THE BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2017: THE READERS' PICKS

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THE BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2017: THE READERS' PICKS

As editor of the one-man band Elsewhere I had my say on the best albums I wrote about this past year  -- while freely conceding I did not, could not, hear everything.

Doubtless you heard some music which moved you and wish to tell others about.

Here was – and still is -- your chance.

You could look at what Elsewhere covered in 2017 if you need some reminders or guidance (just start at this page and work forward, and of course there were some under World Music, Jazz and Absolute Elsewhere).

For my Best of Elsewhere 2017 I avoided reissues (they got a separate column here), live albums, compilations, soundtracks and such things, and just threw attention on new albums. But you can choose what you like.

Have your say by adding your album under Post a Comment below. You can do it anonymously of course, if you wish. I look forward to reading what I missed or where I went wrong! It's all just opinion, so please feel free to add yours.

But here is what people have told me so far (via e-mail, feel free, I can just add as they come in) . . . and I've done the intralink to Elsewhere's review of the album if we did one but it didn't make our cut (An *intralink means it was in our list also.)

Thanks for your contributions (clearly we need to check out LCD Soundsystem). . . and on with the show . . . . . .


LCDRalf tells us . . . .

Steven Wilson: To the Bone

a little commercial to my liking, but still enough genius to include it here.

LCD Soundsystem: American Dream

very cool return - nearly thought we lost them…

Aldous Harding: Party

sure this one will come up a few times - beautiful work


A different Graham says

Left Turn at Midnight by Graham Brazier is a great album but I am happy that Devilskin won rock album of the year in that category as it's a bloody great album. LAB and Fly My Pretties albums also.


Sean speaks up for

The National - Sleep Well Beast.  Another quality release from one of the most consistent bands of recent years. 

LCD Soundsystem - American Dream.  A wonderful release from another of those consistent bands.

Glass Vaults - New Happy. Great album from this tight NZ band. I loved the hooks throughout this release.  They put on a great live show too.


Mike maximises his chances by saying . . .

I tried to get a top 10 but had to settle for a baker's dozen.  A couple of the ones on your list (Plant and Tamikrest) did not (quite) make it to mine and I had a late entry (Robert Finley) this weekend.  

songhoy1. Songhoy Blues: Resistance
2. Don Bryant: Don't Give Up on Love
3. The National: Sleep Well Beast
4. * Reb Fountain: Little Arrows
5. * Nadia Reid: Preservation
6. Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
7. The Bads: Losing Heroes 
8. Jim White: Waffles, Triangles and Jesus
9. Paul Kelly: Life is Fine
10. Valerie June: The Order of Time
11. Margo Price: American Made
12. Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator
13. Robert Finlay: Goin' Platinum

and Mavis Staples' latest - very good


Karl offers . . .

Buckingham and McVie: Linsey Buckingham and Christine McVie

Brandy Clark: Big Day in a Small Town

Steve Earle: So You Wanna Be an Outlaw

* Neil Finn: Out of Silence

* Liam Gallagher: As You Were

* Robert Plant: Carry Fire

Prophets of Rage: Prophets of Rage

* Chris Stapleton: From a Room, Volume One

Chris Stapleton:From a Room, Volume Two

* Neil Young: The Visitor


Rosco says . . .

Is the drum/bass/guitar three piece combo alive and well in the 21st century? It may not be the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream but the Khruangbin’s The Universe Smiles Upon You takes the basic unit into a global community where Thai funk meets the Emerson Brothers at Django Reinhardt’s place.

(Editor's note: This album came out 2015, we wrote about it here

Hate to quote reviewers but I just can’t go past this effort on The War on Drugs' A Deeper Understanding: “A shimmering chrome dream caught between heartland and the heaven.”

Adam Granuciel makes music the way good novelists write books; a propulsive narrative that builds to a climactic crescendo. Get past the Zimmermanisms and you’re home. And the video’s not half bad either.

So much awesome local stuff but who can go past the sheer audacity of Lake South’s If You’re Born On An Island The Ocean Heals You. Audacious because he is unafraid to take the idiosyncrasies of our accent, our dialect and makes great pop tunes with seductively weary lyrics to build it into something strong and proud.


Geoff tells us that . . .

my university colleagues gifted me a bunch of iTunes cards when I departed in November, so I have been catching up with recent releases. I have particularly enjoyed LCD Soundsystem: American Dream (“banging tunes,” as the young 'uns say); Sufjan Stevens re-working of Carrie and Lowell's songs on The Greatest Gift , and the lovely Little Fictions from Elbow. If I can have one more: the addition of violins on Roy Orbison's A Love So Beautiful happily didn't smother the ache in his voice.


Blair weighs in with . ..

Justin Townes Earle “Kids in the Street” – Got me at Champagne Corolla (what a title!), great playing & song writing - just edging out his old man‘s effort  on the list. Why did he only play in Auckland in November?

Cigarettes After Sex - “Cigarettes After Sex”– Real gong to the engineer who recorded the great guitar sounds (reminiscent of early Interpol slowed down to half speed.) The androgynous vocal style of the lead vocalist needs to be heard to be believed. Probably the pick of the year along with Nadia Reid.

* Nadia Reid – “Preservation” – I should say I love Nadia Reid’s singing and songs but Ben Edwards has produced something special here. In his own way he seems to be stirring up in Lyttelton what Daniel Lanois was doing in New Orleans 25 years ago. 

unnamed_12_300x300The Church - “man,woman,life,death,infinity” – Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes, the guy from Powderfinger & the NZ drummer Tim Powles are defying aging and seem to be getting better. I detected Kilbey acknowledging Bowie more in this one which makes sense. Question must be asked who misses Marty?

* Neil Finn “Out of Silence” Yes well documented as a creative work in progress during August but having played with the guy once I know how much of a control freak he us (i.e. this was very much prepared earlier). In saying that there is real classic songwriting craft here - worth it just for “Chameleon Days”.

Sam Outlaw -“Tenderheart”– First album produced by Ry Cooder must make the second a hard act to follow but this isn’t a bad try. Why did he only play in Auckland in November?

War On Drugs - “A Deeper Understanding”– I didn’t want to like this as there seems to be some pompousness with respect to the overt Knopfler & Springsteen references, but has the grandeur and widescreen vision that not much music seems to have these days.

David Bowie “A New Career in a New Town” – Yes shouldn’t be here but then again who can overlook this great creative sweep, Low, Heroes, Stage, and especially Lodger & Scary Monsters - is acknowledging one of the most fulfilling artistic journeys ever. Read Dylan Jones book also.

The Killers “Wonderful Wonderful” – May just be Brandon Flowers & misc now but some great songs here, especially the “Tyson vs Douglas” one and anything that sounds like Bowie (e.g. “The Man”). Can even excuse Mark Knopfler doing a “Brothers in Arms” at the end.

Little Steven – Soulfire - Been waiting a while for this, a great producer & songwriter, away from the Boss sidekick role for once. Not great shakes as a singer but doesn’t matter.

Jeremy says . . .

LCD Soundsystem - American Dream.  This could have gone so wrong. How often does any band, boxer, military leader come out of retirement and everyone is glad they did?  Mr Murphy and all his friends still know how to distil the best of Bowie, disco, and the New York underground in to thrilling, epic groove-athons that don't take themselves too seriously.

Valerie June - The Order Of Time.  Old time music brought alive by a modern day Medusa - haunting and mesmerising vocals, grounded in gorgeous melodies and rock solid playing.

The Atomic Bomb Band - Atomic Bomb.  Apparently William Onyeabor never played his music live, whereas this supergroup played his songs live but never released an album!  Until now.  "You look soooo good, fantastic man" has been ringing around our house all year!

Wolf Alice - Visions Of A Life.  At last some genuinely good indie pop out of the UK.  A basic recipe - an eclectic mix of big songs that led by a charismatic singer - and bingo!  Here's hoping their guitars pull some more millennial bands out of the MOR pop electronica we've been enduring for too long.

(Honourable mention to Melbourne's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - if their French Press EP was a full album it would have snuck in ahead of Wolf Alice) 


lbop087cover_1_600x600_1Pedro The Swift from overseas offers . . .

Chronix - Chronology - modern conscious reggae with a pop hook. Spanish Town Rockin' has been stuck in my head all year.
Colter Wall - Colter Wall - raw baritone vocals,​ ​folk and bluegrass style guitar and banjo picking, steady kick-drum stomping, and visually provoking, story telling lyrics. Dig the new breed!
*Les Amazones d'Afrique - Republique Amazones - an all-female collective of West African female singers incl. Angelique Kidjo, Rokia Kone, Mariam Doumbia among others. All campaigning for a good cause - gender equality.

Reissues: 
Does the Bowie boxset A New Career in A New Town (1977 -82) count?

If not, World Spirituality Classics 1 - The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda by
Alice Coltrane
is up there with all the reissues you mentioned. Very uplifting and spiritual.

and now have your say . . .

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Your Comments

Andrew Bush - Dec 18, 2017

Best Albums of 2017, lots to choose from but my favourites are...
Liam Gallagher, As You Were. After thinking Noel had all the family talent this is a great collection of songs. Heaps of swagger here. Love lyrics of "All my People/All Mankind"......"selfies, what a f**king disease, I just want you to know, its my time".
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, That Nashville Sound, Great Songs, thoughtfull lyrics, sensitive delivery. Jason Isbell just keeps on getting better and better.

Keith Shackleton - Dec 19, 2017

It's been a great year for NZ artists, and in addition to Fazerdaze and Nadia Reid who you mentioned, I had a good time listening to super albums from Mermaidens and SoccerPractise.

Five absolute stunners from the rest of the world:

1. Fever Ray - Plunge
2. Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination
3. Jen Cloher - Jen Cloher
4. Saint Etienne - Home Counties
5. British Sea Power - Let the Dancers Inherit the Party

And from the "Are THEY still going?" department, The Punishment of Luxury by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark was a fine record.

Trevor Reekie - Dec 19, 2017

WORLDS OF MUSIC : RNZ … Transglobal, fusion and folk roots - in no particular order
The Duo Sabil - Zabad – L’ecume des Nuits -Harmonia Mundi
Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet – Ladilikan – World Circuit
Omar Sosa &Seckou Keita - Transparent Water - OSA music
Oumou Sangaré – Mogoya – (Today's People) – No Format
Rahim AlHaj - Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet – Smithsonian Folkways
Lila Downs - Salon La Grimas Y Deseo – Sony Music Mexico
Matt Langley – Winterdust - Matt Langley Music - Dunedin
Lo'Jo - Fonetiq Flowers - World Village
Indialucia – Acatao – Indialucia (self released)
Nigel Gavin – Waggle Dance – Nigel Gavin (self release)

Jon from Newtown - Dec 25, 2017

A difficult year for me in looking for great new sounds. I roamed far and wide and was a wee bit disappointed with the latest releases of some past faves including Haim, Kurt Vile, Valerie June, The War on Drugs, Amadou & Mariam. Robert Plant's Carry Fire grew on me. Some I liked just a handful of tunes off an album such as King Krule's Dum Surfer and Crooked Colours' I Hope Your Get It and Total Control's Future Creme. Cardi B's Bodak Yellow and J.I.D.'s Never made playlists at various times and even Charli XCX's Out of My Head.

Shabazz Palaces Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star
QTY QTY
This Is the Kit Moonshine Freeze
The Deslondes Hurry Home
Japandroids New to the Wild Heart of Life
Craig Finn We All Want the Same Things
The National Sleep Well Beast
Rafiki Jazz Har Dam Sahara
The Weather Station The Weather Station
Mura Masa Mura Masa
SZA CTRL
Sheer Mag Need to Feel Your Love

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