Music at Elsewhere

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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

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 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

Po' Girl: Vagabond Lullabies (Shock)

11 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

This is an unusual one: the Po' Girls seem to be a fairly flexible line-up which includes Trish Klein of the Be Good Tanyas (who have featured at Elsewhere previously). So there is a touch of the Tanyas' alt.folk and country stylings about this album, but there is also much more. They haul in Cajun fiddle, some lazily delivered Beat poetry and Thirties jazz to make a musical mix which can... > Read more

Po' Girl: Movin' On

Gecko Turner: Guapapasea! (Rhythmethod)

10 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

The absurdly named Gecko Turner is actually a Spanish producer and composer who has fronted bands, won awards, and effected a pleasantly lazy meltdown of global pop and dance styles into something which is distinctively Spanish despite its eclecticism. He opens here with a barely recognisable treatment of Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues (kinda cruisy, for cocktail hour!) and later... > Read more

Gecko Turner: Nina da Guadiana

Dean & Britta: Back Numbers (Zoe)

10 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

The main players here are former Kiwi Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, one half of the New York-based band Luna whose distinctive, moody style drew from the template set down by early Velvet Undergound. In fact Luna opened for VU at one of those fraught 90s reunions. Wareham was also in the earlier indie band Galaxie 500. Together D&B provided the score to the Oscar-nominated movie... > Read more

Dean & Britta: Teen Angel

Lisa Gerrard: Lisa Gerrard (4AD)

9 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

This evocative 15-track collection draws on Gerrard's extensive soundtrack work (material from Gladiator, Whale Rider and Ali are included here), her solo albums, and those with Dead Can Dance. Given that range, what is apparent from these tracks is how singular her musical vision has been: wordless and ethereal vocals imbued with a spiritual -- and even holy -- quality. Hints of... > Read more

Lisa Gerrard: Sanvean (by Dead Can Dance)

Richard Swift: The Novelist/Walking Without Effort

9 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

This utterly engrossing double disc brings together Californian Swift's two previously released (but rare) albums from a couple of years ago which were made up of singles he drip-fed over the years. This reissue announces to the wider world (and me, I'd never heard of him) his particular, quiet genius. At times his easy-on-the-ear ballads have a sub-Bacharach quality, in other places... > Read more

Richard Swift: Looking Back I Should Have Been Home More

Neko Case: Live From Austin, Texas (Elite)

31 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

Although a belated release -- it was recorded in August 2003 -- there is some serendipity of timing: Case's 2006 Fox Confessor Brings The Flood popped up in many "best of the year" lists. On release I gave Fox five stars in the New Zealand Herald and in the end of year "best of" wrap-up wrote of it, "This typically diverse Case album runs from pure guitar-twang pop... > Read more

Neko Case: Alone and Forsaken

Various: Friends of Old Time Music (Smithsonian Folkways/Elite)

26 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

Subtitled "The Folk Arrival 1961-1965", this three CD collection with a handsome and informative booklets of essays and histories of the songs, will be of great interest to those turned on to this kind of unadorned music by the soundtrack to Oh Brother! Where Art Thou? Or who like rural blues, artists like the Stanley Brothers, or want to hear where Gillian Welch and others of the... > Read more

Fred McDowell: Going Down To The River

Jefferson Belt, Table Manners (Round Trip Mars)

26 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

All I know about this warm, user-friendly and hypnotically amusing album is that Mr Belt (if we believe that is his name) was a member of the Auckland band Sperm Bank 5 whose name, but not noise, I remember from over a decade ago. Some of his subsequent instrumental work appeared on a Kog compilation and . . . Well, that's where my (supplied) information runs out. Ignorance... > Read more

Jefferson Belt: Micro Bonbons

Edwin Derricut: Symmetry (Pure)

25 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

Elsewhere frequently gets albums from local artists wanting to be posted and reviewed, but to be honest very few make it through. You'll note that last year only the likes of Paul McLaney, Reb Fountain, Dudley Benson, Miriam Clancy and a few others made the final cut. You have to be good to be in the company of Bob Dylan, Soaud Massi, Tom Waits and so on. This singer-songwriter... > Read more

Edwin Derricut: Symmetry

Chris Knox and the Nothing (Major Label/Rhythmethod)

21 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

Knox may seem over-exposed after a lifetime of music in this country, but at the Big Day Out in Auckland he proved to have as much, if not more, energy and passion than some of those Big Name Bands on the main stage. And a great deal more humour. Over the course of his set he pulled a growing crowd, which he raced off into at the end, still singing using his headset mike. Everyone bayed... > Read more

Chris Knox and the Nothing: The Darkest Star

Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City)

13 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

Arriving at the tail end of last year, this album was too late for it to be considered by reviewers and so has largely gone unacknowledged. But it has appeared on numerous international "best of 2006" lists. However be warned, this baroque folk is not an easy proposition: Newsom sometimes sings like Bjork channelling Shirley Temple, and with lavish string arrangements by Van Dyke... > Read more

Joanna Newsome: Monkey & Bear