Music at Elsewhere

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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

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

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

Greg Laswell: Through Toledo (Vanguard/Shock)

9 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

The world is so cluttered with singer-songwriters that excellent albums like Josh Rouse's recent Subtitulo can go right past people. (That's a hint) I expect this pop-rock outing by San Diego-based Laswell -- who plays just about every instrument here -- could suffer a similarly undeserved fate. But there's a lot to like on these melodically meaty songs, some of which swirl and soar on an... > Read more

Peter Haeder: Emerald/Singularity (Attar/Ode)

2 Jul 2006  |  <1 min read

Guitarist Haeder -- who sometimes records as phaeder -- has certainly spread his talents widely: he's played avant-garde improvised music; made music for film and television; done an album of almost life-threateningly fast techno (Lotus Beat of 2003); and, as a longtime Buddhist, has recorded haunting deevotional chants. On Emerald however he pulls up a rack of mostly acoustic guitars and... > Read more

Peter Haeder: Shakyamuni Meditation (from the album Singularity)

Loka: Fire Shepherds (Ninja Tune/Flavour)

25 Jun 2006  |  <1 min read

This duo out of Liverpool spring a real surprise on their debut album: it is cinematic-sounding electronica but much of it -- after the gritty sci-fi sonics of the opening two tracks -- is clearly influenced by the expansive mid 60s jazz sounds of John Coltrane (long and loping rhythms) and the early 70s urgency of Miles Davis when he hooked up with the sound of the street and plugged in with... > Read more

James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

25 Jun 2006  |  <1 min read

This unashamedly enjoyable album is crammed full of songs where Hunter's velvet soulful r'n'b vocals are placed alongside a superbly tight little band of upright bass, saxophones and locked-in drums. It is only when a sometimes skittering sax or Hunter's angular guitar parts come in you realise this isn't some 60s reissue or lost Sam Cooke album, but utterly contemporary r'n'b pop. And... > Read more

James Hunter: I'll Walk Away

Alejandro Escovedo: The Boxing Mirror (Back Porch/EMI)

25 Jun 2006  |  1 min read

When you see that John Cale, formerly of The Velvet Underground, has produced an album you tend to take notice: he helmed the stunning debuts by Patti Smith, The Stooges and Modern Lovers, and down the decades has worked with Nico, Jennifer Warnes and Jesus Lizard. With singer-guitarist Escovedo he has a like-minded, dark-hearted spirit who brings the added dimension of his Mexican-American... > Read more

Alejandro Escovedo: Arizona

Fink: Biscuits for Breakfast (Ninjatune/Flavour)

15 Jun 2006  |  <1 min read

Pitched somewhere between the sound of Greg Johnson on downers and the acoustic charm of Jose Gonzalez (the guy who does the bouncing balls/Sony Bravia ad on television), the ill-named Fink delivers up quietly engrossing stories of love and loss, lousy jobs and emotional failure. That may sound bleak but over the course of this sensitive and sometimes wryly amusing album the Brighton-based... > Read more

Paul Simon: Surprise (Warners)

25 May 2006  |  1 min read

From the Sounds of Silence through American Tune and beyond, 64-year-old Paul Simon has articulated the fears and hopes of his generation. Unlike Young on his leaden Living with War, for this new album - in a gagging, sentimental cover - Simon takes musical risks and extends himself. Brian Eno provides the sonic landscapes - loops, electronics, weird bass - and it is mixed by Tchad... > Read more

Neil Young: Living with War (Warners)

25 May 2006  |  <1 min read  |  1

With an embarrassing breathlessness, American rock writers greeted Living With War by 61-year-old Neil Young as if it was to be a turning point in the anti-Bush/anti-war campaign. All noted Young had knocked it off quickly in a fit of anger, but you have to wonder what took him so long to get round to considering the state of his (adopted) nation. Some have hailed it - linking it with... > Read more

Whirimako Black: Soul Sessions (Mai)

7 May 2006  |  <1 min read

Black's two previous te reo album - Tangihanu (2004) and Te Kura Huna (2005) - were compellingly beautiful and weaved between soul balladry and slightly esoteric jazz, but never lost sight of the spirituality which drove them.   Black's voice is a thing of great sensitivity, and those albums should have made her a household name. Surprisingly they received few mainstream reviews... > Read more

Hammond Gamble: Recollection (Liberation)

16 Apr 2006  |  <1 min read

Gamble is one of this country's most distinctive voices, but too often in the past decade it has mostly only been heard on ads. A couple of decades back, however, when he fronted Street Talk, Gamble was a household name and his songs rocked pubs and even radios across the nation.  The band flirted with greater fame - most notably when notorious LA producer Kim Fowley improbably tried... > Read more

Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit (Shock)

24 Jan 2006  |  <1 min read

This long-running Scottish outfit has had brief flirtations with wider acclaim -- a Mercury Prize nomination in 2004, a year ago voted the Best Scottish Band Ever by their countrymen -- but has never enjoyed more than a devoted cult following. That’s a pity because their albums offer a bewildering, but beautifully realised, array of styles from Burt Bacharach sophistication to dark... > Read more

Belle and Sebastian: Sukie in the Graveyard

Richmond Fontaine: The Fitzgerald (Southbound)

22 Aug 2005  |  <1 min read

Richmond Fontaine come with big advance notices: the indie Americana band from Portland broke big with their rowdy Post to Wire album two years ago, which drew favourable comparisons with the Replacements, but for their follow-up, The Fitzgerald, they have turned the volume way down. Written by guitarist Willy Vlautin while living at the Fitzgerald Casino in Reno, it is a collection... > Read more

Richmond Fontaine: Exit 194B

Dolly Parton: Live and Well (Sugar Hill)

18 Jul 2005  |  1 min read

The dinner was going well until someone said they didn't like country music, and someone said they didn't mind it. Then we tried to define our terms. Was Shania Twain country? Nope, she's a property investor said Dave. Emmylou Harris was still country, Joe Ely and Tom Russell were sort of although we liked them because they were also Tex-Mex rockers. Then things got difficult.... > Read more

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Deluxe Edition (Universal CD/DVD)

2 Nov 2004  |  1 min read

Elton is like a kindly old uncle these days, giving big ups to Ryan Adams, throwing post-Oscar parties, behaving himself, turning up on Disney soundtracks, or rewriting one of his prettiest tunes for the funeral of a slightly wacky royal. And he got married (again, to a man this time though).  It's hard to remember that he was, before he went pear-shaped and crazy during the... > Read more

Elton John: Bennie and the Jets