Over-produced music has never really caught my fancy. I’m referring to the kind of music that producers or DJs sitting in their bedrooms conjure up using nothing much more than a laptop or two. They either mix and match sound samples or “create” compositions using synthesised sound. I’m probably a bit orthodox when it comes to musicians—I prefer mine to actually pick up instruments and play them rather than use the keyboards of their computers to tweak and program software to produce their music. There are exceptions, though. Read more
When Bob Dylan released his 2009 album, Together Through Life, an album on which all but one of the songs were co-written by Robert Hunter, I raved about it in this very column. I was biased, of course. I have a tender spot for Hunter, a long-time collaborator of the late Jerry Garcia and really an invisible member of the erstwhile Grateful Dead, the band that lived and died with Garcia. Even today, much of the repertoire of the remaining members of the Grateful Dead comprises songs that were written jointly by Hunter and Garcia.
It is appropriate that Neil Young’s latest album (released on September 28) is called Le Noise. It might as well have been called Le Sound. When producer Daniel Lanois (who’s worked with names such as Bob Dylan and U2) and Young stepped into the studio to make the record, both men wanted to create a “new sound”. So Lanois handed over an electro-acoustic guitar to Young and hooked up the bass strings to one amplifier and the treble ones to another. As Lanois describes it, the electro-acoustic guitar had it all: bass, electronic and acoustic sounds. And, if you listen to it—I caught the album in its entirety as a pre-launch webstream—you can see how Young is obviously enjoying it.
During a bit of downtime at work the other day, I put on The Gaslight Anthem’s new album, American Slang, on the sound dock I have in my office (yes, you could say I enjoy some privileges at work by way of being a somewhat higher form of pond life) and a colleague dropped in. He heard a few bars, stuck up his nose, saying, “Very nineties,” and left, going back to his own lair presumably to listen to the recently re-mastered (and issued with 10 additional, hitherto unpublished tracks) 1972 album by one of rock’s most famous bands. Read more
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.
I don’t know how many people read this column regularly (four, perhaps?) but ever since Download Central began a little over a year back, I’ve heard one common response: “Why do you write about bands that we’ve never heard of?” This has become such a refrain that I’ve often felt a twinge of self-doubt. Am I really writing about completely obscure bands that no one knows or cares about? If that was indeed true, what was the point of writing the column?