Music at Elsewhere

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Patti Smith: Trampin'

16 Sep 2004  |  2 min read

For over a decade now each new Patti Smith album has been hailed as "a return to form" - and this one is no exception. It has picked up five-star reviews in many magazines from senior rock writers dragged out to consider one of their peers, the woman who shaped their listening, the one often lazily referred to as the poet laureate of punk. However, when you look at the reviews it's... > Read more

Diana Krall: The Girl in the Other Room (Universal)

22 Apr 2004  |  <1 min read

Krall has been among the more anodyne of "jazz" artists and while her lightweight stylishness has undoubted appeal for less demanding listeners there has often seemed an emotional vacuum at the centre of her breathy vocals and constrained piano playing. While she may be her own woman you can't help note that marriage to Elvis Costello -- who co-writes most of the lyrics here -- has... > Read more

Warren Zevon, The Wind

1 Dec 2003  |  1 min read

The late Warren Zevon was a self-destructive guy - throwing himself down stairs while in the grip of the demon drink was one of his things - but this Jekyll and Hyde of sunny California in the 80s, who wrote the lovely Hasten Down the Wind, could also pen, "He took little Susie to the Junior Prom, and he raped her and killed her, then he took her home. After 10 long years they let him out... > Read more

Karen Hunter: Inside Outside (Rawfishsalad)

13 Nov 2003  |  1 min read

As a performer, Auckland singer-songwriter Hunter is one of the most assured we've got. She shifts effortlessly from acoustic cafe to the festival circuit in Canada, bars in Australia and thinks nothing of strapping on the Telecaster for nuggety rock gigs. You can take the girl out of the metal but ... After her excellent Private Life of Clowns of '98 -- which covered all the... > Read more

Karen Hunter: Little by Little

Neil Young: Greendale (Reprise)

28 Sep 2003  |  <1 min read  |  1

Neil Young's Greendale confirms "quirky" and "eccentric" aren't always endearing qualities, especially on a song-cycle about three generations of a family which ... blah-blah. With Crazy Horse he wades through the dreary narrative in the voices of the various characters (all sounding exactly like Neil Young) and piles on his musical cliches.  The album is peppered... > Read more

Neil Young: Bringin' Down Dinner

Friend: Inaccuracies and Omissions (Flying Nun)

12 Aug 2003  |  1 min read

"Musique concrete" has generally had a bad rap. The problem lies in the "musique" part of the equation. Being constructed from found sounds or by mixing up sounds into some other form, musique concrete doesn't conform to a definition of "music" as most understand it. Put it this way: you can't whistle it. So it's a courageous, inspired or art... > Read more

Friend: First Easy Piece

Lou Reed: The Raven (Reprise)

13 Mar 2003  |  1 min read

"These are the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, not exactly the boy next door," yelps a breathless-sounding Reed over dramatic, grinding guitar riffery at the start of this guest-heavy collection of diverse songs and spoken-word sections which explore the works of that peculiar, melancholic American writer with whom Reed feels great affinity. It's an unpromising start but, somewhat... > Read more

Lou Reed: The Fall of the HOuse of Usher (read by Willem Dafoe)

Ash: Intergalactic Sonic 7s (FMR)

29 Oct 2002  |  <1 min read

The power pop single was in safe hands with Northern Ireland's Ash, a young and feisty trio - and latterly quartet - who brought brittle, angry energy to the three-and-a-half minute, chart-aimed song. But singer-writer Tim Wheeler had a post-grunge sensibility, pop smarts to burn, and could astutely meld his influences (punk, Nirvana, bubblegum-on-speed, the Vapours' new-wave pop of Turning... > Read more

Human Instinct: Peg Leg (Rajon)

9 Sep 2002  |  <1 min read

As interesting for its back-story as the contents, this period piece has been rescued from dusty vaults. Auckland band Human Instinct scored with a couple of much sought-after classic Kiwi rock albums in the late Sixties/early Seventies, notably Stoned Guitar and Pins In It. In '75 the band - guitarist Phil Whitehead, keyboardist Steve McDonald and bassist/singer Zaine Mikkelson, and... > Read more

Dolly Parton: Halos and Horns (Shock)

18 Jul 2002  |  <1 min read

Dolly Parton has enjoyed a critical reappraisal these past few years for her excellent bluegrass and back-porch albums The Grass is Blue and Little Sparrow. She turned down that blowtorch voice and went back to her origins in traditional country, but also bought into the style of songs by Billy Joel, Steve Young and Cole Porter. On paper that looks like an appalling mix, but Parton's... > Read more

Dolly Parton: Little Sparrow (Sugar Hill)

18 Jul 2002  |  <1 min read

One person who has got better in recent years - but whose audience has diminished - is Dolly Parton who last week picked up a much-deserved Grammy for best bluegrass recording. Her last album The Grass is Blue took her back to the porch of her Tennessee childhood. Her new Little Sparrow keeps much the same winning team (Alison Krauss on backing vocals, Jim Mills on banjo ) for a... > Read more

Chuck E Weiss: Old Souls and Wolf Tickets (Ryko)

25 Jun 2002  |  1 min read

Some people are more rewarded for what they don't achieve rather than what they do. There are politicians whose gift is to keep their heads down, make no mistakes but do nothing of consequence, and wait for a position on a board.  That's in the nature of self-serving politics, perhaps. However it's more unusual for musicians who are assessed by the noise they make to be hailed as having... > Read more

Chuck E Weiss: Sneaky Jesus

Chris Isaak: Always Got Tonight (Reprise)

24 Feb 2002  |  <1 min read

The composed and moody Isaak isn't a guy you'd credit with a sense of humour but his TV show, sort of sitcom-cum-real life, was so self-deprecating he's going to get a fairer hearing round my way from now on. That said, little has changed since his last album four years ago — the humour injection notwithstanding — and here he still smoulders away of moody ballads and... > Read more

Chris Isaak: Life Will Go On

Gram Parsons: Warm Evenings, Pale Mornings, Bottled Blues (Raven)

30 Jan 2002  |  <1 min read

As Australian compiler Glenn A. Baker notes in the essay accompanying this excellent 21-track, 75-minute collection, country-rock visionary Parsons was never embraced by country audiences back in the late Sixties/early Seventies, and rock has remained largely indifferent to him since his death at 26 in September ’73. He's a man more honoured than played. Fortunately record... > Read more

Brass Buttons

From Scratch: Global Hockets (Scratch)

5 Dec 2000  |  1 min read

From their origins on PVC pipes and Jandals, through the incorporation of voices and here with the German electronic group Supreme Particles, From Scratch's explorations of rigorous and mathematically determined rhythm patterns has always been worth following. And the computer-percussion interface here offers them a richness of sound they explore fully within the technically narrow... > Read more

From Scratch: Global Hockets, Part Two (of a 10 part continuous performance)

Te Kupu: Ko Te Matakahi Kupu (Kia Kaha)

29 Jun 2000  |  2 min read

Dean Hapeta, of Upper Hutt Posse, always aimed for more than bragging and a catchy hook. He styled himself D-Word and has done spoken-word performances. His new nom de disque is Te Kupu (aka the Word). I guess that all confirms it: Word values the power of the word. As the volatile founder of the Upper Hutt Posse - sometimes favouring some of Louis Farrakahn's racist Nation of Islam... > Read more

Jimi Hendrix, Band of Gypsys: Live at the Fillmore East (MCA)

4 Jan 2000  |  1 min read

1969 was a bad year for Hendrix. Despite his superb Electric Ladyland double album at the tail end of the previous year, he still had an audience wanting to hear Purple Haze, was also frustrated with the Experience band and was looking for a new direction. in August 1969 he appeared at Woodstock with an expanded band line-up but that didn't work in subsequent studio sessions, so... > Read more

Power of Soul

Chuck E. Weiss: Extremely Cool (Ryko)

4 Jan 2000  |  <1 min read

The leisurely pace at which Mr Weiss releases albums makes the five-year gap between Blue Nile releases look positively hasty. This is his first since his debut 18 years ago. Made semi-legendary by Rickie Lee Jones’ early hit Chuck E's in Love and for being a Tom Waits protege boho-poet, here (under the production of Waits who co-writes and croaks along) Chuck delivers an... > Read more

Pygmy Fund

Randy Newman: Bad Love (Warners)

5 Nov 1999  |  1 min read

Never having subscribed to the theory Newman is an unalloyed genius means always having to say you are sorry. But if you, too, are of that persuasion, here's the album to tune in for. After years of writing soundtracks (with his own take on Faust along the way) Newman returns to his narrative style in songs which are typically cynical, ironic, funny and astutely observed viciousness.... > Read more

Dolly Parton: The Grass is Blue (Sugar Hill/Elite)

18 Jul 1999  |  <1 min read

Time was when double-barrelled Dolly was on a major label and hammering home the hits with Kenny Rogers. These days, and for some little while, she's been on minor labels and not many people would argue that making a bluegrass album is the way back to chart domination. But with a stellar cast of players - Jerry Douglas on dobro, Sam Bush on mandolin, Jim Mills on banjo and harmony... > Read more