A couple of weeks back, I listed five albums that stood out for me in 2012, five that I would certainly take with me into the next year. All five—Sigur Ros’s Valtari, Patti Smith’s Banga, Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, Japandroids’ Celebration Rock, and Dr. John’s Locked Down—are doing heavy-duty shifts on my playlists and, I’m quite sure, shall continue to do so for a bit. But if I look back again at 2012, there are a few albums that I wish I’d spent more time with. Some of them are gems that are sitting there to be discovered. Read more
My daughter, about to be eight, has an earworm. You know, a piece of music that seems stuck in your ear so seemingly permanently that you just couldn’t get it out. It’s a song that she hums, sings and dances with vigorously even though it’s not being played anywhere. And I’m happy. Delighted, actually, because the song happens to be Lonely Boy by The Black Keys. Actually, the duo that makes up The Black Keys may also seem like an earworm for Download Central, in case you are one of those readers who for some strange reason follows this column fairly regularly—I don’t know how many times I have written about them, obsessively, compulsively and, perhaps also, maniacally.
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
Everybody knows about Mexico’s bloody drug cartel wars, the narcotics mafia, executions and the state’s often inadequate attempts to curb the menace. But did you know about the controversial genre of music that all this has spawned? I didn’t till I heard my first narcocorrido or drug ballad. It was a song called Quiseron Tumbar al Jefe (They Wanted to Take Out the Boss). It was in Spanish and was a narrative ballad (corrido) that, I learnt later, talked about two lower level drug gang members, Jose and Ramon, wanting to topple their boss. The song was by a Mexican singer called Ernesto “El Chapo” (the dwarf) Perez who may not be known well outside that country but is one of the biggest pop stars in the region.