IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international releases

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Miss Toni Fisher: The Big Hurt
IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international 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 wil be brief.

Bill Fay: Who is the Sender? (Dead Oceans): British folk-pianist/composer sees the world as the Garden of Eden corrupted, Nature as a beautiful vision and Man desperately in need of salvation. He's a gentle and somewhat melancholy Christian, however these 13 engrossing songs -- sometimes a bit thick on the need for redemption -- still manage to get across a reflective soul in songs which are often so softly understated as to have a hymnal quality, and when the strings and backing vocals enter . . . Not for cynics but really rather special in its own unique way. Check it out here in a free stream, and be prepared to be won over.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: Loin des Hommes (Goliath): Messrs Cave and Ellis run a very interesting sideline outside the Bad Seeds doing soundtrack work and this -- about ttheir 10th together -- is a very seductive affair of quiet, almost ambient instrumental pieces (punctuated briefly by some dialogue and chants) from an arthouse film about two men in flight in Algeria during the rebellion in the Fifties. Ellis plays front parlour violin, viola and such, Cave brings piano, pump organ (sounding vaguely synth-like) and celeste, there is a cellist and Jim White on gentle drums. Very evocative. And speaking of Nick Cave . . .

Various Artists: Nick Cave Heard Them Here First (Ace/Border): This series -- which has previously presented collection of songs which inspired Bowie, the New York Dolls and the Ramones (see here) -- is akin to the equally interesting, scattershot series So-And-So's Jukebox (here) which offer insights into the formative songs which have influenced the star in question. Aside from being of interest to fans who wonder, "Where did they get that idea from?", they do offer uterly unpredictable and sometimes barely coherent compilations where --as in this case -- the gospel group The Pilgrim Travelers (with Jesus Met the Woman at the Well) rubs shoulders with Gene Pitney (Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart) and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's stunning Hammer Song). Not to mention the Stooges (Fun House), Nina Simone (I Put a Spell on You), Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (the excellent, Elsewhere favourite Bedazzled), Bob Dylan (Death is not the End) and Pulp (Disco 2000). These songs -- plus Miss Toni Fisher with heavily phased The Big Hurt, the Leaves' desperate jangle-pop version of Hey Joe and others -- are all songs Nick Cave has covered (live, on Kicking Against the Pricks or on tribute albums). Quite an odd 22 song collection but excellent liner notes clear the pathway with helpful explanations.

The OF; Escape Goat (Green Monkey): The Green Monkey label out of Seattle is the home to some fascinating artists (not the least Green Pajamas and Jeff Kelly's other projects, as well as Jim of Seattle) and the label's founder Tom Dyer regularly posts Elsewhere some of their new releases. They are certainly . . . unpredictable. The OF appear to be a fairly flexible ensemble which bring together left-field rock, falling apart jazz tropes, spoken word samples and song titles which might have fallen off a Frank Zappa or Zoogz Rift album. On this eight track collection we have Damn Dirty Hippy, Bottom Feeder, Weezils and the (take a deep breath) Refrigerator Leak on a Stormy November Evening with Cranberry Arteriosclerosis. The latter is just 50 seconds long and is a kind of early Eighties Zappa instrumental which you wish was actualy longer. Despite what you may think, some of this very approachable (the 11 minute Bottom Feeder a fairly straight-ahead Afro-lite influenced and groove-riding piece, and there's a glom guitar grind on the 13 minute Weezils which prove, among other things, these people can actually play . . . when they put aside the yuk-yuk factor. I suspect jazz training). Check it out here. The video for Damn Dirty Hippy is here.

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