Bands seldom have names that describe what it is that they do. In fact, more often their names have nothing much to do with the kind of music they play. Canada’s The New Pornographers obviously don’t do what their rather risqué name suggests. Neither does Portland’s electronica band STRFKR do whatever you may think they do once you put all the missing letters back into their name. So when I came across a New York band called Endless Boogie, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d got a lead on them from a blog and when I checked them out I realised that they might be one band that lives up to its name. Read more
My taste for heavy metal is not a pronounced one. It’s not that I can’t listen to heavy metal or its extreme cousins such as doom or death metal. I’ve written about bands such as America’s Sunn O))) or Japan’s Boris and their kith, and I do turn to some of their albums when the going gets, er, heavy, but it’s not often my genre of preference. Heavy metal, whether it comes in plain vanilla formats or in the varieties commonly known as doom or death or sludge, has one common characteristic – it is very loud. Everything is amped up, distorted and emphatic – it’s a macho, brawny and massive genre of music that is sometimes so loud that it can be potentially harmful to health. Read more
Hip-hop and rap are not a natural choice of genres for me when I’m looking for something to listen to. In fact, I find much of hip-hop’s lyrics too full of violence, sexism and needless vulgarity. And very, very few hip-hop or rap artists—even those whom everybody seems to laud—appear to me to be good writers, rhymers or lyricists. That doesn’t mean I don’t like some of what the genre offers. Among contemporary bands, I really liked Das Racist, the alternative hip hop band from Brooklyn that features two MCs of Indian origin (I did gush about them in this column in the past). I also loved the much older Gang Starr, a duo comprising the late MC Guru and DJ Premier (I gushed about them too when Guru died a couple of years back). Read more
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.
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.
Some bands you discover late. But if they are really good, knowing them late doesn’t prevent you from becoming a huge fan. Like ‘The Smiths’ and ‘Morrissey’. ‘The Smiths’ released their first album in 1984 (Here’s ‘The Charming Man‘ from that LP). Read more
Early this year, Morrissey released a new album, Years of Refusal. Coming three years after his last major release, the album received much critical acclaim and, I think, should be on everyone’s best of 2009 list.
Last month, not too long after Years of Refusal came out, Morrissey also turned 50. But days after reaching that milestone came the news that he was canceling several concerts that he was supposed to play in the coming weeks because he was ill. While one hopes that Moz (as fans call him) will bounce back, with all that news of Morrissey, I couldn’t help writing about the man and his music. Read more