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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

THE SPRING CLEANING HITLIST
Cassette tapes from yester-year

ERASURE Live in New York

THE SPRING HITLIST
Albums, singles, a movie, a book, food and more...

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW
Mick Jones on Joe Strummer

SO MUCH WINE, SO LITTLE TIME
18 Wines from four dinners

WILLIAMSBURG W***KERS
The FischerSpooner Album Release Party

FEATURED WINE:
PONT NEUF 2003
Vin De Pays du Gard, France

BRIGHTON ROCKS BROOKLYN
The Go! Team at Southpaw

THE MARCH HITLIST:
15 ALBUMS

NOTES FROM A POSH NIGHT OUT:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Dinner

FEATURED WINE:
Bremerton 'Selkirk' Shiraz 2000 Langhorne Creek, Australia

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW:
TIM BOOTH

FEATURED WINE REGION:
BANDOL

THE FEBRUARY HITLIST:
Chemical Brothers, Lemon Jelly, Slits, Erasure, T.H. White, M83, Tim Booth and more

FEATURED WINE:
JEAN LALLEMENT CHAMPAGNE BRUT NV

THE JANUARY HITLIST:
They Almost Got Away: The Best Of The Rest of 2004:

The IJAMMING! Interview:
Matt Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces on Pete Townshend

MINUTES OF A 'MIRACLE':
The Birth of our baby Noel

2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
1) The Best Album & Singles
2) Most Disappointing Albums
3) Best Wines of 2004

THE GREAT COMMUNICATOR:
TED LEO in concert

THE DECEMBER HITLIST:
Album reviews of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, John Cale, Nick Cave, The Scumfrog, Freq Nasty, DFA, Grip Weeds, High Dials

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW:
Wayne Kramer on Pete Townshend

JOHN PEEL: A Tribute

The Clash: The Complete Guide To Their Music available online through amazon.co.uk, and at all good UK bookstores.

CLASH PAGES now online
Read excerpts from the book. Plus: Mick Jones interview. Go!

The biggest night out that you'll ever have in." Jockey Slut
"Hedonism will have you gripped from start to finish, guaranteed." International DJ


Tony Fletcher's debut novel HEDONISM is out now. For more information and to read excerpts, click here.


HEDONISM is available mail order in the USA from Barnes&Noble.com. It's available mail order in the UK from amazon.co.uk or musicroom.com.

DEAR BOY The British edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com and amazon co.uk. More info here.

REMARKS REMADE The first ever R.E.M. biography fully updated with ten new chapters covering Reveal and beyond. Available at UK bookstores, amazon.co.uk and musicroom. Available at select stores in the States and through BN.com.

MOON The American edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com, bn.com and amazon co.uk. More info here

iJAMMING! is a music and lifestyle web site hosted by
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FRIDAY MAY 27

HALLELUJAH! WE'RE BACK!

BOOK YOUR PLANE TICKETS! HIRE YOUR BABYSITTER! DIG OUT YOUR BEST JOE BLOGGS! RETURN THE POSTERS! THE RUMORS ARE TRUE...

NEED REMINDING WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT? CHECK THE STEP ON HALL OF INFAMY, TWO PAGES OF PHOTOS FROM OUR EIGHTEEN MONTH RUN, JULY 2003-DECEMBER 2004, NEWLY UPLOADED HERE. AND HERE. CERTAIN iJAMMING! PUB MEMBERS MAY RECOGNIZE THEMSELVES IN VARIOUS STAGES OF DISREPUTE.


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APOCALYPSE ARCHIVE PAGES START HERE.


WEDNESDAY MAY 25

LIVE AND YET MORE LIVE: NOTES FROM THE FRONT ROW

"If you're the sort of person who dashes on ahead through the foyer at gigs saying, 'I'll grab a drink later, I really want to check out the support band first,' then there may well be many outlets for you in the music business… but rock journalist isn't one of them."
Stuart Maconie, Cider With Roadies

Well, no wonder I only lasted three months with Maconie's alma mater, the NME. I'm always dashing through the foyer at gigs to check out the support band. I can't help it: I’m consistently operating under the belief that by showing up early I might just get to see the next Bob Dylan, Sex Pistols, and Who, all rolled into one. I'm not sure any band has quite lived up to those expectations, but I can't count the number of times I've thanked myself for getting into the venue long before the headline act. Nobody told me it was unfashionable to show such enthusiasm – or that I couldn't make a career out of sharing that excitement with others. (Though I recognize that a sense of humor comes in handy - and that Maconie has several of them.)

My devotion to live music has waxed and waned over the years, according to reigning musical trends. But here we are in 2005, and gig-going is again a personal passion. Why? Well, we're in the midst of a live music bubble, spearheaded by a seemingly endless crop of young bands from all around the world, many of them influenced by the punk/new wave/post-punk groups I saw in my teens: music that's close to my heart. Besides, the popularity of these bands has in turn encouraged older acts to reform, rekindled interest in many a "mid-career" band, generated dozens of club nights in cities across the world, inspired legions of online and print 'zines all over and, best of all, made gig-going fun once more.

Last week, then, I embarked on a full-on blitz around the New York live music scene. It seemed like all the bands I'm interested in were playing in the same week, and that if I was in for a penny, I might as well be in for a pound. (Even so, I missed the following acts all playing over the same five days: Nine Inch Nails, Heartless Bastards, Dead 60's, Amusement Parks On Fire, Snow Patrol, Athlete and, no doubt, many more.) It also seemed a good opportunity to avoid the usual featured live review and instead offer a rounded overview of what's going on in the world of live music – at least that part of it that I know about. Here goes with observations from a week in the front row.


Blinded by the lights: Kasabian give it loads at Bowery Ballroom.

ENERGY IS A GIVEN

Liveliest bands of the week? Kasabian. Radio 4. Gang Of Four. Hot Hot Heat. The Ordinary Boys. Stellastarr*, if we go back to the previous Friday. So that's more than half of them. And so it should be: live rock shows are meant to be lively affairs.


BUT ENERGY CAN BE A COVER

There's a tendency with young bands to feel that if they don't make like this is the most important night of their lives, we might not take them seriously. Truth is, the audience can usually tell when a band is trying too hard. Kasabian and The Ordinary Boys: relax, don't do it.


ORIGINALITY DOES NOT MAKE FOR POPULARITY

Most original band of the week? Undoubtedly, Mercury Rev, whose psyched-out soul sounds like it was beamed in from another planet. Yet here they are, six albums and a solid fifteen years into their career, opening for Doves, a band with only half their track record and themselves no longer flavor of the week. Life's not fair.


POPULARITY IS A PASSING PHASE

But Mercury Rev don't take it personally. How could they, with all those Buddhist slogans running behind them? "Our career is like the Doors biography, but in reverse," singer Jonathan Donahue explains in the current Filter Mini magazine, seemingly quite happy with the band's cult status. Let's see if Webster Hall headliners Hot Hot Heat – bless their disheveled hair cuts – are still together ten years from now.

Jonathan Donohue of Mercury Rev: Jim Morrison in reverse.


WHEN IN DOUBT, IN NEW YORK, PLAY A RAMONES SONG

The Ordinary Boys ended their set of likeable but rather forgettable mod-rock with the observation that CBGB is now a t-shirt shop. And then covered The Ramones' 'The KKK Took My Baby Away.' But why?


...AND IF IT WORKED FOR THE RAMONES

Hot Hot Heat are great on stage. For at least fifteen minutes. By then, it's obvious that front man Steve Bays has but one trick up his sleeve – the admirable ability to play keyboards with one hand and hold a microphone with the other, while simultaneously doing the splits. And while Hot Hot Heat's songs do not all sound the same – that would be doing a disservice to the brilliantly retro 'Pickin' It Up' – there's not much variation in tempo or timbre. So, by the time they were onto their tenth song of the night, and already played most of my favorites, I opted to call it quits and head to another gig. Checking my watch, I realized they'd been onstage for all of 25 minutes. You have to love a band that can get the job done so quickly.


YOU CAN TELL A GROUP'S APPEAL BY THE SOUND OF ITS AUDIENCE

The crowd for Kasabian cheered. For Gang Of Four they roared. For Mercury Rev, they whooped; for Doves they applauded roundly. And for Hot Hot Heat (at right), they screamed. Yes, the Canadian quartet has a nubile following. I watched from the balcony, where I could see my teenage self somewhere in the midst of the juvenile crowd bobbing up and down in approximate time to the music. My teenage self was probably doing so in the hope of rubbing up against some of those nubiles. It's a rite of passage. Long may it continue.


MIDDLE AGED MEN DO IT HARDER

Of all the energetic bands I saw last week, none could hold a candle to The Gang Of Four. Though the members are all in their late forties, they tore round the stage like they'd been spiked with speed. Trying to get a still photo of them was nearly impossible. Nearly.

Dave Allen, Jon King, Hugo Burnham, Andy Gill: The Gang of Four.


THEY ALSO DO IT MORE OFTEN

Gang Of Four were not satisfied with two sold-out shows at Irving Plaza. Following the first of them, on Tuesday night, they nipped down to the Tribeca Grand Hotel for a semi-secret gig, taking the stage again only two hours after coming off stage. The reason? Money, probably. But maybe a sense of determination too, the feeling that they've got something to prove and only a short amount of time left to prove it in. By all accounts, they proved it and then some.


THREE MIKES ARE BETTER THAN ONE

Was this always their calling card? And if so, why has nobody else copied it? For Gang of Four, the three microphones across stage front were set at the same height and, one assumes, same tonality. Vocalist Jon King spent the set bounding from one to the other in what we hope was a random manner. And even if it wasn't, it still made for thrilling entertainment.


THE GANG OF FOUR AREN'T JUST THE GODFATHERS OF POST-PUNK…

They're the godfathers of punk-funk. Watching bassist Dave Allen stomp across the stage, I immediately grasped where Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea got his moves (and his rhythms). And given how many bands have copped to the Chili Peppers, that makes at least two movements the Gang of Four have inspired. Not bad for a group who never truly made it big.

Dave Allen punishing his bass....

...And playing it.


NEW SONGS ARE WELCOMED

Last week at Luna Lounge, Stellastarr* unveiled a whole new album on stage; hopefully, they did the same when headlining Bowery Ballroom this past Friday night. Kasabian played, by my count, three new songs at Bowery, of varying quality. Radio 4 have one solid new song in the set. This is what keeps us, the hard core, going to gigs: the hope we will be pleasantly surprised by something we have not yet heard, and have a reason to look forward to the next album.


BUT SOMETIMES THEY'RE NOT NEEDED

The newest Gang of Four song was well over 20 years old. That was fine by me. I don't mind bands reforming to prove how much better they are than the current crop of young whippersnapper imitators; it's when they start writing new songs that they usually disappoint. So what if Gang of Four's 14-song set, opening with 'Return The Gift' and closing with 'Damaged Goods,' was pure nostalgia? Would a new song have made it any less so?


TOWNSHEND AND DALTREY: ARE TWO FRONT MEN BETTER THAN ONE?

Sergio Pizzorno (with rare Rickenbacker) and Tom Meighan: can you tell which one is Townshend?

Of the four Kasabian members standing stage front, you can instantly ignore pudgy bassist Chris Edwards and lead guitarist/keyboard player Christopher Karloff: the Kasabian show is all about rhythm guitarist/ occasional vocalist Sergio Pizzorno and vocalist/occasional rhythm guitarist Tom Meighan. Tom is supposedly the front man, but while it's his voice that's made club hits out of 'Processed Beats,' 'LSF' and the like, he's somewhat overbearing. All that jumping around combined with the excessive "thank you very much New York" platitudes and the fact that his voice doesn't really cut it live… it’s like watching a young Roger Daltrey. This comparison is especially apt given that Pizzorno cuts a boiler-suited era Townshend-esque figure alongside, flailing wildly but seemingly effortlessly on his rhythm guitar, and handling his vocal duties with greater aplomb too. The relationship works best when Meighan also straps on a guitar and is forced to focus on his playing as much as his singing: then the group hits an enviable stride which, combined with those (processed) beats and Primal energy, turns them into serious contenders. Paddy Casino, aka Desko 2000, aka The Only Living Boy In Staten Island, mused aloud to me about the Bunnymen front line too, and how McCulloch was also at his best when he had a guitar for a prop. Good point.


TOO MUCH TOO YOUNG?

If The Ordinary Boys played their cover of The Specials' 'Little Bitch' I didn't catch it. What I did hear, hot off the Hot Hot Heat show, was a new self-composed song called 'Losing My Mind,' equally heavy on the ska but no more original than anything that came out on 2Tone 25 years ago. I feel a little sorry for The Ordinary Boys: not only have they saddled themselves with an unfortunately (un)ironic name for such an earnest group, they're on the receiving end of much invective, with one amazon.co.uk reviewer labeling them "Menswear on a bad day." I found front man Sam Preston perfectly likeable on stage and have a feeling I would write something positive about him if we spent time together. Yet I can not get excited about his band. The Ordinary Boys are like one of the many mod-rock bands who came along in 1979 in the wake of The Jam's success with none of Weller's songwriting talent or the trio's charisma. So let's be kind and say that the current craze for retro guitar rock has allowed The Ordinary Boys an extraordinary window of opportunity, and at least they're making the most of it before it slams shut on them.

The next 1979 revival starts here. The quintessentially mod Ordinary Boys


WEBSTER HALL IS THE NEW RITZ

Actually, it's the old Ritz, the fabled venue on 11th Street where many New Yorkers came of concert age. Ever since The Ritz closed and its hallowed, multi-tiered rooms turned into the mainstream cattle market Webster Hall, promoters have periodically used it to put on concerts that have been unpopular with the paying public because of overly stringent security and ever excessive drink prices. Yet something seems to have clicked in the Bowery Ballroom's current relationship with Webster Hall; the near nightly concerts included, this past week, Doves/Mercury Rev for two nights, Hot Hot Heat for one, and Bright Eyes with The Faint for five - yes, five - sold-out shows. Coming weeks include LCD Soundsystem, Bloc Party, The Raveonettes and The Futureheads. No reason not to keep it going: Webster Hall has a comfortable capacity (approx 1500 standing), good sightlines and, when Ian Brown isn't playing, great sound. Most notably though, they've worked on the security issue: the staff now smile when you enter and exit, and no longer pat you down like a potential drug mule. The only caveat: when a concert venue is also serving as a nightclub, you need to look closely at the time printed on your ticket. It's not always there to deceive you.


TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Bands at bigger clubs do go on at precisely pre-determined times. It's just that those times are rarely shared with the public. So it was that four of us iJammers showed up at Bowery Ballroom on Monday way ahead of Kasabian's surprisingly late onstage time of 11pm. And that several people showed up at Webster Hall on Friday night after Hot Hot Heat's 8.45pm headline slot had begun, seemingly unconvinced that the 'Doors 5.30pm' time on the tickets was not a misprint, and clearly unaware that the venue had to be turned round for the Webster Hall meat market at precisely 10pm. But that's in the bigger venues. In the smaller ones, it's a free for all. The record company's assured 10.30pm onstage time for West Indian Girl that same Friday night turned out to be Mercury Lounge's advertised 11pm which meant, being the Mercury, 11.30pm. By then, I was worn out, besides which…


THE MERCURY LOUNGE IS NOT MY FAVORITE VENUE

West Indian Girl fail to alter Mercury Lounge

I've seen some great shows here: Supergrass comes immediately to mind, with The Streets not far behind. But the club's cons outweigh its pros. (It is, incidentally, operated by the same team as Bowery and Webster Hall.) The stage is low, the ambiance is non-existent, the bar through which you have to navigate your way to the back room is uncomfortably narrow, and its time-keeping is atrocious. All of which means it's hard for a band to create a vibe, as was the case with West Indian Girl's New York debut. The group's mix of psychedelic west coast rock and post-rave haze is certainly impressive, all the more so for the vocal interaction between frontman Robert James and the largely phonetic backing singer Mariqueen Maandig, but it fell far short of the "conscious altering vision" James dreams of in the official label bio. To be fair, I don't think such a thing is possible in this room.


BOWERY BALLROOM IS THE BEST CLUB IN NEW YORK

It helps that free street parking is a certainty this far downtown and I can drive home in ten minutes; that the club was built for live music and that the acoustics are invariably superb; that the stage is high, the venue is rarely oversold beyond its 600 capacity and there's a wraparound balcony from which you could easily spit on the singer's head (if you were a punk rock Johnny-come-lately and this was 1977). But what really makes the Bowery worth going to is the underground bar, complete with lounge chairs, stools and, often enough, reading material too. This is especially useful when you've spent a week on your feet at gigs, you're trucking round town on your own on a Friday night, and the only person you recognize in the club is the bartender (who, fortunately, pours yours for free). Such was the case for the debut NY2LON event on Friday night, featuring New York's Stellastarr* and The Hong Kong, and Britain's Ordinary Boys and Amusement Parks on Fire, where I passed an entire 'tween-band set sat reading gratis copies of New York's Filter magazine and London's own The Fly. Even as conscientous a music fan as myself was entirely overwhelmed by the number of bands these magazines were able to enthuse over, but come the end of the night I knew enough about The Magic Numbers to post about them in The Pub. Don't they have beards?


LIGHT SHOWS ARE GOOD

It was a positive week for taking out the camera. Gang Of Four played hard with bright lights, Hot Hot Heat were heavy on the backstage mirror style of bulbous design, and even the typically dark Bowery Ballroom lit up enough that I got good pictures of the Ordinary Boys.


...BACKDROPS ARE BETTER...

Kasabian's logo – the masked man that graces their album cover too - sends a powerful message. What is it?


...BUT VISUALS ARE BEST

Mercury Rev and Doves were well suited for each other. The former utilized the space behind them to provide quotes from the likes of David Bowie, Edith Wharton and Stanley Kubrick, which served almost as alternative lyrics. Doves, as is their longstanding wont, ran a film show across the backdrop for much of their set, which adequately compensated for what many might call a lack of stage presence. (Jimi Goodwin has a voice to die for, but his banter was limited to a rather embarrassing impersonation of David Coverdale.) These visuals veered from the relatively predictable (terraced streets during 'Black And White Town') to the imaginatively cinematic (the hallucinatory journey from English supermarket to Brazilian beach on the finale of 'There Goes The Fear'). I believe that they've always had the footage from the Wigan Casino to accompany 'Here It Comes,' but this time it really stood out: slowed down to accentuate every spin and drop, the film served not just as a tribute to Doves' northern (soul) English roots but as a reminder how similar these spins and kicks were to those of northern American black kids breakdancing in the Bronx. Energy is an asset for those bands that want to jump around, but for those that rely on the other 'e' word – emotion - such visuals are a Godsend.


YOU CAN'T CALL YOURSELF THE ROCK'N'ROLL SOLDIERS…

…And expect us to take you seriously. Sorry boys, this was one time I did not rush through the foyer to catch the support band.


AND IF YOU CALL YOURSELVES MAD ACTION…

…You really need to live up to your name. Opening for Kasabian, and not for the first time (we assume they're good Transatlantic mates), Mad Action were merely competent. Given the contemporary competition, that's simply not enough.


GOOD LOOKS ARE OVER-RATED…

Catherine Culpepper, vocalist for The Hong Kong, certainly stands out - tall, blonde, built like an Amazon – but her stage persona of icy cool is at odds with her energetic band, and her voice not strong enough to carry over them. Still, Ric Ocasek – living proof that an ugly mug is no impediment to rock'n'roll stardom and a supermodel spouse - has signed The Hong Kong his Inverse label and will be producing their debut label; we'll see if the studio shines for Sonya where the stage does not.


AN EPIPHANY

I spent much of the week in the pit. Some of it even in the front rows. For Hot Hot Heat, I retreated to the balcony, from where I watched the teenage audience jump around and scream like they were having the time of their lives. They were having the time of their lives. They don't need to be lectured that Hot Hot Heat are retreads of everything that has come before any more than I needed lecturing that The Jam were mere retreads of everything that had come before them. "You're feeling so brave you can't be stopped when you're young," Paul Weller sang. "Why do I have to be bored with being foolish and young?" Hot Hot Heat's Steve Bays sings. They're both pertinent lyrics. But only one of them, I accept, applies to my own life. Youth, after all, is best wasted on the young


IT WAS A GREAT WEEK

Tiring though it was spending that much time on my feet, I had a grand old week. There was, there is, there hopefully always will be so much good music to catch in a capital like New York. I'm grateful that I get to be a part of it. (Especially, of course, for free.)


BUT I COULD LIVE WITHOUT IT

That may sound like a contradiction of my opening paragraph, but it was partly the point of the exercise. If circumstances changed in my life and I could no longer go see gigs at the drop of a hat, would I be able to cope? Yes, I believe I would. Of the dozen bands I saw in the course of the week, none came close to being the living embodiment of Bob Dylan, The Sex Pistols and The Who. The best of the bunch was probably a group I saw in its original incarnation 24 years ago. And while that's more a reflection on the Gang Of Four's unique sound, formidable catalogue and enviable middle-aged energy than it is a knock on the younger bands, it still served as a reminder that, as you get older, live music does not necessarily get better.

Thinking about it now, trying to reach some conclusion, I realise that I probably only expect to get blown away by one new band a year. (Last year, that was The Futureheads.) I also then hope to see one superstar in all their mega glory (last year, Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium), and a couple of bands in their creative and commercial element. (Last year, Basement Jaxx in the dance tent at the V Festival.) The rest of the time, this gig-going obsession is more of a social thing: a chance to hook up with a friend, maybe grab a beer or a bite, then catch some chords and beats, feel the band's vibe and get off home before being dragged to the after-party. It's still a part of my lifestyle, even at 41, and it’s great fun. But my life does not depend on it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to see who's playing next week.


MONDAY MAY 23

FEATURED WINE REVIEW

SULA
CHENIN BLANC 2004
NASHIK, INDIA $12?

OK. I know what you're thinking. Since when has India been making good wine?

Well, not for long. Though grapes have been grown in India since time immemorial and the Mauryan King Chandragupta was documented as a wine devotee (some would say drunkard) back in 300 BC, it's only in the last 20 years that Indian producers have begun thinking about wines for the world market. And it's only since the arrival of Sula on the scene that people have started noticing them. Sula's Sauvignon Blanc garnered a favorable review in Robin Garr's respected Wine Advisor while closer to home, its Shiraz-Cabernet is poured at the Prospect Heights wine bar Half, and the Chenin Blanc in on sale at LeNell's in Red Hook, each of which has impeccable taste. Ever curious, I picked up a bottle from Le Nell's for $12, and when I came home from the 5th Avenue Street Fair last Sunday night with a curry from Long Tan, I pulled it out the fridge and cracked it open.

And it's good stuff. Really. While the nose was initially reticent, it opened up over time to reveal some juicy lemon aromas, along with a flinty mineral flavor such as you get from the Chenin Blanc's home territory of the Loire. Made in a semi-sweet style, there was good acidity, some highly pleasant notes of apple and pear and a solid mineral note to the mid-palate. A relatively simple drink, it was nonetheless am ideal food and wine pairing: the acidity helped offset the curry's spices while the sweetness complemented the sauce. There was enough left over to enjoy on a second night where, if anything, the wine had improved, developing the similarly refreshing, food-friendly appeal of an off-dry Riesling. Served blind to any one of my wine snob friends, I think they'd have been hard put to tell that this was not of European descent. That would appear, initially, to be a compliment of the highest order.

The story behind Sula is one of globalization such as should be included in a Thomas Friedman book. Rajeev Samant is born in India but attends University at Stanford, in the heart of the Californian wine industry. He gets a job at Oracle but Silicon Valley doesn't do it for him; he quits, aged 25, for an extended gap year that includes full moon raves in Thailand. He eventually returns to his family's farm in Nashik, 100 miles inland from Bombay and 2000ft above seal level, with the quintessential modern-day American-Indian entrepreneurial spirit and decides there's no reason not to add wine grapes to the family's business.

Money is not mentioned much at the company's web site, but clearly Sula is not short of it. Samant hired Rahul Mehrotra, one of Bombay's top architects, to build a state-of-the-art winery, and Kerry Damskey from Sonoma County to help make the wines. Damskey initially focused on white wine grapes from the Loire, and in 1997, they planted Sauvignon Blanc cuttings brought in from France and Chenin Blanc from California. They have since added Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel grapes from California, and Shiraz grapes from Australia.

The downside of globalization is evident in the above paragraph and my initial compliment of the highest order: it's called homogenization. If the Sula Chenin Blanc could pass for a European wine, why don't I just buy one from Europe? (Especially because, unlike other industries 'outsourced' to India, the Sula is no cheaper than a comparable wine from the Loire or California.) More to the point, do we really need an Indian winery copying that most disgusting of American crowd-pleasers, pink Zinfandel? Or imitating what must be Australia's only claim to wine originality, the Cabernet-Shiraz blend? Is there really no indigenous Indian grape with which to make quality wine, or at least to offer some hint of terroir?

Sula has probably heard all these complaints. To Samant and Danksey's credit, their wines (the whites at least) are made in a clean style, favoring stainless steel tanks over oak barrels. To their further credit, almost every wine produced so far matches well with the nation's spicy food. They're well priced for the quality - and this Chenin Blanc, at least, is very good quality. Who knows? In time, we may even be able to taste something of India in the wine itself.

MUSIC? Usually, I get all geographical about these pairings and suggest an act from the wine's own region. But the Sula is so inoffensively homogenous that I'm going to cast a wider net. You will definitely enjoy it with a curry, and it will perk you up in the process. So next time you have a late-night takeaway and are in the mood for wine and music too, open your Sula, put on some new Hot Hot Heat or some old Specials, and get your party started right.


2005 MUSINGS:

May 16-22: 5th Avenue Street Fair,Stellastarr* live, Spizz Energi, CBGB, Guy Pratt, Clash
May 9-15: Brooklyn Beats, New York Nights, Cider With Roadies, Spizz, Clash, Basquiat,
May 2-8: The Spring (Cleaning) Hitlist, Cure vs. Smiths, Happy Endings, Brooklyn Real Estate Bust, Save CBGB: Eat More Chocolate
April 25-May 1: Erasure live, LeNell's Wine store, Happy Endings, Peter Hook
April 18-24: Rockin' & Shockin', M83/Ulrich Schnauss live, NJ Marathon, Ribolla Gialla wine
April 11-17: The Spring Hitlist, Springtime In Brooklyn, Restaurant Reviews, Supermom!
April 4-10: Twenty wine reviews, FischerSpooner, KEXP, Loveless, Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 28-April 3: Loathsome! Daft! Human! Overload! Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 21-27: The Go! Team live, Ian Brown dead, Pont Neuf wine, Hall Of Fame rules, Cocotte restaurant, Marilyn Monroe/Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibitions
Mar 14-20: The March Hitlist, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Dinner report,
Mar 7-13
: Bouillabaisse 126 restaurant review; Going Up In The World; Dandy Mama; Tim Booth
Feb 21-Mar 6: Live reviews: Ian Brown, Schizo Fun Addict, Soft Explosions, The Stands. Wine review: Langhorne Creek Selkirk Shiraz.
Feb 14-20: Ten Words Of Wisdom, Weblinks, Stone Roses demos, Lyceum revisited, Bandol wine review
Feb 7-13: Fanzines, Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll, Chord & Tabs, The Plug Awards, Tear Down The Discos, Jean Lallement Champagne review
Jan 31-Feb 6: Erasure/Tim Booth/M83/T.H. White album reviews. WebFriends Day. The Jam vs. The Smiths vs. The USA, Iraq elections
Jan 24-30: Chemical Brothers/Lemon Jelly/Slits album reviews. Ted Leo/Benzos live reviews. Gang of Four/Specials/Happy Mondays/Farm/Bureau reunions. Tempranillo wine reviews.
Jan 17-23: The January Hitlist: Those That Almost Got Away, Revolutions, Remixes, Remisses, Justin Timberlake, Fiery Furnaces, Jimmy Edgar live
Jan 10-16: Tsunami observations/relief efforts/fund-raisers, Best Wines of 2004, British vs. American charts, Alba Chambourcin wine review
Jan 3-9: The Best Of 2004 - Albums and Singles; Biggest Disappointments of 2004; Minutes of A Miracle: Our Son Noel; New York Club Nights

2004 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2003 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
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