Music at Elsewhere

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The Watson Twins: Southern Manners (Shock)

7 Sep 2006  |  <1 min read

Earlier this year twins Chandra and Leigh Watson appeared with Jenny Lewis on the damn fine album Rabbit Fur Coat which was sort of, if there is such a thing. Their voices were more than just counterpoint or harmony to Lewis, as this album proves. Imagine the Everly Sisters singing and pedal steel-coloured indie pop, and you are getting close. But there is... > Read more

The Watson Twins: Shoot the Lights Out

Espers: Espers II (EMI)

3 Sep 2006  |  <1 min read

This alt.folk-cum-ambient rock outfit from Philadelphia look like they have stepped out of 1969: they are all hair, beards and hippieness -- and I swear one of the women is wearing a poncho. I suspect they smell of patchouli. So it's no surprise they have performed with the Incredible String Band (whom I thought split in about '72) and backed neo-folk star Devendra Banhart on his most... > Read more

Espers: Mansfield and Cyclops

Jhelisa: A Primitive Guide to Being There (Border)

3 Sep 2006  |  1 min read

The great thing about Music From Elsewhere for me is that I get surprised by what turns up: like this album from a woman who has pulled together threads of soul, gospel, jazz and r'n'b to create an album which is a tapestry of emotions, funkiness and finger-popping grooves. To give an idea of the breadth of her abilities and musical interests here is a partial list of who she has sung with:... > Read more

Jhelisa: Freedom's Land

Greg Brown: The Evening Call (Red House/Elite)

3 Sep 2006  |  <1 min read

Iowa-born singer-songwriter Brown is one of those singer-songwriters that other artists line up to pay tribute to: in fact Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco, Gillian Welch and others appeared on a tribute to him a few years back. He's a poet (he recorded an album of William Blake poems) and is very much in the boho-Beat Generation lineage whose lyrics have the economy of American Zen poet Gary... > Read more

Greg Brown: Cold and Dark and Wet

Various: Rogue's Gallery (Anti/Shock)

27 Aug 2006  |  1 min read  |  1

Believe it or not, when I was a kid my dad -- who had spent time at sea and was never happier than when on a ship -- not only played my Beatles and his Louis Armstrong albums with equal enjoyment, but would often bang on a Burl Ives album of sea shanties. My younger sister and I grew up to the sound of him singing, "My father was the keeper of the Edison Light, he slept with a mermaid... > Read more

Loudon Wainwright III: Good Ship Venus

Hacienda Brothers; What's Wrong With Right? BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

27 Aug 2006  |  <1 min read  |  1

The self-titled 2005 debut by these old hands -- singer-songwriter Dave Gonzalez from the rockabilly outfit the Paladins, and guitarist/accordionist Chris Gaffney from Dave Alvin's band -- sounded somewhere between Waylon's wobbly warble and Willie's languorous delivery, and their album came with impeccable credentials: it was produced by Dan Penn and had his longtime pal Spooner Oldham as a... > Read more

Hacienda Brothers: It Tears Me Up

Bob Dylan; Modern Times (Sony/BMG) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

27 Aug 2006  |  <1 min read

Bob Dylan's 31st studio album in the 44 years since his self-titled folkie debut -- confirms his status as one of the great songwriters whose powers are undergoing a late-career reinvigoration. Lyrically this is a dense album -- a beautiful song like When the Deal Goes Down edges its way between the spiritual and the secular -- yet Dylan has seldom sounded so relaxed as he is on the easy... > Read more

Beyond the Horizon

Guy Clark: Workbench Songs (Dualtone)

19 Aug 2006  |  <1 min read

Clark has been one of the pillars of West Texas/Mex-influenced singer-songwriters, and of his dozen or so albums at least half would be in any serious country and collection. For this album he sometimes sounds much older than his 65 years, sometimes considerably younger. That's a measure of how he puts himself into his carefully hewn lyrics (all here co-written with various... > Read more

Guy Clark: Magdalene

Thomas Dybdahl: "that great October sound" (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

19 Aug 2006  |  <1 min read

Some voices -- like those of Jeff Buckley, Antony (of the Johnsons) and Aretha Franklin -- just draw you to them. In the alt.folk scene the late Elliott Smith had such a gift. You felt he was speaking to only you as he revealed intimate secrets. This Norwegian singer-songwriter is like that -- and international critics have been quick to make the Smith/Buckley comparison. Nick... > Read more

Thomas Dybdahl: All's Not Lost

Miriam Clancy; Lucky One (Rhythmethod) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

19 Aug 2006  |  <1 min read

I was sent an early copy of this album and invited to write the bio for Clancy -- an Auckland-based singer-songwriter I had not met or seen live. I had no hesitation: this 11 song debut of originals was so full of lyrical maturity, sophisticated song writing, heartfelt songs and raw emotions (I'm now quoting from the bio, obviously) that I happily agreed to go in to bat for her. The album... > Read more

Miriam Clancy: Lucky One

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: I Stand Alone (EMI)

28 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

To be honest, I thought he'd died years ago. Most people who influenced Bob Dylan back in New York in the early 60s -- like Woody Guthrie who mentored Elliott -- are long gone. But not Jack, it seems. For one of Dylan's first gigs he was billed as "the son of Jack Elliott" (who was born Elliot Adnopoz 75 years ago) because Ramblin' Jack's narrative, folk style had so influenced... > Read more

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: Rake & Ramblin' Boy

The Sleepy Jackson: Personality (EMI)

28 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

I was surprised that this ambitious neo-psychedelic pop album -- which has been winning huge praise in the UK -- wasn't heftily reviewed here, especially since the visionary behind it (who has drawn comparisons with Brian Wilson) is a former Kiwi now based in Perth, Luke Steele. So let's bring this one to your attention: a lushly produced, sonic kaleidoscope which is Beatlesque in parts... > Read more

The Sleepy Jackson: Devil Was In My Yard

Bobbie Gentry: The Delta Sweete/Local Gentry (Raven/EMI)

28 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

Gentry is the US country singer best -- and probably only known by many -- for her 1967 hit Ode to Billie Joe, that song about Billie Joe McAllister tossing something off the Tallahatchie Bridge. In terms of a mainstream career that was about it for Gentry who, after a few albums, married casino owner Bill Harrah in late 69 (she was 25, he was 58) and, although they divorced soon after, she... > Read more

Bobbie Gentry: Mornin' Glory

Jason Collett; Idols of Exile (Rhythmethod) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

28 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

This Canadian singer-songwriter makes a big impression on this very likeable and diverse debut album: at times he sounds like a less irritating David Grey, elsewhere he reveals some beautiful pop sensibilities, sometimes there is a touch of blues from the guest guitarist, and damn if the guy doesn't sound like he's been a Verlaines fan at one point. Lots to like in other words, and also an... > Read more

Jason Collett: We All Lose One Another

Camera Obscura; Let's Get Out of This Country (Popfrenzy/Rhythmethod) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

23 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

Gentle, shimmering pop where the guitars swell up and envelope you like sunshine and you can't help but nod along or tap your feet. Music that has you making a fool off yourself in the car as you sing along loudly and bang the steering wheel when the big chorus kicks in. I've just described the effect of this glistening album by a Scottish band which had a huge fan in John Peel (they played... > Read more

Camera Obscura: Come Back Margaret

Tunng: Comments of the Inner Chorus (EMI)

23 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

What to make of this large and flexible UK group which sometimes sounds like the charming Penguin Cafe Orchestra, sometimes suggests the wonderfully groove-orientated Beta Band (sadly no more), sometimes comes off like introspective Anglo-folk from the late 60s, and at other times drops in loops and samples? Stylistically it's called folktronica because alongside the guitars, banjo, melodica... > Read more

Tunng: Red and Green

The Haints of Dean Hall: The Haints of Dean Hall (Arch Hill)

23 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

This off-kilter and eerily dreamy slice of Americana from a conjured up "South" comes from an unexpected source: the Haints of Dean Hall are in fact Stephen Reay and singer/photographer Kathryn McCool, the former from the rowdy Flying Nun band the Subliminals and the latter who now lives near Melbourne. A haint is an imagined ghost in Americas Southern states, and the brief... > Read more

The Haints of Dean Hall: Wait 'til Your Father gets Home

The Wood Brothers: Ways Not To Lose (Blue Note/EMI)

16 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

The trio Medeski, Martin & Wood have been one of the most innovative and consistently interesting jazz (and beyond) bands of the past decade or so. But here upright bassist/singer from the band Chris Wood teams up with his singing/guitar playing brother Oliver (a dab hand on slide among other things) for an album of lowkey acoustic charm which slips easily between a modern take on rural... > Read more

The Wood Brothers: Luckiest Man

Greg Graffin: Cold As The Clay (Anti/Shock)

16 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

Okay, I'll admit it, I've never heard a note by Bad Religion, the band Graffin usually fronts (and which is regularly described as "punk" and had an album entitled Recipe For Hate). But this stripped back album -- and the fact I've learned that Graffin holds a degree in geology, a PhD in zoology, and taught evolutionary history at Cornell University -- makes me much more... > Read more

Greg Graffin: Cold As The Clay

Onelung: Binary Pop Songs (Monkey/Global Routes)

9 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

Behind the unappealing nom de disque is Auckland electronica musician Kevin Tutt whose previous album Nu Scientist was a real, if overlooked, gem. Once again located somewhere between the harder end of Brian Eno ambient-pop and slightly funky electronica -- with real instruments like cello and bass, and various vocalists alongside samples and electronics -- this is music with heart, soul and... > Read more

Onelung: Cinema 90