It is likely you may not have even heard of S Carey, leave alone heard his music. I hadn’t a clue who this guy was till I accidentally caught a set by him and his band at a free live gig in Brooklyn recently. Carey (whose real name is Sean Carey) plays the drums with a flair that shows his influences – shades of percussive jazz. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Carey has been surrounded by music all his life (he’s probably still in his twenties) as a son of a music teacher in Wisconsin. His set was full of brooding, inward-looking tracks, made all the more deep by his bandmate Mike Noyce who adds layers of low-frequency string sounds on an upright viola. Carey, who self-released his debut album, All We Grow, this year, plays what you could call chamber pop with a touch of folk music and a non-intrusive, ambient nature. Read more

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My trainer is an ogre and I’m his guinea-pig. Or, his lab rat at the gym. What else could explain the torture he subjects me to every morning? Pull-ups, push-ups, presses of different kinds, squats, deadlifts…. till everything becomes a blurry haze and my body feels as if someone’s put it through a sugarcane juice maker. Of course, I willingly do his bidding—in what you could call a valiant attempt at postponing the sag of age with the help of a quotidian dose of extreme physical discomfort. It would be unfair to blame my trainer for what I go through every morning because the poor chap is only trying to help me do what I’ve signed up for. But it is a tough proposition: he is an insistent coach, firm and no-nonsense, but that alone is not nearly enough to see me through my workouts. For that I have to reach out for music. Read more

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Now that the headline above has managed to offend some readers who’ve turned their noses up in disgust and gone over to the next page, I can start my bigoted rant. Only, it’s neither bigoted nor is it a rant. It’s a rave actually, about bands that have the word “Black” in their names. How many of them have you come across? Countless, right? I sure have. Beginning with Black Sabbath (sorry, I promise that I shall not mention their name again; okay, maybe once more towards the end and that’s all) and moving to The Black Keys, Black Mountain, Black Crowes, Black Angels, Black Eyed Peas, Black Lips, or even simply Black. I did a search for bands with Black in their names and came up with a list that could possibly fill up several pages of tightly printed text. What is it, really, with bands and the word Black? Read more

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On my long commute to and from work, I’m often faced with a dilemma: what do I listen to? Sometimes it’s not hard to find an answer. A new album could be out and I’d give it a spin on the iPod or on the car stereo. Or I’d be obsessed with a new band that I’d discovered and go through everything on their back catalogue, listening to every album they’d released. This has happened with a few bands that I just couldn’t get out of my head for weeks. Some bands have that effect on you. Early this year, The National did that to me—I couldn’t stop listening to them–as did Broken Social Scene, the Canadian collective that makes great orchestrated, experimental music. But, at other times choosing a playlist for a commute that is at its best an hour long and at its worst nearly double that can be quite difficult. Read more

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It is appropriate that Neil Young’s latest album (released on September 28) is called Le Noise. It might as well have been called Le Sound. When producer Daniel Lanois (who’s worked with names such as Bob Dylan and U2) and Young stepped into the studio to make the record, both men wanted to create a “new sound”. So Lanois handed over an electro-acoustic guitar to Young and hooked up the bass strings to one amplifier and the treble ones to another. As Lanois describes it, the electro-acoustic guitar had it all: bass, electronic and acoustic sounds. And, if you listen to it—I caught the album in its entirety as a pre-launch webstream—you can see how Young is obviously enjoying it.
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