Miles Calder and the Rumours; Miles Calder and the Rumours (Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Sad Songs
Miles Calder and the Rumours; Miles Calder and the Rumours (Southbound)

Singer-songwriter Miles Calder and his fellow travellers down these alt.country byways (where “the creek's gonna rise”) have considerable prior form in advance of this debut album.

Their Crossing Over EP was nominated for the 2014 Taite Music award and in the NZ Music Awards' country category. Calder has had favourable shortlist mentions in international songwriting competitions, and they've supported Shakey Graves, M Ward and Fly My Pretties.

The territory of what we might now call “mainstream alt.country” is where he/they mine a rich but somehow rapidly depleting vein . . . and heavy-hitters are on board here (cameos by stellar players from Trinity Roots, Black Seeds).

Oh, and it is mixed by a Grammy winner engineer who has done the deed for Josh Ritter, QOTSA, Sheryl Crowe et al.

It all comes down to the songs in the end however, and although Calder has an archetypal, strong vocal delivery and some of these rarely breach new territory in the genre (the excellent Sad Songs could not reference more iconic country symbols if it tried) it's fair to acknowledge they can grab your collar with songs like the dynamically compelling and emotional sea changes of songs like The Last Time Round.

There's no denying Calder – even on the cliches – has a way-with-words and how to construct a pop-length song so he leans straight into turf where he can stand alongside Austin's finest.

He and the band (which includes the impressive singer Kirsten Moodie) just need more desperation of the Joe Ely kind on songs like You'll See Me, and the ballad Cold Wind which really gets away on them (which might have been as compelling as classic Bob Seger).

Live this no doubt shapes up quite exceptional, but on record too much here hits the mid-ground of presentation and delivery. It becomes a dogged haul past the fine To The Sea midpoint and Calder delivers on such a similar frequency, while the band hitch in behind, that far too much of this simply doesn't spring out as the songs suggest they should. In the last half to many songs plod when they should leap out.

Some very good songs taken individually, but they don't make for the compelling album they should.

Share It

Your Comments

Keith Shackleton - Nov 8, 2016

Yup, definitely not as direct and engaging as the EP, but we had a great time at his last gig at the Wine Cellar and we've got tickets to go again. Big fun on a night out, and great musicians.

post a comment

More from this section   Music at Elsewhere articles index

Various Artists: Forbidden Planets Vol 2 (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

Various Artists: Forbidden Planets Vol 2 (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

Subtitled "More Music from the Pioneers of Electronic Sound", this double disc with a booklet will not be for everyone. But if the original theme to Dr Who, the Bebe and Louis Barron... > Read more

Tom Russell/Norwegian Wind Ensemble: Aztec Jazz (Proper/Southbound)

Tom Russell/Norwegian Wind Ensemble: Aztec Jazz (Proper/Southbound)

Even within the alt.country/Americana world, the bittersweet storyteller Tom Russell remains a marginal figure, despite almost 30 albums (and books) steeped in what poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

The Green Pajamas: Sunlight Might Weigh Even More (Green Monkey/bandcamp)

The Green Pajamas: Sunlight Might Weigh Even More (Green Monkey/bandcamp)

Elsewhere has sometimes told the story of a chance conversation over lunch before leaving for the Pacific Northwest, the friend mentioning his favourite band which I'd never heard of (Green Pajamas... > Read more

SIR NORMAN FOSTER'S BRIDGE AT MILLAU (2004):  Sublime Architecture; From Here to Modernity

SIR NORMAN FOSTER'S BRIDGE AT MILLAU (2004): Sublime Architecture; From Here to Modernity

We live in a cynical world, as Jerry Maguire said. And there are reasons to be cynical: corruption and graft, deja-vu politics, corporate fraud and payouts, famine and futility … Yet it... > Read more