When you first listen to The Tallest Man on Earth (who’s actually a 5’7” Swede named Kristian Matsson) you could be mistaken into believing that he’s probably mimicking Bob Dylan, so similar is the 29-year-old’s singing style and songwriting to the legendary musician. In fact, some critics feel exactly that way and Matsson, in his three-record career till now, has often faced that criticism—that he channels Dylan. But a closer listen to any of his albums, particularly this year’s There’s No Leaving Now, can change your perception. Hugely influenced by American folk giants such as Dylan and Woody Guthrie he may be, but Matsson’s songs are all about where he belongs and his local Swedish environment. Read more
As a compulsive hoarder of music, I have a confession to make. I often acquire albums and songs that I don’t get down to listening to. Not even once. Not even cursorily. Yes, it’s true and it does make me feel a bit silly. I mean I don’t display my music on racks and shelves as some hoarders of books do, ostensibly to impress visitors although they may not have read even a page of most of them. I can’t really do that, unless I offer people my iPods, hard drives and pen drives or a peek into the virtual cloud—places where most of the music I hoard are stored—but the fact is I do have countless albums and songs that I’ve never heard. I’ve downloaded them with all good intentions of listening to them but never got around to doing so. Read more
It is not easy to get into an album by Deerhunter. The Atlanta (Georgia, US) based quartet has been variously described as being purveyors of experimental rock or of post-punk or even noise rock. I prefer what Deerhunter’s frontman Bradford Cox calls their music – ambient punk. Cox is six-foot-four and very thin and has what is known as Marfan’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder of the connective tissue (and which I read somewhere that Joey Ramone also had). The disorder can make limbs and fingers very long and thin. That gives Cox a unique stage presence that is made all the more weird when he wears sun-dresses or vintage gowns and has fake blood on his face. Add his quirky vocals and things can get weirder during Deerhunter’s rather intense live gigs. Read more
There’s a 1999 three-disc album called Everything Is Nice: The Matador Records 10th Anniversary Anthology. If you like indie, alternative bands, you ought to own that album of 43 excellent tracks by a bunch of super talented bands and musicians. If you’re a die-hard indie fan, I’m sure you probably have the Matador anthology or, at least, have heard of it. If not, here’s a sneak peek at that 12-year-old album. Artists featured on the album include indie star acts like Pavement, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Cat Power and Modest Mouse but also lesser known bands such as Chavez, Bardo Pond, Solex and Khan.
I am yet to meet anyone who likes going for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. You know what I’m talking about—you are made to lie down in a claustrophobic pod and hear strange clanging noises, while your head is scanned. In fact, I’ve heard of people who’ve insisted on being administered general anaesthesia before lying in an MRI scanner. So, I was quite surprised when I found out what Charlotte Gainsbourg, the Anglo-French singer and actress, had called her new album. It’s called IRM and it means MRI in French.
Ever since last week when I first heard Pearl Jam’s Backspacer, their newest album, I’ve been obsessively listening to it over and over again. It’s a mighty fine album and if you read the review in last Saturday’s Rock ’n’ Roll Circus in Hindustan Times by my colleague Indrajit Hazra you’ll know what I mean. Backspacer is a whopper; a cracker of an album from the band. Pearl Jam has been around for nearly 20 years, much longer than what many bands take to burn out or become their own stupid caricatures—I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about.
I know we’re barely into the tenth month this year and November and December are still left, but 2009 has thus far been such a hyperactive period for music that I couldn’t help writing about the best that I’ve heard till now. It’s not easy to do a list of the best new albums but let me try.
The very first time I heard their lead singer’s raspy, nasal, serrated vocals, I knew I was going to like Deer Tick, a band I first heard on a podcast of their gig at Newport Folk Fest last month. I may have mentioned the band in passing in an earlier instalment of Download Central but I hadn’t explored them enough then. Lead singer John McCauley III’s nasal snarl belies his age. He is 23. And a friend who dropped in while I was playing some Deer Tick said he sounds like a baby Dylan.