisy rock.
Here he again links up with Crazy Horse for the first time on record in almost a decade and they, predicably, deliver most things here with their loose, open rehearsal feel.
Although Patti Smith's albums have sometimes been given a rough ride at Elsewhere for their self-mythologising, pretentiousness and lack of subtlety (see here and here), there is no denying her importance in the rock pantheon, nor that her recent autobiography Just Kids is one of the finest books written by a musician-cum-poet.
Must be four years at least since I saw this fizzy, fiery post-punk pop outfit play one of their early gigs, so this debut album does seem rather long overdue. Although it has been anticipated by some singles (three I think, among them the terrific top-down-highway pop-rock of Yoko Ono which appears here).
There's a real power pop band...
Elegance in piano playing is usually the description reserved for the exclusive use of reviewers about Bill Evans, but here Steve Kuhn makes a strong claim on thoughtful pieces such as the title track, Romance and the lovely Pastorale where (I am guessing, my CD came with no cover) bassist Steve Swallow plays a soft and enticing guitar-like...
When Bruce Iglauer
founded Alligator Records in Chicago 40 years ago it was to release
albums by the likes of Hound Dog Taylor and Albert Collins who were
burning up local clubs with their incendiary and tough minded
In 1986 singer-guitarist Lil' Ed and his band were invited
to record a song but, treating the studio like stage,...
Because this deftly orchestrated album of slightly worldweary pop by James Milne -- aka Lawrence Arabia -- has already picked up five star reviews and critical acclaim at home and abroad, it perhaps hardly needs Elsewhere's assistance to bring it to your attention.
But let it be noted that references to the European sounds of Scott Walker...
Possessed of kd lang's melodic skills
and swooning delivery, with an ear on classic Fifties and Sixties pop which
was a hallmark of the best Rumer songs and just enough folk-noir to
bring shadows to what sometimes sounds sunlit, little-known Eleni Mandell
from Los Angeles here serves up an album of real depth.
measure of Mandell's...
Trip to the Moon is another installment
(the fifth?) of the long-running if intermittent project of Auckland
multi-instrumentalists/producers Tom Ludvigson and Trevor Reekie, and
various fellow-travelers: here Greg Johnson on trumpet, saxophonist
Jim Langabeer, Ian “Dr Glam” Chapman on hang drums, guitarist Nigel Gavin, bassist...
Dudley Benson's EPs and albums always have a sense of occasion about them. They arrive as specially thought out, beautifully packaged little gifts with delightful or dramatic artwork (the Peter Stichbury cover painting on the limited edition vinly EP Minerals and Rocks, the applique by Florence Dennison on Forest) and there is a sense of control...
These days genre-ignoring bands are so
common they require no introduction or explanation.
But few are as
provocative as Alt-J out of Cambridge, England who pull together
slivers of Anglo-folk with hip-hop beats (like sons of the Beta
Band), electronica ideas rendered acoustically, electro-blip from
recent Radiohead, a cappella...
Hard to know what constitutes "indie" these days, but given the single Girls from the debut album by this Sydney band has been getting play on BBC Radio 1 in the UK and sounds impeccably poppy, they would seem to me to be fairly mainstrream . . . or at least could readily find their place there.
That they've opened for Kaiser...
On the haunting Human Being here, a slinky electronica-driven piece which slides under the skin and into the subconscious, Cat Power -- out from under the cloak of bankruptcy and a broken relationship -- speaks of the rights you have: you've got your own voice so sing, you've got two hands so go make anything, we've got rules to break and...
While music magazines and rock bloggers
are exercising their opinion about the Rolling Stones announcing a
new tour after five years – just four dates so far – to celebrate
50 years since their formation (most writers asking “Why?” or
commenting on their irrelevance), Bob Dylan just keeps traveling on
his own road,...
Because he's released many indifferent
or awful albums in recent decades (the prosecution calls What's
Wrong With This Picture of 2004), one of Van Morrison's best – the
appropriately titled Keep It Simple, 2008 – went largely
overlooked. It was refined, focused and he sounded almost at ease
with the world. Almost.
Seattle-based Cahoone keeps good
company. Early on she drummed in Band of Horses, has toured with
Grand Archives, and co-produced this with Thom Monahan who does those
duties for Devendra Banhart and Vetiver.
Her album Only As the Day
is Long four years ago announced a mature, thoughtful writer
taking a lead from Neil Young's early...
By my exceptionally crude count, pianist Keith Jarrett's name (as leader of a group or solo) is on at least 65 albums -- and some, indeed many, of those are double albums, triple sets or large boxes.
I guess saxophonist Jan Garbarek wouldn't be too far behind (although he generally limits hmself to single discs) and bassist Palle Danielsson...
Flying Lotus -- aka Californian Steven Ellison -- is the kind of artist who is giving tripped-out ambient electronica a good name with this deliberately noctural sounding outing.
His music, as witnessed on this dreamscape fourth album, doesn't entirely float off into the ether but remains cleverly grounded through influences from world...
Beth Orton has been one of the most interesting women singers this side of Kate Bush whose albums have always been rewarding and pushed the boundaries of the expected without being alienating.
She still commands a pop hook and her engaging voice is a flexible instrument which she has placed into different and interesting settings.
This excitingly duffed-up world beat/low-rent psychedelic rock has a wild urban pedigree which comes through in its stupidly different but absolutely addictive Afro-meets-Manhattan groove.
Juju goes downtown NYC via an old school Yellow Cab, parks up outside a Warhol event and pulls out incessant machine-gun groove to blow away Lou and Candy...
Now this makes more sense. Although
some enjoyed Young's recent Americana which saw him reunited
with Crazy Horse after a decade, it was clear that was just the
throat-clearing rehearsal on old folk and American roots music.
sprawling double disc is what it was leading too, but typically it
isn't quite what we might expect....
As so much New Zealand music -- especially what was once called "alternative" -- gets codified for radio play and aims for a middle ground, the Muzai label out of Auckland (with a slogan "independent fighting spirit") has provided some exciting, unpredictable and genuinely alternative listening.
In recent times Elsewhere...
Among the encouraging signs in New Zealand music at present -- the counter argument to all the pop which seems aimed more at radio programmers and funding money than coming from the heart -- is that some bands are moving past reggae as their default position.
The ubiquity of reggae (and its cousins dub and ska) has meant it has become the...
Although Lou Reed embodies the
spiritual core of Velvet Underground, in the fortysomething years
since John Cale quit he has made the more interesting music.
venomous and gristly rock (Guts, Sabotage/Live) through instrumental music and affecting
spoken word (his adaptation of fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas' poems),
Cale has never...
Although critics and commentators will inevitably, and rightly, point out the influence of Amy Winehouse in a couple of place on this, Aaradhna's third album, that doesn't change the fact that this is undeniably one of the best New Zealand albums of the year.
Okay, it's a bit too long at 17 tracks (it is bookended by the title track) but for...
Some musicians are revered, reviewed
and written about, but rather less listened to. Put Scott Walker at
the top of that list.
This is only his fourth album in the past three
decades and their abstruse lyrics, electronic effects and often
declamatory tone have nothing in common with his acclaimed ballad
style in the Walker Brothers and...
Few New Zealand songwriters work with a sense of the mysterious in their lyrics, most are grounded in relationships (far too many going the you/I route) but SJD -- Sean James Donnelly -- not only reaches in that profitable direction but has the airy voice to pull it off.
So on the opener here when he sings of giving thanks to lizard kings...
Those familiar with television's Danish
crime drama Forbrydelsen might be relieved to know not
everything up there takes place against a background of
This innovative and flexible line-up around a dapper-looking trio from from
Copenhagen sit somewhere between the ethereal sonic textures of
Iceland's Sigur Ros and the...
When UK DJ and Cuban music aficionado
Gilles Peterson went back to Havana in May last year to record local
musicians (who have appeared on his excellent on-going Havana
Cultura series), he took with him South London dubstep pioneer and
producer Mala (aka Mark Lawrence of Digital Mystikz) who set himself
up in another room beside Peterson's...