Music at Elsewhere

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BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Various Artists: Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

Subtitled “Alternative Takes on Congotronics”, this well-annotated double disc lets loose alternative and post-rock acts on the lo-fi but compelling music from Kinshasa dance clubs where cheap keyboards and beat-machines were slammed alongside traditional thumb piano, found instruments (pots'n'pans), megaphones, electric guitars and drums. The bands Konono No 1 and Kasai... > Read more

Au Vs Masanka Sankayi: Two Labors

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

12 Dec 2010  |  4 min read  |  3

“You know kids go, 'Hey, when are you gonna make a record?',” Bruce Springsteen said in March 77, “I say, 'One of these days'.” And they were difficult days for the man they call The Boss. After his breakthrough album Born to Run in '75 – which sold around 10 million globally and took him to the covers of Newsweek and Time in the same week in October... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen: Ain't Good Enough For You

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Here's a striking opening couplet on an album: "If you're gonna lead my country and you're gonna say it's free, I'm gonna need a little honesty . . . just a few honest words, it shouldn't be that hard". That these spare but blunt sentiments are delivered over cello rather than angry guitars make them even more powerful, and when Sollee says he doesn't need handshakes, fancy... > Read more

Ben Sollee: Bend

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

12 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read

Because music on the ECM label often invites a litany of familiar adjectives -- austere, cool, detached -- it's a pleasure to throw this disc into the player and find yourself thinking more along the lines of . . . muscular, vigorous, assertive.   Even the cover here suggests fireworks --- and while the music isn't exactly incendiary this young Swiss group lead by pianist Bartsch... > Read more

Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Modul 55

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Neil Young: Le Noise (Warners)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

A preference declared: I've never been as smitten as many by Neil Young's acoustic albums -- never had a copy of Harvest for example, although I hardly needed it, everybody else played it incessantly. But I have always cranked up his rowdy albums with Crazy Horse (most of them) and believe albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Arc-Weld are among his best alongside disturbing albums like... > Read more

Neil Young: Walk with Me

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

12 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read

You really gotta love the JJ Revue who deliver hotrod rock'n'roll which draws from the Fifties (Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis) as filtered through the most wild and dissolute of Rod Stewart/Faces (or the Quireboys with more rocking honky-tonk blues in their soul) with the kind of trash energy of Grinderman. Produced by Jim Sclavunos (who has done similar for Cave/Bad Seeds), this one... > Read more

The Jim Jones Revue: Big Len

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Giant Sand: Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire/Southbound)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

The next few months sees the re-presentation of the Giant Sand back-catalogue, the Tucson-based band helmed by singer-songwriter Howe Gelb for these past 25 years which has had among its ranks the core of Calexico (John Convertino and Joey Burns) and a guest list which has included M. Ward, the late Vic Chestnutt and Rainer Placek, Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate, Neko Case and many other... > Read more

Giant Sand: Better Man Than Me

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Great North: Newfoundland (GNMR)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  2

This Auckland band impressed mightily with their Soldiers EP of last year and this debut album really steps up to the plate. Coming from an alt.country end but with discreet influences from the likes of Springsteen, Dylan, Neil Young and the Waterboys as much as muscular poetry and indie.rock (the landslide of guitars which bury All Eyes right at the end), this album has a broad reach.... > Read more

Great North: Hands

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Dear Time's Waste: Spells (DTW/Isaac)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

The previous EP in '08, Room for Rent, by this Auckland singer/writer Claire Duncan was notable for its droning and hypnotic qualities (guitar washes) alongside delicately realised folk, and you detected a talent which could stretch in many directions, from a constrained Bjork-meets-JAMChain to slightly disconcerting meditations on love . . . and throughout pastel shadings which were quite... > Read more

Dear Time's Waste: Son of a Fright

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eva Prowse: I Can't Keep Secrets (Eva Prowse/Rhythmethod)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

Prowse -- here with her debut album -- has probably crossed more people's paths than they might think: she has toured with Fly My Pretties, opened for Wanda Jackson and appeared on the excellent album Trouble on the Waterfront by her father Chris Prowse. That is emblematic of her musical dexterity, and the fact she has the Phoenix Foundation's Samuel Flynn Scott producing and playing here,... > Read more

Eva Prowse: Complacency

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (Universal)

12 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read

This four-piece from London may have a banjo on hand and a similar way with an archaic lyric and alt.folk melody as Fleet Foxes, but here on their debut album with widescreen producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire's Neon Bible) they bring some dramatic urgency which kicks them clearly into the alt.rock territory. With songs which have a sharp sense of dynamics – a rush of blood and... > Read more

Mumford and Sons: Thistle and Weeds

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Eels: End Times (Shock)

12 Dec 2010  |  2 min read

The last album by Eels/Mark Oliver Everett was the split personality of Hombre Lobo where gritty and sexually aggressive  songs were alternated with lovely ballads as if he was exploring two sides of the human condition. It is a terrific album (you may only like half the tracks depending on your current frame of mind) and was Everett adopting a persona. This time out he has written... > Read more

Eels: In My Younger Days

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate: Ali and Toumani (World Circuit)

12 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

When the great guitarist Ali Farka Toure from Mali died in late 2005 he left an exceptional legacy of wonderful albums, not the least being the exceptional In the Heart of the Moon with kora player Toumani Diabate. That album was why sites like Elsewhere exist (J.Lo hardly needs our help. right?) Their mesmerising music was like a portal into another world, and a very benign and relaxing... > Read more

Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate: Ruby

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

12 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read

Willie Nelson makes so many albums these days – from Western Swing with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex-Mex to jazz stylings with Wynton Marsalis – that it's helpful this title is a product description. So here's Willie – now 77 – going back to songs by Ernest Tubb, Doc Watson, Hank Williams and others, as well the traditional I Am a Pilgrim, Nobody's Fault But... > Read more

Wille Nelson: My Baby's Gone

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Naked and Famous: Passive Me Aggressive You (Somewhat Damaged)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

From She Loves You and She's a Mod, pop music has always rung to the affirmation of "yeah yeah yeah" -- and to hear this Auckland band work it so well on their newly minted classic single Young Blood (which recently won the Silver Scroll for songwriting) was thrilling. This debut album has been so well canvassed and reviewed that little remains to be said about it: it feels like a... > Read more

The Naked and the Famous: Spank

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 John Grant: Queen of Denmark (Shock)

12 Dec 2010  |  2 min read

Although he recorded three albums with the band the Czars, we should perhaps treat this quite exceptional, moving, funny, droll and heart-breaking singer-songwriter as a new artist. And on those terms he immediately places himself in the company of early Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and a more humorous Rufus Wainwright for songs like Sigourney Weaver in which he laments his life in terms of... > Read more

John Grant: Queen of Denmark

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Midlake: The Courage of Others (Inertia)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  3

This quintet from Texas -- now on their third album -- has only appeared once previously at Elsewhere, a wonderful track on the collection Secret Love 4. That piece (the sample track posted with that album) was so impressive their name imprinted itself on my memory -- and then this album turns up. In the absence of hearing much else by them this one seduces on a first hearing and it has... > Read more

Midlake: Fortune

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Devils Elbow: Sand on Chrome (Hit Your Head)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

This raw, sometimes wilfully ragged and largely terrific duo of Alec Withers (vocals, guitars) and drummer-singer Andrew Gladstone formerly in Garageland (and a couple of friends in places) deliver up hook-filled alt.country rock which owes a nod to Joe Strummer as much as Steve Earle, and they also possesses that free-wheeling spirit which made the Replacements so special. As with the... > Read more

Devils Elbow: These Days

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Junky Star (Lost Highway)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

The name "Ryan Bingham" has been getting a lot of eartime recently -- it was the name of George Clooney's character in the movie Up in the Air. But more importantly in the real world it belongs to one of the most interesting Americana singer-songwriters of the past deacde -- the man who picked up an Oscar for his song The Weary Kind in the film Crazy Heart (in which he also played... > Read more

Ryan Bingham: Junky Star

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Black Keys: Brothers (Shock)

12 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

Albums are usually far too long these days, and this is no exception -- but just when you think you might lose interest here the Keys pull out another angle: around the midpoint there are some superbly dark and soulful blues (Ten Cent Pistol, Sinister Kid) which sound steeped in Howlin' Wolf/Muddy Waters, then a new classic on The Go Getter (a moody barroom creeper which Etta James should... > Read more

The Black Keys: The Go Getter