In 2007 when I first signed on for Twitter, the free social media micro-blogging service, there wasn’t that much happening out there—at least, not in India. Indeed, Twitter itself was barely a year old then and all I did was to follow the tweets of a few friends who lived in the US and just about a handful of (mainly techie-oriented) media websites that put out alerts and stuff as tweets.
In recent months, though, twittering has become a pastime for people and the Indian blogosphere is bubbling over with tweets.
Politicians, veteran journalists, actors and other celebrities can’t seem to get enough of twittering, posting everything from the profound to the mundane about their lives and thoughts.
Unless you organise your tweets into lists and groups, the updates from people you follow can resemble Babel, the noise-level so cacophonous that it is difficult to make any sense of anything.
But Twitter has its pluses. I follow tweets from various music magazines, websites as well as fans and musicians and I must say it’s a blessing.
On a break in the heart of Tuscany recently, I got a serendipitous tweet from an indie music blogger who pointed me to a not-so-well-known Italian rock band who actually hailed from the town that we were then in, Siena. I immediately went about looking for the band who went by the name of Elton Junk.
Between indulgent platefuls of Pappardelle al Cinghiale and endless glasses of Chianti Classico, I kept nipping into music stores, causing much consternation to the family, to look for something by the band. No luck. No one seemed to have heard of them.
Not surprising that because although they are a Tuscan band, Elton Junk are more popular up north in Italy, mainly in way more trendy Milan where I discovered they had gigs lined up that week. But we weren’t scheduled to stop at Milan. So I did the next best thing and hit the web.
I found them on Myspace as well as on their own website and was mighty surprised to discover that they play a brand of psychedelic music that combines jazz, funk and rock. Good guitar solos, solid bass lines and great vocals. Their rather curiously named album, Because of Terrible Tiger, is two years old but can still be streamed off the web.
You never know where you’ll discover new music. In a bookshop in Rome, I found a music section with a surprisingly good collection of albums by indie bands. And was tempted enough to pick up albums in physical CD form whose mp3 versions I already have.
If not for the sheer old-fashioned brick-and-mortar joy of actually having them, then for the cover and sleeve artwork that mp3s or FLAC versions don’t come with. Incidentally, Animal Collective’s astounding new album, Merriweather Post Pavilion (I’ve gushed about it before), has an interesting cover design and no printed words anywhere.
It was Twitter again that pointed me to Wilco’s new album, their seventh, called Wilco (The Album) even before it was to be released in the US on June 30. A website streamed (but didn’t allow downloading) the album in its entirety. Wilco are an alternative rock band that have their roots in country music band from Illinois called Uncle Tupelo.
I had liked Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the band’s fourth album, released in 2002 to critical acclaim but didn’t much care for 2007’s Blue Sky Blue, which, I thought, fell short both lyrically and musically. Wilco (The Album) makes amends for that and when downloads are available, I’ll certainly go for it. A bonus on the album is a track where frontman Jeff Tweedy sings a duet, You and I, with the versatile Canadian singer, Feist.
Another tweet from Pitchforkmedia, the snooty music webzine, had a music reviewer pass on his comments after a preview of three songs from The Flaming Lips’ forthcoming album, Embryonic. Although the album is due out only in September, The Lips had evidently released three tracks for a sneak preview to Pitchfork.
Here’s the verdict: going by the three, the album would be more experimental (like The Flaming Lips’ older albums, I guess—maybe more Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots than At War With the Mystics? We’ll have to wait and see).
The thing about Twitter is its instantaneous nature of communication. When Michael Jackson died last month, the news spread like wildfire with tweets coming in from all over the place. But the one tweet that led me, a not-so-big fan of Jackson, to an interesting trove was about Coverville, a podcast dedicated to covers of other people’s songs.
Within hours of the King of Pop’s death, they had up a tribute episode that featured Jackson’s songs done by others: KT Tunstall’s version of I Want You Back, Sexton Blake’s tweak on Human Nature, Dick Brave & The Backbeats doing Black Or White and many more. You can still check it out here.
Listen to ‘virtual’ tracks: