Music at Elsewhere

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Loka: Fire Shepherds (Ninja Tune/Flavour)

25 Jun 2006  |  <1 min read

This duo out of Liverpool spring a real surprise on their debut album: it is cinematic-sounding electronica but much of it -- after the gritty sci-fi sonics of the opening two tracks -- is clearly influenced by the expansive mid 60s jazz sounds of John Coltrane (long and loping rhythms) and the early 70s urgency of Miles Davis when he hooked up with the sound of the street and plugged in with... > Read more

Alejandro Escovedo: The Boxing Mirror (Back Porch/EMI)

25 Jun 2006  |  1 min read

When you see that John Cale, formerly of The Velvet Underground, has produced an album you tend to take notice: he helmed the stunning debuts by Patti Smith, The Stooges and Modern Lovers, and down the decades has worked with Nico, Jennifer Warnes and Jesus Lizard. With singer-guitarist Escovedo he has a like-minded, dark-hearted spirit who brings the added dimension of his Mexican-American... > Read more

Alejandro Escovedo: Arizona

James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

25 Jun 2006  |  <1 min read

This unashamedly enjoyable album is crammed full of songs where Hunter's velvet soulful r'n'b vocals are placed alongside a superbly tight little band of upright bass, saxophones and locked-in drums. It is only when a sometimes skittering sax or Hunter's angular guitar parts come in you realise this isn't some 60s reissue or lost Sam Cooke album, but utterly contemporary r'n'b pop. And... > Read more

James Hunter: I'll Walk Away

Fink: Biscuits for Breakfast (Ninjatune/Flavour)

15 Jun 2006  |  <1 min read

Pitched somewhere between the sound of Greg Johnson on downers and the acoustic charm of Jose Gonzalez (the guy who does the bouncing balls/Sony Bravia ad on television), the ill-named Fink delivers up quietly engrossing stories of love and loss, lousy jobs and emotional failure. That may sound bleak but over the course of this sensitive and sometimes wryly amusing album the Brighton-based... > Read more

Neil Young: Living with War (Warners)

25 May 2006  |  <1 min read  |  1

With an embarrassing breathlessness, American rock writers greeted Living With War by 61-year-old Neil Young as if it was to be a turning point in the anti-Bush/anti-war campaign. All noted Young had knocked it off quickly in a fit of anger, but you have to wonder what took him so long to get round to considering the state of his (adopted) nation. Some have hailed it - linking it with... > Read more

Paul Simon: Surprise (Warners)

25 May 2006  |  1 min read

From the Sounds of Silence through American Tune and beyond, 64-year-old Paul Simon has articulated the fears and hopes of his generation. Unlike Young on his leaden Living with War, for this new album - in a gagging, sentimental cover - Simon takes musical risks and extends himself. Brian Eno provides the sonic landscapes - loops, electronics, weird bass - and it is mixed by Tchad... > Read more

Whirimako Black: Soul Sessions (Mai)

7 May 2006  |  <1 min read

Black's two previous te reo album - Tangihanu (2004) and Te Kura Huna (2005) - were compellingly beautiful and weaved between soul balladry and slightly esoteric jazz, but never lost sight of the spirituality which drove them.   Black's voice is a thing of great sensitivity, and those albums should have made her a household name. Surprisingly they received few mainstream reviews... > Read more

Hammond Gamble: Recollection (Liberation)

16 Apr 2006  |  <1 min read

Gamble is one of this country's most distinctive voices, but too often in the past decade it has mostly only been heard on ads. A couple of decades back, however, when he fronted Street Talk, Gamble was a household name and his songs rocked pubs and even radios across the nation.  The band flirted with greater fame - most notably when notorious LA producer Kim Fowley improbably tried... > Read more

Dan Sperber Complex: ā€œIā€ (Dscomplex)

22 Feb 2006  |  1 min read

Auckland guitarist Sperber was in the New Loungehead and the Relaxomatic Project, both of which remained faithful to the contract of jazz (improvisation, if you need reminding), but also married that to a chill-out lounge factor which made them as popular in clubs as on the home stereo.  This disc-only quartet was recorded in Berlin during Sperber's sojourn there, and at the... > Read more

Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit (Shock)

24 Jan 2006  |  <1 min read

This long-running Scottish outfit has had brief flirtations with wider acclaim -- a Mercury Prize nomination in 2004, a year ago voted the Best Scottish Band Ever by their countrymen -- but has never enjoyed more than a devoted cult following. That’s a pity because their albums offer a bewildering, but beautifully realised, array of styles from Burt Bacharach sophistication to dark... > Read more

Belle and Sebastian: Sukie in the Graveyard

Richmond Fontaine: The Fitzgerald (Southbound)

22 Aug 2005  |  <1 min read

Richmond Fontaine come with big advance notices: the indie Americana band from Portland broke big with their rowdy Post to Wire album two years ago, which drew favourable comparisons with the Replacements, but for their follow-up, The Fitzgerald, they have turned the volume way down. Written by guitarist Willy Vlautin while living at the Fitzgerald Casino in Reno, it is a collection... > Read more

Richmond Fontaine: Exit 194B

Dolly Parton: Live and Well (Sugar Hill)

18 Jul 2005  |  1 min read

The dinner was going well until someone said they didn't like country music, and someone said they didn't mind it. Then we tried to define our terms. Was Shania Twain country? Nope, she's a property investor said Dave. Emmylou Harris was still country, Joe Ely and Tom Russell were sort of although we liked them because they were also Tex-Mex rockers. Then things got difficult.... > Read more

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Deluxe Edition (Universal CD/DVD)

2 Nov 2004  |  1 min read

Elton is like a kindly old uncle these days, giving big ups to Ryan Adams, throwing post-Oscar parties, behaving himself, turning up on Disney soundtracks, or rewriting one of his prettiest tunes for the funeral of a slightly wacky royal. And he got married (again, to a man this time though).  It's hard to remember that he was, before he went pear-shaped and crazy during the... > Read more

Elton John: Bennie and the Jets

Jim White: No Such Place (Luaka Bop)

2 Nov 2004  |  1 min read

Tom Waits' influence crops up in unexpected places. After his superbly titled Wrong-Eyed Jesus, the man who goes by the unmemorable nom de disque Jim White comes back for a second album of dark narratives, juke-joint folk-blues a la Tom, and disconcerting atmospheric productions on stories which begin, "Long about an hour before sunrise she drags his body down to the edge of swollen... > Read more

Jim White: Ghost-town of my Brain

Van Morrison: What's Wrong With This Picture? (Blue Note)

1 Nov 2004  |  3 min read

Wordsworth, more fool him, peaked early. The first edition of his groundbreaking Lyrical Ballads collection with fellow poet Coleridge was published in 1798 when he was 28. In the following decades (notably his revised editions) it was mostly downhill. Sure, he wrote some later stuff worth studying in late-degree Eng. Lit classes, but the real oil came early. His The Excursion in 1814 was... > Read more

Van Morrison: Goldfish Bowl

Joe Ely: Streets of Sin (Rounder)

6 Oct 2004  |  <1 min read

Ely from the flatlands of West Texas offers a triple threat: a memorable leathery twang cured in tequila, the paraffin soul of a rocker in the clothes of a Tex-Mex country singer, and a connection to a songwriting tradition which includes his gifted peers Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (of the shortlived Flatlanders which included Ely), Townes Van Zandt, organist Augie Myers,... > Read more

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