July 17: Tipped off by a friend on Twitter that Wilco, the rock band fronted by Jeff Tweedy, had made a surprise release of their new album, Star Wars, as a free download on their website, I head there to do the needful – a quick download. For a couple of days after that, Star Wars is my playlist.

Something starry: Wilco's new album Star Wars shows they are much more than an alt-country rock band.

Something starry: Wilco's new album Star Wars shows they are much more than an alt-country rock band.

The 11 songs cut across genres – and belie the lazy label of an alt-country rock band that is sometimes accorded to the band. They’re far more than that. Good guitar rock is how I’d classify Star Wars and the songs on that album become an earworm for days.

Best tracks: The upbeat Random Name Generator; and the mellower, You Satellite.

July 20: I realise that I have 210 Grateful Dead albums (some incomplete; some complete; most bootlegs) in the cloud, on my iPad and the iPods. A hopeless obsession? Probably.

But for Monday morning, I choose an album full of rareties and old songs: it’s called Birth of the Dead. And it has the band in its early days performing songs such as Mindbender (Confusion’s Prince), Don’t Ease Me In (an instrumental version followed by the one with vocals). Pigpen is in full form through the two-disc collection.

Best tracks: A 1968 version of The Eleventh Jam of 15 minutes; and a Warner Brothers radio commercial exhorting people to buy Live/Dead (I kid you not!).

July 23: Midweek. I find Apple Music’s Beats 1 Live Radio difficult to outdo for a playlist. Didn’t check who was DJ-ing and from where (LA, NYC or London? Who knows?), but I got introduced to new artists such as Seinabo Sey, the Swedish (actually, she’s part Gambian) R&B singer. Her single Pretend, released this year, is guaranteed to aurally seduce you to check out more of her work.

Also watch: Seinabo Sey – Younger

The other highlight of the Beats1 listening session was another young R&B artist, the American, Miguel. His single Coffee will hook you.

Soulful swede: Seinabo Sey may be new on the block but this R&B singer seduces with her blues-y music.

Soulful swede: Seinabo Sey may be new on the block but this R&B singer seduces with her blues-y music.

Best tracks: Sey’s Hard Time; and Miguel’s cover of Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets.

July 24: I decide to take things back under my own control! And make a playlist. I take the easy way out: I take the three Little Feat albums that I have (Waiting for Columbus; Hoy-Hoy!; and their first studio album, Little Feat) and listen to them nonstop.

Also watch: Little Feat – Rainbow Theatre London 1977

The LA band’s frontman, the late Lowell George’s vocals, the band’s eclectic influences and excellent musicians, including co-founder Bill Payne on the keyboards, make for a compelling listen. Sadly, Little Feat in that form was short-lived. The band was formed in 1969. George died in 1979 (a year after he produced the Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street).

Best tracks: Dixie Chicken; Tripe Face Boogie; and Rocket in my Pocket. Preferably all three heard in a row.

July 25: Mellow, lo-fi stuff is what I go for. New Jersey’s Yo La Tengo with their vast catalogue of new, old and cover songs is it. Although Stuff Like That There, their new album will not be out before August end, they’ve been releasing a few songs, three till date.

Two to tengo: Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo, the band that's got the mellow in their music.

Two to tengo: Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo, the band that's got the mellow in their music.

And I begin with their cover of The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love, acoustic-y and delightful. The others from the new album are Automatic Doom and Deeper Into Movies, which actually is a new interpretation of an old, more electric version of the song by the band (yes, they sometimes do those kind of covers too, re-tweaking their own compositions).

After the three, I go for their 1997 album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, and 1990’s Fakebook, which has 11 cover songs, including Here Comes My Baby by Cat Stevens and Oklahoma U.S.A. by The Kinks, plus a few originals.

Best tracks: Friday I’m in Love; Yellow Sarong; and Upside-Down.

July 27: It’s a Sunday and I need to get ready for tomorrow’s inevitable blues. I go for the soundtrack to the movie Southpaw, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the boxer Billy Hope.

In the ring: Southpaw, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, has two standout tracks by Eminem.

In the ring: Southpaw, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, has two standout tracks by Eminem.

Mainly hip-hop and rap, and produced by Eminem who has two standout tracks on it, Phenomenal, and Kings Never Die (on which Gwen Stefani joins in), it features many stars from hip-hop, R&B and rap – 50 Cent, Joey Bada$$, Slaughterhouse and The Notorious B.I.G. The soundtrack is super and makes me want to watch the film, which, considering that it was released only on July 24, I haven’t yet.

Best tracks: Phenomenal; R.N.S.; and Raw.

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Around 10 days back, my colleague in London mailed me a link with a short note that simply said “Yes they are back! And I can die in peace”. The link was to a lyric video (the kind where you can read the lyrics while listening to the song) of The Rolling Stones’ latest new single, Doom And Gloom. And the note from my colleague who’s obviously a huge Stones fan besides being an erstwhile (or, is he still one?) bass slapper himself, is an example of how much diehard Stones fans love the 50-year-old band. Read more

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Sometime last year, when the Contrast Podcast, a weekly collaborative by a bunch of mp3 bloggers, first became irregular and then disappeared altogether, I felt like an addict who has been denied his fix. Contrast is a podcast that began in 2006 and every week, usually on a Tuesday, bloggers presented a theme which they spoke about and then presented songs relevant to that theme. It could be anything – from a body part (say, the brain) to something like Boiling and Steaming. Read more

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I don’t know why but a lot of the indie bands that I like are Scottish. I like the nervous anxiety of Frightened Rabbit, the shoe-gazing, understated sound of The Twilight Sad, the post-rock experimentation of Mogwai, the lo-fi appeal of Meursault, the irreverent playfulness of Dogs Die in Hot Cars, the cute yet edgy music of Belle and Sebastian, the instantly likeable pop of Camera Obscura…. I could go on. There’s nothing really common between all the Scottish bands that I like. Alright, there is. I like the quirky accent that is common between many of the vocalists of these bands—notably, Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison and The Twilight Sad’s James Graham — but the music of each of these bands is not very similar.

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