Music at Elsewhere

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Antony and the Johnsons: Cut the World (Unspk)

24 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

There are many people these days -- Leonard Cohen, Laurie Anderson, Bjork, Rufus Wainwright (who delivered an exceptional, witty, sometimes emotionally intense, upbeat then flamboyantly outre show on Friday night in Auckland), Scott Walker, Dudley Benson and many others -- who exist within the broad parameters of "rock culture" (because that's where they are mostly interviewed,... > Read more

I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy

Beachwood Sparks: The Tarnished Gold (Sub Pop)

24 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Given this is the first album in over a decade by this Californian jangle-pop/country-rock group – whose reference points are Buffalo Springfield and Laurel Canyon bands of the late 60s/early 70s -- it's perhaps best to trace their lineage backwards. Drummer Aaron Sperske recently spent time in Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (Mr Pink guests here), guitarist Dave Scher toured as... > Read more

Leave That Light On

The Bemsha Swing: Against Friends and Lovers (Muzai)

24 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Courageous and/or foolhardy is a furious post-punk bassist and guitaring duo (with a pneumatic drill drum machine, buzz-shred guitar chords) which would name itself after a Thelonious Monk tune. That seems designed to incur wrath and condemnation, but fortunately jazz aficionados are not going to venture into this world of bruising but white heat pop-rock delivered with widescreen intensity... > Read more

Piano Wire Promises

Dinosaur Jr: I Bet on Sky (Play It Again Sam)

24 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

The favourable reviews and fan reception for this album -- their third since hatchets were buried and they reformed in 2005 -- have tended to emphasise that there is something comfortable and familiar about Dinosaur Jr here, and that it somewhat downplays the thrilling noise of their first incarnation. All true. So another way of looking at that might be a disappointing, unchallenging... > Read more

Pierce the Rain

Various Artists: The Ramones Heard Them Here First (Ace/Border)

21 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

Always intertesting to quote Shakespeare in the context of the Ramones, but the Bard said (in King Lear), "Nothing will come of nothing". And the minimalist sound of the Ramones didn't come from nothing. They unashamedly drew on Fifties and Sixties pop like girl groups, Phil Spector productions (such as shame he would screw them over when recording them), the Beach Boys, the... > Read more

Time Has Come Today

Dead Rat Orchestra: The Guga Hunters of Ness (Critical Heights/Southbound)

20 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

Although their name suggests they aren't making a bid for mainstream attention, this British ensemble here serve up a soundtrack album which is rather more interesting than its odd title. As in New Zealand where certain families have a traditional right to collect mutton birds from remote islands way to the south in dangerously unforgiving waters, so too the people of Ness on the isle of... > Read more

The Geshin and the Guga

Pin Group: Ambivalence (Flying Nun)

19 Sep 2012  |  1 min read

In his liner notes to this important reissue from Flying Nun, Bruce Russell makes the point that this collection has not only historical significance -- the Pin Group's Ambivalence was the first single on the fledgling Flying Nun label in '81 and ushered in a whole genre of underground New Zealand rock -- but that musically they exemplified a sound which still has resonance. Their early... > Read more

A Thousand Sins

Dylan LeBlanc: Cast the Same Old Shadow (Rough Trade)

17 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

The 2010 debut album Pauper's Field by this 22-year old traveler from the dark side of alt.country was quite the quiet killer with its broody-noir quality leaven by flickers of Southern soul. But for this occasionally hypnotic outing he reaches even further, because his voice now possesses more power and emotional range as he aims for Buckley-like grandeur. The musical settings are... > Read more

The Ties That Bind

JEFF the Brotherhood: Hypnotic Nights (Warners)

17 Sep 2012  |  <1 min read

Perhaps this Nashville duo should call themselves “Jeff the Bruvverhood” as their debts to the Ramones (dense and fuzzy pop, aural references to Sixties girl groups etc) are splattered across many of these 11 songs co-produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach who has brought out a marginally more pop element from them. So reference points might now include garageband Beach... > Read more

Country Life

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

Missing

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

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

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

Bored

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 alt.country 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

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