scott walker

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Richard Swift: Dressed Up For the Letdown (Secretly Canadian) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Richard Swift: Dressed Up For the Letdown (Secretly Canadian) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

The previous album by this Californian singer-songwriter -- actually a double disc collection of his previously released singles and EPs -- made an appearance on Elsewhere many months ago and I hailed it to the skies. And I've played it with alarming frequency ever since a first hearing. This is his fully-fledged debut album proper, and...

Clinic: Visitations (Domino/EMI)

Clinic: Visitations (Domino/EMI)

Rock albums come and go around my place -- but this one, like the new Arcade Fire and the Kings of Leon album -- has just clung on: it is dense, the singer sounds like he is seething with barely repressed anger, the guitar are gravelly, there is something of The Fall and Pere Ubu about them, and the multi-layered songs are often underpinned with...

Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge (Mute) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge (Mute) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

If you believed what you read in the British press about this album by former Longpigs and Pulp guitarist you'd probably cross the street to avoid it. Distance lends us a better view I suspect, because Hawley's swooning croon (which at various times brings to mind Morrissey, Scott Walker, Roy Orbison and others with rich, dark and melodic...

Various: Next Brel (Barclay)

Various: Next Brel (Barclay)

The music and lyrics of Jacques Brel (1929-78) have seduced dozens of musicians down the decades, notably Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield . . . Actually just about anyone who appreciates his melodramatic darkness. Brel wrote and sang of street people, love and loss, was reflective or angry, romantic or...

Beirut; The Flying Club Cup BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Beirut; The Flying Club Cup BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Ambitious and slightly eccentric pop music doesn't come much more ambitious and eccentric as this, the second album by Zach Condon (aka Beirut), an American with a European sensibility whose musical reach encompasses indie Anglopop, French chanson, nods to Scott Walker, hints of Spanish or mariachi music, snippets of conversations, swooning...

Jacques Brel, Infiniment (2004 compilation)

Jacques Brel, Infiniment (2004 compilation)

Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in ... Well, back in his hometown of Brussels, funnily enough. This is odd because Brel (1929-78) was ambivalent about Brussels. "Everyone has to come from somewhere," he would sardonically remark. And Brussels has seemed a bit iffy about him. The great singer-songwriter, who made his...

The Last Shadow Puppets: The Age of Understatement (Domino)

The Last Shadow Puppets: The Age of Understatement (Domino)

References in UK reviews to Scott Walker with regard to this album tweaked my interest -- more so when you look at who is behind it: Alex Turner from Actic Monkeys and Miles Kane of the UK indie-rockers Rascals, two least likely Walker aficionados I couldn't imagine. And yet . . . No there is no Amsterdam here, not even The Sun Ain't Gonna...

The Tindersticks: The Hungry Saw (Beggars Banquet)

The Tindersticks: The Hungry Saw (Beggars Banquet)

Tindersticks frontman Stuart A Staples -- whose solo album Lucky Dog Recordings 03-04 is excellent -- has a rich and soulful baritone which someone said recently reminded them of a more louche and brandy-sodden Roland Gift (if you remember Fine Young Cannibals). Maybe.Bryan Ferry without the over-emoting quaver is a fair call too.Certainly there...

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...

Chris Eckman: The Last Side of the Mountain (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Chris Eckman: The Last Side of the Mountain (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Eckman has been one of the cornerstones of the long-running and very credible alt.country outfit the Walkabouts, has released solo albums, and been a member of the ever-evolving Willard Grant Conspiracy. All of which should recommend him if you follow this particular path of string-augmented, soul-baring songwriting. But the material for the...

Serge Gainsbourg: Histoire de Melody Nelson (LightintheAttic/Rhythmethod)

Serge Gainsbourg: Histoire de Melody Nelson (LightintheAttic/Rhythmethod)

As with the great Jacques Brel, there is no easy shorthand into the French singer, songwriter, actor and cultural icon that was Serge Gainsbourg (1928-91). Gainsbourg -- much revered in France by many -- was undoubtably a roue and in these rather more sensitive times many would doubtless disapprove of his serial sexual encounters, love of...

Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Sony CD/DVD)

Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Sony CD/DVD)

“We have a fire on stage. If there’s any firemen in the area . . . “ This isn’t an announcement you hear too often at rock festivals -- but nothing was beyond possibility at the volatile Isle of Wight event in 70 when non-ticketholders stormed the site, the enraged promoter abused them for being ungrateful pigs and...

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

At some time in the mid Nineties I spent an afternoon in Melbourne talking with David McComb, the former singer-songwriter with the Triffids then Blackeyed Susans. He was as intelligent as I had expected given the depth of his lyrics in both of those bands, but he was also hesitant, slightly wary and gun-shy, and I left wondering how he might...

The Triffids and Guests: It's Raining Pleasure (Madman DVD)

The Triffids and Guests: It's Raining Pleasure (Madman DVD)

Elsewhere recently noted the tribute CD to David McComb of the Australian band the Triffids who died in February 1999. That all-star concert released as Deep in a Dream was to help raise funds to complete a doco on McCombs' short and sometimes troubled life. Now comes this film taken from four nights of shows (which pre-dated the Deep in a...

Ute Lemper: The Best of Ute Lemper (Decca)

Ute Lemper: The Best of Ute Lemper (Decca)

With this great entertainer returning to New Zealand after her thrilling cabaret-noir/showtunes performance in 2003 it seems not only timely to reprint the lengthy, career encompassing interview with her, but to point to this 21-track easy-intro overview from the late Nineties. Here, divided into easy to assimilate sections, are songs from...

Various Artists: The Hal David and Burt Bacharach Songbook (EMI)

Various Artists: The Hal David and Burt Bacharach Songbook (EMI)

Just a quick notice of this locally compiled double disc set which follows in the Lennon-McCartney and Goffin-King collections in this series. Some great acts here on David's lyrics wrapped in Bacharach's arrangements: the Shirelles with the Beatles' favourite Baby It's You; Cilla Black peeling the paint on Anyone Who Had a Heart; the...

Solomon King: Happy Again (1968)

Solomon King: Happy Again (1968)

Solomon King -- not to be confused with the equally enormous late Solomon Burke -- was something of a one-hit wonder when his big voiced ballad She Wears My Ring went racing up the charts in the UK in '68. Like Engelbert Humperdink, King's style seemed to belong to an earlier era . . . and the album which accompanied the hit confirmed...

Francoise Hardy: La Pluie Sans Parapluie (Virgin)

Francoise Hardy: La Pluie Sans Parapluie (Virgin)

At first glance this might just seem to be one for those who knew the title meant "Rain Without an Umbrella" or just want a bit of that breathy chanteuse mood music for dinner parties. But if you are in the latter camp you will be a little surprised: although this certainly has reflective ballads over piano and soft strings, Hardy's...

UTE LEMPER INTERVIEWED (2010): The fearless angel comes treading

UTE LEMPER INTERVIEWED (2010): The fearless angel comes treading

Ute Lemper – the foremost interpreter of Weimar cabaret songs and the music of Jacques Brel, Kurt Weill and Edith Piaf – doesn't pull her punches. With no prompting at all after she mentions one of her most recent projects has been creating a multi-media theatrical setting for the poetry of barfly Charles Bukowski, she...

Various Artists: Got No Chains; The Songs of the Walkabouts (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Various Artists: Got No Chains; The Songs of the Walkabouts (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

The Walkabouts have -- for 25 years -- been the vehicle for songwriter Chris Eckman (see here) and Carla Torgerson who have been mainstays in a band with a revloving door membership. Some might push the Walkabouts into the broader indie-rock or alt.country category, but as this tribute illustrates, their songs are so malleable that they...

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

The equation seems simple: Leonard Cohen the self-described "ladies man" + women + bed = But of course nothing is ever quite that straightforward with a Jewish Zen Buddhist poet-cum-singer and unlikely sex symbol even his mid 70s. Here with amusing self-effacement he confronts aging, his reputation, plays with images of...

Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian/Rhythmethod)

Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian/Rhythmethod)

With a lovely, sympathetic production by Richard Swift -- sort of budget-priced Phil Spector -- and melodies which swell with Fifties and Sixties pop-romanticism, this is one of those album (like Swift's) which will be taken to heart with a passion by those who discover it. Previously Jurado out of Seattle came at you from the...

Lotus Mason: Lotus Mason (Glowb)

Lotus Mason: Lotus Mason (Glowb)

London-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Blair Jollands (interviewed in 2004 here) is one of New Zealand's best-kept expat secrets. With his band El Hula he crafted some of the finest post-Bowie dramatic ballads (with a touch of alt.country) and his strong, elegant voice has drawn favourable comparisons with Scott Walker and...

BURT BACHARACH IN 1995: The slow rehabilitation

BURT BACHARACH IN 1995: The slow rehabilitation

Mainstream pop culture has witnessed some peculiar pairings, none more so than when Noel Gallagher, mastermind and songwriter behind the Britrock band Oasis, climbed on stage in London recently to perform with Burt Bacharach. Gallagher, a 29-year-old mouthy wide boy from Manchester, would seem to have nothing in common with the urbane,...

LEONARD COHEN PROFILED: Life of a ladies' man

LEONARD COHEN PROFILED: Life of a ladies' man

Even the writer Pico Iyer, who knows him better than most, concedes Leonard Cohen – so melancholy he used to be referred to as “a one man Joy Division” – presents a problem. "He is for most of us,” Iyer wrote in Sun After Dark, “a figure of the dark, sitting alone sometime after midnight and...

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (Light in the Attic)

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (Light in the Attic)

Sex sells. It certainly sells the idea of maturity when former popettes decide to ditch the little sister look and get into barely-there leathers. Adults of course find this tasteless and the kids being manipulated, but it's nothing more than sex selling a product just like any other. Sex gets people hot under the collar (as in outraged) and...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Rumer: Seasons of My Soul (Atlantic)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Rumer: Seasons of My Soul (Atlantic)

There are a lot of wonderful new soul singers around these days -- Mayer Hawthorne, Adele, etc -- and any number of artists who have you reaching for a historical reference in the same territory (Dusty Springfield and Sandie Shaw in the Sixties for the first Duffy album). It is almost to easy to do the same for this British...

DAVID GATES INTERVIEWED (2003): Not in it for the Bread

DAVID GATES INTERVIEWED (2003): Not in it for the Bread

Here's something not many fans of soft-rock singer David Gates -- formerly the songwriter and voice behind Bread -- will know. When he was a much younger man he wrote and produced some material with one of rock's greatest and most musically challenging eccentrics, Frank Zappa protege Captain Beefheart. The gentle-voiced Gates - now 63 -...

Various Artists: Late Night Tales; Midlake (LateNightTales/Southbound)

Various Artists: Late Night Tales; Midlake (LateNightTales/Southbound)

The Late Night Tales mix-tape series continues with this especially interesting and quite lovely collection put together by Midlake who had a Best of Elsewhere 2010 album with The Courage of Others (and were instrumental in John Grant's Queen of Denmark, also a winner that year). The chief feature here -- aside from the coherence of the...

SCOTT WALKER INTERVIEWED (2006). Loneliness is a cloak you wear

SCOTT WALKER INTERVIEWED (2006). Loneliness is a cloak you wear

No one could accuse reclusive songwriter and singer Scott Walker of haste. In the time between Walker's last album Tilt and his latest The Drift in May 2006, film director Peter Jackson delivered The Frighteners, his Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. Van Morrison coughed up 11 albums, and Oasis -- despite fraternal bickering, divorces and...

JACQUES BREL PROFILED: Seasons in, and out of, the sun

JACQUES BREL PROFILED: Seasons in, and out of, the sun

Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in ... Well, back in his hometown of Brussels, funnily enough. This is odd because Brel (1929-78) was ambivalent about Brussels. "Everyone has to come from somewhere," he would sardonically remark. And Brussels has often seemed a bit iffy about him. The great singer-songwriter, who...

RUMER INTERVIEWED (2011): Thankful, and slowing it right down

RUMER INTERVIEWED (2011): Thankful, and slowing it right down

With her debut album Seasons of My Soul; the British singer Rumer has delivered an album destined for many 2011 Best of the Year lists come December. For Rumer – born Sarah Joyce in Pakistan 30 years ago – it has been the culmination of a long and quite remarkable journey. After she and her mother returned to England, she...

Sean Rowe: Magic (Anti)

Sean Rowe: Magic (Anti)

Because of the nature of his burred baritone -- and these profound and emotionally deep songs -- it would be wrong to say this debut by New York singer-songwriter Rowe is "exciting". That might give the impression of pulse-racing music  . . . and this isn't like that at all. Quite the opposite, it can be heart-stopping. But...

L/O/N/G: American Primitive (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

L/O/N/G: American Primitive (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Those with passion for edgy alt.country and Neil Young in vinegary acoustic-rock mode need only know Chris Eckman (the Walkabouts, the innovative Sahara blues-influenced band Dirt Music) is one of those behind this occasionally churning, electro-rock outing with musicians from Slovenia where he now lives. The other prime mover is Rupert...

Bierut: The Rip Tide (Pompeii)

Bierut: The Rip Tide (Pompeii)

Within the very bland cover - despite the gold impressed lettering -- lies the typically colourful, romantic sound which we have to come associate with Zach Condon and his associates who bring accordion, horns, a touch of "South of the Border" as well as ukulele and pump organ. Although scrupulously crafted -- you don't write horn...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Tom Waits: Bad As Me (Anti)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Tom Waits: Bad As Me (Anti)

At the end of the local edition of this exceptional album -- Tom Waits' first studio album in seven years -- there is a disconcerting litany of images entitled with seeming certainty After You Die, but which in fact asks the more pointed question, "what is it like after we die?" Waits yowls through it like a man broken on a rack,...

Scott Walker, In Five Easy Pieces (2003)

Scott Walker, In Five Easy Pieces (2003)

The only time I saw Scott Walker I burst out laughing. It was the mid-60s and he was one of the (non-sibling) Walker Brothers on a package tour with the Yardbirds (guitarist Jimmy Page) and Roy Orbison. When the Walker Brothers ran on to the Auckland Town Hall stage, skinny-legged guys in tight pants and teased-out bouffants, they looked like...

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