Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Seva Hifi: Early (Sugarlicks)

17 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

As a genre, Pacific Soul has some very credible ancestors, not the least being Grace (who seem largely forgotten these days) and the funk-influenced Ardijah. Each generation will bring what they will to the encompassing style and so this trio -- Baz Suamili of Niuean heritage, Fijian percussionist Levani Vosasi and Lebanese-Kiwi producer Gmuva -- pull threads of reggae (Fiafia Dub is here),... > Read more

Fiafia Dub

James Yorkston: I was a Cat from a Book (Domino)

13 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

Much as I have enjoyed and admired a couple of previous albums by this Scottish folk singer, this album -- under the most fey title in living memory -- just strikes me as inane, precious, pretentiously understated, awkwardly and unpoetically phrased . . . Just phenomenally dull in my hearing (and this from someone who actually liked the guy's previous stuff remember). An album of... > Read more

Just as Scared

Chuck Perkins: A Love Song for Nola (Trikont)

12 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

Those with a rose-tinted view of New Orleans are usually those who haven't been there and taken a wrong turn into a street where menace seeps from the walls at knifepoint. They are often people seduced by the idea of "jazz" and partytime and haven't heard the bruising and distinctive rap which slams out of the place, or read a Big Easy crime statistic. In recent times there have... > Read more

We Ain't Dead Yet

The xx: Coexist (Young Turks)

10 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

With this lush but spare, sometimes emotionally cool but always warmly realised second album The xx run the happy risk of being the new Portishead for downbeat lovers, pouting girls and sensitive boys. There are broken hearts aplenty here - like Blue Nile easing towards the Cocteau Twins -- but the spacious settings, low-key delivery and quasi-ambient sound tip this into considered... > Read more


Mark Knopfler: Privateering (Mercury)

10 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Be interesting to know how many of the 30 million who bought Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms could name singer-guitarist Mark Knopfler's previous album (Get Lucky and not bad, since you ask). Given his naturally glum and sanguine demeanor – in interviews anyway, he might be a prankster at home – his disposition always seemed more inclined to the melancholic than Twisting by... > Read more

Haul Away

Bob Dylan: Tempest (Sony)

10 Sep 2012  |  2 min read  |  3

While music magazines and rock bloggers are exercising their opinion about the Rolling Stones announcing a new tour after five years – just four dates so far – to celebrate 50 years since their formation (most writers asking “Why?” or commenting on their irrelevance), Bob Dylan just keeps traveling on his own road, indifferent to opinion, time and the world in... > Read more

Scarlet Town

Andre Williams and the Sadies (Yep Roc)

10 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

The rum-gargling mid-70s soulman Williams speak-sings from the pit of anger, despair and his gravel-pit throat about America (“the mens are dogs, the women are hogs, but that's not a bad thing, it's better than livin' in . . . Africa”) and offers a streetlife philosophy of tough times, crime, addiction and poverty. This tough ol' bird wrote Shake a Tail Feather back in the... > Read more


Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Wreck and Ruin (Liberation)

10 Sep 2012  |  2 min read  |  1

One of the more extraordinary achievements of Australian husband-wife team Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson hasn't been top selling albums and awards (together or solo), it has been how they have won over those outside of the mainstream country audience. Certainly they bring some cachet and Nicholson's songs on his solo albums have been more along that trajectory, but for the... > Read more

Your Sweet Love

Ray Woolf: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy)

7 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

The problem with any Ray Woolf compilation -- a man who has been in the New Zealand entertainment game for 50 years -- is even if it narrows the focus to just his first decade as this does, is: What agenda does it serve? Even in that decade -- in fact more so, given the tectonic shifts of taste and styles in the Sixties -- Woolf was moving constantly in his musical career: from working with... > Read more

Bengal Tiger

Various Artists: With Love, A Pot of Flowers (Big Beat/Border)

5 Sep 2012  |  2 min read

By curious coincidence (nope, not ironic just chance) this collection of slightly garageband but lightlydelic US pop arrived the same day I learned Scott McKenzie -- of San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) fame -- had died. He was 73, which struck me as ridiculously old, but then again that makes sense when you do the maths: 1967 when that was a big soundtrack to the hippie... > Read more

Slave of Desire

Cat Power: Sun (Matador)

4 Sep 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

On the haunting Human Being here, a slinky electronica-driven piece which slides under the skin and into the subconscious, Cat Power -- out from under the cloak of bankruptcy and a broken relationship -- speaks of the rights you have: you've got your own voice so sing, you've got two hands so go make anything, we've got rules to break and mistakes to make . . . She also notes you can see... > Read more


Sean Rowe: The Salesman and the Shark (Anti)

3 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

New York singer-songwriter Rowe's indie release Magic of 2009 (re-released by his new label Anti 18 months ago) inevitably drew comparisons with Tom Waits for its sobering and poetic reflections on life, religion and an America gone to seed. His road-worn baritone, musical references to battered blues and empty-bottle ballads equally recalled label-mate Waits. While those aural and... > Read more

The Lonely Maze

Los Straitjackets: Jet Set (Yep Roc)

3 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

With guitarist Peter Posa's White Rabbit retrospective topping the charts for the fourth week, this collection of echo-heavy cocktail hour and retro-rock guitar tracks by this long-running American cult outfit (in Mexican wrestling masks) might just have the serendipity of timing. From the dramatic blackjack crack and pistol shot of the opener Crime Scene and the increasingly furious... > Read more


Greg Fleming and the Trains: Edge of the City (LucaDiscs)

27 Aug 2012  |  3 min read  |  1

Some albums come with lyrics sheets which you think must be embarrassing for the "songwriter". Not so Aucklander Greg Fleming whose lyrics are so economic that as you listen you can picture the scenarios and characters. Yet look at the printed words and you realise how refined and crisp they are, and have left huge gaps where you've filled in the faces, places and details. In... > Read more

More Time

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes (4AD)

27 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read

Pink's unfocused, shapeless and sometimes lazy turn at the Aotea Square Laneway Festival was disappointing for all but deaf loyalists. And surprising too, because he'd seemed an oddball perfectionist plundering pop's past and obscure byways for ideas. Mercifully this album's title is a joke: the surreal and often rude lyrics (the nympho song), stylistic pastiches (disco to Beach Boys?... > Read more

Kinski Assassin

Ry Cooder: Election Special (Warners)

27 Aug 2012  |  1 min read

With the Republicans calling up arch-conservative Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's monied-up running mate and the gob-smacking misspeak by Missouri congressman Todd Akin about "legitimate rape" (not to mention the oddball physiology he cited), Ry Cooder must be kicking himself that he went so early with this collection of overtly political songs. Still, maybe the old fish-barrel adage... > Read more


Artisan Guns: Coral (Warners)

27 Aug 2012  |  1 min read

Unlike so many young bands who leap quickly onto record, this Auckland band (once described as "young" but now "mature" might better) have progressed slowly and steadily towards this debut album after two fine EPs. Elsewhere caught up with them way back (see here) after being impressed by a live performance in a record company boardroom, and has followed them with... > Read more

It Aches

Poor Moon: Poor Moon (Sub Pop)

20 Aug 2012  |  1 min read

When Phantom Light, the second track on this debut album for Poor Moon, opens you'd be forgiven for saying aloud, "Oh, Fleet Foxes". And indeed Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott -- half of Poor Moon, add to them brothers Ian and Peter Murray -- are both members of that band. There are plenty of the FF's Anglofolk and close harmonies at work throughout, although the... > Read more


The Darkness: Hot Cakes (Liberator)

20 Aug 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

You'd have to have had your sense of humor gland removed not to have enjoyed England's Darkness ("Give me a D", "Give me an Arkness") when they emerged out of Lowestoft, the end of the train line, a decade ago with their glam rock-opera ambitions and a keen sense of the absurd. They referred to much more famous groups they opened for as their "warm down bands"... > Read more

She's Just a Girl, Eddie

Chris Robinson Brotherhood: Big Moon Ritual (Warners)

20 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read

Robinson is frontman for the Black Crowes, the band which married the Allman Brothers' soulful Southern rock with a stoner take on the shambling Faces but more recently slid into post-Band country-rock with their excellent Before the Frost recorded live in the late Levon Helm's studio. Robinson's solo albums have been of no fixed focus but drew on Americana, rock and country and... > Read more

100 Days of Rain