Outside of Italy, where he is a superstar whom everyone knows, singer Jovanotti is hardly famous. He ought to be. And probably will soon be. Ever since the 46-year-old played at the Bonnaroo festival in 2011, he’s been steadily building up a fan base in the US, a sure sign that he’s on the road to fame outside his native Italy. Read more

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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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I’d thought I’d be able to give Bob Dylan’s new album a good long listen and then perhaps write my two bits about it in this instalment of DC. Tempest, Dylan’s 35th album, came out on September 11; I managed to get hold of it a couple of days later but before I could properly listen to it, the deadline of this column was upon me (Brunch goes to press really early in the week and its editor is quite a strict disciplinarian when it comes to deadlines). I don’t know about you but I just can’t casually listen to any of Dylan’s albums, particularly a brand new one from a living legend who is now 71. Dylan’s isn’t by any stretch ambient music. It requires focused listening. Read more

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Many new musicians can remind you of older (and sometimes more famous) ones. Three years ago, I’d written about the Rhode Island-based alternative folk and blues band, Deer Tick, and mentioned how uncannily Bob Dylanesque their lead singer, John McCauley sounds—so much so that a colleague after hearing them play even dubbed him ‘Baby Dylan’. But they’re not the only ones. Whenever I hear New Jersey’s rockers, The Gaslight Anthem, I’m reminded of Bruce Springsteen—and, in fact, that association is not without basis: The Gaslight Anthem are quite heavily influenced by The Boss; they’ve opened for him; and he’s played with them. More recently, I heard Charles Bradley who is known as ‘The Screaming Eagle of Soul’ and at 64 has just one album (No Time For Dreaming) to his credit. Bradley has his own style of singing funk, soul and R&B tunes but you can also distinctively discern strong influences of two legends, the late James Brown and the late Otis Redding. Then I read that Bradley began his career as a James Brown mimicker on stage before he found his own groove.

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The first time I tried to watch Martin Scorcese’s Hugo I did so on an aircraft, on the piddly little screen on the back of the seat in front of mine in the economy section. Bad decision. Hugo is Scorcese’s first film shot in 3D and a tiny screen in the cramped confines of an airline seat does it no justice.

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When I sat down to write this instalment of Download Central, I realised that many of you may not be able to read this today for I have enough empirical reasons to believe that on the morning of December 25 many people have difficulty navigating lines of print and making coherent sense of them. I’ve also realised over the years that this morning we will all probably be better off listening to music rather than trying to read anything. 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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You are unlikely to find a rock musician who works harder than Warren Haynes. The 51-year-old lead guitarist and singer works in three bands – Gov’t Mule, which he fronts, The Allman Brothers Band where he plays the lead guitar along with, Derek Trucks, his own solo projects, as well as occasional stints with Phil Lesh & Friends. How the man manages to do all of that for outfits that tour like maniacs – most of these bands mainly play live gigs (sometimes more than a 100 shows a year) and record very few studio albums – is a mystery. Yet Haynes, who was featured at No. 23 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, powers on, shuffling his dates between bands and, as he did recently, makes time to record studio albums as well. Read more

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I don’t know why I went into a sudden R.E.M. phase a few weeks back but it could have to do with the fact that a colleague had acquired their new box set of re-mastered (with bonus and live tracks) versions of their first three albums—Murmur, Reckoning and Fables of Reconstruction. I dusted off my old R.E.M. studio albums, all 14 of them, and began listening to them after ages. Then I tried buying that box set but I still haven’t located a music shop that has it. Read more

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Sometimes there comes along a week that you wish you could rewind and do it again in a better way. Last week was one of those. Stress, tension, unhappiness, frustration all rolled into one big bad week. It’s over now, thankfully but I’m still reeling from the collateral damage it wrought: for the greater part of last week I couldn’t find time to listen to music. Of course, there was enough stuff coming my direction—via RSS feeds, my online music store accounts and a host of mp3 blogs—but I just couldn’t get down to exploring them. Up until the very end of the week when my mood was suddenly and very pleasantly lifted by a donkey’s jawbone. Read more

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