IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent releases

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Dodson and Fogg: Everything Changes
IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent releases

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column which scoops up releases by international artists, in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column picks up New Zealand artists.

Comments will be brief.

Dodson and Fogg; Warning Signs (wisdomtwinsbooks): Britain's Dodson and Fogg is, as we have previously mentioned, the nom de disque for the exceptionally talented and productive Chris Wade who first came to attention here through a fine compilation put together by Wellington's The Active Listener. (We interviewed AL's Nathan Wade here.) Since writing about one of his albums -- about two back in his growing catalogue -- Wade has kept in touch and faithfully sent Elsewhere downloads, and this is the eighth under his own D&F name.

2090419Sonically it seems quite lowkey until a few tracks in when the electric guitar solos come to the fore and you can hear a little Marc Bolan being channeled (the almost stomping Following the Man). But for the most part this comes across like slightly tripped-out, drone-influenced acoustic folk-poprock and the kind of home recordings that John Lennon made: thoughtful, songs that reach towards you, occasionally philosophical lyrics (Everything Changes) that gently pull you in . . . Little music embellishments (sitar, tabla, lap steel) add colour to a collection that confirms D&F/Wade to be one of those treasures whose work deserves to be discovered and shared. Check out his website here for his distinctive music and artwork, and free pdfs of his online magazine where he interviews the likes of Donovan (a kindred spirit around The Don's Sunny Goodge Street/Three Kingfishers' period), Beefheart band member Drumbo French, Beatles' author Hunter Davis . . .

Labasheeda; Changing Lights (Presto Chango): The download of this album (available in a transparent blue vinyl LP version) came from this Amsterdam trio. And, always curious, Elsewhere had a listen at home on the Big Apple and -- to be fair -- burned it to disc to listen to on better sound systems. And in the car. But this melodramatic post-grunge rock (on which singer/writer/mainperson Saskia van der Giessen also contributes viola and violin) falls every time at her vocals which simply don't have the requisite power to carry these songs (sometimes just embarrassingly weak), and which become shrill when substance is required. You can hear the intention but the execution is lacking, although -- to their credit -- there are a some decent songs buried among the dozen here (they also cover the Who's Circles). But not a lot here impresses as it stands. Within a mile radius of my house there'd half a dozen bands like this (I've heard them in rehearsal) and most would have a more powerful and persuasive singer. You can check them out here.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre; musique de film imagine (AUK): Gonna flip all the cards and say, I like what Anton Newcombe/BJM do -- from rock to world music-influenced psychedelica -- and you could never accuse him of being boring or predictable. That's a rare thing these days. This album however will be "an acquired taste" as it's far removed from most of the recent albums. And, as the title suggests, exists in the realms of soundtracks to imagined films. Hardly a new idea. This is as uneven and only as interesting as the dreams in your head (mine are sometimes magical but just as often so tedious I wish I were in someone else's) so I suggest you do sampling here and make up your own subconscious mind. To his credit Newcombe dreams Elizabethan-noir and portentousness in places. Hats off to him then.

Palmbomen II; Palmbomen II (soundcloud): As I understand it, Palmbomen and Palmbomen II are among the pseudonyms for this now-sometimes LA-based, Amsterdam producer and studio boffin Kai Hugo  . . . who seems to prefer very old school electronic and techno sounds (which is conveniently his point of difference). And this collection of sometimes cheap sounding, treble-focused pieces of Mogadon-techno does sound closer to Frogger (if you get the reference) than whatever high-speed imagery and cutting-edge sound is on X-Box these days. (Oddly enough then he's had stuff on high-end games but that isn't what's here). This is snappy but ultimately repetitious lo-fi house which I've found more interesting to deconstruct in my head than actually enjoy. I was reminded of  8-Bit Operators' take on Kraftwerk. They seemed fun, this takes itself more seriously. I am prepared to be very wrong about this. But I doubt I'd listen to it much again, if ever. There's a video clip  here (get past the self-indulgent teen-angst pop-philosphy) and you can check out Palmbomen and this album here.

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