Music at Elsewhere

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Buffalo Tom: Three Easy Pieces (New West/Elite)

3 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

I well remember one night at dusk, somewhere in the American mid-west, driving a long and empty road as Buffalo Tom's melancholy classic Tail Lights Fade to Black came on the radio. I lifted my foot off the accelerator and enjoyed the perfect moment. And then two days later on a faster and more demanding road another of their more edgy songs -- I can't remember which -- blasted out and... > Read more

Buffalo Tom: Bottom of the Rain

Stateless: Stateless (IK7)

3 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Is it just me or is there a lot of Jeff Buckley around these days? And Bono, and Chris Martin from Coldplay? All those names -- singers of unique and distinctive passion -- come to mind at various times on this diverse debut album which is ultimately held together by the smart electronica which forms the substructure. This UK outfit make a poised but epic-in-intent kind of trip-hop which... > Read more

Durutti Column: Idiot Savants (Artful)

3 Aug 2007  |  1 min read

To be honest, I thought they wuz dead! It has probably not been since the early 90s that I last heard of, let alone heard, Durutti Column. I just assumed that mainman/guitarist Vini Reilly had packed his exotic tent and headed off into even greater obscurity. So I was initally baffled -- then delighted - when this new album arrived in the post (with no proper cover and no information... > Read more

Durutti Column: That Blows My Name Away; For Rachel

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Oxymoron (ECM New Series/Ode)

28 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

Contemporary classical music -- which often sounds like it comes from "elsewhere" -- sometimes gets a look in at these pages, especially if it is challenging. And this certainly is. These four works by Estonian composer Tuur include a short piece for a male choir and an ensemble of clarinet, bassoon, trombone, percussion, oboe and so on; Ardor for marimba and orchestra (here the... > Read more

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Ardor Part III (Concerto for marimba and orchestra, 2001)

SJD: Songs from a Dictaphone (Round Trip Mars/EMI)

28 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

My guess is critical consensus on this album will settle on the phrase, "not as good as the last one". But that last one, the sublime Southern Lights of 2004, set such a high threshold that SJD (Sean James Donnelly) was always going to have that comment aimed at him. That said, there is something to it: I Wrote This Song For You and Just Say No To The Disco Inferno here seem... > Read more

SJD: Lucifer

Harry Manx: Wise and Otherwise (Border)

27 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

Suddenly there's a fair bit of Manx around (see In Good We Trust) -- and that's a good thing Singer-guitarist Manx returned to his native Canada in 2000 after 25 years living in India, Japan and various parts of Europe. He plays lap steel and the Indian mohan veena, harmonica and banjo. And he has a lived-in voice. This re-issue of his 2001 album (with more elaborate and quite... > Read more

Harry Manx: Crazy Love

Nick Drake: Family Tree (Island/Universal)

17 Jul 2007  |  1 min read

There is a very good case to be made that Nick Drake (1948-74) was like a Robert Johnson of British folk, leaving behind a small but compelling body of songs, and few clues to the nature of his inner life. Described by many as a man of few words, and unknowable by others, Drake was only mildly ambitious (in a careerist sense) and his music wasn't in the pure folk tradition. Yet nor was it... > Read more

Nick Drake: Been Smoking Too Long

Various: Healing the Divide (Anti/Shock)

16 Jul 2007  |  1 min read

Now that Earth Aid or whatever it was called has retreated safely into the distance we might well ask: What the hell was that all about? "So, you, like, didn't get the point of Al's film thing because there was talking and charts and that -- but Madonna's set, like, just soooo turned you around on this global warming stuff?" Harrumph. A concert to "raise... > Read more

Tom Waits: God's Away On Business

Harry Manx and Kevin Breit: In Good We Trust (Stony Plain/Southbound)

14 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

These two guitarists are among the best in the wide country/alt.country/roots music arena. The evidence, should you doubt it, is all over this intimate and intelligent collection which opens with a Indo-blues reworking of Springsteen's I'm On Fire, touches moods in the JJ Cale/Mark Knopfler territory (Manx sounds like a croaky Knopfler in the vocals), and moves through memorable bluesy... > Read more

Harry Manx, Kevin Breit: Death Have Mercy

Malcolm Middleton: A Brighter Beat (POD/Rhythmethod)

14 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

If there was a band name attached to this rather than Middleton's you'd be talking a Scottish supergroup. The line-up of players includes members of Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian, Reindeer Section and Delgadoes -- and Middleton was in the duo Arab Strap, a band which (like most of those mentioned) never quite gained a decent foothold in New Zealand. This is Middleton's third solo album and... > Read more

Malcolm Middleton: Up Late At Night Again

Lindon Puffin: Show Pony (Puffin Music/Elite)

14 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

South Island singer-songwriter Puffin came to national attention with an amusing doco which followed him on an extensive, smalltown tour. The success of that film somewhat delayed this follow-up to his 2003 debut Stuff Like That (which went largely unnoticed it must be said). Puffin has a strong sense of songcraft and there are songs here (Beyond the Breakers, Even Keel, Human Enough)... > Read more

Lindon Puffin: Subtle Changes

Irving: Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers (Rhythmethod)

14 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

Because my record collection has such wayward but much loved albums by bands as diverse as the Unforgiven (spaghetti western rock), the Shoes (power pop), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (early electro), and Bob Seger (blue-collar rock), you may be well advised to take what I say about this album by a mainstream US rock band with some caution. There is nothing in what Irving do that is... > Read more

Irving: the look of flowers that are looked at

Bonde Do Role; With Lasers (Domino) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

7 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

The little I knew of Bonde do Role on the release of this was this much: they were from southern Brasil. Oh, and this -- they are mountains of eclectic fun. They sounded as if they had thrown some rock guitars, funky beats and hip-hop into a blender and pushed the button which says "random chop". They mashed it all up with some obviously local flavours, had a track called James... > Read more

Bonde do Role: Bondallica

The Clientele; God Save the Clientele (Popfrenzy) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

7 Jul 2007  |  <1 min read

Whispery pop of the old style (verse, chorus, verse, chorus etc) always gets a good hearing at Elsewhere. There is something magical and dreamy about the best of it -- and this is one of the best. And both magical and dreamy. This London-based band have now added violin and string arrrangements to their breathy songs, and recorded this sweet and soft collection in Nashville with producer... > Read more

The Clientele: Winter on Victoria Street

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

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

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

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