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Triplets ‘Round the Corner

Cornershop lines up two back-to-back album releases and an independent music documentary

Neha Sharma Jul 10, 2008
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In his love of old things which he reputedly applies to his lyricism – from 7” records to Alex Bradford to traditional Punjabi folk ”“ he is an anachronism in the rapidly changing music industry. Tjinder Singh, 40, vocalist and guitarist of Cornershop, expresses his disdain at the musicology that chimes with cash registers today: “Black-and-white R&B music is predominant in this decade and the scope for other music has been reduced drastically”¦ I’m not much into the current scene; these English songs are more about how a guy can get with a girl and that does not interest me much.” Singh’s spiel also extends itself to the way music is made today and that’s what their music documentary under the working title The London Radar aspires to showcase. The film, on which work started in 2003, documents London’s independent music industry. “Time and technology is obviously moving fast these days, what we documented five years ago has changed substantially already. We filmed bands rehearsing in studios that have since been bulldozed. Shot artists recording sessions for the BBC in historic studios which have now long since closed. We filmed Routemaster buses running, which have now been mothballed. We’re proud to have captured a time and much that has since disappeared,” says guitarist Ben Ayres, 40.

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The British indie artistes might have gone underground – it’s been six years since Cornershop’s last record, Handcream for a Generation ”“ but they haven’t left the building just yet. With an album ready for release and another one featuring Bubbley Kaur almost ready, we are looking at two back-to-back releases with The London Radar following at their heels. The band began working on the first of these in mid-2005 and Singh suggests things have changed for the band in the six-year hiatus: “We all have kids now!” he laughs. The band maintains the same line-up it did ten years ago ”“ Singh, Ayres and Pete Downing on guitars, James Milne on bass, Adam Blake on sitar, Peter Bengry on percussions, Nick Simms on drums and Anthony Saffery on keys. After speaking with Singh and Ayres we get a faint idea of what we should expect of these albums. As is the case with most Cornershop albums, Singh’s Punjabi roots nestle Asian influences on songwriting. He also tells us about a seven-minute track in Punjabi showcasing the typical Cornershop sound with heavy sitar riffs. ”˜History in the Making’ illustrates the political content on the first album: it’s a track condemning the US waging war on Afghanistan and Iraq. The album is heavy on lingual diversity with tracks in English, Spanish, French and Punjabi. Also with the band’s fancy for lengthy tracks reminiscent of their ”˜Spectral Mornings’ (a 14-minute track featuring Noel Gallagher from Handcream), this time the band has a 17-minute gospel track on the album.

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Ayres describes the second album as being more beats- and bassline-orientated, with fewer guitars. “Bubbley Kaur sings on every track, making it a different record to the other album. Although I think the linking factor is both records have the Cornershop sound, thanks largely to Tjinder’s production skills!” he adds.

“We plan to release the albums ourselves, primarily via the internet, although we will also do mail-order CDs and vinyl and have some copies in shops and export,” says Ayres. Cornershop will be playing at the O2 Wireless Festival in London’s Hyde Park on July 5.

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