A pile of books, unread and semi-read, sits on my bedside table and grows steadily and embarrassingly. I have intentions of reading all of them.
Last week I even read nearly a sixth of David Sedaris’s Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, which is a collection of very funny essays; I finished the entire foreword to A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories, which is a fascinating book by the reputed chef April Bloomfield, co-written with JJ Goode; I read half of Teju Cole’s Open City about a Nigerian immigrant who walks the streets of Manhattan – it is just 260 pages but I still managed to read only half; and I keep gazing at the nine other books that I have not even found the time to open. It’s, as I said, embarrassing. Read more
This one’s strictly for hardcore Deadheads. It took me nearly 20 years to discover Grayfolded, a nearly two-hour-long album divided into two CDs – Transitive Axis and Mirror Ashes.
There’s been so much hype about Celebration Day, the name of the 2007 concert by the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, who reunited to play just one gig at London’s O2 arena as a tribute to the legendary producer and music industry executive, the late Ahmet Ertegun, that even after the recordings – both video and audio – of the concert were released late last year, I hesitated to check them out. Big mistake. I should’ve. Read more
By the time you read this, South by South West, arguably the largest music festival held each year at Austin, Texas, will be winding down. Thirteen hundred odd bands would have performed at more than 90 venues. And festival-goers—I envy them all—would have discovered tons of new musicians, many of them obscure but many among them that are likely to make ripples in the coming months. For several years now, I have had a long-standing objective of making it to the festival and drowning in the non-stop gigs for four consecutive days. I haven’t managed to fulfill that objective yet. Sigh! Read more
Every time I listen to Baba O’ Riley, The Who’s marvellous song off their Who’s Next album, I simply have to crank up the volume to as high as my ears can take. Always. Ever since I first heard that album in the early 1970s with its cheeky cover photograph of members of the band having just peed on a huge concrete piling, when Baba O’ Riley comes on, it just has to be full on—the highest volume level that I can manage. Attribute it to the violin solo on the song. Apparently, putting the violin solo into that Pete Townshend-composed song was the idea of the late Keith Moon, The Who’s pretty mad drummer. It was a great idea because that solo is brilliant and one that begs you to turn the volume knob or your iPod touch wheel or whatever works the loudness on the device that you get your fix on up high. Read more
Alright, I’ll get straight to the point. Here’s a shameless plug for the plush, quarterly version of this magazine. If you haven’t seen Brunch Quarterly, I’d urge you to pick up its second issue, which came out last week and may still be on the stands (if, and I am sure I am wrong, it hasn’t sold out). When you get hold of your copy, flip quickly to a story on new fitness techniques and you’ll encounter three fellows who specialise in instructing three new regimens—CrossFit, TRX and Muay Thai. Instructing is the wrong word. Punishing is more like it. Here’s a disclaimer: I know two of these fellows a bit more intimately than I should have. They trained (or, rather, punished me) and one of them continues to do so, for at least four times a week. After every session, I am nearly dead, wrung out and, sometimes, close to tears. But I go back for more. It’s a strange addiction. Read more
I’ll be completely honest. I sought out Grinderman 2 because I read it described somewhere as being Nick Cave’s midlife crisis project. Cave’s 53, not much older than me and that phrase “midlife crisis” struck a chord (make no mistake, I’m dealing with mine with finesse: I just bought a motorcycle. Yes, go ahead, laugh). Read more
Now that the headline above has managed to offend some readers who’ve turned their noses up in disgust and gone over to the next page, I can start my bigoted rant. Only, it’s neither bigoted nor is it a rant. It’s a rave actually, about bands that have the word “Black” in their names. How many of them have you come across? Countless, right? I sure have. Beginning with Black Sabbath (sorry, I promise that I shall not mention their name again; okay, maybe once more towards the end and that’s all) and moving to The Black Keys, Black Mountain, Black Crowes, Black Angels, Black Eyed Peas, Black Lips, or even simply Black. I did a search for bands with Black in their names and came up with a list that could possibly fill up several pages of tightly printed text. What is it, really, with bands and the word Black? Read more
The first time I heard John Francis Anthony “Jaco” Pastorius III was when a friend handed me a pre-recorded Columbia Records cassette called Black Market by the jazz-rock fusion band, Weather Report. It was the late 1970s and my friend, a maverick sort of a guy who also was a classmate, predicted while handing over the tape that the bass guitarist on at least two tracks on the album would be like no one I’d ever heard before.