Global Notes: UK band Cornershop makes pop out of Punjabi folk

April 6, 2011

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The UK band Cornershop emerged in the early 90s, a full decade before acts like M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend made borrowing global rhythms cool for the indie crowd.  At the height of their countrymen's Britpop obsession, founding members Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayers challenged the notion that "world music" was for old people and fans of Paul Simon.

Drawing from Indian traditions, Cornershop created a distinct brand of lo-fi indie pop that embraced multiculturalism and confronted racism. (The band's name refers to the British stereotype that all South Asians own corner stores.) In 1997, Cornershop perfected their hybrid sound with the crossover hit "Brimful of Asha."

On their new album Cornershop and the Double-O Groove Of, frontman Tjinder Singh hands over vocal duties to Hindi singer Bubbley Kaur, an unknown whom he discovered in a laundromat. The result is a singular cocktail of Punjabi folk and UK pop. On this week's Global Notes, Jerome and Radio M host Tony Sarabia critique the band's latest effort with Worldview producer and Cornershop fan Becky Vlamis.

TRACK LIST

1. Topknot

2. 911 Curry

3. Wog

4. Double Decker Eyelashes

5. Supercomputed

 

Check out the charmingly-dated video for "Brimful of Asha."