Another new year has trundled in and as I wait for the first bursts of new music to land, I went back to last year’s crop to see whether I’d missed out on anything that I’d acquired over last year but not given much attention to. Predictably, there were many. But I picked up three of them and spun them with a bit more seriousness. All three are gold. Read more
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Ever since iTunes opened up its store to customers in India, it has been bliss for me. I can now buy music at very reasonable prices – songs for as low as R12 and in some cases, even full albums for a dirt cheap R30. The opening up of the iTunes Store was the best thing to have happened for Indian music lovers but some of us, especially of the grey-haired (or, no-haired) vintage, the real deal is often all about buying the album in its physical, touchable form. There is a certain something about peeling off the plastic and opening up the jewel case of a new CD that digitally downloaded albums just can’t match. Read more

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A couple of weeks back, I listed five albums that stood out for me in 2012, five that I would certainly take with me into the next year. All five—Sigur Ros’s Valtari, Patti Smith’s Banga, Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, Japandroids’ Celebration Rock, and Dr. John’s Locked Down—are doing heavy-duty shifts on my playlists and, I’m quite sure, shall continue to do so for a bit. But if I look back again at 2012, there are a few albums that I wish I’d spent more time with. Some of them are gems that are sitting there to be discovered. Read more

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After a week of overdosing on over-wrought music, you know the kind–complex arrangement of instruments, overwhelming synthesizer layers, deep bass, heavy drum lines, hardly discernible vocals—I was looking for some relief and it came in the form of a gent named Thomas Patrick Maguire. He’s based in Brooklyn, New York, and if you see a picture of Maguire—clean-cut, fresh faced, short, slicked back hair, you’d probably get the wrong idea about the kind of music he makes. But listen to any track from his just released, The Future’s Coming So Fast, and you’ll realise that what you see is not always what you get. Read more

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Hip-hop and rap are not a natural choice of genres for me when I’m looking for something to listen to. In fact, I find much of hip-hop’s lyrics too full of violence, sexism and needless vulgarity. And very, very few hip-hop or rap artists—even those whom everybody seems to laud—appear to me to be good writers, rhymers or lyricists. That doesn’t mean I don’t like some of what the genre offers. Among contemporary bands, I really liked Das Racist, the alternative hip hop band from Brooklyn that features two MCs of Indian origin (I did gush about them in this column in the past). I also loved the much older Gang Starr, a duo comprising the late MC Guru and DJ Premier (I gushed about them too when Guru died a couple of years back). Read more

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There is something infectious about Dhaval Mudgal and his band, Half Step Down. When they perform on stage, they have great fun and that spreads quickly to the audience, sceptics included. After a none-too-great experience at a live gig by another one of Delhi’s rock bands, I was coaxed into dropping by at the city’s Hard Rock Café to see Mudgal and his band. I didn’t regret it. What I did regret though was why I hadn’t bothered to seek out this fine five-year-old band before. Read more

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