Music at Elsewhere

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Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

18 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

If anyone has won the right to sings songs of life on hard scrabble farms it is Levon Helm, the former drummer/singer/mandolin player in the Band who grew up on a cotton farm near a town called Turkey Scratch in Arkansas. His group -- called for a time Levon and the Hawks -- backed Ronnie Hawkins, linked up with Bob Dylan and became simply The Band. Many consider Helm the authentic voice... > Read more

Levon Helm: The Mountain

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss; Raising Sand (Rounder) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

18 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

From what seems a most unlikely pairing -- the former Led Zepp frontman and the "new bluegrass" singer/fiddle player -- comes one of the best albums of the year: an often eerie folk-framed collection in which the duo engage the heart of songs by Townes Van Zandt (the other-world sound of Nothing), Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan (Trampled Rose), the Everly Brothers (Gone Gone Gone),... > Read more

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: PLease Read the Letter

Various: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Tipitina's/Shock)

17 Oct 2007  |  1 min read

In the days after Hurricane Katrina it was believed that this great New Orleans r'n'b singer had been washed away. Fortunately he had been rescued although his home, like much of that wonderful city, had suffered extreme damage. The interesting thing about the rumours of his death was the sudden recognition of his talent in the wider world: he had been one of the earliest influences on... > Read more

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux with Galactic: So Long

Various Artists: Sowing the Seeds (Appleseed/Elite)

16 Oct 2007  |  <1 min read

This moving and sometimes inspiring double-disc celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Appleseed label which is a home to various socio-political folkies such as Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and others. But for this, their first sampler, they have also invited in some guests such as Bruce Springsteen and Donovan -- and had Seeger record some excellent new material, notably the opener, a brief... > Read more

Tommy Sands, Pete Seeger, Vedran Smailovic: Music of Healing

Various: Wounded Heart of America; Tom Russell Songs (Hightone)

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Some weeks ago I was invited to give a talk about some of my favourite music to a group of people in someone's home. It was a very pleasant night and the first few things I played were either by the American singer-songwriter Tom Russell or his songs sung by others (notably Joe Ely covering the dramatic Gallo Del Cielo which I said I could envision as a film by John Huston). Russell is... > Read more

Tom Russell: Who's Gonna Build Your Wall?

Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: The Scene of the Crime (Anti) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

This is an unexpected pairing: soul-singer LaVette with alt-country rockers Drive-By Truckers recording in Muscle Shoals in Alabama. A marriage made in heaven (or a somewhat hotter place) as it turns out: the band are edgy or supportive and nudge LaVette (who needs little prompting it must be said) through a collection of gritty songs which either jump out of the speakers or drag you into... > Read more

Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: I Still Want to be Your Baby

Tunng: Good Arrows (Full Time Hobby)

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

This Anglofolk-cum-indie altpop outfit were a previous Elsewhere pick with their beguiling and sometimes baffling Comments of the Inner Chorus. At time they sound like the Incredible String Band without the fey folksiness, at others like the Beta Band (a good thing) or the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, or evoke hot Hawaiian beaches beside a dark English forest, or seduce you with a gorgeous melody... > Read more

Tunng: Bricks

Tim Gane and Sean O'Hagan: La Vie d'Artiste (Too Pure)

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

In the long and ever-changing list of "favourite bands" two names come up for me consistently, Stereolab and the criminally ignored High Llamas whose Sean O'Hagan was doing Brian Wilson better than Wilson was for over a decade. Soundtracks in the absence of seeing or knowing much about the movie can be difficult affairs, but with Stereolab's Gane and O'Hagan penning the music for... > Read more

Tim Gane and Sean O'Hagan: Yoko Johnson

Various: Bowiemania (Naive)

29 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Compiled by the French arranger/sound artist Beatrice Ardisson, this wayward collection of people covering Bowie songs is as enjoyable as it is uneven: but even the weaker moments hold considerable appeal. They are hardly household names here (Microsillion, Rhonda Harris, Los Chicros) but some are so engaging you might want to hear more from them (Medi and the Medicine Show's take on Rebel... > Read more

Yann Tierson and the Divine Comedy: Life on Mars

Patti Smith: Twelve

17 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Even in Smith's often unpredictable career this is unexpected: a covers album which includes Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule The World? Its very straight treatment is equally surprising. You'd expect her to tear through it with righteous indignation but no, she delivers it as the bouncy pop ballad it always was. But better is elsewhere: her drawling treatment of... > Read more

Linda Thompson; Versatile Heart (Decca) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

2 Sep 2007  |  1 min read

Few would make the mistake of coming to Anglo-folk legend Thompson for their jollies -- but even the well-prepared might gulp at the melacholy mood in which this is suffused. While the country twangin' foot-tapper Do Your Best For Rock'n Roll includes the promising line "take me to a bar" it ends with "and leave me there to die". That's pretty typical on an album where... > Read more

Linda Thompson: Beauty (with Antony)

Over The Rhine: The Trumpet Child (RedEye/Southbound)

2 Sep 2007  |  1 min read

When this Cincinnati-based duo came to New Zealand 18 months ago I did an interview with them and noted they were receiving media interest more befitting Really Big Stars: lining up for a chat were the Herald; Kim Hill; the Listener and student radio; and there was an intimate gig before well-placed radio and retail people. Not that they didn't deserve the attention, because over a series... > Read more

Over the Rhine: Nothing Is Innocent

Mist & Sea: Unless (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

1 Sep 2007  |  <1 min read

Because of the Pop Frenzy label's track record at Elsewhere -- pop delights posted by the much recommended Clientele, Radio Dept and Camera Obscura, and even recently the amusing David Vandevelde with his T.Rex manoeuvres -- anything on the label get an early audition. Hell, this is the label that has the bleakly amusing and very wonderful Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. This... > Read more

Mist & Sea: Like A Vampire

David Vandervelde: The Moonstation House Band (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

26 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Well, if Noel Gallagher is allowed to wake up and think he's John Lennon, and Mika can channel the pop-tart spirit of Freddie Mercury, then why shouldn't this 22-year old rocker from Chicago be T. Rex for our listening pleasure? To be fair this album does offer a little more than mere retro manoeuvres (but only a little more) -- however if you haven't heard T. Rex in a wee while this might... > Read more

David Vandervelde: Nothin Mo

Steve Earle: Washington Square Serenade (NewWest/Elite)

26 Aug 2007  |  1 min read

A decade after Bob Dylan washed up in Greenwich Village, Steve Earle left his home in Texas and started on the same journey -- inspired, he admits, by the cover photo on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan which showed the skinny Bob and his girlfriend Suze huddling on a wind-whipped street. Earle (see tag for interviews, album reviews) never made it past Nashville on that attempt but the thought of... > Read more

Steve Earle: Tennessee Blues

Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge (Mute) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

25 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

If you believed what you read in the British press about this album by former Longpigs and Pulp guitarist you'd probably cross the street to avoid it. Distance lends us a better view I suspect, because Hawley's swooning croon (which at various times brings to mind Morrissey, Scott Walker, Roy Orbison and others with rich, dark and melodic voices) is utterly entrancing, and this reflective... > Read more

Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge

Midge Marsden: Travel'n Time (Liberation)

25 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

The success of this Acoustic Series in Australia -- where the likes of Deisel sat down to play stripped back versions of their songs -- has been successfully adopted here with similarly conceived albums by Hello Sailor and Hammond Gamble, the latter reminding you just what a great singer, songwriter and guitarist he is. With any luck this album should do the profile-elevating for Marsden... > Read more

Midge Marsden: Little Ray

Holly Cole: Holly Cole (Alert)

18 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Cole is the dark mistress of jazz-noir which probably sounds best in an ill-lit nightclub as you are waiting for Bogie and Bacall to drop in. That kind of smoke-filled and evocative music. Alley Cat Song is a typical Cole title. With a terrific band (which includes Gil Goldstein on piano, Marty Ehrlich and Lenny Pickett on saxes, and bassist Greg Cohen) Cole drags the notes lazily, oozes... > Read more

Holly Cole: The House Is Haunted By The Echo of Your Last Goodbye

Pete Seeger: American Favourite Ballads Vol 5 (Folkways/Elite)

18 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Now closing in on 90, Seeger has had a great deal of attention lately: first Martin Scorsese's film on Dylan to '66 included interviews with him, and then Springsteen raided Pete's vast catalogue for his recent studio album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. He was also nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by an e-mail petition. Seeger's contribution to American popular culture has not just... > Read more

Pete Seeger: Sioux Indians

Martin Craft: Silver and Fire (Longtime Listener/Rhythmethod)

18 Aug 2007  |  <1 min read

Okay, let's just hear what the British press had to say about this, the debut album from an Australian singer-songwriter now living in London. "Simply captivating" --- The Sun "A refreshing breeze to ruffle all preconceptions" -- Time Out "Divine!" -- The Observer "Pop never had it so good" -- The Fly "Fantastic" -- Vice You... > Read more

Martin Craft: Snowbird