Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Uncle Earl: Waterloo, Tennessee (Elite)

28 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

This all-women quartet open this diverse, rootsy and often surprising 16-track collection with a kick-arse bluegrass track which is a real attention grabber. And there are others like it scattered throughout. But there are also Cajun ballads, a barn dance instrumental (with someone's boots clickin' on the floor), some a cappella work, touches of the blues and much more including a nice... > Read more

Uncle Earl: Easy In The Early ('Til Sundown)

The Frames, The Cost (EMI)

28 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

As regular readers of this column will know (I've always wanted to say that!), the lead singer of this Irish band Glen Hansard appeared in Elsewhere last year with a low-key but compelling album The Swell Season (with Czech singer/pianist Marketa Irglova). But, to this one: Hansard excels in heart-aching angst and dramatic vocal swoops, and the band (which can come on like mid-period... > Read more

The Frames: The Cost

Ry Cooder: My Name is Buddy (Warners)

28 Mar 2007  |  1 min read

Albums under Ry Cooder's name once only sold in the hundreds. But these days -- through high profile soundtracks such as Paris, Texas, The Long Riders and Trespass, internationally acclaimed work with the Buena Vista Social Club, and superb albums with the likes of fellow guitarist Manuel Galban (Mambo Sinuendo) and the late Ali Farka Toure from Mali (Talking Timbuktu) -- Cooder has become... > Read more

Ry Cooder: Sundown Town

Duke Special: Songs From The Deep Forest (Shock)

25 Mar 2007  |  1 min read

Elsewhere works in mysterious ways, it's wonders to perform. About 10 days ago I got an e-mail from guy in Belfast, Jonny McEwen. He'd seen Elsewhere and suggested I check out an Irish musician called Duke Special, and he provided me with a web-link and a review someone had written. I was curious but figured that while Duke Special (aka Peter Wilson) might be worth checking out the... > Read more

Duke Special: Wake Up, Scarlett

Eddie Reader: Peacetime (Shock)

25 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

The former voice of Scotland's pop hitmakers Fairground Attraction has been a very credible solo act for many years now, but it's a fair bet not too many signed on for her album of songs by the great people's poet Rabbie Burns, wonderful though it was. This collection of traditional songs rearranged, some adaptations of Burns' poems, and some originals (from the likes of cult-figure Boo... > Read more

Eddie Reader: Muddy Water

SubAudible Hum: In Time For Spring, On Came The Snow (Inertia)

18 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

The Melbourne-based outfit open this, their second album, with a pulsating electronic track which is increasingly dense and chant-like, and sounds like U2's guitarman the Edge has also been roped in while struggling with a hangover. However it is an atypical track from a band that has previously owed more than a little to Radiohead's most out-there efforts. Thereafter they kick in with... > Read more

SubAudible Hum: All For The Caspian

Tony Joe White: Uncovered (Swamp)

18 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

The man who single-handedly created swamp music, Tony Joe White, records and writes new material seldom these days and his last offering -- The Heroines with guests Shelby Lynne, Lucinda Williams, Michelle White, Emmylou Harris and Jesse Colter -- suggested the pace was slackening even further. A glance at this new album might confirm that: he goes back to his '73 album Homemade Ice Cream... > Read more

Tony Joe White (with Eric Clapton): Did Somebody Make a Fool Out Of You

Mika: Life In Cartoon Motion (Universal)

12 Mar 2007  |  1 min read

The question which seems to be taxing radio DJs about this Mika -- from the UK, not the Kiwi of the same name -- is whether or not he's gay. The correct answer is, "Who cares?" because this album is just such outrageously good fun -- camp, danceable, singalong, smile-inducing and so on -- that you will be far too busy enjoying it to worry about such trivial matters. Born in... > Read more

Mika: Love Today

Po' Girl: Home To You (Shock)

11 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

The previously posted Po' Girl album Vagabond Lullabies was actually a few years old and only given belated release in this country. But it was too good to ignore, and allowed me to set you up for this new one by the one-time trio (now-quartet on the cover photo, but a quintet in the credits!) of rootsy singers from Canada which includes Trish Klein, founding member of the Be Good Tanyas who... > Read more

Po' Girl: Skies of Grey

Karen Hunter: Rubble (Monkey)

11 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

The guy who wrote the liner notes for this long overdue album by Auckland singer-songwriter Hunter -- it was me actually -- says he can well remember the first time he saw her perform: it was over 15 years ago and she stood so far outside the self-proscribed parameters that most musicians put on themselves you couldn't help but be stunned. Hunter rocked from powerchords to soft acoustic... > Read more

Karen Hunter: Drunk & Disorderly

John Mellencamp: Freedom's Road (Universal)

11 Mar 2007  |  1 min read

If this guy hadn't been such a dickhead when he was John Cougar in the early 80s, or so arrogant when he became John Cougar Mellencamp we'd probably be falling all over him now as one of the authentic voices of Americana/alt.country rock. He reinvented himself as a man with a conscience and in touch with the spirit of small towns in the Mid-West, the disenfranchised and the working class.... > Read more

John Mellencamp: Rural Route

Flip Grater: Cage For A Song (Maiden/Elite)

11 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

Christchurch singer-songwriter Flip Grater gives you a lot to think about on this impressive if slightly wayward debut album released late last year. Grater flips, we might say, from aggro industrial-sounding rock to fragile folk-framed songs. And has some songs which sit at exactly the mid-point of those extreme ends of a very long spectrum. She also uses a minimalist approach to her... > Read more

Flip Grater: Where's the Door

Patty Griffin: Children Running Through (Shock)

4 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

Exceptional. Griffin defies convenient categories: she can convincingly deliver an ethereal ballad, persuasive soul-funk like a Boho Beat, intense country with Emmylou Harris, abrasive and sneering rock which is as vengeful and as score-settling about a former lover as Dylan's Positively 4th Street . . . And those are just the first four songs on this five-star collection which puts most... > Read more

Patty Griffin: You'll Remember

The Last Town Chorus: Wire Waltz (Shock)

3 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

Why don't I step back here and let others tell you about the beguiling voice of Megan Hickey who is front and centre of this alt.country outfit, and whose lap steel playing is stellar? Here is a selection of quotes: "She sings like an angel and plays lap steel like the Devil" -- Village Voice "Hickey spellbinds listeners with her Gillian Welch-meets-Hope Sandoval... > Read more

Yoko Ono: Yes, I'm a Witch (Astral Weeks) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

3 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

Billed as simply "Ono" this is Yoko's vocals from various albums extracted and new backings added by a cast of luminaries which includes Peaches, Le Tigre, Porcupine Tree, DJ Spooky, Cat Power, Polyphonic Spree, the Flaming Lips and many more. Yoko's singing -- her screaming and childlike ballads -- was always controversial but to be honest I liked what she did, especially the... > Read more

Yoko Ono/The Flaming Lips: Cambridge 1969/2007

The Bees: Octopus (Virgin/EMI)

3 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

Any number of bands have been influenced by Lennon and McCartney, and a few by George Harrison. But the opener on this quietly terrific album suggests that the Bees have gone the path less travelled, and taken Ringo's jovial country covers as their reference point. That track, the rollicking and likeable Who Cares What The Question Is? leads into a more interesting country-flavoured track... > Read more

The Bees: Left Foot Stepdown

8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk (Receptor/EMI)

23 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

Okay, this is for those who remember playing Frogger and being thrilled by the new technology. This collection is of people using vintage video game systems to play the music of electro-pioneers Kraftwerk, which does make some kind of bent sense. It is kinda lo-fi fun, especially if you know Kraftwerk's extensive catalogue. Although Autobahn isn't here there are a lot of other... > Read more

gwEm and Counter Reset: The Man-Machine

Rickie Lee Jones: Sermon on Exposition Boulevard (NewWest/Elite)

23 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

Not gonna lie to you: this is not the easiest album RLJ has made. It takes the form of some strange, sometimes Beat-styled ruminations on the life and words of Christ and how they have been appropriated by Christianity. In places it sounds like it has risen from the steam of the streets like a scene from Taxi Driver. The openers work over minimalist riffs (think early Velvet Underground),... > Read more

Rickie Lee Jones: Nobody Knows My Name

Eleanor McEvoy: Out There (Elite)

23 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

The little I know about this singer is that she was on one of those Irish women compilations, the kind of thing that gets about 35 seconds in my house before it is tossed at someone who cares. I tried a few early on and found them mawkish, sentimental and frankly just plain boring. But this album is the polar oppostite: McEvoy sings with a hurt, adult, bruised tone, is virtually free... > Read more

Eleanor McEvoy: Three Nights in November

Sean Lennon: Friendly Fire (Capitol)

12 Feb 2007  |  1 min read

You have to sympathise with the Lennon kids: Julian was skewered for sounding too much like his Dad (and people like Karl Wallinger of World Party weren't taken to task on the same charge?), and Sean for not carrying the flag in quite the way some thought he should. That first Sean album had hints of bossa nova and was peppered with ethereal ballads. Not quite what people expected... > Read more

Sean Lennon: Tomorrow