Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

James Yorkston: The Year of the Leopard (Domino)

13 May 2007  |  <1 min read

You probably won't hear a quieter, more surreptitiously beguiling album this year than The Year of the Leopard, an exceedingly understated collection by this Scottish alt.folk singer/songwriter who moves in the same circles as Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch and the like. Nick Drake and the Incredible String Band are also reference points. And I can tell you nothing more than that, not that you... > Read more

James Yorkston: 5am

Rand and Holland: Caravans (Spunk)

11 May 2007  |  <1 min read

And the sum total of my information is that these guys are from Sydney -- oh, and that neither of the duo at the core of this small acoustic-based band are called Rand or Holland. R&H apparently grew out of home recordings by singer-bassist Brett Thompson who initially teamed up with guitarist Stuart Olsen, and now have invited other like-minded players into the fold. This is pop... > Read more

Rand and Holland: Oh My Love

Koko Taylor: Old School (Southbound)

11 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Some years back this fog-horn voiced blues singer released an album under the title Force of Nature: and that's what she is. Now 71, Taylor can still drive in nails across the room with her gutsy blasts, and she has never shied away from having a beefy rockin' guitar-driven band behind her because she knows if they get too loud she can just bellow right across the top of them. She is... > Read more

Koko Taylor: Better Watch Your Step

Guster: Ganging Up On The Sun (Ryko/Elite)

10 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Gentle pop with overtones of Crowded House, Brian Wilson, alt.folk and Paul McCartney? Is there still a place for it? On this their fifth album, which came out last year Stateside and gets belated release here now, this American quartet have honed their songcraft down to those key elements of acoustic-based pop: effortless chord changes, a foot-tapping beat, memorable melodies, harmony... > Read more

Guster: Empire State

Jesse Malin: Glitter in the Gutter (Shock)

9 May 2007  |  <1 min read

With Malin sometimes sounding like a young Mick Jagger, mostly like a slurry and coked up Tom Petty (before he went soft-rock), and with the urgency of Springsteen's Born to Run period mixed with the Stones' It's Only Rock'n'Roll, this album fairly leaps out at you as Malin hauls in supporters such as Ryan Adams, Jakob Dylan, the Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme and the Boss himself.... > Read more

Jesse Malin: Love Streams

Warren Zevon: Preludes (Elite)

8 May 2007  |  1 min read

Among the very few autographs of stars that I have is one sent to me, unsolicited, by Warren Zevon after I'd interviewed him. On it he wrote: "To Graham. Good luck!" Given Zevon was something of a dark and mischievious character I wondered if that "good luck" suggested he might know of something disconcerting lurking in my future. When he died of lung cancer in... > Read more

Warren Zevon: Don't Let Us Get Sick

Warren Love Band: Warren Love Band (Elite)

5 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Former busker Love leaped straight into the foreground of New Zealand music on the strength of this impressive album released a year ago: it is drawn to your attention now because the singer-songwriter is one of the three finalists for a Tui award in the country music awards to be held in June*. If there's any justice . . . Love's voice is languid, measured and gets deep inside the... > Read more

Warren Love Band: Autographed Picture of Jesus

John Prine and Mac Wiseman: Standard Songs for Average People (Oh Boy)

5 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Elsewhere has never pretended to be fashionable, and this one certainly ain't. Two salty old pals just a-sittin' and a-playin' a bunch of tunes from their back pages: Bob Wills' Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age; Charlie Feathers' I Forgot To Remember To Forget; Saginaw Michigan; Old Cape Cod; The Blue Side of Lonesome; Old Rugged Cross . . . It doesn't come much more unfashionable -- or... > Read more

John Prine and Mac Wiseman: Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine

DateMonthYear: 7 Ghosts (DMY Records)

5 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Many are sent and few are chosen, and despite this album coming out in 2005 it has been chosen here because . . .? Well, there is something relentless, driving, ambitiously epic and genuinely atmospheric about this eight-track album by this flexible line-up from Hamilton, New Zealand. It doesn't surprise me that they performed three of their songs with the Waikato Symphony Orchestra... > Read more

DateMonthYear: Ghost3

Explosions in the Sky; All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (EMI) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

3 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Billy Bob Thornton has made some pretty bad movies, but among his best is Friday Night Lights in which he played a football coach at a small town in Texas. It is a wonderful movie full of small telling detail about dreams, promise denied and the expectation a small town places on its college football team. Thornton is a man under pressure as much as his players. The film also boasts... > Read more

Explosions in the Sky: catastrophe and the cure

Ayo: Joyful (Polydor)

3 May 2007  |  <1 min read

The background to this itinerant singer-songwriter would make a good if slightly grim novel: she was born in Germany to a Nigerian father and a Romany mother; grew up in a gypsy community; spent time in Nigeria as a child; came back to Europe and mother became a junkie; ended up in London at 21; moved between New York and Paris; started singing in clubs around Les Halles; had a child . . .... > Read more

Ayo: Down on my Knees

Cowboy Junkies; At the End of Paths Taken (Zoe) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

2 May 2007  |  1 min read

When the Cowboy Junkies' breakthrough album The Trinity Sessions arrived in '87 music was getting noisy and Guns'N Roses stomped the planet. But the Junkies' famously cheap album -- recorded in a church for a couple of hundred dollars apparently -- captured the imagination, especially their version of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane. The mood of the album was all of a piece: subdued, intimate and... > Read more

Cowboy Junkies: Cutting Board Blues

Clinic: Visitations (Domino/EMI)

29 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

Rock albums come and go around my place -- but this one, like the new Arcade Fire and the Kings of Leon album -- has just clung on: it is dense, the singer sounds like he is seething with barely repressed anger, the guitar are gravelly, there is something of The Fall and Pere Ubu about them, and the multi-layered songs are often underpinned with restless and driving rhythms. And I knew nothing... > Read more

Clinic: Animal/Human

Sayulee: April Fool (Pure)

29 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

Elsewhere has a habit of getting in quickly when it comes to new music, but I'm sure some subscribers have caught this Japanese-born,Kiwi-bred singer-songwriter in her low-key live appearances in small clubs and bars. This six-track debut EP is more like a calling card than a fully-fledged album, but it exudes effortless talent and great potential. She has already impressed any number... > Read more

Sayulee: Love Me Like This

Various: If You Ain't Got The Do-Re-Mi (Smithsonian)

29 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

Subtitled "Songs of Rags and Riches" this 27-track collection pulls together the likes of bluesmen Lead Belly and Josh White, folk singers such as Pete Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers, and others on songs (mostly) born in the Depression. So here are classic songs such as Brother Can You Spare A Dime? and Nobody Knows You When You Are Down And Out. Okay, not the most... > Read more

Woody Guthrie: Pretty Boy Floyd

Soulsavers: It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land (V2) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

21 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

Suffused in religion, redemption, Christian imagery and dark melancholy (aside from the uplifting opener Revival which deliberately recalls Knocking On Heaven's Door), this is an exceptional album -- and one which seems a very long way from what we might loosely call "rock culture". With guest vocalist Mark Lanegan's solemn baritone everywhere (and Will Oldham on one track, Jimi... > Read more

Soulsavers: Revival

Ellis Island Sound: The Good Seed (Peacefrog)

21 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

At last! I received a preview copy of this wonderful instrumental album almost six months ago and have been waiting ever since to post it. And in that time I kept changing my mind about which track to post: in the end I have just stabbed my finger at the list and gone with that one. "S'all good", as the hip-hop kids say. This UK duo -- Pete Astor and Davis Sheppard -- are... > Read more

Ellis Island Sound: Count the Cars

Dave's True Story: Simple Twist of Fate (BePop Records)

21 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

A couple of weeks ago I posted the excellent Drive All Night, the debut solo album by Kelly Flint (see tag) and noted that while she was now in that vague camp she'd apparently been in a hip-jazz outfit from New York called Dave's True Story. I said I had never heard of them: now I have. They sent me three of their albums and yes, they are slippery, jazzy, finger-poppin'... > Read more

Dave's True Story: You're A Big Girl Now

Co-Pilgrim: Pucker Up Buttercup (Rhythmethod)

21 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

A few years ago there was a hopeful movement started in the UK: it came with the slogan "Quiet is the New Loud". Movements which get a slogan before a following are usually shortlived, and so it was with that one -- although to be fair a lot of pretty and quiet albums arrived subsequently, but most from bands we never heard of again. Singer-songwriter Mike Gale (who is... > Read more

Co-Pilgrim: Her Soft Voice

Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend 1951-64 (Abkco)

21 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

It seems a shame that this great soul singer -- who was shot in strange and sad circumstances in late '64 -- should be relegated to classic hits radio and soundtracks on the basis of a few of his hits: You Send Me, What A Wonderful World, Bring It On Home To Me, Another Saturday Night . . . Cooke's wonderful gospel-into-pop sound of 1959-65 was covered on the excellent double disc box set... > Read more

Sam Cooke: Just For You