Music at Elsewhere

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Maria McKee: Late December (Cooking Vinyl)

15 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

The former singer for Lone Justice has long given up any sense of being a country-rock or alt.country singer, she is out there on her own and her many solo albums have been wayward affairs which seem to follow whatever mood she is in, which means from song to song she can find a new genre. So it is not surprising here to find her opening what what sounds like a streetwise Dionne Warwick... > Read more

Maria McKee: No Other Way To Love You

CoCo Rosie: The Adventures of Ghost Horse and Stillborn (Rhythmethod)

15 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

I'll admit this is my first encounter with the bewitching Cassidy sisters who are Coco Rosie, but I have fallen under their strange spell: soft hip-hop beats and simple samples; fairytale lyrics delivered somewhere between a more reigned in Bjork and more melodic Yoko Ono; childlike charm and yet some dense psychological drama alongside silliness . . . Quirky and unnerving in places, utterly... > Read more

Coco Rosie: Black Poppies

Tab Benoit: Power of the Pontchartrain (Elite)

14 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

Bluesman Benoit teams up again with Lousiana's LeRoux, the rockin' outfit he worked with on his swamp-lightnin' album Brother to the Blues of last year which was nominated for a Grammy. This is more of the same, but better: Benoit's guitar has a sharp and stinging quality, he digs into some Cajun-flavoured blues, and on the title track funks it up with LeRoux (who were Clarence 'Gatemouth'... > Read more

Tab Benoit: Sac-au-lait Fishing

The Traveling Wilburys: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Rhino/Warners)

11 Jun 2007  |  1 min read  |  1

Cannot lie about this: when the first Wilburys album came out in '88 I gave it a cursory listen and wrote it off as some geriatric project which was doubtless enjoyable for all concerned, but was actually just dull. The Dylan track I heard sounded like a parody or self-parody, Harrison was back into his troppo-strumming style, Petty who used to rock hard had obviously taken the valium, and... > Read more

Rufus Wainwright; Release the Stars (Geffen) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

9 Jun 2007  |  1 min read  |  2

As with Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, alt.country acts and Bjork, Rufus Wainwright is one of those artists who are only tangentially part of what we might call "rock culture". As with the above, his albums get reviewed in rock magazines and newspaper columns -- but he also exists outside of the parameters: he famously recreated Judy Garland's legendary Carnegie Hall shows recently... > Read more

Rufus Wainwright: Tiergarten

Nick Lowe; At My Age (Proper) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

9 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

To be honest, I consider Nick Lowe's '98 album Dig My Mood so outstanding that anything he does subsequently will pale in the comparison. By the time of that album, the former English pub-rocker in the post-punk era and friend of Elvis Costello had taken a considerable career turn and was now a gorgeous country-soul singer whose songwriting put him so far ahead in the field that others must... > Read more

Nick Lowe: I Trained her to Love Me

Eleni Mandell: Miracle of Five (Shock)

8 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

I have no doubt Mandell will be dismissed in some circles as an alt.country Norah Jones -- but that would be a little lazy. What this album (Mandell's sixth) shares with Jones is an overall low lights mood and the sometimes seductive delivery, but Mandell is more like a torch singer in a hip Nashville club. However it is uneven and adolescent songs like Girls ("do you still dream about... > Read more

Eleni Mandell: Perfect Stranger

Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior (Southbound)

8 Jun 2007  |  1 min read

At the time of Richard Thompson's excellent Rumour and Sigh album in '97 I decided I'd had enough of hearing how he was a cult figure whose albums never sold: so I did an interview with him (he had a reputation for being earnest but he was chatty on the phone and when I met him in London a few years later he was very chipper) and I ran the story on the cover of the Herald's entertainment... > Read more

Richard Thompson: Dad's Gonna Kill Me

Various: The Future is Unwritten/Joe Strummer (Sony)

8 Jun 2007  |  1 min read  |  1

True story. Earlier this year after a classical concert in Auckland's Aotea Centre I was introduced to a guy who, in the course of a free-ranging conversation, said he'd met Joe Strummer -- and Joe had written a song about him. Bullshitting is fun, but this guy was serious and quoted the following Strummer lyrics: "Well, I was walking down the High Road and this guy stops me. He'd... > Read more

Jimmy LaFave: Cimmaron Manifesto (Red House/Elite)

8 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

Austin-based singer-songwriter LaFave has perhaps covered too many Dylan songs in his long career (usually very well indeed it must be said) so it's amusing to find on this album he shifts his sights and does Donovan's Catch The Wind. But he also does Dylan's Not Dark Yet so he's still finding that influence hard to shake. LaFave has a voice which aches with passion and he can turn it to... > Read more

Wilco; Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

1 Jun 2007  |  2 min read  |  1

The career trajectory of Wilco, helmed by Jeff Tweedy, has been fascinating to follow, if not always easy for many. From alt.country through to ambitious and complex pop in the late 90s, they then made the "Radiohead leap" with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2002 where the experimentation, noise factor and angularity of ther material was critically hailed and saw the album appear in many... > Read more

Wilco: Sky Blue Sky

The Greencards: Viridian (Dualtone)

31 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Canny name for a band of two Australians and an Englishman who formed in Austin in 2003 to play high-energy fiddle-driven bluegrass and alt.country. The following year these imports were named Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards, they subsequently opened for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, and last year they were nominated in the best new artist category at the Americana Music... > Read more

The Greencards: All The Way From Italy

Various: Endless Highway, The Music of The Band (Shock)

30 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Tribute albums are, almost by definition, uneven. Some artists will be up to the challenge, others won't quite get inside the song. This one however has a higher score card than most, largely because of the calibre of those on hand -- and of course the quality of the songs. So here are appropriately enough are Guster and Gomez (both featured on Elsewhere previously), The Allman... > Read more

Rosanne Cash: The Unfaithful Servant

Findlay Brown; Separated by the Sea (PeaceFrog) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

30 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Earnest young men of the Anglo-folk persuasion aren't exactly thin on the ground these days, but Brown is worth your attention. His voice is gentle but has some depth and restrained power, and if his lyrics stray sometimes into that self-obsession/broken love/"darkness of the soul and mind" axis then that pretty much comes with this territory. What Brown has which sets him apart... > Read more

Findlay Brown: Come Home

The Cinematic Orchestra: Ma Fleur (Border)

30 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Although the great soul singer Fontella Bass appears (with great restraint) on a couple of tracks on this widescreen, evocative and yes, cinematic, album, the real attention in the vocal department alights on Patrick Watson from Montreal who possesses a Jeff Buckley-like grandeur, although he doesn't exercise it with the same strength and melodrama. Rather he sits back and allows for his... > Read more

Cinematic Orchestra: Familiar Ground

Joan Osborne: Pretty Little Stranger (Shock)

30 May 2007  |  1 min read

While going through some papers last week I came on the interview I had done with Joan Osborne in smalltown Vermont as she was riding the crest of her unexpected radio hit that went, "what if God is one of us, just a slob like one of us?" I felt sorry for 32-year old Osborne who knew soul and the blues, had studied Pakistani qawwali music, and had done songwriting sessions with the... > Read more

Joan Osborne: Pretty Little Stranger

Jeff Buckley: So Real (Legacy/Sony)

24 May 2007  |  1 min read

Given that when Buckley died over a decade ago he left only one complete album behind (the breathtaking Grace) and a couple of EPs, it seems to have been remarkably easy to keep the product coming. A couple of years ago there was the Grace Legacy Edition which came with bonus tracks, a doco DVD and videos. There have also been a few live collections, the double disc The Sketches for My... > Read more

Jeff Buckley: Last Goodbye

Detroit Cobras: Tied and True (Shock)

24 May 2007  |  <1 min read

This rough'n'raw outfit from the Motor City have perfected the art of lo-fi covers of Motown r'n'b and old rock'n'roll hits, and strip them right back to the elements which I suspect are in this order; a good time, leopard skin pants, high heels and getting people up dancing. In one sense there isn't anything to get too excited about -- they aren't like Dr Feelgood or the Stones in their... > Read more

Detroit Cobras: Try Love

Rolf Lislevand: Nuova Musiche (ECM New Series)

24 May 2007  |  1 min read

The clue here is the record label, this is on a long-running subsidiary imprint within the famous ECM jazz label which is specifically for classical music, although not "classical music" as you might understand it. The New Series' biggest hit was the pairing of jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek with the vocals of the Hilliard Ensemble. That album Officium crossed over between the... > Read more

Rolf Lislevand: Passacaglia andaluz I

Lucid 3: Dawn Planes (EMI)

22 May 2007  |  <1 min read

You will doubtless soon hear and read about this elsewhere, but this Elsewhere likes to alert you early to a good thing -- and this third album by the Auckland-based trio is definitely a good thing. Lucid 3 have steered an interesting course between indie-rock and mainstream acceptance: their 2002 debut Running Down the keys did well largely due to word of mouth and student radio play, and... > Read more

Lucid 3: Oh Sister