The best thing about New York is not how it’s a treasure trove of new music but how that music can spring out of the most unlikely places and surprise you. Last week, during a short sojourn in the city that never sleeps, I was sitting on a bench outside the Gourmet Garage, a deli in SoHo, eating a relaxed breakfast (yummy roast-beef sandwich, hot split-pea soup and coffee) when a pick-up truck roared down the street I was facing and three guys jumped out. You’re not likely to have an impromptu music video shoot like that surprise you amidst the commercial bustle of mid-town Manhattan but go further uptown and there could be other delights waiting for your attention.

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I have gushed before about The National’s Matt Berninger and his deep baritone voice and their songs with highly literate and intimate, if a bit self-absorbed, lyrics. The two albums of the Brooklyn-based band that I like—Alligator and Boxer—do routine overtime on my playlists. I like the sad (yet not soppy) undertone in many of their songs and the nice dose of intellectualism and wit. It would be fair enough to say The National is among my favourite bands.
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It’s the curse of plenty. When collecting tends towards hoarding, choice becomes a real problem. And that has been happening to me. The rate at which I’m amassing music—courtesy the scores of feeds from mp3 blogs that I subscribe to and the huge number of podcasts that unfailingly land in my iTunes each week—is far higher than the rate at which I can listen to them all. Some weeks back, a reader and occasional admonisher, Sanjay Ghosh, while commenting on the web version of this column, observed how when you have hundreds of albums, your attention per album gets really small. I couldn’t agree more. Read more

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It was 1977. I was, er, let’s just say, very young and had my first brush with southern American rock bands. An older cousin had handed me an LP, The South’s Greatest Hits, which had come out that year, and with it began a torrid affair with southern rock bands, an affair that, as you shall soon find out, has passed the test of time. The South’s Greatest Hits had stellar tunes by stellar bands. I got to listen to the Allman Brothers Band, Charlie Daniels Band, Elvin Bishop, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dr. John and others. I was hooked. Read more

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