Of all the little critic-created pigeon-holes to classify rock music into sub-genres, the one I most dislike the sound of is ‘slacker rock’. What is slacker rock? Who’s the slacker in the kind of music that is classified under that title? Is it the musicians? Is it their audiences? The kind of music they play? My Concise OED provides two meanings for the word ‘slacker’: 1. a person who avoids work or effort. 2. a young person of a subculture characterised by apathy and aimlessness. Both I find abhorrent descriptions in the context of the rock music that is generally classified as slacker rock. Read more

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If you’ve ever heard Gogol Bordello play, particularly at one of their adrenalin charged live concerts, the last thing you’ll do is classify them as folk musicians. This nine-member band from New York’s gritty Lower East Side is raucous and boisterous and I’ve seen them described somewhere as “demented”. After listening to a couple of live recordings, I wouldn’t dream of calling their gypsy infused, non-stop, high-energy performances folk music, at least not by the conventional yardstick of what that genre represents. Their music has elements of East European gypsy music, western punk and alternative rock. Not surprisingly, Gogol Bordello, led by frontman and singer Eugene Hutz, an Ukrainian-American, is described as a gypsy-punk band. I’ll tell you why I mentioned the folk music genre in a few seconds but first a bit about Gogol Bordello. Read more

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I know it’s not a brand new film but have you seen Wild Target? It’s a British ‘action-comedy’, starring Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt. It also has Rupert Grint (he of the Harry Potter series fame) and Rupert Everett. In the film, Nighy is a paid assassin in keeping with his family business (his father was one and his mother wants him to be as good if not better). Blunt is a target that he is assigned to kill but that assignment goes awry and it all roller-coasters into a eccentric, action-filled 98 minutes, which if it were not for the excellent acting by Nighy and Blunt could have gone steadily downhill because of tired gags and a completely absurd plot. Read more

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Last month after we’d heard the news of British singer Amy Winehouse’s untimely death at 27, the media quickly zeroed in on that particular number, citing the names of other rock and pop stars who had lost their lives when they were as old as Winehouse was when her body was found at her London residence. Winehouse was probably the most talented of the current crop of British women singers many of whom are, like she was, at the forefront of a revival of soul music. Read more

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