Absolute Elsewhere

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TONY JOE WHITE and BLACK KEYS: (2021): Swamp smoke and black blues

31 May 2021  |  2 min read

Much like Jack White – the former White Stripe who has his Third Man label headquarters in Nashville -- the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach also has a label/studio, Easy Eye Sound, in Tennessee's capital. Between them, White and Auerbach have brought diverse and divergent sounds out of this hub of country music. Easy Eye's small but impressive catalogue includes... > Read more

BOB DYLAN AT 80 (2021): In this head the all-baffling brain . . .

24 May 2021  |  7 min read  |  1

In the many decades before he appropriated the line from Walt Whitman for his 2020 album Rough and Rowdy Ways, Bob Dylan lived out the idea and possibilities of “I contain multitudes”. In 2004 at age 65 he reflectively told Robert Hilburn, “There are many sides to us. And I wanted to follow them all.” Bob Dylan – the man who contains multitudes – has... > Read more

MARIANNE FAITHFULL AND WARREN ELLIS (2021): Time to cry and laugh about it all again

23 May 2021  |  2 min read

Two days after their founder Brian Jones' death in July 1969, the Rolling Stones headlined a free concert in London's Hyde Park where they stepped past their abortive foray into psychedelia (Their Satanic Majesties Request) and reinvented themselves in their dark world of Jumpin' Jack Flash. Wearing a pleated tunic over white pants, eye-shadowed Mick Jagger... > Read more

FAILSAFE RECORDS, REISSUED AND REMIXED (2021): Lodestone, touchstones and The Absolute Truth

19 May 2021  |  2 min read

In the Eighties and Nineties when New Zealand indie ears were attuned to Flying Nun, Propellor, Pagan and so on, Rob Mayes from Christchurch was fighting his corner with his Failsafe label which launched itself in the early Eighties with cassettes and EPs. As Simon Grigg and Dave Smith note in this audioculture article however, Mayes – like Pagan's Trevor Reekie – was astute at... > Read more

You Crawled, by Lils

MALCOLM BLACK REMEMBERED, IN HIS OWN WORDS (2021): Faith, hope and family

16 May 2021  |  3 min read

By Roger Shepherd's own account, his Flying Nun label released 75 albums, 78 EPs and 31 singles in its first decade to 1991. Amidst that landslide of vinyl (a new album every couple of months with singles and EPs in between) and the success of his praetorian vanguard – the Clean, Chills, Verlaines, Sneaky Feelings and others – some acts went past him: “Focus wasn't one of... > Read more

MICK, MAC and LU (2021): Jagger, McCartney and Lucinda Williams

8 May 2021  |  2 min read  |  1

Steve Coogan does a passable parody of Mick Jagger, but Jagger is his own best imitator as his new video Eazy Sleazy with Dave Grohl proves. He rolls his eyes, that yawping mouth yelps out the tumbling lyrics like a Jagger impersonator. Ostensibly about coming out of lockdown, the thrashy song is as ambiguous as Street Fighting Man of 53 years ago. Seemingly... > Read more

RINGO ON RECORD IN THE SEVENTIES (2021): The rise and fall of a Starr

2 May 2021  |  9 min read

Even before their protracted divorce, the various Beatles had been releasing albums under their own names. The first was Paul McCartney who, with considerable help from George Martin, wrote the soundtrack to the 1966 film The Family Way. George Harrison did the uneven but sometimes interesting soundtrack to the '68 Joe Massot film Wonderwall (released on Apple as... > Read more

JOHN LENNON, PLASTIC ONO BAND, REMIXED AND EXPANDED (2021): The dream may be over, but it begins again

24 Apr 2021  |  7 min read

Although Paul McCartney announced the dissolution of the Beatles in a self-written sheet accompanying his eponymous solo album in April 1970 (“Q. Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles? A. No”), it was John Lennon who, that December on the release of his Plastic Ono Band album,unequivocally closed the account on the group which had dominated and defined... > Read more

Isolation (demo)

ANDREW BROUGH, REMEMBERED (2021): The sparkle that shone too briefly

19 Apr 2021  |  3 min read

The first time I met Andrew Brough to talk to at any length was in mid 1988 when Straitjackets Fits were in The Lab Studios with producer Terry Moore and recording their debut album Hail. We'd passed a few quick greetings in the past, notably when I smuggled my 16-year old son into the Gluepot so he could see a band I believed would conquer the world. Yes, I thought they were that good.... > Read more

Save My Life, by Bike

DIANNE SWANN, INTERVIEWED (2021): The journey is also the destination

10 Apr 2021  |  22 min read

Above our heads the speakers are playing some uninterrupted selection of classic rock: Zeppelin, Elton, Eagles and all the usual suspects. This is familiar music calculated not to offend the patrons of the excellent Beer Spot in Morningside. But on this Wednesday lunchtime there is only Dianne Swann and me. We're here to have a beer or two and talk about her new album The War on... > Read more

Reel You In

TEEKS, IN HIS TIME (2021): Soul searching sounds

3 Apr 2021  |  2 min read

From the Yandall Sisters, Māori showbands and Mark Williams through to Aaradhna repurposing Motown and the R'n'B of Vince Harder, Black America's music has long been a reference point for local artists, notably soulful Māori and Pasifika singers. The sound of spiritual yearning but secular concerns – that short distance between pleading to the Lord or to a lover – is the... > Read more

TEEKS, A VIDEO ESSAY (2021): Soul star rising

22 Mar 2021  |  <1 min read

If there is one long-awaited debut album from a New Zealand artist it is that by Teeks – Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi (Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui) – whose 2017 debut EP The Grapefruit Skies announced a major talent. His writing and vocal style brought together gospel language (Wash Over Me) and classic Sixties soul (If Only, Never Be Apart) . You... > Read more

ESTÈRE THEN AND NOW, AN OVERVIEW (2021): For the Jung at heart

19 Mar 2021  |  4 min read

Although the 2018 album My Design, On Others' Lives by Wellington's Estère didn't make much of a dent in public consciousness or the chart for albums by local artists – just two weeks on, in at 10 dropping to 15 – anyone who heard it recognised an extraordinary production by one of our most acute, enjoyable and ambitiously unconstrained artists. ... > Read more

Mad About Your Sea

ROBERT SCOTT ON THE CLEAN'S MISTER POP (2021): It's pop, mister. But different

17 Mar 2021  |  2 min read

As we noted when the Clean's David Kilgour walked us through track-by-track of the band's Unknown Country of 1996, the US label Merge now has the rights to Clean's complete catalogue they have decided to issue two of the band's albums – Unknown Country and Mister Pop (2009) -- on vinyl for the first time. Elsewhere recently wrote a lengthy reconsideration of Unknown Country and... > Read more

DAVID KILGOUR ON THE CLEAN'S UNKNOWN COUNTRY (2021): Track by track down the sidetrack

15 Mar 2021  |  2 min read

With the US label Merge now having the rights to Clean's complete catalogue they have decided to issue two of the band's albums – Unknown Country (1996) and Mister Pop (2009) on vinyl for the first time. Elsewhere recently wrote a lengthy reconsideration of Unknown Country, an album which didn't find much favour with critics and some fans, but now band member David Kilgour walks... > Read more

THE CLEAN, UNKNOWN COUNTRY, REVISITED (2021): The roads less taken

10 Mar 2021  |  4 min read

When the Clean's 1996 album Unknown Country arrived it clearly wasn't the album Clean critics, schooled on their early Eighties output and the more recent Vehicle, wanted. Many thought it a hodge-podge of diverse ideas from musicians with short-concentration spans – 18 songs in 45 minutes may have been a pointer – and that was true. Sort of. About five years before... > Read more


MADISON BEER, AN EARLY OVERVIEW (2021): Another young pretender?

6 Mar 2021  |  3 min read

While it's true 21-year old Madison Beer from New York does not make music for Elsewhere's ears, she is of considerable interest for all kinds of reasons. And her long overdue debut album Life Support – arriving eight years after her debut single and three on from her debut EP – isn't bad at all . . . . by the current, downbeat self-centred and languidly sensual pop standards.... > Read more

BOB DYLAN IN 1970 (2021): A self-portrait at the end of the decade he defined, but why?

28 Feb 2021  |  5 min read  |  1

For the remaining few who care about Bob Dylan in reissues – refracted portraits of the artist as a younger man? – the newly released triple-CD of previously unreleased rehearsals and sessions in 1970 will be . .  Well, you'd like to say the set – under the simple title, 1970 – contains material which is seminal, reveals unexpected depths, that those sessions... > Read more

I Went to See the Gypsy (take 2)

MIRIAM CLANCY, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2021): The survivor thriving

27 Feb 2021  |  1 min read

The words – sung quietly over a hushed and haunting backdrop – speak about dead-end suburbs, tinny houses, boys getting young girls pregnant, and that place where “there’s always nothing to do”. The song is ‘Ghost Town’ on Miriam Clancy’s 2009 Magnetic album and as an encapsulation of lives on New Zealand’s margins it is... > Read more

THE WEATHER STATION, AN OVERVIEW (2021): Long distance outlook, fine

26 Feb 2021  |  3 min read

As if to telegraph a new beginning, the 2017 album by the Weather Station out of Toronto was simply titled, The Weather Station. By that point however the Weather Station – the vehicle for singer and songwriter Tamara Lindeman – had already released four albums and two EPs. However, you always had the sense Lindeman was on a journey from the folk of her early days to... > Read more