My daughter, about to be eight, has an earworm. You know, a piece of music that seems stuck in your ear so seemingly permanently that you just couldn’t get it out. It’s a song that she hums, sings and dances with vigorously even though it’s not being played anywhere. And I’m happy. Delighted, actually, because the song happens to be Lonely Boy by The Black Keys. Actually, the duo that makes up The Black Keys may also seem like an earworm for Download Central, in case you are one of those readers who for some strange reason follows this column fairly regularly—I don’t know how many times I have written about them, obsessively, compulsively and, perhaps also, maniacally.
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I think it is sometimes better to watch a film without having read any of the reviews. Had I read the reviews of 2010’s British film, London Boulevard, I probably wouldn’t have readily watched the film on DVD as I did recently. On Metacritic, the film, a directorial debut of William Monahan, the Oscar winning screenplay writer of Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, got a score of just 52, which is at best considered a middling rating. I was fortunate not to have scoured the net before watching the DVD because I liked the film. London Boulevard is a British crime drama with all Brit cast—Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone and David Thewlis (he played Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films). But it is a British film made by an American director. Read more

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By the time you read this, South by South West, arguably the largest music festival held each year at Austin, Texas, will be winding down. Thirteen hundred odd bands would have performed at more than 90 venues. And festival-goers—I envy them all—would have discovered tons of new musicians, many of them obscure but many among them that are likely to make ripples in the coming months. For several years now, I have had a long-standing objective of making it to the festival and drowning in the non-stop gigs for four consecutive days. I haven’t managed to fulfill that objective yet. Sigh! Read more

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There are two albums sitting on my desk next to the laptop that I’m typing on and I haven’t yet heard them. One of them is Bruce Springsteen’s new and, as I understand, angry album, Wrecking Ball. Serendipitously, the album landed just as I was thinking of Springsteen. I like Springsteen although I’m not as huge a fan of the sincere, honest, working-class hero musician as are a couple of my colleagues. He is politically outspoken and many of his albums are themed on major issues of their times—Wrecking Ball has been associated by critics with the current financial crisis in the US. Read more

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It’s always nice to meet someone who shares your tastes in music. You exchange notes, swap a CD or two or a few zipped files of new albums, maybe just exchange tips and leads on what blogs to follow, which bands to watch, or even bitch about musicians whom most others think are fabulous but you just want to avoid like the plague. But as you grow older and have less time to meet too many new people and often are finickier about who you meet, such encounters become rare. So I was pleasantly surprised last month when I met a new colleague in Mumbai who was not only as much of a podcast addict as I am but also a great fan of the NPR podcasts of which he is also an obsessive listener. Of course, although his taste in music and mine do intersect somewhere, he’s more loyal to latin jazz, while my interests veer more towards rock. Still, when we met for a drink recently in his town, we forged an instant bond about widgets, apps and downloads from the NPR website and of how our commutes have become so much more bearable. Read more

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