I had made up my mind to begin the column this time with soul band Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ brilliant new album that has been on my playlist for much of last week. The songs are great and there’s a not-so-happy back story to it too, but all that will have to wait because towards the end of the week, I was gobsmacked by something else I heard. And it wasn’t even something that was brand new. Just something I’d never even heard of before. It was an album by an Israeli musician named Asaf Avidan and his band, The Mojos, and it was called, simply, The Reckoning. Frankly, I wasn’t prepared for the impact that this album would have. Read more
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
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The best supergroups—collaborations between already famous musicians—are often the ones that don’t last too long. Remember Blind Faith, which in the 1960s had heavyweights such as Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech yet released just the one eponymous album? Or, what about The Traveling Wilburys, comprising Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, who recorded just two albums? Read more

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I’m an earphones junkie. Ninety-nine percent of the time I spend listening to music I do it by using earphones. It wasn’t always like that. The move to earphones came with the advent of the mp3 format and the pretty swift move from collecting music in physical formats (CDs, vinyl and tapes) to collecting them in mp3, FLAC and other non-physical formats.

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