Music at Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD)

3 Dec 2012  |  1 min read

Some musicians are revered, reviewed and written about, but rather less listened to. Put Scott Walker at the top of that list. This is only his fourth album in the past three decades and their abstruse lyrics, electronic effects and often declamatory tone have nothing in common with his acclaimed ballad style in the Walker Brothers and on a series of orchestrated solo albums in the... > Read more

See You Don't Bump His Head

Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos (Warners)

3 Dec 2012  |  <1 min read

In the first wave of FM radio and adult-rock formats, Steely Dan stood out for their ineffable cool, poised aloofness and slippery musical craftsmanship which scooped up jazz and rock fans alike. Fagen – half of the Dan – brings many of those qualities to this solo outing, although his vocals are considerably weaker and in places this appears more personal than Dan albums... > Read more

Slinky Thing

Various Artists: Delta Swamp Rock Vol 2 (Soul Jazz)

3 Dec 2012  |  1 min read

Although picking up the scent from the first excellent volume in this series which joins the dots between rock, soul and country music, these 20 tracks -- while not without interest -- don't have quite the same weight or depth. Area Code 615 -- the band formed by Nashville studio owners/musiucians Charley McCoy and Wayne Moss, in whose studio the Steve Miller Band recorded -- kicks things... > Read more

The Box Tops

SJD: Elastic Wasteland (Round Trip Mars)

30 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

Few New Zealand songwriters work with a sense of the mysterious in their lyrics, most are grounded in relationships (far too many going the you/I route) but SJD -- Sean James Donnelly -- not only reaches in that profitable direction but has the airy voice to pull it off. So on the opener here when he sings of giving thanks to lizard kings above -- and marries that to ethereal electronics --... > Read more

Make Love Ask Questions Later

Porcupine Tree: Octane Twisted (Kscope/Southbound)

26 Nov 2012  |  2 min read

When considering the recent 35th anniversary reissue of the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, it was salutory to look at what had changed since that politically and socially volatile era in which it was released. Yes, the punk DIY ethic is still adhered to (made even easier by the internet) but Britain has a Conservative government, unemployment recently stood at 2.6 million (around 8... > Read more

The Seance

Ariana Tikao: From Dust to Light (Ode)

25 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

The much acclaimed Tikao presents a pleasant style which might be called te reo-folk as it has its roots in the Maori language and tikanga but is equally at home with the acoustic guitar folk tradition. On this, her third album, the music is light, stripped back and simple, reverts to the customary reggae lope in a couple of places and . . . And to these ears anyway, barely grips with... > Read more

Oxygenated

Aaradhna: Treble and Reverb (Frequency)

19 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

Although critics and commentators will inevitably, and rightly, point out the influence of Amy Winehouse in a couple of place on this, Aaradhna's third album, that doesn't change the fact that this is undeniably one of the best New Zealand albums of the year. Okay, it's a bit too long at 17 tracks (it is bookended by the title track) but for the most part that just means so much more of a... > Read more

Lorena Bobbitt

Vanessa McGowan: Mermaids and Whiskey (vanessamcgowan.com)

18 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

In a classy cover and under a tempting title comes this, the debut album under her own name for double bassist/singer-songwriter McGowan who was one half of the quietly acclaimed Her Make Believe Band alongside guitarist/singer Cy Winstanley, who also happens to be part of this small band (and with whom she now appears as the Tattletale Saints). Recorded live in The Bunker on Auckland's... > Read more

New Familiar Town

Tim Walker: You/Me (Native Tongue/Aeroplane)

17 Nov 2012  |  <1 min read

New Zealand singer-songwriter Tim Walker has already done the business before this, his debut album: the opener here Lullabies and Maybe Baby right at the end won him the Musicoz International Artist of the Year award earlier this year and more recently he has supported Greg Johnson on his Small Towns and Ball Gowns tour. That latter connection makes sense because i imagine if Johnson and... > Read more

It Hurts the Heart

Jackal: Only Everything

16 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

Going to flip all the cards here and say that much as I like some kinds of hard rock and metal, I originally thought Auckland's Jackal probably weren't going to be my band. Dense, nail-gun riffery and hammered-down drumming I like and they deliver that early up with Rivet Head . . . but on this, their third album, they stretch into areas beyond the familiar attack. Stealing a Glass Eye... > Read more

Rivet Head

Danny McCrum: Letters to the Future (dannymccrum.com)

15 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

Danny McCrum is one of those Kiwi pop-rock journeymen whose albums seem to go largely ignored by the mainstream print media (they have been reviewed at Elsewhere, see here) and probably even by radio. Pity on the radio end of thing, because every album seems to have at least two songs which sound ideally suited for being belted out on a building site or -- on the quieter end of things --... > Read more

Make Your Own Light

John Cale: Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood (Domino)

12 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

Although Lou Reed embodies the spiritual core of Velvet Underground, in the fortysomething years since John Cale quit he has made the more interesting music. From venomous and gristly rock (Guts, Sabotage/Live) through instrumental music and affecting spoken word (his adaptation of fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas' poems), Cale has never been predictable. On his last outing blackAcetate... > Read more

Mothra

Tori Amos: Gold Dust (Mercury)

12 Nov 2012  |  <1 min read

Having recently tried to read Tori Amos' self-indulgent 2005 book of thoughts and conversations Piece by Piece (is there no goddess or mythological figure she doesn't identify with?), it takes great effort to remain interested in her music, especially for this album where she revisits songs from her 20 year career with Holland's Metropole Orchestra. But, as with Kate Bush, Amos did... > Read more

Silent All These Years

Plum Green: Rushes (plumgreen.co.nz)

12 Nov 2012  |  1 min read  |  2

Singer-songwriter Plum Green has a good back-story. Apparently "the daughter of a jazz-singing Parisian showgirl and a saxophone-playing Jewish intellectual" and born in an East London squat her parents broke into. She also has a good back tattoo which, if like her back story is real, we hope she doesn't live to regret. Doesn't matter though, because right now though she sings... > Read more

Harpy

John Rowles: If I Only Had Time (Universal)

11 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

This unnecessarily expansive collection -- two discs, 53 songs and doubtless a tie-in to the autobiography -- confirms a few things about the big voiced singer. That he could really belt out pop hits in his early days (Girl Girl Girl from '67 puts him on equal footing with the great PJ Proby); that as he tried to find a style he was very mannered in his delivery; that he has a good story... > Read more

Girl (1967)

Neil Young: Psychedelic Pill (Warners)

5 Nov 2012  |  1 min read  |  2

Now this makes more sense. Although some enjoyed Young's recent Americana which saw him reunited with Crazy Horse after a decade, it was clear that was just the throat-clearing rehearsal on old folk and American roots music. This sprawling double disc is what it was leading too, but typically it isn't quite what we might expect. With Crazy Horse, Young had delivered some of the... > Read more

For the Love of Man

Zen Mantra: How Many Padmes Hum? (Muzai)

5 Nov 2012  |  <1 min read

As so much New Zealand music -- especially what was once called "alternative" -- gets codified for radio play and aims for a middle ground, the Muzai label out of Auckland (with a slogan "independent fighting spirit") has provided some exciting, unpredictable and genuinely alternative listening. In recent times Elsewhere has mentioned the Wilberforces, Sunken Seas and... > Read more

I Wonder What It's Like Out There

Kora: Light Years (Kora)

4 Nov 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

Among the encouraging signs in New Zealand music at present -- the counter argument to all the pop which seems aimed more at radio programmers and funding money than coming from the heart -- is that some bands are moving past reggae as their default position. The ubiquity of reggae (and its cousins dub and ska) has meant it has become the most cynical of styles in that it's the easy option... > Read more

Last Generation

Waylon Jennings: Goin' Down Rockin' (Southbound)

4 Nov 2012  |  1 min read

Subtitled "The Last Recordings", this 12 song collection appears a decade after Jennings' death at age 74 but the title almost came true many decades previous. Jennings had been playing with Buddy Holly and gave up his seat on that final flight which killed Buddy, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens. If the plane had been any bigger it might have taken not just Waylon but also Dion... > Read more

The Ways of the World

Slim Chance: The Show Goes On; The Songs of Ronnie Lane (Fishpool/Southbound)

29 Oct 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

There is a lovely but very sad doco The Passing Show about the life of the late Ronnie Lane, formerly of the Small Faces and Faces, who died -- more correctly wasted away through multiple sclerosis -- in '97. Lane went his own unique way after he quit the Faces and lived like a genuine back-to-the-land gypsy/hippie lifestyle and toured with his band Slim Chance like some traveling circus.... > Read more

Rats Tales