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

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I have read that when Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks came out in 1968, it created hardly a ripple. That enigmatic album, perhaps Morrison’s best work, took some time before it was critically acclaimed and then became the one album that you just had to have in your collection. Van Morrison, who has made nearly 40 albums in his 50-plus-year career, and whose music has been categorised variously as soul, R&B, Celtic, folk, country, rock and so many other labels, was 23 when Astral Weeks was released 43 years ago.   Read more

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I have not come across anyone who has heard the 1960s song Wooden Ships (written by David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner) and not liked it. I’m sure you remember the song.
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There is something infectious about Dhaval Mudgal and his band, Half Step Down. When they perform on stage, they have great fun and that spreads quickly to the audience, sceptics included. After a none-too-great experience at a live gig by another one of Delhi’s rock bands, I was coaxed into dropping by at the city’s Hard Rock Café to see Mudgal and his band. I didn’t regret it. What I did regret though was why I hadn’t bothered to seek out this fine five-year-old band before. Read more

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Purists will hate me for it but I like covers. I know there’s nothing like the real McCoy but listening to cover versions of songs whose classic versions you’re familiar with has a different sort of appeal. I enjoy listening to covers, especially when they’re done in an unexpected way. In recent weeks there was quite a bit of that.
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People keep asking me why I write so much about new music and not so much about bands that most of us are familiar with. Recently one reader mailed me asking why I don’t write about heavy metal bands and, in particular, why I don’t write about early metal bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.

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This column has been getting some flak. Some friends as well as complete strangers have been telling me I write about obscure music and that I have no idea what young people are listening to these days. “Go to nightclubs and pubs,” advised someone, “and check out what they’re all grooving to instead of pulling out funny sounding bands and getting ecstatic about them.” Read more

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