Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Various: Bowiemania (Naive)

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Compiled by the French arranger/sound artist Beatrice Ardisson, this wayward collection of people covering Bowie songs is as enjoyable as it is uneven: but even the weaker moments hold considerable appeal. They are hardly household names here (Microsillion, Rhonda Harris, Los Chicros) but some are so engaging you might want to hear more from them (Medi and the Medicine Show's take on Rebel... > Read more

Yann Tierson and the Divine Comedy: Life on Mars

Various: Wounded Heart of America; Tom Russell Songs (Hightone)

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Some weeks ago I was invited to give a talk about some of my favourite music to a group of people in someone's home. It was a very pleasant night and the first few things I played were either by the American singer-songwriter Tom Russell or his songs sung by others (notably Joe Ely covering the dramatic Gallo Del Cielo which I said I could envision as a film by John Huston). Russell is... > Read more

Tom Russell: Who's Gonna Build Your Wall?

Patti Smith: Twelve

17 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Even in Smith's often unpredictable career this is unexpected: a covers album which includes Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule The World? Its very straight treatment is equally surprising. You'd expect her to tear through it with righteous indignation but no, she delivers it as the bouncy pop ballad it always was. But better is elsewhere: her drawling treatment of... > Read more

Linda Thompson; Versatile Heart (Decca) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

2 Sep 2007  |  1 min read

Few would make the mistake of coming to Anglo-folk legend Thompson for their jollies -- but even the well-prepared might gulp at the melacholy mood in which this is suffused. While the country twangin' foot-tapper Do Your Best For Rock'n Roll includes the promising line "take me to a bar" it ends with "and leave me there to die". That's pretty typical on an album where... > Read more

Linda Thompson: Beauty (with Antony)

Over The Rhine: The Trumpet Child (RedEye/Southbound)

2 Sep 2007  |  1 min read

When this Cincinnati-based duo came to New Zealand 18 months ago I did an interview with them and noted they were receiving media interest more befitting Really Big Stars: lining up for a chat were the Herald; Kim Hill; the Listener and student radio; and there was an intimate gig before well-placed radio and retail people. Not that they didn't deserve the attention, because over a series... > Read more

Over the Rhine: Nothing Is Innocent

Mist & Sea: Unless (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

1 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Because of the Pop Frenzy label's track record at Elsewhere -- pop delights posted by the much recommended Clientele, Radio Dept and Camera Obscura, and even recently the amusing David Vandevelde with his T.Rex manoeuvres -- anything on the label get an early audition. Hell, this is the label that has the bleakly amusing and very wonderful Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. This... > Read more

Mist & Sea: Like A Vampire

David Vandervelde: The Moonstation House Band (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

26 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Well, if Noel Gallagher is allowed to wake up and think he's John Lennon, and Mika can channel the pop-tart spirit of Freddie Mercury, then why shouldn't this 22-year old rocker from Chicago be T. Rex for our listening pleasure? To be fair this album does offer a little more than mere retro manoeuvres (but only a little more) -- however if you haven't heard T. Rex in a wee while this might... > Read more

David Vandervelde: Nothin Mo

Steve Earle: Washington Square Serenade (NewWest/Elite)

26 Aug 2007  |  1 min read

A decade after Bob Dylan washed up in Greenwich Village, Steve Earle left his home in Texas and started on the same journey -- inspired, he admits, by the cover photo on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan which showed the skinny Bob and his girlfriend Suze huddling on a wind-whipped street. Earle (see tag for interviews, album reviews) never made it past Nashville on that attempt but the thought of... > Read more

Steve Earle: Tennessee Blues

Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge (Mute) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

25 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

If you believed what you read in the British press about this album by former Longpigs and Pulp guitarist you'd probably cross the street to avoid it. Distance lends us a better view I suspect, because Hawley's swooning croon (which at various times brings to mind Morrissey, Scott Walker, Roy Orbison and others with rich, dark and melodic voices) is utterly entrancing, and this reflective... > Read more

Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge

Midge Marsden: Travel'n Time (Liberation)

25 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

The success of this Acoustic Series in Australia -- where the likes of Deisel sat down to play stripped back versions of their songs -- has been successfully adopted here with similarly conceived albums by Hello Sailor and Hammond Gamble, the latter reminding you just what a great singer, songwriter and guitarist he is. With any luck this album should do the profile-elevating for Marsden... > Read more

Midge Marsden: Little Ray

Holly Cole: Holly Cole (Alert)

18 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Cole is the dark mistress of jazz-noir which probably sounds best in an ill-lit nightclub as you are waiting for Bogie and Bacall to drop in. That kind of smoke-filled and evocative music. Alley Cat Song is a typical Cole title. With a terrific band (which includes Gil Goldstein on piano, Marty Ehrlich and Lenny Pickett on saxes, and bassist Greg Cohen) Cole drags the notes lazily, oozes... > Read more

Holly Cole: The House Is Haunted By The Echo of Your Last Goodbye

Pete Seeger: American Favourite Ballads Vol 5 (Folkways/Elite)

18 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Now closing in on 90, Seeger has had a great deal of attention lately: first Martin Scorsese's film on Dylan to '66 included interviews with him, and then Springsteen raided Pete's vast catalogue for his recent studio album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. He was also nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by an e-mail petition. Seeger's contribution to American popular culture has not just... > Read more

Pete Seeger: Sioux Indians

Martin Craft: Silver and Fire (Longtime Listener/Rhythmethod)

18 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Okay, let's just hear what the British press had to say about this, the debut album from an Australian singer-songwriter now living in London. "Simply captivating" --- The Sun "A refreshing breeze to ruffle all preconceptions" -- Time Out "Divine!" -- The Observer "Pop never had it so good" -- The Fly "Fantastic" -- Vice You... > Read more

Martin Craft: Snowbird

Bat For Lashes: Fur and Gold (UNSpin/EMI)

11 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

From the opening track with its repeated ripples of minimalism, the ethereal vocals, a sense of eerie strings and theremin-like synth, and the barely suppressed sense of urgency you know that something very special is in store from this oddly-named UK outfit which is the vehicle for singer/multi-instrumentalist/visual artist Natasha Khan. That sense of quiet drama, repressed emotion,... > Read more

Bat For Lashes: Horse and I

Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different (Light in the Attic)

10 Aug 2007  |  1 min read

No, this isn't here just so we can display the striking cover of the former Mrs Miles Davis looking like some astral traveller from Ziggy Stardust's planet. In fact this is something of lost soul-funk classic from '74 from a period of skin-tight silver pants, sky-high heels on the dancefloor and shoulder-wide Afros. In her own way Davis -- formerly Betty Mabry -- was well ahead of her... > Read more

Betty Davis: He Was A Big Freak

The Nextmen: This Was Supposed To Be The Future (Antidote/Elite)

10 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

This is a real meltown and mash-up of styles, yet somehow it works as a guest list which includes soul diva Alice Russell, various Jamaican DJs and toasters join the producers/songwriting/remix duo of Dom Search and Brad Baloo (who are the Nextmen) for a sonic colour chart which lopes from chantdown dancefloor to sultry soul and beyond. On paper it shouldn't work but what is here sounds... > Read more

The Nextmen: Tuffen Up

Joe Henry; Civilians (Anti/Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

10 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

With a small band, and guests Bill Frisell (on guitar) and Van Dyke Parks (piano), the much ignored Henry continues his singular path which owes a little to a less grumbly Tom Waits but remains properly in the singer-songwriter tradition with nods to folk and the blues. Here are classically-framed ballads (You Can't Fail Me Now) and songs with social and political resonance (Civil War, the... > Read more

Joe Henry: You Can't Fail Me Now

Josh Rouse: Country Mouse, City House (Bedroom Classics)

10 Aug 2007  |  1 min read

Rouse has an interesting record collection: we know this because for a few albums -- notably 1972 which nodded to Seventies singer-songwriters, and Nashville which raided 80s pop, rock and indie music -- have sounded like a man rummaging through his musical closet for new clothes to wear. It's fair to say his best album was Under Cold Blue Stars of 2002 and while those two mentioned... > Read more

Josh Rouse: London Bridges

Various; Contemporary New Zealand Poets In Performance (AUP) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

10 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

This second volume of an excellent series (with CDs) of New Zealand poets reading their own work came from Auckland University Press and was edited by Jack Ross and Jan Kemp. It followed the previous volume, Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance. This one includes poems by Bernadette Hall, Sam Hunt, Bill Manhire, Ian Wedde, Keri Hulme, David Eggleton, Iain Sharp and others. A worthy and... > Read more

San Hunt: Hey, Minstrel

Pitch Black: Rude Mechanicals (Remote)

4 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

The electronica duo of Mike Hodgson and Paddy Free who are Pitch Black were in the vanguard of New Zealand sound and vision performances in the 90s, so much so that you'd love to see them release a CD/DVD, which would make a good deal of sense. But it is also testament to their sensibilities that their internationalist music has an innate visual quality to it. This album for example,... > Read more

Pitch Black: Rude Mechanicals (feat Kp)