‘Please refrain from taking any photos during the performance tonight, the main act is very shy’. At the time and in retrospect, I doubt many who handed over their stubs for inspection believed that the young ticket girl had even heard of Neutral Milk Hotel, but such elitism was naturally outranked by the fizzing weight of anticipation surrounding the band’s first tour in 15 years and the fact she was right.

As the eyes of the world dart across the various nations facing turmoil, largely unnoticed lies the bubbling undercurrent of musical and creative growth, converting the tribulations of societal upheaval into blimps of expression. Leading the pack is the diesel-edged “drone ‘n’ roll” of Mechanimal, stirring the dreary-eyed of Athens from their nests and propping them up on supports made of deep electronic rumbles. We asked Giannis Papaioannou to tell us about five tracks that provide similar support for the group on their travels.

For the last 6 years, Greece is going through a rough neo-liberal model. There’s dogmatic devotion to austerity and there are always new measures that try to “reform” the state, which is actually huge salary cuts for the most insecure social groups, more taxes, privatizations of some of the biggest companies in the country, demonisation of the minorities, concentration camps for immigrants.

The other weekend I found myself in a familiar trance. I was perusing the wares of HMV — the unheralded vinyl king of Nottingham — looking for bargains to pad out the slither of space left in my Ikea Kallax shelving unit. I picked up some overlooked essentials as a matter of protocol (Disintegration, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots) before plucking for a wild card that I hadn’t gotten round to listening to: You’re Dead!, the latest release from Californian hip-jazz experimentalist Flying Lotus.

With the charming, life-affirming ethos that playing music with your closest friends becomes more joyous with each passing show than going it alone does, Connecticut’s The Guru are a mysterious, technicolour relic of a time gone by, a troupe of young companions that enjoy the same simple pleasures.

Ah, the dreaded comparison. Nothing misses the point and narrows the mind more than an argument about how a band used to be better, the “yeah, but compared to..” closing statement that invariably discredits the album at hand as well as faux-validates the opinion because of its loaded proposition.