Last week, in the middle of a particularly hectic phase at work, Bruce Springsteen came to my aid. Just as long hours and frayed tempers were threatening to take their toll on my sanity came the announcement that the Boss was dropping a new EP with four never-before-released songs. The EP’s called American Beauty (I know that the use of that title could seem like blasphemy to many Deadheads, but never mind). As I write this, one single from American Beauty has been streaming all over the Internet. It’s called Hurry Up Sundown and it’s a classic rock and roll track, upbeat, lyrically direct and quintessentially Springsteen-esque: just what the doctor ordered if you’ve been stressed out at work. Read more
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So many great albums have dropped in the past year that I don’t know how to even make a list of the ones that I liked. How many can I list? Fifty? Sixty? More? Music blogs and magazines have already put out their top albums of 2013 lists. Some, such as Rolling Stone, have listed 50; NPR has 100 favourite songs and 50 favourite records; PopMatters lists 75 best albums of 2013; and many others have lists for every genre (tip: if you want to get a smattering of what was happening in metal last year, do check out Stereogum’s top 50 in that loud genre; I was happy when I took a peek there to see the only metal album of last year that I bought, Deafheaven’s Sunbather, was No.1). Read more
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It all began with a short conversation we were having in the car about the Laura Marling album, Once I Was An Eagle. I said I rather liked it. And indeed I had. Marling made her debut album at 18. That was five years ago, which means she is just 23 now but on this year’s Once I Was An Eagle, she sounds so incredibly mature. My daughter’s understated response to that was what can best be described as “meh”. Marling was good, she said, but clearly she wasn’t as enthused by this new album. What then, I asked, was she listening to? The new Nine Inch Nails record, Hesitation Marks, she replied with much more enthusiasm than what she had shown for Marling.
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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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