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
The last time Download Central turned up in Brunch, I wrote about Walter Trout, the top-notch blues guitarist, who besides having a stellar solo career, has played with blues greats such as John Mayall, Canned Heat and John Lee Hooker. I’d mentioned that Trout has many fans in India, including the (now-incarcerated) Sanjay Dutt, and has even played at gigs here. Then, quite abruptly, Download Central went on a break. At six months, it was a rather long break. But, as you can see, it is back with another bluesman, no less. Read more
A couple of weeks ago, within days of each other, two of my iPods breathed their last. The 160 GB Classic (circa 2009) gave up the ghost first. It simply lost all of the 120 GB or so of music that it had on it. And then, my all-time favourite, the eight-year-old 40 GB went kaput. On both of these I’d stashed away loads of songs, many of which were un-backed up; there were carefully (at least that’s what I think!) curated playlists: clustered according to genres, live recordings, year of recording, favourites, and so on. And then poof! All gone. Read more
In a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the American actor whose role as the young policeman, John Blake, in The Dark Knight Rises I liked, the musical guests were Mumford & Sons, an English indie folk band. They played two songs live—I Will Wait and Below My Feet—both from their recently released new album, Babel. Both the performances were nice. And I thought to myself that Mumford & Sons were probably better heard live than on albums. I’ve had a copy of Sigh No More, their debut album, for a couple of years but I must admit that although I liked listening to it the first couple of times, it soon got a bit clichéd, repetitive and whiney. Read more
Okay, I’ll be honest about this. The reasons why I first tried the three bands mentioned in this week’s edition of DC had nothing to do with their music, at least initially. Later, once I had heard their stuff, I got hooked but that is another matter. But the reason why I first picked up each of their albums had little to do with their music. It was actually about names. Read more
It was intended to be a nice road trip. It was an extended weekend. Two men. Two women. A child (a very well-behaved one). A great car – one of those luxury SUVs that cost more than what my flat did when we bought the latter. A destination tucked away in the upper reaches of Kumaon where email reaches you only in fits and bursts. It helped that both the men – one young and the other middle-aged – enjoyed driving with the former being an expert driver and an information whale on SUVs. We had everything we would need up there in the hilly nook we were headed for – a case of wine, light woollens and so on. The only thing left was the music we’d listen to on the way. Read more
The Urbanears Plattans are fashion-forward, stylish and very trendy. And they deliver a sound that is nicely bass-heavy and, while not excellent, very pleasing to the ears. No, the Urbanears Plattans aren’t a band—although I can well imagine encountering a band with that kind of a name. The Plattans are my newest addition to an embarrassingly large hoard of headphones and earphones that I have collected over the years.
There was a time when I used to like rap. And hip-hop. I liked the attitude, the ever so often NSFW lyrics, the inherent anger and sometimes – not always, though – the wit and self-deprecation. Of course, the bass-lines and the scratching added to the experience. And I liked rappers’ willingness to collaborate with other rappers and feature them as guests on their recordings. It was like a whole different community, replete with intense, often violent, rivalry but also with a curious kind of camaraderie. Read more
When one of your favourite pieces of music becomes Muzak, piped into an elevator or played in the background at an airport, you can sometimes feel indignant. When I heard the Garcia-Hunter track, Crazy Fingers (off The Grateful Dead’s 1975 album, Blues for Allah) playing in a muted sort of way at an American airport, I was genuinely upset. I mean, come on, when we used to listen to that album it had to be in a darkened room, everybody had to be quiet and the use of additives was, well, let’s just say not actively discouraged. And here I was at a bustling JFK terminal and I could almost hear the late Jerome J Garcia’s voice going “Your rain falls like crazy fingers/ Peals of fragile thunder keeping time/Recall the days that still are to come some sing blue….” and so on. Only it wasn’t him singing but a synthesized, unreal sounding electronic tune of the song. Read more
Last weekend, I did something that is totally at odds with what Download Central is supposed to do. Instead of sitting at my computer and scouring the Internet for downloads or streams of new music, I actually went out and watched a rock band performing live. The gig was at Delhi’s kitschy Hard Rock Café (but then aren’t all HRCs meant to be kitschy?) and the band was Hurricane Bells who hail from Brooklyn, New York.