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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Tomorrow is Monday. No matter how good or bad your weekend was, tomorrow is Monday. It’s been too many decades – far more than I would care to mention – since I left school, but the tendency to malinger on Monday mornings still lingers in me every time that first working day of the week looms ahead, precisely, invariably and without exception. So to dull the blow of Monday mornings, I try to put together a playlist for my commute to work, something to make it easier to get back to the grind. Last week, I surveyed my latest haul of albums, songs and podcasts and zeroed in on something that I hoped would be a good antidote to the Monday morning blues, the new Best Coast album, The Only Place. Read more

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I don’t know about you but those rare Fri-Sat-Sun weekend holidays almost invariably end for me with an anxious and slightly depressed Sunday morning. First, there’s the ugly form of another work-filled week looming ahead and just a few quick hours away. Then, again almost always, the most pleasing part of the extended weekend is over before it extends to Sunday. So last week, when the Easter weekend rolled by and the all-familiar dip began on Sunday morning, I was determined to fight it off. With a playlist. I wanted some happy music. So, weeks after I’d acquired Crazy For You, last year’s debut album by Best Coast, a Los Angeles indie band, but hadn’t really got down to listening, I popped it in and sat back. Read more

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My new friend Shazam and I are sitting in a tiny bar swigging beer and eating some not so healthy food (actually, I am drinking and eating; my new friend is not up for much of that, but more about him later). And listening to an eclectic playlist of songs that the bar’s DJ has lined up for the afternoon. The music is good so the afternoon turns out to be a long one. Several familiar tunes roll out. I hear a couple of Pearl Jam songs – Alive and Yellow Ledbetter. You feel good when you hear songs that you like or, even better, songs that you like but haven’t got around to listening to in ages, when someone unexpectedly plays them in a public place, like a bar or a restaurant. Read more

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When one of your favourite pieces of music becomes Muzak, piped into an elevator or played in the background at an airport, you can sometimes feel indignant. When I heard the Garcia-Hunter track, Crazy Fingers (off The Grateful Dead’s 1975 album, Blues for Allah) playing in a muted sort of way at an American airport, I was genuinely upset. I mean, come on, when we used to listen to that album it had to be in a darkened room, everybody had to be quiet and the use of additives was, well, let’s just say not actively discouraged. And here I was at a bustling JFK terminal and I could almost hear the late Jerome J Garcia’s voice going “Your rain falls like crazy fingers/ Peals of fragile thunder keeping time/Recall the days that still are to come some sing blue….” and so on. Only it wasn’t him singing but a synthesized, unreal sounding electronic tune of the song. Read more

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