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Cornershop



Since the mid-'90s, this London-based collective has been creating fascinatingly weird yet remarkably accessible music whose melting pot populism mirrors that of the fluorescent-lit retail establishments for which the band is named. With its unprecedented blending of the traditional Indian raga and modern-day Brit-pop, Cornershop's '94 debut album Hold On It Hurts immediately earned them lots of attention. But there were those who dismissed the group as a essentially novelty act, some referring to them a bit derisively as "Hindi-pop."

But their two great follow-up albums, '95's Woman's Gotta Have It and '97's groundbreaking When I Was Born for the Seventh Time (featuring production from Dan The Automator and guest appearances by Allan Ginsberg and Paula Frazer) proved that Cornershop was no flash in the pan, that their sound was far from sheer gimmickry, but an entirely fresh way of making popular music. With each recording the group's East-West fusion got more sophisticated and expansive, their Punjabi anthems more memorable, as evidenced by the success of their '97 single "Brimful of Asha," dedicated to the influential Indian vocalist Asha Bhosle.

After a five-year hiatus and numerous rumors that frontman Tjinder Singh had broken up the band in the wake of Born for the Seventh Time's wildfire success, Cornershop came back with another LP, the warm, wacky, and wonderful Handcream for a Generation. Featuring guest appearances from The X-Ecutioners turntablist extraordinaire Rob Swift and members of Oasis, the new album bears heavy undercurrents of Stax/Volt Memphis soul and roots reggae, while retaining the same heady style of curry-flavored pop-rock, the same offbeat mix-and-match humor, and the same pointed politicism which earned the group their devoted following.

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