I’m not sure how I missed out on Luna during the band’s heyday in the early 1990s. Of course, discovering new music wasn’t easy then.

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When I first heard of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a band that, despite having two albums to its credit, is still quite below the radar, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d read that they were a Portland, Oregon band that had roots in New Zealand (which didn’t exactly make things any clearer); and that they were a trio fronted by Ruban Nielson who’d earlier been with a NZ band called The Mint Chicks (again, that was no clue to their music since I was as unaware of The Mint Chicks as I was of Unknown Mortal Orch.). I’d also read that The Mint Chicks were a “post-hardcore” band and that to my mind could mean anything that you wanted it to. 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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It’s been nearly three months since Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange was released and I find myself going back to it over and over again. In fact, Channel Orange is well on its way to finding a berth on my best albums’ list of the year. It’s not as if I’m the biggest fan of R&B – indeed, the current crop of R&B stars such as Usher, Chris Brown, Mariah Carey and Beyonce, don’t do it for me. In theory, contemporary R&B is an amalgam of R&B (of course) and funk and soul and hip-hop, but much of today’s R&B music, with its mandatory pounding beats and formulaic dance-friendliness really is like a substitute for erstwhile disco music. The music is often repetitive and clichéd and the lyrics unmemorable – not my cup of beverage whatever that might be. Read more

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It’s the trippiest music that I have heard in the past six months and it comes from Karachi. Yes. That’s right. Karachi, Pakistan. It’s a band called Basheer & The Pied Pipers and they make a top notch variety of original experimental rock music. The band was formed by two medical students—Saad Munzar and Salman Younas Khan—and their debut album, Basheer, is available for free download. It’s a gem of a find. Read more

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When I was small and taking the first baby steps into the world of popular music, it was a few vinyls that one of my uncles played on which I cut my teeth. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley… he even had a Nana Mouskouri album. I actually remember the Nat King Cole album that he had—a 10-inch LP named Nat King Cole Sings For Two in Love (the slightly tattered cover—it was released in the early1950—didn’t show King Cole but a white couple who seemed to be out on a date). The eight or ten songs on that album, as on most of my uncle’s vinyls, were about love. I was seven or eight when I heard those records and quite possibly didn’t know what the heck they were about but they were an introduction to pop songs, jazz, blues and all of what shaped my later taste in music. Read more

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Last week, after a couple of quick listens to Radiohead’s The King of Limbs, I had gushed about that album. Now, after several more unhurried listens, I am happy to report that – despite the negative blah by some critics (no guitar riffs; nothing new; very short…. yada yada…) – it is a fine album that I’m going to keep going back to. In fact, what I did after the second, third and fourth helpings of the 37-minute TKOL was revisit the band’s back catalogue and get lost for a couple of days in all of their albums, particularly Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows, all of which came out in  the 2000s, but also the super ones that the band released in the 1990s – Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer. That’s what set me thinking about the Nineties. I know, I know, it’s been a while since that decade passed, but have you stopped to think how much great music was produced in those ten years? Read more

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By the time you read this, many of you would have had not only heard (some of you, several times) Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs, but also been barraged by myriad reviews of that splendid piece of work. But I am writing this on what will be called ‘last Sunday’ by the time you read this (yes, magazines have strange deadlines). That means I have had a just a bit over 24 hours to listen to the album and have been so overwhelmed by it that it is difficult to for me to describe it coherently. Read more

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My recent visits to Kolkata, the hometown I left long before they changed its name from Calcutta, haven’t really been pleasant ones, partly because of the none-too-happy personal reasons for which I have to visit the city. But also because the city I go back to, albeit infrequently, is just not the place that used to be home for nearly the first 30 years of my life – and I’m not referring to its re-christening alone. I have fond memories of Calcutta and many of the reasons why I like the kind of music that I do has to do with being exposed – through friends, bands and simply because of easy availability – to a heck of a lot of great music while I was growing up in that city. Read more

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I don’t know if it happens to you but every so often I go through these fairly extended phases when I’m listening to not much else than one band or one musician almost all the time. When I first discovered The National, the Brooklyn band that is hitting the headlines right now, I became a serial listener of their albums, all five of them, which were in heavy rotation on my iPod for more than a month. Through the years I’ve had that kind of infatuation with many a band. There was a Rolling Stones phase; a (late-blooming) Morrissey phase; a (very prolonged) Radiohead phase, which roughly, but not accidentally, coincided with a very prolonged low period in my personal life; a fairly long Phish phase, which quite fittingly overlapped with a very happy period in my aforementioned personal life; and, of course I’ve mentioned this before, a hugely extended Grateful Dead period. Read more

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