Tuesday, May 24, 2005

warning shots...

...were fired right from the start last night at Roxy in Boston. Warning shots that the show was going to be hot!. Thievery Corporation took the stage for their last North American tour date before hitting Europe, and Eric Hilton and Rob Garza brought their eclectic mix of Jamaican reggae, Indian chanting, electronica, and Brazilian bossa nova into life with the help of a large band. The results may not have been as crystal clear as their recordings are, but the music had SOUL! And all the guest vocalists, veterans from TC's CDs delivered.

The night's playlist featured songs from every CD Thievery Corporation has put out, including 2005's "The Cosmic Game". The show's most lively moments were when the Brazilian singer (pictured on top) came on stage for her rendition of the songs previously featuring Bebel Gilberto on the CDs. She is as talented as good looking. Also, guest vocalist Sleepy Wonder (heard on "Warning Shots" and regular Notch brought the house down through numerous tracks including "Warning Shots", "The Richest Man in Babylon", and "The State of the Union".

A few more pictures:

Peace and Love

Sunday, May 22, 2005


"Sunday was a bright day yesterday/
Dark cloud has come into the way"

So says Moby couple of CDs back. And man, was Sunday ever full of dark clouds! The threat of rain was everywhere; you could almost feel the crackle in the air, although the rain never came. So I spent the day walking around Boston, in the Public Garden to re-descover nature in the heart of the city, at Newbury Street and at Beacon Hill where I made a much-deserved stop at Sevens Pub for a bite and a Guinness, or two, or three...

Awww, ain't that a cute little critter?

Sevens pub is small, dark, and it has everything that a pub should have, Guinness on draught (or draft - whatever spelling you choose, it's still Guinness!). Great bunch of people working there, very friendly. Will probably visit again as their pub food selection is quite tasty.

Tomorrow night is the Thievery Corporation show and it promises to be a good one. The two DJs always manage to bring to life their samba, jazz- and world-influenced music to life with the help of a solid collection of live performers. More to follow after the show.

Love and Respect!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Nooorm...serotonin, and the crooked E

Ah to be in New England! The home of the Patriots, the Bruins, and of course the Red Sox. The place where tea should be in fashion more than coffee, the place where not to own a boat, not to have gone to Harvard, and not to have a vacation home on Martha's vineyard all seem improbable. New England, the place that immortalised sitting on a stool in a dingy basement pub for hours upon hours drinking beer, and indulging a postman with his trivia instead of letting him, well, do his job and go postal.

By the way, I wonder what that Greek flag is doing in the background. Hmmm...

It's another rainy weekend here in Boston, imagine that! Funny how things work out, no? Relatively sunny and warm days during the week, only to have rain and cool winds over the weekend. I did manage to get in my 7-mile run along the Charles this morning though, before the rain came, and all that serotonin flowing through really made me feel better during the rest of this bleaky day.

A cup of coffee and reading for a bit at a cafe in the afternoon also made the trick. Except that I was reading The Smartest Guys In The Room - The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, the most accurate account of what happened in that company. And how do I know that? Let's just say that I too fell for the illusion that was Enron, a carefully guarded, but not well constructed illusion. Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind have done what no other author who wrote about the despicable actions of those few individuals responsible for destroying the lives of so many have been able to do. I don't know if I can count myself in that same category as those guys. I would hope that I am smart, but I guess not that smart to really see the Enron culture for what it really was: an island of cut-throat, irresponsible competition amongst its own divisions, and even members of those divisions.

I picked up the book when it fist came out few years ago, and started reading it only to put it down in disgust as I was reminded of the ugliness that was prevalent there. Now, with the movie out, I felt compelled to finish it and put that sorry episode behind me once and for all.

The rest of the afternoon turned out better once I finished and put that book down. Virgin Radio helped a lot as well, while I continued to drink my coffee and finishing this post, especially as the DJ was playing Ultravox's "Vienna" and U2's "One".

Love and Respect

Friday, May 20, 2005

thievery corporation update

Here's a tidbit from Thievery Corporation:

"Thievery Corporation continues to blur boundaries and defy genre labels. This weekend the group's Rob Garza and Eric Hilton will guest host MTV2's Sunday night "Subterranean" show, the successor to the famed "120 Minutes" and a launching pad for artists ranging from Franz Ferdinand to the Killers and everyone in between. The show airs on MTV2 on Sunday night at 12 midnight. For those of you unable to see it then, you can see it online at MTV2.com starting on Monday."

TC will be making an appearance at The Roxy in Boston on 5/23, and I will be posting my thoughts on their concert (and hopefully pictures) after that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

life is a minestrone

Well, there you have it:

"Love is a fire of flaming brandy
Upon a crepe suzette
Let’s get this romance cooking, honey
But let us not forget
Life is a minestrone
Served up with parmesan cheese
Death is a cold lasagne
Suspended in deep freeze"

And that's that!

Let's see if anyone knows or remembers where this comes from, WITHOUT googling it.

The lyrics above came to mind while ruminating on the meaning of life, and also while I was listening to a relatively new band Thirteen Senses. Their debut CD, "The Invitation" is one of those CDs that is extremely listenable, with its piano melodies, epic guitar harmonies and vocal choruses. One may want to toss this band in the same category as Coldplay, The Perishers, Athlete, etc., but that would be too hasty. The music Thirteen Senses offers is inspired from another era which existed briefly during the 1970s. That was the time of the "Poor Man's Moody Blues", a.k.a. Barclay James Harvest, and Al Stewart's "The Year of The Cat". Check "Into The Fire", "Thru The Glass", "Gone", "Do No Wrong", and the almost pastoral "Automatic" as a fine representation of music with feeling.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

what music now: coldplay

Coldplay's latest CD,"X&Y", contains some gems, at least based on demos and live songs. One of them is "White Shadows", a song about getting back to the simplicity of youth. The other one is "Talk", one of the saddest songs I've heard about alienation and separation. I'm in the middle of creating a list of songs, to serve as my soundtrack to the movie Closer, and "Talk" will certainly be part of that. Of course, Damien Rice' "The Blower's Daughter" will be there also.

I wish those guys would lighten up a bit, but here are some of the lyrics from these two songs:

Under the great North Star
Try to work out where you are
In the silence of the sea
I don't know where I'll be

In the future, in the past
Going nowhere...much too fast
When I go there, go with me
When I go there, go with me

Cause I don't know where I'm going and I wanna talk
I feel like I'm going where I've been before
And I wanna talk


I tried but I can't get through
I'm trying to get to you
But you're difficult to reach
Won't you talk to me

White Shadows
When I was a young boy
I tried to listen
And I wanna feel like that
Little white shadows
Of sparkle and glisten
I'm part of a system plan

Do you ever feel like
There's something missing
Thinks you'll never understand
Little white shadows
Blinking and glisten
Part of a system plan

When all our fears are waking up
All the space they're taking up
So I cannot hear you breaking up

Maybe you got what you wanted
Maybe you stumbled upon it
Everything you ever wanted
In a permanent state
Maybe you got, it you see it
Maybe if you say it, you mean it
When you find that you keep me
In a permanent state ...a permanent

When I was a young boy
I tried to listen
I don't think I'll ever feel like that
Part of the human race
All of the stars and outer space
Part of the system plan

When all our fears are waking up
And all the space, they're taking up
I said I cannot hear you breaking up

Maybe you got what you wanted
Maybe you'll stumble upon it
Everything you ever wanted
In a permanent state
Maybe you got it, you see it
Maybe if you say it, you'll mean it
When you find that you keep me
In a permanent state ...a permanent state..

I swear I'm only seeing faces
Tired of the human races
Oh, answer now is what I need
See it in a new sun rising
See it breaking on your horizon
Oh, come on love, stay with me

cool toys...

SanDisk has just unveiled a new MP3 player, both in 512MB and 1GB versions. The unique feature about this product, Sansa e100 is that it includes an SD slot for extra storage! The Sansa e100 is a flash-based MP3 player like SanDisk's tiny Digital Audio Player, and based on the popularity and ease of use of that product, this new player, at very competitive prices, will be hard to beat. The 1GB unit goes for $189.

Check here for complete specs Sansa e100.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

words that touch the soul

Baaba Maal's reply to some of the CDs I'm currently playing, gave me the idea of starting a section on favourite lyrics, snippets of lyrics or poems, quotes, which I'll call words that touch the soul.I'll set it up over the next few days, but for now let's use this space.

Since he started with a New Order song, "Regret", I'll stay in the spirit with "Turn" from their latest release. It speaks volumes to me, reminding me of past relationships, and also of valuable friendships that, although are now far away, will always remain with me.

It's a hard way to come home
You've got me on my knees
The walls are tumbling down
They're falling like the leaves

The days turned into months and years
I can't forget that you were here
I feel your presence everywhere
In the corner over there

Turn your eyes from me
It's time for me to go
Across the hills and over the sea
I want you more than you know

It's a wild world out there
And nobody gives a damn
In cold blood we don't care
And we don't want to understand

I'm sitting here alone at night
My sleepless eyes are open wide
What do you want me to say
What we had has gone away

The sky is high the road is long
Show me what I should have done
What do you want me to do
Take it all away from you

Turn your eyes from me
It's time for me to go
Across the hills and over the sea
I want you more than you know

Thursday, May 12, 2005

what is...?

I thought this would make a good start for a new post, as I'm always on a learning quest. Spring is in full force here in the Northeast. The sun is shining during the week, the grass is getting greener, trees are in full bloom (almost all of them), and then on the weekend...it rains! Neven mind that. You learn to appreciate the days of sunshine.

Couple of days ago I was running along the Charles, and was observing all these signs of new life when a thought came to me: "What IS life?". Black Uhuru sang "what is life? I tried to see/What is life? It's unity/What is life? I tried to feel/What is life? It's really real". How real is it though? (That begs another question also). So what is life? What are the criteria that define what life is? Let's start there and see where we go. All comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

what music now?

Hot Hot Heat: "Elevator" This Canadian band is quite well known in college campuses around the U.S. from their previous indie release, the powerful "Make Up The Breakdown" which came out in 2003. Their newest release, "Elevator" finds them in familiar territory of great new wave influenced modern rock music with catchy melodies and lyrics. "Dirty Mouth" is my favourite song on this CD, and it confirms my belief that Hot Hot Heat have been listening to the Davies brothers' The Kinks a good deal. Not that this is a bad thing! "Goodnight, Goodnight" can be heard in many radio stations, while "Running Out Of Time", "You Owe Me An IOU", "Island Of An Honest Man", and "Elevator" will keep any party going.

Q Magazine describes M.I.A. as "Miss Dynamite". They're not off the mark at all. M.I.A. is actually London-based "Tamil Tigress" Maya Arul, and on her infectious debut CD, "Arular", she incorporates such diverse styles as dancehall, bhangra, and electro. There are comparisons to Missy Elliot, and there's the whole question as to whether some of the lines in her songs were intentionally chosen as a joke, ("Like PLO, I don't surrender") or whether they are just plain dumb. Still M.I.A. delivers a very listenable and entertaining, albeit ephemeral CD.

Niko: "Life On Earth" from GrandCentral Records
A strangely compelling recording. Niko has a strong voice, whether singing jazz, soul, hip hop or funk. Well worth the 10 GBP directly from GrandCentral.

Kate Rogers: "Seconds" from GrandCentral Records
Kate's collaborations with DJ and producer Aim from the same label as Niko are legendary, and her debut CD, "St. Eustacia" one of the best CDs I've heard this young decade. In this collection, Kate sings covers of some of her favourite artists, from The Smiths, to Neil Young, and the Pixies.

New Order: "Waiting for the Sirens' Call"
What can one say about NO's new CD? It is well crafted, with thoughtful lyrics. It's not very easy to pick favourite songs,but for now I'm spinning the title track, "I Told You So", "Hey Now What You Doing", "Dracula's Castle", "Guilt Is A Useless Emotion" and "Turn". These songs might not be "Bizarre Love Triangle", or "Regret", but I thank the group for still writing quality music!

Monday, May 09, 2005


Are they worth celebrating after your sixteenth birthday? What do they signify if not just the passage of time? I suppose once, long time ago, we used birthdays as the chance to evaluate our lives during the past year, reflect on what we did or didn't accomplish, and then make plans for the coming year. But now, with the institutionalization of New Year's Eve, we seem to have replaced the meaningful anniversary of our birth with the meaningless singing of Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne" (approximate translation for those not versed in Gaelic, "The Good Old Days").

Birthdays remind me of the fact that we are born spiritually incomplete and that our primary goal should be one of self analysis. Christopher Dewdney said it best: " Our primary goal as humans is to disentangle ourselves from our familial and socio-historical matrices until we are standing clear. Imagine not being absolutely sure about even the first two terms of Descarte's Cogito." Oh yeah. It was my birthday on Monday!

Peace and Love!

Rainy Days...part deux

I have to post this, because Baaba Maal is always eloquent and I must admit I was carried away to Carter Road, for a moment, in his description of his youth in India.

Baaba Maal said...

Ask anyone from India, specifically from the western metropolis of Bombay (unfortunately referred to now as Mumbai) what rain means to them, and they will inevitably mention the months of June through mid- September which is the Monsoon season in southeast asia, and where the tropical rain is quite unlike its "drizzly and misty" meek London cousin. These are full on buckets of water as the heavens open, and even a two minute run to your car to get the dang door open can drench you and make you feel you just had a shower with your clothes on.

Nostalgia is what comes to my mind, as I am reminded of my early youth as I watched outside my bedroom window as the rains fell and tricked through the large mango tree outside the window and in the horizon over the tree tops in the adjoining park. A football game, the rough and thirsty seas on Juhu beach which almost always got a few foolish victims, a jog on Carter Road along the sea wall, and then when the rains stopped, the roadside vendor firing up the corn on the cob over a charcoal stove, the spicy ginger hot tea and vegetable pakoras with hot chutney, and walking outside in rubber flipflops. The moist and fresh air and the city looked refreshed after its first shower in nearly 9 months. The house is gone (a mall sprang up), the mango tree made way for the parking lot. The park remains, though very tamed and under private management, it has lost its wild forest like attraction. Juhu beach still atracts its hordes of beachgoers and perhaps a few foolish victims. And carter road and its vendors - they thrive and host a younger generation, even as my generation has moved on and scattered to all corners of this earth. Somehow, those magical moments will never ever be recreated for me.......

what's spinning at home and car?

Athlete's Tourist, The Perishers' Let There Be Morning, Morrissey's Live at Earls Court

The Perishers hail from Sweden, and you would expect their music to sound the way music should sound when in comes from the land of Erik the Viking. Except that it sounds as if they have been keeping company with the likes of Coldplay, Athlete and Keane. Not that this is bad. Actually, The Perishers' songs are regularly features on American TV (The OC, One Tree Hill). Standouts include "Sway", "Weekends", "Trouble Sleeping", "My Heart" and "Pills". They can be seen on tour with Sarah McLachlan this summer. Brilliant!

Athlete, just like The Perishers, is unjustly compared to Coldplay and Keane all too often. There are definite similarities, enough indeed for someone to come up with a new description for this music. Perhaps Catatonic Rock would be a term, or perhaps a throwback to the 70s melodic rock days. On the opposite side, we have the post-punk bands emulating Joy Division/New Order. To its credit, the band does try to move beyond such comparisons. Not very successfully though. Just close your eyes when you listen to their new CD, Tourist, and signs of Coldplay are everywhere, from the opening track, "Changes", to the most obvious, "Trading Air". "Half Light" is what really Athlete should sound like most of the time. "Wires" is the obvious hit and first single of the CD, singer Joel Pott's story about his newborn daughter that's sure to touch many hearts. "Yesterday Threw Everything at Me" and "Twenty Four Hours" are also worth listening to.

Morrissey recorded this set last December at London's Earls Court, in top form from the success of his last studio release, "You Are The Quarry". The songs are chosen so as to highlight various parts of his career, from The Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out", "Bigmouth Strikes Again", to the desolate beauty of "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me." Highly recommended to fans and casual listeners alike.

Honourable mention (with review to follow shortly): Hot Hot Heat, Kathleen Edwards, couple of the best acts coming out of Canada!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Rainy Days...

...make me want to sit and contemplate life, read a book, listen to some good music, or just find a bookstore, the smaller the better, and browse up and down the aisles. And speaking of "isles", rainy days also make me wish I was on a sunny tropical or southern European island. At least I can sit at the coffee shop and contemplate about planning a trip to a sunny location.

There's something about bookstores that makes them compelling, especially on such days as this one. It's windy, rainy and cold and spending few hours inside a bookstore provides almost unparalleled cozy comfort. I wonder if it's all that accumulated knowledge on the shelves, all the stories the books contain in them, stories of faraway places and times. On such days we tend to think that even our lives could be better than this, that we can also escape to another place, step into another world. Or, it could be that on such days subconsciously we find ourselves inadequate and our knowledge of the world wanting. Thus, we flee to where that knowledge exists easily within our grasp, finding ourselves browsing the humanities and science tomes for that elusive something that could improve our existence. Or, we could just sit by the window and just watch the rain falling...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

What Music Now?

I'm starting a new section in the sidebar, called What Music Now? which is pretty self-explanatory. If you have any suggestions let me know, and I may include one or two. But for now, this is what's spinning at home and in the car:

  • Niko - "Life on Earth" (GrandCentral Records)
  • Kate Rogers - "Seconds" (GrandCentral Records)
  • New Order - "Waiting for the Sirens' Call" (WB)


Monday, May 02, 2005

Is Buffett For Real?

And I'm not talking about his decision to maintain his selling view on the U.S. dollar. That is indeed a sound investment decision, what with the growing U.S. deficits, both trade and budget. Myself and a number of other currency traders were betting against the greenback way back when, when the trade gap war around $40 bln. Now, with the goods and services gap being around $60 bln, Buffett's bet seem reasonable.

I am refering to his comments during Berkshire's recent shareholders' meeting, where he provided support for Hank Greenberge, the embattled ex-president and CEO of AIG. Mind you, the support came in the form of praise for Greenberg's ability to transfor AIG into the leading insurance company in the "property casualty business". But, at the same time one wonders what did Buffett say to the regulators (i.e. Elliot Spitzer) about AIG and Gen Re that started this whole thing off. Did a deal take place between Spitzer and Buffett, whereby in order to save Gen Re, Buffet would have to deliver AIG on a silver platter? We can only make suppositions and wait to see how General Re will fare at the end of Spitzer's investigation.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Happy First of May!

Workers of the world unite! Does this motto have any credence any more? Do labour unions still represent their members, or are workers these days languishing in the comforts provided by their employers? Where are the demonstrations of yesteryear? With the upcoming elections in the U.K. will the voters re-elect Blair's Labour party, or will the Tories be successful in convincing the electorate to re-institute them to power?

Lest anyone here in North American think that May Day has lost its lustre, there were certainly numerous demonstrations in the streets of Europe during this international day of workers. In France, people were demonstrating against the EU constitution as opinion polls showed that the Non side had started to lose ground, as the referendum on Europe's constitution is approaching.FT.com

In Moscow, where in the "good old days" the Soviet Union would proudly display its once superpower might, people were marching for better working conditions, although the demonstrations were marred by radical violence. Yahoo News

For my part, as a young boy growing up in Europe, I used to associate May Day with spring, as my friends and I would hop on our bikes and ride out in the country. And to this day I still take a moment on this day to think about the coming of spring and summer, and where should I spend my summer vacation.

But seriously though, May 1st has become less politicised over the years and will eventually turn into the North American equivalent of the Labour Day in September, that one last chance for barbecue, visiting the cottage and enjoying the lake before the onset of winter.