Music at Elsewhere

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Josh Ritter: The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

27 Oct 2007  |  1 min read  |  3

Elsewhere has been around long enough to do a bit of bragging about bringing certain people to your attention long before anyone else: one of them being this American singer-songwriter whose previous album The Animal Years (see tag) was such a gem. I just kept bringing it back and named it as one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006. Then he was discovered by the British press -- although not by... > Read more

Josh Ritter: Rumours

Jim White: Transnormal Skiperoo (Luaka Bop/Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

27 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

White came into something close to mainstream attention with his droll film Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus, a poke around the backroads and backwoods of the American South and the music and characters that make it so distinctive. It was at times uncomfortable viewing, but also an essential documentary if you want to get a handle on "that dark Southern stuff" as Lucinda Williams... > Read more

Jim White: Diamonds to Coal

Peter Case: Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (YepRoc Records)

27 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

Case used to be the mainman in the Plimsouls, a terrific and slightly ragged power pop band but he has enjoyed a long and diverse alt.country/alt.rock solo career -- as befits a man who was once married to Victoria Williams. On his superb self-titled debut in '86 he had John Hiatt and Roger McGuinn helping out, and down the decades he has worked with Ry Cooder and Sir George Martin, and... > Read more

Peter Case: Some Bright Morning Blues

Joni Mitchell: Shine (Universal)

26 Oct 2007  |  2 min read

Despite critical acclaim and mega-sales for two decades or so after the early 70s, Joni Mitchell was never a happy traveller in the music industry, and frequently denounced it. The most recent crunch for her came when she was told by a music exec that her 2002 album Travelogue (new arrangements of old songs which she did partly as a contractual obligation to her longtime label Warners) was a... > Read more

Joni Mitchell: One Week Last Summer

The Phoenix Foundation: Happy Ending (Flying Nun) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

22 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

In a cover so cheap-looking and unpromising that it reminds me of an intermediate school kid's doodle comes one of the best New Zealand albums of the year. Let's hope that godawful "artwork" doesn't put off any prospective buyers because if it does they will be missing one of the most nuanced, textured, seductively melodic and vibrant albums that Flying Nun has released in a very... > Read more

The Phoenix Foundation: Pure Joy

Zbigniew Preisner: Silence, Night and Dreams (EMI)

22 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

Composer Preisner is best known for his dramatic soundtrack work -- but this gentle exploration of Biblical texts owes more to austere and evocative meditative music, which makes that album title utterly apt. The title track and a couple of others feature the pure and unwavering vocals of the young soprano Tom Cully from Libera (who looks about 12), but elsewhere it is Teresa Salgueiro from... > Read more

Zbigniew Preisner: To Love

Devendra Banhart: Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (XL)

22 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

Widely credited as the figurehead of the neo-folk movement (which owes more to early jazzy folk-rocking Donovan than Dylan in its encompassing vision and musical ambition), Texas-born Banhart has delivered a series of fascinating albums notable for their diversity. Drawing on traditional folk, world music and trippy psychedelic styles (and lyrics), Banhart has staked out such a broad piece... > Read more

Devendra Banhart: Cristobal

Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True, Deluxe Edition (Universal)

21 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

Elvis had a fair run here on Elsewhere when the recent reissue of his first 11 albums prompted a consideration of his quite remarkable career (see tag). But this Deluxe double disc edition of his debut album adds extra texture to that exceptional album with its touchstones in Phil Spector, country-rock, beat pop, Chuck Berry-meets-Dylan and so on. Here is the original album on the first... > Read more

Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Stranger in the House (out-take)

Jenny Owen Youngs: Batten the Hatches (Shock)

21 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

This album has floated to the top of the pile quite frequently in the past three months and it has only been distractions which have meant it hasn't made an appearance here earlier. Let's rectify that oversight and tell you what prompted it: a line I saw somewhere which said that if KT Tunstall could be big why not this woman. Fair point. Youngs is an acoustic-framed rocker with... > Read more

Jenny Owen Youngs: Fuck Was I

The Felice Brothers; Tonight at the Arizona (Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

21 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

Although perhaps too referencing of Dylan and the Band holed up in the basement of the Big Pink, that doesn't mean this shakily delivered collection of Americana from these three brothers and a bassist isn't without considerable charm and lowkey impact. And nope, there is no problem with your stereo during Hey Hey Revolver, that drop-out is where lightning hit their cheap studio and the... > Read more

The Felice Brothers: Hey Hey Revolver

Arthur and Yu: In Camera (Stomp)

21 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

On a first hearing I thought this would have been the album that Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood might have made if Nancy had been more like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched and Lee more like Karl Wallinger from World Party. Sort of pop but not, as it were. There is a dreamy and disconcerting quality to much of this pairing of Seattle's Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott, but the seductive... > Read more

Arthur and Yu: 1000 Words

John Fogerty: Revival (Fantasy)

19 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

Now back on his original label after decades of litigation, animosity and a refusal to play the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits that made his repuation, Fogerty sounds like a man at peace with himself -- but as angry as ever about his country being involved in yet another foreign war. On this album which doesn't stray far from that winning CCR template of short, sharp swamp-rock and... > Read more

John Fogerty: I Can't Take It No More

Johnny Devlin: How Would Ya Be (Ode)

19 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

I was too young to be swept up in the fervour surrounding Johnny Devlin, New Zealand's first shirt-rippin' stage-ragin' rock'n'roll star. But my older sister certainly had a Devlin EP -- sponsored by Coca-Cola as I recall -- which I later poured over. When I think about it though my sister was more into beatnik cool in the late 50s than rock'n'roll, so maybe it was my parents who had the... > Read more

Johnny Devlin: Nervous Wreck

Trip to the Moon: Welcome to the Big Room (Ode)

18 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

This astral-ambient and very trippy outfit from Auckland record far too infrequently for my liking, and this seductive offering is further evidence of the singular path they have been travelling on: deliciously textured music which refers to space-flight jazz and the most refined aspects of 70s prog-rock, but is never over-indulgent. Trip are multi-instrumentalists Trevor Reekie and Tom... > Read more

Trip to the Moon: Long Lost Days

Beirut; The Flying Club Cup BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

18 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

Ambitious and slightly eccentric pop music doesn't come much more ambitious and eccentric as this, the second album by Zach Condon (aka Beirut), an American with a European sensibility whose musical reach encompasses indie Anglopop, French chanson, nods to Scott Walker, hints of Spanish or mariachi music, snippets of conversations, swooning choruses, quasi-choral passages . . . There is an... > Read more

Beirut: Cliquot

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

18 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

If anyone has won the right to sings songs of life on hard scrabble farms it is Levon Helm, the former drummer/singer/mandolin player in the Band who grew up on a cotton farm near a town called Turkey Scratch in Arkansas. His group -- called for a time Levon and the Hawks -- backed Ronnie Hawkins, linked up with Bob Dylan and became simply The Band. Many consider Helm the authentic voice... > Read more

Levon Helm: The Mountain

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss; Raising Sand (Rounder) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

18 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

From what seems a most unlikely pairing -- the former Led Zepp frontman and the "new bluegrass" singer/fiddle player -- comes one of the best albums of the year: an often eerie folk-framed collection in which the duo engage the heart of songs by Townes Van Zandt (the other-world sound of Nothing), Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan (Trampled Rose), the Everly Brothers (Gone Gone Gone),... > Read more

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: PLease Read the Letter

Various: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Tipitina's/Shock)

17 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

In the days after Hurricane Katrina it was believed that this great New Orleans r'n'b singer had been washed away. Fortunately he had been rescued although his home, like much of that wonderful city, had suffered extreme damage. The interesting thing about the rumours of his death was the sudden recognition of his talent in the wider world: he had been one of the earliest influences on... > Read more

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux with Galactic: So Long

Various Artists: Sowing the Seeds (Appleseed/Elite)

16 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

This moving and sometimes inspiring double-disc celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Appleseed label which is a home to various socio-political folkies such as Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and others. But for this, their first sampler, they have also invited in some guests such as Bruce Springsteen and Donovan -- and had Seeger record some excellent new material, notably the opener, a brief... > Read more

Tommy Sands, Pete Seeger, Vedran Smailovic: Music of Healing

Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: The Scene of the Crime (Anti) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

This is an unexpected pairing: soul-singer LaVette with alt-country rockers Drive-By Truckers recording in Muscle Shoals in Alabama. A marriage made in heaven (or a somewhat hotter place) as it turns out: the band are edgy or supportive and nudge LaVette (who needs little prompting it must be said) through a collection of gritty songs which either jump out of the speakers or drag you into... > Read more

Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: I Still Want to be Your Baby