I’m writing this with my headphones jammed on my ears and the volume cranked up high. It is an ill-advised thing to do. Because I’m listening to a band called Pig Destroyer. They’re from Washington DC and they play a genre of music that is known as grindcore. Grindcore is loud. LOUD. It is probably the heaviest, most distorted and abrasive kind of music that I have ever heard. I’ve heard various types of heavy metal–doom, death and thrash metal, Japanese bands that routinely blow out the audience’s eardrums and cause nosebleeds and heart attacks and others of their ilk from the US and Europe. But nothing comes close to what I’m getting fed into my ears via my headphones right now. 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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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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