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Robert Scott: Tascam Hits (Powertool Records)

Robert Scott: Tascam Hits (Powertool Records)

These low-fi home recordings by Scott -- a member of the Bats and the Clean -- were recorded in the late 90s and those who demand their music polished and honed won't find much of interest here. But these delightful working drawing of songs, eerie instrumentals and sonic ideas -- all put down on a Tascam cassette recorder -- have much to...

Hobotalk: Homesick for Nowhere (Yellow Eye)

Hobotalk: Homesick for Nowhere (Yellow Eye)

The Scottish singer-songwriter Marc Pilley who is the hub of Hobotalk has a gentle way with his music: nothing feels forced or false, and the augmentation of his simple tunes by mandolin, violin, female backing singers and the like just bring these songs to life even more. A refined simplicity is the key here and you can hear why he was...

Jack Penate: Matinee (XL)

Jack Penate: Matinee (XL)

This gritty, rocking album has been floating around for a few weeks but seems to have been passed over by most writers. That's strange given Penate's high profile in the UK where he has been hailed like a Billy Bragg on heat, as a South London soul poet, and "the new darling of pop" (The Sun) There is an undeniable energy to his...

Kelley Stoltz: Circular Sounds (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

Kelley Stoltz: Circular Sounds (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

These one-man-band singer-songwriters such as Richard Swift, Jude, Hobotalk and others who have appeared in Elsewhere are just so irritatingly good they send you into a spin. As with those others mentioned Stoltz from San Francisco (who multi--tracks just about every instrument here) sounds like something more than the sum of his considerable...

John Matthias: Stories From the Watercooler (Counter)

John Matthias: Stories From the Watercooler (Counter)

No one sang stuff like this at any watercooler of my acquaintance, but maybe that's because socio-political folktronica is hard to pull off without accompaniment -- and edgy violin solos just don't sound right when hummed.Matthias is a mate of Radiohead's Thom Yorke and some have drawn a line between this album and Yorke's abrasive solo album...

Various: The Empire Strikes Back! (Glitterhouse)

Various: The Empire Strikes Back! (Glitterhouse)

Compilations and samplers don't often get a look in at Elsewhere (except for this week I note!) and this double disc stood even less of chance: it arrived about two months ago but after I listened to it and enjoyed it I lost the damn thing down the side of the bookcase. Which is where i found it last week.Ah well, better than . . .This is an...

The Dutchess and the Duke: She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke (Rhythmethod)

The Dutchess and the Duke: She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke (Rhythmethod)

About 20 years ago there was a short-lived but interesting "new folk" movement which emerged out of New York's Downtown. Following the success of Michelle Shocked's Texas Campfire Tapes ('86) came Roger Manning, Cindy Lee Berryhill and Kirk Kelly who sometimes rapped like Beat poets, pulled in a fair swag of young Dylan and Woody...

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...

Tuung: And Then We Saw Land (Full Time Hobby)

Tuung: And Then We Saw Land (Full Time Hobby)

Somewhat improbably this English acoustic folk-rock outfit recently appeared on stage with the desert blues-rock band Tinariwen -- which really shouldn't have worked at all, yet reports were highly favourable. Tuung's debut album Comments of the Inner Chorus and the follow-up Good Arrows certainly offered a beguiling musical blend which had...

The Broken Heartbreakers: Wintersun (BHB)

The Broken Heartbreakers: Wintersun (BHB)

The self-titled debut album by this Auckland-based folk-pop band was among the Best of Elsewhere 2007 list -- and they have just been getting better. No surprise really given that alongside the core duo of John Guy Howell and Rachel Bailey are Sam Prebble (who, as Bond Street Bridge, appeared in the following year's Best of Elsewhere with his...

Timothy Blackman: I've Never Lived (Home Alone)

Timothy Blackman: I've Never Lived (Home Alone)

Singer-songtwriter Blackman appeared at Elsewhere previously with his very interesting EP Modern Sprawl, and this is his short (half an hour) nine-song debut album recorded in  Berlin in December last year -- which must have been cold. With sole assistance from a drummer in a few places, these are Blackman's naked ruminations (some...

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...

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...

Bilders: Mindful and Mean Time (both Powertools)

Bilders: Mindful and Mean Time (both Powertools)

Bilders (sometimes Bildrine) is the nom de disque of Bill Direen -- and that French there is not being pretentious as Direen spends much of his time in France, and the Mean Time album was largely recorded in Paris this year. The Mindful album was recorded in Berlin in 2008 as an art collaboration between singer/guitarist Direen and Jon Evans...

John White: The Inkadies (Monkey)

John White: The Inkadies (Monkey)

This album could slip past as easily unnoticed as White's recent New Zealand tour, it whispers rather than shouts, is mostly dreamy rather than grounded. Formerly out front of Dunedin's Mestar, White recorded these airy but sometimes fuzzy, acoustic-framed songs in Wisconsin three years ago and apparently this one follows two previous...

Timothy Armstrong: Portraits (TA)

Timothy Armstrong: Portraits (TA)

Based in Wellington, New Zealand this singer-songwriter is also in the band The Novelist but has run a parallel but separate career as a solo artist. This, the second outing under his own name, appeared in the last quarter of 2010 but has been making its way slowly into the world since, picking up favourable comment from longtime followers...

Chris Hurn: Too Busy Dreamin' (Monkey)

Chris Hurn: Too Busy Dreamin' (Monkey)

While owing a clear debt to Paul Simon, the young Dylan, early Donovan and others in the acoustic singer-songwriter category, this young guy from Lower Hutt just north of Wellington, New Zealand brings a pop sensibility to his writing (the openers here Watch Got and Only One I Need hook you immediately) and often a deliberately light touch...

Golden Kanine: Oh Woe! (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Golden Kanine: Oh Woe! (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

There seems to be an interesting musical culture in Sweden which every now and again appears on the scanners of the rest of the world. In the pop world we can see a lineage between the Wannadies and Peter Bjorn and John, but there is something else also. It sounds like there is a small and individual scene which, for want of a better word,...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Prebble (aka Bond Street Bridge)

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Prebble (aka Bond Street Bridge)

Auckland singer-songwriter Sam Prebble -- who performs under moniker Bond Street Bridge (the actual bridge just around the corner from me, so he's one of my "homies") -- is a longtime Elsewhere favourite. His intelligent lyrics, understated delivery and sense of the melodic was all over his wonderful debut album The Mapmaker's Art,...

Brett Dennen: Lover Boy (Dualtone/Border)

Brett Dennen: Lover Boy (Dualtone/Border)

This fine singer-songwriter who is clearly in the pop camp on this outing, has appeared a couple of times previously at Elsewhere but never seems to get much attention elsewhere -- except when some songs appeared on US television shows. On this upbeat collection he manages to turn a funeral into a reason to celebrate life and in the liner...

Tunng: Comments of the Inner Chorus (EMI)

Tunng: Comments of the Inner Chorus (EMI)

What to make of this large and flexible UK group which sometimes sounds like the charming Penguin Cafe Orchestra, sometimes suggests the wonderfully groove-orientated Beta Band (sadly no more), sometimes comes off like introspective Anglo-folk from the late 60s, and at other times drops in loops and samples? Stylistically it's called...

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