Posts Tagged ‘wikipedia’

Folk music, apart from being a natural extension of cultural folklore, has also built up quite the reputation for echoing the cries of the working class. As described by English antiquarian William Thoms, the word itself supposedly encompasses “the traditions, customs, and superstitions of the uncultured classes”.

Devendra Banhart

Nowadays, you can associate folk music with neither dissidence nor callousness; two warring emotional factions that could make for deliberately uncomfortable listening. Devendra Banhart is a glorious exception (unless I have missed out a few others). If at all, you find his music to be repetitive or the trembling in his voice to be annoying, do not panic…you just need a couple of whiskey shots and a few Woody Guthrie songs inside you for this to work out just fine.


As far as I’m concerned, Devendra Banhart is a friggin beacon of light in today’s cluttered indie folk scene. There is an air of whimsy that hovers around his lightweight acoustic music like a hummingbird; suffocating it with a sense of urgency that normally would be reserved for the most delirious of funk musicians.

In another (and obviously better) world, every radio station would invite daybreak with songs such as Lazy Butterfly or Autumn’s Child. They would even coax it back to its slumber by evening to tunes like Seahorse. As far from this world as we are, Devendra Banhart is still my favourite companion to drown the traffic noise outside my car window.


Devendra Banhart – Insect Eyes

Devendra Banhart – Feel Just Like A Child

Devendra Banhart – Sight to Behold (live)


Cripple Crow

Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

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In 2002, after a long period of absence from the cine field, yesteryear actor Ramarajan got himself tangled in a minor controversy by being one the catalysts that pushed Open Source applications towards extinction. During early 2002, a Wiki enthusiast, Walter Kannadasan, innocently added a page for Ramarajan on Wikipedia that sort of exaggerated the actor’s achievements and accolades. By dubbing him as a “Box Office Emperor” and a “dream hero”, young Walter set off a series of events that eventually ended up in a lot of people getting really pissed off with the fallacies of Open Source.

open-sooresIt was said that on June 8, 2002…the age of Wikipedia and Open Source officially came to a screeching halt with Ramarajan at the epicenter of the whole mess. In 2008, when the actor thought he finally understood what was going around, he called for a press conference and announced that his next film was going to be called “Open Sorres”.

When the tagline Enga Orru, Ellarakum Sorre leaked out a few weeks later, along with the rumoured storyline, it became pretty obvious that the thespian had not understood what the hell had happened. Official press releases made matters worse by claiming that it was going to be a touching story of one villager’s search for someone who has “studied computers” and who can help him “build software” that will produce soore (rice).

Bearing a quizzical look every time a member of his crew tried telling him that Open Source has nothing to do with sorre (rice), the actor often quipped that having played the role of a milkman approximately 543 times, he learnt a few lessons in life. One, apparently was to never use “Got milk?” as a pickup line and the other, was to know that if you don’t have a clue as to what’s happening around you, just thrust two fingers inside your ears and scream “La la la la la la I can’t hear you la la la la”.

Despite all the negativity that surrounded Open Sorres’ release, the film did spectacularly well at the box office and to everyone’s surprise, the man who once milked cows for our entertainment finally got his day in the sun by almost immediately receiving a Bhaskar Award Nomination for Best Actor. With a harrowingly brilliant performance as Shenbahumagain, a 60-year-old man who rides to nearby towns on a TVS Vespa, desperately hoping to meet a “software genius” who could help him figure out how to create an “software type thing” that would generate rice grains…somehow.

A few months ago, Ramarajan was featured in James Lipton’s In The Actors’ Studio and we feel that it is fitting to let the curtains fall on the 2008 Bhasakar Award for Best Actor with an excerpt from interview.

James Lipton: Whot is your favourite noise or sound?

Ramarajan: La la la la la

Lipton: Excuse me?

Ramarajan: La la la la

Lipton: Mr R-AM-AAA-RAJUN?

Ramarajan: I can’t la la hear la la you la la la

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Obscurity in art has died. There’s always this dude sitting in front of his computer under a glacier in Quebec who has some messed-up death metal / hip-hop version of that Lynyrd Skynyrd B-side track. I used to pride myself in flipping through the back catalogues of Landmark’s music section, hoping to find an Entombed album or that John Frusciante solo album. Hell, I even thought that merely purchasing Marilyn Manson’s Last Day On Earth entitled me to some sort of a cool status.

b0006u4uau01_sclzzzzzzz_Obscurity has died with the dawn of bittorrents and peer-to-peer technology. No longer are underground musicians shrouded in mystery with their albums falling prey to cobwebs and dirty fingers of ignorant cassette storeowners. They are available for your listening pleasure on mp3 blogs, torrent softwares, YouTube and such. And now inaccessibility to rare music exists in theory and it is more attributed to the laziness of people unwilling to scourge through music review websites and find reasons to persist with YouTube until they get what they are looking for. I have been obsessing about discovering new music ever since I read Mark Pytlik review of LCD Soundsystem’s Sound Of Silver on Pitchforkmedia and then promptly downloaded the blisteringly hip “North American Scum” on through the Hypem blog search engine.

soul_coughing-band-1994Much like LCD Soundsystem, Soul Coughing is another one of those brilliant rock bands that MTV never bothered to promote during its heyday. Led by folk savant Mike Doughty, Soul Coughing whipped up a frenzy of sound that borrowed as much from improvisational jazz as it did from razor-sharp alternative rock music. With Mark De Gli Antoni on samplers, Sebastian Steinberg on bass, and Yuval Gabay on percussion and drums, they even experimented with hip-hop and folk psychedelia. I first heard of these guys on the Spawn’s soundtrack album but it just didn’t cut the mustard for me. The song “A Plane Scraped Its Belly on a Sooty Yellow Moon” (in collaboration with Drum n Bass artist Roni Size) paled in comparison to the awesome tracks by Slayer, Atari Teenage Riot, Crystal Method, Filter and gasp, Silverchair. Soul Coughing’s debut studio album – Ruby Vroom – was an entire beast altogether. It was a maniacal collection of infectious grooves sprinkled with acoustic harmonies and sample-based loops of erstwhile legends such as Toots and the Maytals, Howlin’ Wolf and even the father of freestyle jazz – Thelonious Monk.

Screenwriter’s Blues” is probably the finest of the lot, with it’s spoken word stream of consciousness against a groovy horn section. As Doughty recites what seems to be an ode to the decay, decadence and dystopia of Los Angeles.

rubyvroomI am going to Los Angeles to build a screenplay about lovers who murder each other / I am going to Los Angeles to see my own name on a screen / Five feet long and luminous / The radioman says it is 5 am and the sun has charred the other side of the world and come back to us / And painted the smoke over our heads an imperial violet

Despite bearing close resemblance to one of Jack Kerouac’s LSD flashbacks through lurid suburban streets, the spectacular wall of funk sets the song apart from a horde of beatnik-inspired music. I have also included a remix of one of the songs of their last studio album – El Oso. “Circles” is a truckload of fun; the Propellerheads remix is even better. “I don’t need to walk around in circles, walk around in circles,” mumbles the singer as the post-Big Beat electronic duo weaves together a sea of sweet-sounding turntable jams all around it. It’s the kind of summer funk that Sugar Ray has been desperately trying to conjure up without sounding like absolute morons.

Wikipedia starts off its description of Soul Coughing as a band that “found only modest mainstream success, but had a devoted following and largely positive responses from critics…” I guess that is pretty much a fair description of most of the Indie bands out there experimenting their brains out, hoping that enough people will take notice. Too bad, not many out there pay attention to what the lack of fuss all about. Twisted irony, considering that finest works of art often end up escaping the mainstream radar of roving eyes and heavy wallets.

So today, I sit here, a victim of wanderlust and indulging in frivolity such as searching for the keywords “rare music” on YouTube and seeing what turns up. I almost feel as though I have formed a Faustian pact with bands such as Soul Coughing.

I feel a bit uneasy quoting Elton John but hmmm maybe “that’s why they all it the blues.”


Soul Coughing – Screenwriter’s Blues

Soul Coughing – Circles (Propellerheads remix)


Soul Coughing’s Ruby Vroom

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