I’m in a once-familiar city that has changed in weird ways. The weather alternates between muggy and hot or wet and rainy. I know few people in town now and everything seems new, strange and even a bit complicated. The fact that I’ve had to make the trip in not very happy circumstances doesn’t make things any better. So, lying down in bed in the dark one night, I reached into the innards of an old iPod for something familiar.
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When one of your favourite pieces of music becomes Muzak, piped into an elevator or played in the background at an airport, you can sometimes feel indignant. When I heard the Garcia-Hunter track, Crazy Fingers (off The Grateful Dead’s 1975 album, Blues for Allah) playing in a muted sort of way at an American airport, I was genuinely upset. I mean, come on, when we used to listen to that album it had to be in a darkened room, everybody had to be quiet and the use of additives was, well, let’s just say not actively discouraged. And here I was at a bustling JFK terminal and I could almost hear the late Jerome J Garcia’s voice going “Your rain falls like crazy fingers/ Peals of fragile thunder keeping time/Recall the days that still are to come some sing blue….” and so on. Only it wasn’t him singing but a synthesized, unreal sounding electronic tune of the song. Read more

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There’s a 1999 three-disc album called Everything Is Nice: The Matador Records 10th Anniversary Anthology. If you like indie, alternative bands, you ought to own that album of 43 excellent tracks by a bunch of super talented bands and musicians. If you’re a die-hard indie fan, I’m sure you probably have the Matador anthology or, at least, have heard of it. If not, here’s a sneak peek at that 12-year-old album. Artists featured on the album include indie star acts like Pavement, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Cat Power and Modest Mouse but also lesser known bands such as Chavez, Bardo Pond, Solex and Khan.
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Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 and it became an instant hit, selling 45 million copies and remaining on the Billboard charts for 741 weeks, which is a record that is still unbroken. I don’t know how many million people have tripped on Dark Side over the past 37 years. I know I did back in the mid-1970s. And although I don’t really like Pink Floyd very much (except maybe for 1967’s The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, the only album released while the band was still helmed by Syd Barrett), it was de rigueur in my high school days (yes, yes, in the 1970s) to own a copy of the album, which, incidentally, I still do—on vinyl, on cassette and on CD. It’s a different matter that I can’t recall when was the last time I took any of these out and played them. Read more

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During a bit of downtime at work the other day, I put on The Gaslight Anthem’s new album, American Slang, on the sound dock I have in my office (yes, you could say I enjoy some privileges at work by way of being a somewhat higher form of pond life) and a colleague dropped in. He heard a few bars, stuck up his nose, saying, “Very nineties,” and left, going back to his own lair presumably to listen to the recently re-mastered (and issued with 10 additional, hitherto unpublished tracks) 1972 album by one of rock’s most famous bands. Read more

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