Some bands you can only enjoy listening to them live. I’ve been listening to the Athens (Georgia) based American band, Of Montreal, for a while now. They have been around since the late 1990s and have nearly a dozen studio albums out. Their music is difficult to classify—and driven by frontman, singer and guitarist Kevin Barnes, they have fused and hopped genres as widely disparate as catchy indie pop, glam rock, experimental and psychedelic rock and deeply brooding lo-fi music. That last kind of music was what characterised Of Montreal’s 2007 album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, a dark and very personal kind of work. I don’t know whether I was fortunate or otherwise that Hissing Fauna was the first album by the band that came my way. Read more

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My latest obsession is with a brand new, one album old band that I must confess I could have missed totally because of the genre that it has been classified in by many smart-alecky critics. I’m not a huge fan of electro-pop and definitely not a lover of gratuitous use of synthesizers and that other abomination, the drum machine, which belts out meticulous artificially put together beats, with little or no human touch. I mean how can you substitute the thwack of wooden sticks on skin or hand-wielded strikes on cymbals with something that a machine vomits out with irritating precision? Read more

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It may have been a cool April and a deceptively temperate beginning of May in Delhi (which otherwise scorches at this time of the year) but I am sitting and writing this and listening to what I think is one of my ideal summer listening albums. It’s a  2004 album called Fly Between Falls and it’s by Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) and it has all the ingredients you need to make it best suited for summer: the band hails from sunny California; their music is upbeat and so are their lyrics; there’s a relaxed yet nicely funky groove to their sound; and they don’t tend to pound the stuffing out of your head no matter how loud you want to listen to them. Read more

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A couple of days after Levon Helm, drummer, singer and key member of The Band, the legendary rock group of the 1960s and 70s (and then again the 80s and the 90s), died in the middle of last month, I got to hear a podcast that excerpted two radio interviews with Helm—one from 1993 and the other 2007. There was a distinct difference in Helm’s voice between the two interviews. In the 1993 interview he sounded exactly like he did on The Weight. Remember The Weight? I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin’ about half past dead;/ I just need some place where I can lay my head. “Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”/ He just grinned and shook my hand, and “No!”, was all he said. What a gorgeous song that is. The vocals were shared by three of The Band’s singers. Besides Helm, there was Richard Manuel and Rick Danko. The song itself was written by guitarist Robbie Robertson who, I read somewhere, was inspired by the films of Luis Bunuel to write The Weight. Read more

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