Music at Elsewhere

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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

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

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 alt.country 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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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)

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

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

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