Archive | April, 2014

Five Reasons to Watch Goldspot’s Desk Gig at 5PM Today

23 Apr

10247273_528959557215517_7839429594106875873_n (1)

 

UPDATE: After a massive 3 and a half hours of playing and talking about his life, his work, and a hundred other things, Siddhartha Khosla’s gig is over. But thanks to the magic of Internet, you can still watch the concert online at the link provided below!

Whenever someone questions how I’m able to fall in love with and obsess about something as abstract as music, I toss them a Goldspot song; it tends to shut them up quite quickly.

Goldspot has remained a critical darling since their public introduction by New York’s DJ Nic Hardcourt in 2005; since then, their music has featured in countess “Top Ten” lists. Siddhartha Khosla and his constantly-changing line-up of musicians have done everything from touring India and the US to singing at the White House Diwali celebrations to crooning to a flock of geese, and won countless hearts at their live shows on both sides of the Atlantic.

Siddhartha Khosla’s ability to mine his past to use as an influence for his current music endeavours makes his music incredibly relevant and accessible to a wide audience. His lyrics speak of the positives and the negatives of his life, and translate them in a way that makes them relatable to his listeners. It’s the sort of work that reminds you why music is considered art.

It’s been 2 years since Goldspot last came to India, and though it may be a while yet before they’re back in corporeal form, Siddhartha is bringing us the next best thing:

At approximately 5 PM Indian time (GMT + 5:30) today (23rd April, 2014) Siddhartha will be playing a live gig from his desk, to be broadcast live thanks to Pepsi MTV Indies. Siddhartha’s charisma and talent makes for a compelling argument as to why you should tune in, but in case you need reminding, we’ve provided 5 more songs to showcase why you need to watch this gig:

If The Hudson Overflows

“What’s the use in worrying about the ways in which the world might come to an end? When all along, there’s been a book on the side of the bed that you’ve never read instead?”

“If The Hudson Overflows” was featured on Season 8 of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother in what I would argue is the single best musical moment on the show (rivaled possibly only by Season 5’s “Rewind,” again by Goldspot).

The song has a simple, clear message: Don’t worry and don’t wait. The way this message is presented, however, is anything but that.

Over the course of four minutes, Siddhartha Khosla’s time-displaced, reassuring voice sends us on a beautiful journey to bring us face to face with our own mortality; upon doing so, however, he calmly reassures us that everything’s going to be okay, and for these four minutes it’s almost believable.

Backed by a barely-noticeable repetitive harmonium, softly picked guitars and a constantly present booming percussive drum that hides within itself, “If The Hudson Overflows” is perfect for those late night moments of panic about where life is heading.

“If the Hudson Overflows” was also downloadable as a single on iTunes with all proceeds going to help in the post-Hurricane Sandy reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, because Goldspot is just that wonderfully nice a band.

2. The Border Line

It’s hard to pick which aspect of “The Border Line” is more appealing: the song itself, or the accompanying video. “The Border Line,” another song off Aerogramme, follows the theme of most of the other songs in the album in talking about the dichotomy of being born in one place and raised in another, and the mix-and-match of cultures that this results in. Siddhartha Khosla’s sense of being split down the middle comes through strongly in the song:

“Atoms escape in the middle of the night when my heart and head collide.”

All of this is done against a jangly, foot-stomping, hand-clapping rhythm and melody that takes the best of modern indie sensibilities and steeps it in ‘60s pop from both the East and West, making a musical tea that leaves you warm and glowing hours after the last foot-stomps fade away. The Border Line works brilliantly as a song, but works even better when heard while watching the gorgeous, gorgeous video by long-time collaborator Nick Collett. The video features a montage of clips of people from all over the world engaged in that common unifying factor: dance. Nick Collett’s video brings people together across time and distance with a sincerity and earnestness that no Coca Cola advertisement could. Also watch out for the interspersed shots of Khosla jamming while channeling his finest ‘60s Rajesh Khanna!

3. Foundations

 

 “I hear there’s a wind that takes these plans and runs, but don’t worry; don’t worry, we’ll make new ones.”

Goldspot is often compared to the Beatles for their musical sensibilities and their ability to elevate what should be a straightforward pop song into something that is sublime and deep.

It’s not a talent that’s held by a lot of people, and it’s what makes listening to Siddhartha Khosla’s live sets so enriching: his ability to strip down, layer, mix, chop up and altogether rework the basic elements of his music in countless different ways and still present something fresh and attractive.

“Foundation,” which was written for the indie film Today’s Special, continues the jangle-pop mélange of styles and sounds that Goldspot espouses, only this time in the form of a love song. Siddhartha Khosla captures your heart with both his voice and his bouzouki, backed by a full and rich mix of rattling drums and guitars.

And continuing in his tradition of being an all-around stand-up guy watch this video of Siddhartha and his bouzouki singing for Aidan, a young boy with cancer:

 

4. Emily

 

Goldspot’s second album, And the Elephant is Dancing deals with some very complex and sometimes dark themes in the guise of sugar-coated indie pop, and “Emily” is a great example of this.

Lurking beneath the surface of the song, which features the same ever-present booming-drum backbone found in “If The Hudson Overflows” mixed with classic RD Burman string flourishes and a magically velvet keyboard, lies a story of profound loss. It’s impossible not to empathize with the protagonist’s attempts to reconnect with his lost love:

“See, I tried to kiss you through the pillow on my right; and oh, Emily, will you marry me again?”

 

5. Friday

“Friday” represents the perfect case for the argument that Goldspot is what the Beatles would sound like today. Despite being more than 8 years old now, “Friday” is as timeless and fresh as it was in 2005. It was played in heavy rotation both in India and in the US back then, and deserves to have the same attention now.

The song starts with swishy strings straight from ‘70s Bollywood that segues into a catchy rhythm guitar that is altogether transformed by Khosla’s voice. “Friday” is straightforward, but earnest; simple but sincere. It’s impossible not to like it, because it does absolutely everything right. The conviction and clarity with which Khosla implores “give me a sign” is unrivalled, and the Kishore Kumar strings that reappear during the breakdown and in the outro is goosebump-inducing, for all the right reasons.

“Friday” also comes in a Hindi acoustic version sung to a rapt audience of ducks and geese in Regents Park, because sometimes life really is just that awesome:

 

Take a break from exams. Skip a class. Sneak in a break from work (or better yet, call your boss over! They may give you a raise in the process).  Grab a friend, a lover, a loved one, a pet. Watch this gig! And maybe make some noise online to try and get Siddhartha and co. to come back to India soon!

 

Gig Link: http://www.youtube.com/PepsiMTVIndies

Unfortunately, it’s incredibly tough to find CD issues of Goldspot’s music in India, but their latest album Aerogramme is available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/in/album/aerogramme/id722046205

Haim at The Fillmore, SF (10/4/2014)

15 Apr

It should be quite clear by now that we at Top Five Records really like Haim. Our review had nothing but love, they made Neeharika’s top five albums of 2013 and mine as well. “The Wire” even made Neeharika’s top five songs of the year.

IMG_0223

They are a very easy band to like. They’re fun, they’re immensely talented, they make very good music and after this concert, you can add excellent live to that list.

Shy Girls

IMG_0217

The opening act Shy Girls were mostly good, but a little inconsistent. Their first couple of songs were enjoyable, but the ones that followed were honestly a little boring. All told, they provided an enjoyable backdrop to the crowd’s conversations, but never really managed to shift the focus to the stage. They were a little too self-indulgent to be truly interesting, especially when their performance moved further into the emotional. I do appreciate a band that pulls out a soprano saxophone though, even if it is mostly for pop appeal.

IMG_0219

Haim

It is easy to underestimate just how talented and versatile a band Haim is. Their opening songs turned the vocals down and the guitars up for some hard rock including an extended jam of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well“. They possess a tremendous amount of technical skill and were perfectly at ease shredding to start the show.

IMG_0226

From there though, the concert broke into a more melodic set. Their ballads were excellent live. Both “Honey & I” and “Running If You Call My Name” were outstanding. Additionally, “My Song 5” could have started a mosh pit. There was not a single weak performance in the entire set.

Unsurprisingly, their stage presence was also incredible. Este’s bassfaces were everything they were promised to be, Alana was exactly the cute youngest sister that her twitter account @babyhaim would lead you to believe and Danielle appeared to channel Jimi Hendrix in her guitar solos. This was not only a great concert to see, this was fun as well.

IMG_0229

For their encore, they brought out their parents to perform a song from their Rockinhaim days, a funky number called “Mustang Sally.” They followed that with “The Wire”, the one hit that the main performance missed and ended with everyone on the drums.

This was exactly what a great concert should be. There was no flash, there were no gimmicks, there was just good music and a fun band. This was a joy to watch.

@murthynikhil

Five Fresh Songs for Your Feel-Good Sunday Morning Fix

13 Apr

We have already expressed our deep and undying love for Saturday mornings soundtracked to new music, so here’s a companion piece to that. This list is about those magical hours of optimism on a Sunday morning, right after a Saturday night party and right before the weekend rapidly fades away. And what better way to make the feeling last than with five fresh new songs? So, without further ado, here’s our suggestions for a soundtrack to your feel-good Sunday morning. And we promise it’ll only take 22 minutes and 6 seconds of your life to listen through it. Go on, then.

“Alley Cats” by Madboy/Mink

Madboy/Mink is a jazz-dance outfit from Bombay that has been blowing our minds since their debut EP All Ball dropped on SoundCloud last week. The group comprises the young and talented pair of Saba Azad (“Mink”) and Imaad Shah (“Madboy”). Azad has the perfect voice for electro funk/jazz: velvety, eccentric and deliciously retro at the same time. She’s worked with the legendary Blackstratblues before (source: Rolling Stone), and she seem to carry along that band’s nonchalant sense of joy in music with her. Shah has already created quite a following for himself as Madboy, courtesy a raw talent for musical arrangement (see: “Martinis in the dark”). He’s also otherwise known for being Naseeruddin Shah’s son (!).

Azad and Shah.

Azad and Shah.

“Alley Cats” is about snazzy, bowling cats with snazzy bowler hats, and the fun doesn’t stop there. The duo tells the silliest tale – of fish-stealing, rat-chasing cool cats – with such verve that you just can’t help feeling great just listening to the track. Madboy/Mink boasts at the end of the song, “Yes, this band is pretty tight/We’re the kings and they’re the rats,” and they may really be onto something there.

“Dont Stop” by Tankbund

The first minute of “Dont Stop” features lead singer Ritwik De vocalizing what could be the soundtrack to someone’s unsaid feelings on a rainy, lonely Saturday evening. His gauzy, warm voice lulls you into a false sense of introspection, so that when the song suddenly breaks into six-beats-a-second, you tend to feel just a touch of disorientation. De’s soulful, deep voice syncs perfectly with the stop-start, almost trip-hop electronica in the background. His plaintive request (“No, don’t stop”), stretched over several heartwrenching seconds, is persuasive, emotive and entirely lovely. If you loved this track, be sure to check out “Tres Bien”, also from their debut EP Inside. We’re definitely listening to more of this New Delhi band.

“Good to You feat. Siddharth Basrur” by Sandunes

Sandunes, aka Sanaya Ardeshir, is one of the most intriguing artists in the country. Her music is an eclectic confluence of influences: there’s a lot of Air and Zero 7 in there, with playful hint of old-school jazz thrown in for good measure. “Good to You”, featuring Goddess Gagged lead singer Siddharth Basrur, seems to be a post-break-up ode of promises and thinly-veiled remorse, backed by Ardeshir’s top-class production sensibilities.

Sanaya Ardeshir

Sanaya Ardeshir

“Good to You” breaks and crests and pulses at exactly the right places for exactly the right amount of time. There’s a point in the song, about two and a half minutes in, when Basrur’s repeated “I’ll be good to you” precisely syncs with splashes of woozy electronica, that especially blew our minds. Listen to it on a Sunday morning, and we promise it’ll leave you feeling chill the whole day. What more could you want?

“Fire” by Machli

Bangalore-based electro-acoustic outfit Machli is made up of design students who, true to stereotype, have an uncanny sense of aesthetics. “Fire” is a lush, ambient tapestry carried by Sandhya Visvanathan’s despondent, lilting voice and Aniruddh Shivakumar Menon’s percussive talents. The song is addictive and just perfect for half-sleepy Sunday mornings. Also check out their ‘Tigerbalm Mix’ (found here) for a more dreamlike, trip-hop take on the song.

“Epileptic” by 30ton Capacity

Bangalore has seen its fair share of talented post-rock bands lately: Space Behind the Yellow Room and Until We Last come to mind. With their debut EP Season One Episode Nil (you know, like S1E00 like at the beginning of a series), post-rock-veering-on-prog band 30ton Capacity joins the growing list. Our favorite track from the EP is “Epileptic”. The track starts with a quirky, Radiohead-like spoken-word sample (“Try to relax your toes, Gloria. Feel them tingle. Relax them one by one…”) that immediately sets the young band apart. Robin Srivastava’s shrouded vocals create a beautiful, delicate wall (curtain?) of sound, complemented ably by drummer Sumanth. We’ll definitely be listening to this band a lot more!

Here’s the full playlist for your easy listening pleasure.

Speedy Ortiz: Real Hair

6 Apr

Speedy Ortiz’s debut album released just about half a year ago, and we loved it, as did many others. Their latest EP, Real Hair continues their style of lo-fi 90’s inspired alternative rock and their trend of making amazing music.

This album is wish fulfillment of everyday dreams. “Shine Theory” speaks of leaving neighbors scary notes while they’re away at work. That’s the first step. That’s a throwaway dream. A common, fondly held kind of dream, but still to be discarded in a moment as is, quite correctly, that lyric. This is the setting, this is how you begin to understand that she is you and that I am you and that none of us are very nice. Still, I have dreams and you have dreams and she has dreams and this album is the satisfaction of them all.

Like its predecessor, Real Hair is a love letter to the early 90’s. Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. are unabashedly drawn from, but form a support, not a straightjacket. “Oxygal” for instance makes creative use of form to create a sound that would be dissonant were Speedy Ortiz not so good at their music. The guitars are excellent and Sadie Dupuis’ vocals amaze. The music itself is rough, defying the shininess endemic to modern alternative rock and leaving in its stead an honest commitment to the sound. Hero worship is a desire, not to be the person worshiped, but to have accomplished what that person has done. Speedy Ortiz here have written the perfect kind of love letter, a letter from one peer to another.

The lyrics cover standards of everyman life. Self-loathing and toxic relationships have never been far from the indie songwriter’s pen, but Sadie Dupuis is brutally honest and human as she goes over them. Additionally, the lyrics are nothing short of poetic. Self-deception and raw desires and all of the pettiness and glories of personal lives are mixed in the whirlwind that is this EP. Every time that you have felt hurt and trapped not only by the world, but by yourself, and was unable to communicate even to yourself why you hurt and just wished you could talk so that maybe you could begin to understand, Real Hair is the fulfillment of those wishes.

Real Hair is a wonderful four songs, and I highly recommend that you listen to it.If you’ve ever wished for another 90’s alternative rock album with excellent music and whip-smart lyrics, it turns out that Real Hair can satisfy that wish as well.

@murthynikhil

%d bloggers like this: