Music at Elsewhere

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Timothy Blackman: Modern Sprawl (Home Alone)

2 Dec 2007  |  <1 min read

This lo-fi singer-songwriter recorded the six songs on this impressive EP at his Auckland flat, so as a result he sounds like he's singing in your own home. Very much in the folk-rock tradition (you can imagine the title track being pumped out by band), Blackman comes of as a melancholy soul on a first hearing, yet there are flickers of optimism and the result is a highly promising... > Read more

Timothy Blackman: The Great Extinction

Jude: Redemption (Naive/Elite)

1 Dec 2007  |  1 min read

There are those of us old enough/smart enough/obsessed enough to know that Paul McCartney's Ram album of '71 -- his first fully-fledged album after being in His Previous Band -- was among the three best albums of his very long post-Beatles career. (see tag) So maybe only we few might fully appreciate this album by a man called Jude. Okay, even in his darkest days Macca never wrote an... > Read more

Jude: End of my Rainbow

Various: Secret Love 4 (Sonar Kollektiv/Rhythmethod)

1 Dec 2007  |  <1 min read

I'm guessing by the title that this is part of a series, the three previous volumes of which have gone right past me -- as I imagine they have with most people. Only a pre-release copy of this, a lazy Sunday and it being close to hand got me to it -- and I'm very glad of that. With the likes of Andrew Bird and Findlay Brown represented (see tags) alongside the hoarse-but-easy Lawries, the... > Read more

Midlake: Roscoe

Ned Collette: Future Suture (Inertia/The Label)

1 Dec 2007  |  <1 min read

With a flattened and laconic delivery, chiming acoustic folk-styled guitars and some melodic minimalism, this downbeat but widescreen album by Australian singer-songwriter Collette seems to hark back to earlier periods, sometimes sounding like a gentle collision between Nick Drake and Velvet Underground, at others slipping out of a very early Eno vocal album but embellished by horns. But... > Read more

Ned Collette: Winter Holiday

Kevin Drew, Spirit If . . . (Shiny/Rhythmethod)

1 Dec 2007  |  <1 min read

It must be galling for certain Flying Nun bands (notably the Verlaines and Sneaky Feelings in this instance) to hear some of what they did appropriated by British or North American bands and, through clout and better press coverage, take it to the wider world. There are elements of classic Nun (and Beatles, Pavement etc) scattered throughout this alleged solo album by Drew who founded the... > Read more

Kevin Drew: Safety Bricks

Mick Turner/Tren Brothers: Blue Trees (Inertia)

30 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

This meandering, loose-limbed, lazy sounding and creaking collection of instrumentals comes from Mick Turner and Jim White of Australia's Dirty Three. These are pieces they recorded over the years and released on vinyl only singles, as limited edition CDs or on now-unavailable compilations. There is nothing here to get your pulse going (the record label name is telling), most tracks amble... > Read more

Mick Turner/Tren Brothers: Sunny Xmas Day

Tim Guy: Hummabyes (Monkey)

20 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

This gentle album is so light it makes the Bats sound like Thin Lizzy. Auckland-based singer-songwriter Guy has stripped his music back to airy arrangments for guitar and bass (with ukulele, slide, harmonica and triangle where required) but the whole thing has a summershine spaciousness and the smart production lets these whimsical (but never twee) songs breathe even more gently.... > Read more

Tim Guy: Cater For Lovers

Jack Penate: Matinee (XL)

20 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

This gritty, rocking album has been floating around for a few weeks but seems to have been passed over by most writers. That's strange given Penate's high profile in the UK where he has been hailed like a Billy Bragg on heat, as a South London soul poet, and "the new darling of pop" (The Sun) There is an undeniable energy to his smartly crafted songs which equally recall the... > Read more

Jack Penate: Learning Lines

Institut Polaire: The Fauna and the Flora (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

20 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

More 60s-framed pop for alternative radio from the PopFrenzy label (Clientele, Camera Obscura, Lightning Dust) which refers to the great bands who never really made it (The Association, Left Banke) as much as big names like Bacharach and the Monkees, as well the slightly psychedelic BeeGees and alt.country. Whatever really works, in fact. This large ensemble out of Perth, Australia... > Read more

Insitut Polaire: East, West and I

Blanche: Little Amber Bottles (LooseMusic/Shock)

20 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

Think Johnny Cash duetting with Nancy Sinatra; think alt.country from Detroit with Gothic overtones; think Nick Cave with a backwoods twang . . . This band out of the Motor City USA has a real country heart, so much so that Jack White hooked them in to support Loretta Lynn on the Van Lear Rose album he produced for her. Mainman Dan John Miller played Luther Perkins in the Cash bio-flick... > Read more

Blanche: Last Year's Leaves

Rahim Alhaj: When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq (Smithsonian/Elite)

20 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

It may be some time before the soul of Iraq is settled but if anyone can bring the traditional music of that troubled country to international attention it is Baghdad-born Alhaj who fled Saddam Hussein's regime to Jordan then Syria, and now lives in New Mexico. A graduate with honours in music, he has been playing oud since he was nine and has been giving concerts since he was 14. This is... > Read more

Rahim Alhaj: Taqsim Maqam Mukhalif

The Low Spark: Out in the Ozone (LowSpark)

14 Nov 2007  |  1 min read

Dunno about you but I'd always rather hear the young, enthusiastic, overstated, lightly misguided, energetic debut from a band than being bored witless by their fourth album. Fact is though that in New Zealand few bands make it to number 4. So we take what we get, right? As I was going into my driveway the other day I saw a battered van pull up and a young guy with unfashionably floppy... > Read more

The Low Spark: Ozone

Hobotalk: Homesick for Nowhere (Yellow Eye)

12 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

The Scottish singer-songwriter Marc Pilley who is the hub of Hobotalk has a gentle way with his music: nothing feels forced or false, and the augmentation of his simple tunes by mandolin, violin, female backing singers and the like just bring these songs to life even more. A refined simplicity is the key here and you can hear why he was shortlisted for a Mercury Music Prize in 2000 for his... > Read more

Hobotalk: These Times Sure Could Break Your Heart

Lightning Dust: Lightning Dust (PopFrenzy/Rhythmethod)

12 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

Said it before, will say it again: when albums come from PopFrenzy they rise to the top of the heap, just on the basis of previous albums from the label (the Clientele, Camera Obscura) being so damn good. No major disappointment with this one either where the shimmering, quivering voice of Amber Webber is quietly hypnotic in songs which are cut right back to the bone. Maybe they are trying... > Read more

Bill Direen: Human Kindness (Powertool Records)

12 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

Bill Direen is an auteur whose work covers pop and experimental music, poetry, European literature and much else. As a graduate of the DIY punk years he has seldom resorted to anything approaching hi-fi -- and these recordings (some mere fragments) from an attic in Switzerland and other such places have a ragged edge as you might expect. Just when things are going along nicely it is in... > Read more

Bill Direen: Romeo's Song

The Broken Heartbreakers: The Broken Heartbreakers (Rhythmethod) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

12 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

With a sound which draws equally on the Left Banke, the Everly Brothers, Brian Wilson, Beatles, alt.country harmonies and the Anglofolk tradition, this Auckland group can hardly fail. In songwriter John Guy Howell they also have someone with a genuine gift, and the arrangements here -- minimal guitars, a lovely drone quality in Angels, mellotron and mandolin -- are utterly seductive. Mike... > Read more

The Broken Heartbreakers: Come on Home

Robert Scott: Tascam Hits (Powertool Records)

12 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

These low-fi home recordings by Scott -- a member of the Bats and the Clean -- were recorded in the late 90s and those who demand their music polished and honed won't find much of interest here. But these delightful working drawing of songs, eerie instrumentals and sonic ideas -- all put down on a Tascam cassette recorder -- have much to recommend them. Bats fans will hear echoes of that... > Read more

Batucada Sound Machine: Rhythm & Rhyme (Border)

5 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

The first album by this big and boisterous band was a live outing recorded at Womad in 2005. It didn't do it for me and was one of those "guess you had to be there" albums. But it was clear that aside from energy and enthusiasm (which they had by truckloads) they certainly had some musical chops and their set sounded like an implosion of various South American and Cuban musics... > Read more

Batucada Sound Machine: Rivers of Rhyme

The Darlings: The Cicada Sessions (Ode)

4 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

The Darlings are New Zealand singer Jackie Clarke and singer-songwriter Callie Blood with drummer-to-the-stars Wayne Bell, here mostly playing acoustic guitar -- which makes them somewhat of a Kiwi supergroup given their long pedigrees in various band and studio sessions. Together they make what their bio calls "grown-up pop", which is a very apt description given the classy and... > Read more

The Darlings: So Near So Far

Band of Horses: Cease to Begin (SubPop) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

3 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

Increasingly I am liking contemporary rock albums that annoy me because I can't quickly figure them out -- and this is one of them. Not having heard their "critically acclaimed" debut Everything All The Time I can't say how much this Seattle-based band have changed since they lost their co-founder. But what I hear on this album is often irritating (like that twerp from... > Read more

Band of Horses: Is There a Ghost