If nobody tells you who was playing or you don’t get to see the name of the album or the band, this gem from 1972 could sound like a secret album by none other than Jimi Hendrix. The same trademark guitar (fuzzy, distorted, explosive and wailing) and singing style (blues, R&B and soul-influenced but oh, so unique). Legions of rock musicians have tried to imitate Hendrix but no one I’ve heard has sounded as hair-raisingly close as this album does. I got a rock aficionado friend to do blind tasting, playing the album for him and then asking him who he thought was the musician. “Hendrix is singing, of course,” he said confidently, “but the guitar sounds a bit different. Are there two guitars?” Then, as we moved to the second and the third tracks, he sat back with a smile and said, “Hendrix. But what album is this?” Read more

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I am yet to meet anyone who likes going for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. You know what I’m talking about—you are made to lie down in a claustrophobic pod and hear strange clanging noises, while your head is scanned. In fact, I’ve heard of people who’ve insisted on being administered general anaesthesia before lying in an MRI scanner. So, I was quite surprised when I found out what Charlotte Gainsbourg, the Anglo-French singer and actress, had called her new album. It’s called IRM and it means MRI in French.
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On the transcontinental love song, Tiger Phone Card, the Cambodian woman lives in Phnom Penh and the American man in New York City. The lyrics are simple. Each short verse sung by the man alternates with another by the woman and then a chorus where both sing it together. It’s simple, cute and catchy. And it is the song that hooked me to Dengue Fever, a Los Angeles-based band that combines Cambodian popular music with indie garage rock. The singer, Chhom Nimol, is a diminutive Cambodian, while the five other musicians, including two brothers, Zac and Ethan Holtzman, are American.

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Last weekend, I did something that is totally at odds with what Download Central is supposed to do. Instead of sitting at my computer and scouring the Internet for downloads or streams of new music, I actually went out and watched a rock band performing live. The gig was at Delhi’s kitschy Hard Rock Café (but then aren’t all HRCs meant to be kitschy?) and the band was Hurricane Bells who hail from Brooklyn, New York.

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