Music at Elsewhere

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Robbie Fulks: Revenge! (Yep Roc) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

1 Jul 2007  |  1 min read

The witty and iconoclastic Fulks has a marvellous distain for convention, the country music establishment (he wrote Fuck This Town about Nashville), and record sales. He also unleashed the sometimes terrific but scattergun Georgia Hard two years ago on which he released his inner George Jones to great effect -- but also included his component of yuk-yuk material as if wanting to challenge... > Read more

Robbie Fulks: Believe

Maps: We Can Create (EMI)

1 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

Some may find the constantly applied stage-whisper vocals here a little samey over the long haul, but for me it fits perfectly with the ambient, atmospheric-rock of Maps which swells to panoramic dimensions in places, or rides the most simple but effective of piano chords down to levels of utter intimacy. Maps is in fact James Chapman from somewhere in the Midlands whose twilight-framed home... > Read more

Maps: So Low, So High

Teddy Thompson: Up Front and Down Low ((Verve)

1 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

The son of Richard is now on his third album but for this quietly exceptional album he takes a left-turn from his originals and goes back to the music he grew up with: American country which he grew up listening to at his dad's house. This sensitive collection of classics and little-known covers (and one striking original, Down Low) proves what a fine and flexible voice he has, and how he... > Read more

Teddy Thompson: Down Low

Various: Sweet Soul Music (Stax/Universal)

30 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

Widely advertised compilations such as this double-disc rarely make it onto Elsewhere because I figure you know about them anyway. But I'm making an exception with this one because over 51 tracks you not only get some of the classics of Stax soul which should be in any serious record collection (signature songs by Otis, Carla Thomas, Sam and Dave, Booker T, Isaac Hayes and so on) but also... > Read more

Mable John: Your Good Thing (is about to end)

Paul McCartney: Memory Almost Full (Universal)

29 Jun 2007  |  1 min read

From the title to the reflective nature of many lyrics this -- McCartney’s 21st post-Beatles release, not counting live albums, classical digressions, compilations, The Fireman project etc -- could be read as his public swansong. He considers his life on the energetic That Was Me; in an aching falsetto You Tell Me he wonders about those perhaps mythical summers of yesteryear; and the... > Read more

Nigel Gavin: Thrum (Ode)

24 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

Auckland-based guitarist Nigel Gavin has appeared previously on Elsewhere -- see tag -- so it would be remiss if not downright rude to overlook this reissue of his excellent '03 solo album, which went largely ignored at the time as it came out on the small, independent Rouge label. Now getting national distribution through Ode, Thrum deserves the widest appreciation, especially if... > Read more

Nigel Gavin: Yezidi Circle

Basia Bulat: Oh, My Darling (Rough Trade/Shock)

24 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

On this, her debut album, Canadian Bulat establishes herself as a slightly eccentric (but not irritatingly whacko) voice whose songs are enhanced by canny production which allows for the folk and pop elements of her songwriting to sit alongside some distinctive arrangements. With dulcimer, mandolin, guitar and a string section, there are strong folk references here, but Bulat's effortless... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen, with the Sessions Band; Live in Dublin (Sony) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

17 Jun 2007  |  1 min read  |  1

Springsteen's live shows with a band have, for the most part, been celebratory affairs: initially celebrating the spirit of rock'n'roll; later his connection with an audience; and then increasingly with a vast catalogue of songs whose meanings often changed over time. After his last album We Shall Overcome when he explored the catalogue of American classic songs made famous by folk legend... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen: Pay Me My Money Down

Regina Spektor: Begin to Hope (Warners)

15 Jun 2007  |  1 min read

No tickets on myself, but I heard of Spektor about three or four years ago when I was in London seeing one of my sons: he was working with the producer Gordon Raphael who had produced the Strokes, and Gordon gave me a disc of songs by other people he had recorded and held out great hopes for. One of them was by Spektor which I really liked, so when I came back home I told people to watch... > Read more

Regina Spektor: 20 Years of Snow

Maria McKee: Late December (Cooking Vinyl)

15 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

The former singer for Lone Justice has long given up any sense of being a country-rock or alt.country singer, she is out there on her own and her many solo albums have been wayward affairs which seem to follow whatever mood she is in, which means from song to song she can find a new genre. So it is not surprising here to find her opening what what sounds like a streetwise Dionne Warwick... > Read more

Maria McKee: No Other Way To Love You

CoCo Rosie: The Adventures of Ghost Horse and Stillborn (Rhythmethod)

15 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

I'll admit this is my first encounter with the bewitching Cassidy sisters who are Coco Rosie, but I have fallen under their strange spell: soft hip-hop beats and simple samples; fairytale lyrics delivered somewhere between a more reigned in Bjork and more melodic Yoko Ono; childlike charm and yet some dense psychological drama alongside silliness . . . Quirky and unnerving in places, utterly... > Read more

Coco Rosie: Black Poppies

Tab Benoit: Power of the Pontchartrain (Elite)

14 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

Bluesman Benoit teams up again with Lousiana's LeRoux, the rockin' outfit he worked with on his swamp-lightnin' album Brother to the Blues of last year which was nominated for a Grammy. This is more of the same, but better: Benoit's guitar has a sharp and stinging quality, he digs into some Cajun-flavoured blues, and on the title track funks it up with LeRoux (who were Clarence 'Gatemouth'... > Read more

Tab Benoit: Sac-au-lait Fishing

The Traveling Wilburys: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Rhino/Warners)

11 Jun 2007  |  1 min read  |  1

Cannot lie about this: when the first Wilburys album came out in '88 I gave it a cursory listen and wrote it off as some geriatric project which was doubtless enjoyable for all concerned, but was actually just dull. The Dylan track I heard sounded like a parody or self-parody, Harrison was back into his troppo-strumming style, Petty who used to rock hard had obviously taken the valium, and... > Read more

Rufus Wainwright; Release the Stars (Geffen) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

9 Jun 2007  |  1 min read  |  2

As with Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, alt.country acts and Bjork, Rufus Wainwright is one of those artists who are only tangentially part of what we might call "rock culture". As with the above, his albums get reviewed in rock magazines and newspaper columns -- but he also exists outside of the parameters: he famously recreated Judy Garland's legendary Carnegie Hall shows recently... > Read more

Rufus Wainwright: Tiergarten

Nick Lowe; At My Age (Proper) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

9 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

To be honest, I consider Nick Lowe's '98 album Dig My Mood so outstanding that anything he does subsequently will pale in the comparison. By the time of that album, the former English pub-rocker in the post-punk era and friend of Elvis Costello had taken a considerable career turn and was now a gorgeous country-soul singer whose songwriting put him so far ahead in the field that others must... > Read more

Nick Lowe: I Trained her to Love Me

Jimmy LaFave: Cimmaron Manifesto (Red House/Elite)

8 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

Austin-based singer-songwriter LaFave has perhaps covered too many Dylan songs in his long career (usually very well indeed it must be said) so it's amusing to find on this album he shifts his sights and does Donovan's Catch The Wind. But he also does Dylan's Not Dark Yet so he's still finding that influence hard to shake. LaFave has a voice which aches with passion and he can turn it to... > Read more

Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior (Southbound)

8 Jun 2007  |  1 min read

At the time of Richard Thompson's excellent Rumour and Sigh album in '97 I decided I'd had enough of hearing how he was a cult figure whose albums never sold: so I did an interview with him (he had a reputation for being earnest but he was chatty on the phone and when I met him in London a few years later he was very chipper) and I ran the story on the cover of the Herald's entertainment... > Read more

Richard Thompson: Dad's Gonna Kill Me

Eleni Mandell: Miracle of Five (Shock)

8 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

I have no doubt Mandell will be dismissed in some circles as an alt.country Norah Jones -- but that would be a little lazy. What this album (Mandell's sixth) shares with Jones is an overall low lights mood and the sometimes seductive delivery, but Mandell is more like a torch singer in a hip Nashville club. However it is uneven and adolescent songs like Girls ("do you still dream about... > Read more

Eleni Mandell: Perfect Stranger

Various: The Future is Unwritten/Joe Strummer (Sony)

8 Jun 2007  |  1 min read  |  1

True story. Earlier this year after a classical concert in Auckland's Aotea Centre I was introduced to a guy who, in the course of a free-ranging conversation, said he'd met Joe Strummer -- and Joe had written a song about him. Bullshitting is fun, but this guy was serious and quoted the following Strummer lyrics: "Well, I was walking down the High Road and this guy stops me. He'd... > Read more

Wilco; Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

1 Jun 2007  |  2 min read  |  1

The career trajectory of Wilco, helmed by Jeff Tweedy, has been fascinating to follow, if not always easy for many. From alt.country through to ambitious and complex pop in the late 90s, they then made the "Radiohead leap" with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2002 where the experimentation, noise factor and angularity of ther material was critically hailed and saw the album appear in many... > Read more

Wilco: Sky Blue Sky