Archive | May, 2014

Diana: Perpetual Surrender

22 May

Perpetual Surrender is now inextricably linked to the video game Hearthstone for me. The nice thing about Hearthstone is that it is a game that you can play with whatever music you like and I have had Perpetual Surrender on hand for a while now. This is good, solid music. I could listen to this album indefinitely. I just doubt that I will remember any of it later.

This is a glossy, 80’s revivalist pop album that is fun to listen to. That statement is neither praise nor damnation, merely fact. It is the kind of album where soft saxophone solos play over synths. “Perpetual Surrender” is often intriguing. “That Feeling” is an excellent song with undeniable catchiness. Yet, for all of the album’s many strengths, it is a little too bland to truly champion.

This album is a person at a party, a person who is dressed nicely and seems to have everything together. A person with whom you have an interesting chat and share some laughs. A person with whom you enjoy the time you spend. At some point though, you have to leave the party and you leave unchanged. I needed something more.

@murthynikhil

Snoop Dogg at the Regency, SF (17/4/2014)

5 May

It’s been quite some time since 1992 when a young Snoop Doggy Dogg stepped into the game on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. A lot has happened since then, including the death of 2Pac, some experiments with reggae and a Call of Duty voice pack, but Snoop is still one of the giants of hip-hop and a fine man to see live.

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Snoop is also a man with an unquestioned ability to have fun. This was not so much a concert as party time with Uncle Snoop. In the middle of the concert, he played Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and just chanted the chorus with the crowd. His charisma is undeniable and his happiness was clearly genuine and very infectious. I don’t think it is possible to go to a Snoop Dogg concert and not have fun.

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This playfulness resulted in a far more eclectic show than I expected. Not only did a Joan Jett song make an appearance, but also Kriss Kross’s “Jump”, and even The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”. Of course, he followed that with the west coast classic “2 Of Americaz Most Wanted”, sadly without the associated 2Pac hologram.

He dropped classics from all across his career over the show. From “Lodi Dodi” and “Gin & Juice” from his debut album Doggystyle to “P.I.M.P” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot” to as recent a song as “Hit Da Pavement” from 7 Days of Funk. His has been a long and storied career and we were treated to the entirety of it.

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Uncle Snoop took us out for one of the most fun nights that I’ve ever had. No one can make rap look as easy as he does.

@murthynikhil

Striking a Balance: A Conversation with Ketan Bahirat

3 May

As we previously mentioned, we were very impressed with electronica/ambient/post-rock band Until We Last’s recent performance at Counter Culture. New writer Anindita Nayak recently got a chance to speak to Ketan Bahirat, founder of Until We Last, about the band, his early start in music and challenges.

Until We Last

Photo courtesy Until We Last’s Facebook page.

Let’s talk a little about their music first. Until We Last songs transport your mind to different level with their unusual mix of melodies, making them sound a little like God is an Astronaut or Explosions in the Sky (though the band does dislike the comparisons sometimes). One of our favorite songs of theirs is “Water”, which sounds even better live than it does on the album. Unfortunately, their SoundCloud channel doesn’t have all of the songs they had performed at CounterCulture, but maybe we’ll find them on their upcoming EP, which is launching in a month’s time. Now, let’s move on to Until We Last’s journey.

Currently in his penultimate year of college, Ketan Bahirat took formal Hindustani lessons back in 6th grade. He picked up guitar skills from YouTube videos and played with two metal bands before forming Until We Last in 2011. Until We Last has been performing live since late 2012, culminating in the launch of an album, copies of which they were more than happy to give away free at Counter Culture. When quizzed about his personal favorite gig so far, Ketan speedily answers with Magnetic Fields, an impressive festival in the middle of the Rajasthani desert.

The name of the band stems from a philosophical note that revolves around travel, our home planet, nature and the quest to strike the perfect balance between sustainability and development. When it comes to song names, it’s usually based on circumstances. Their most popular song, “Rain”, was so named because it was raining when they were composing it! And there is, of course, a conscious decision of keeping a close reference to nature or travel.

 

The initial few compositions were recorded in Ketan’s bedroom. When looking for potential band members, he remained close to the local music artists and often jammed with them. It hasn’t been an easy ride for Until We Last, considering that the lineup has had over ten changes so far. The longest time without a lineup change was for a year, ending when the bassist, Anjan Bhojaraj, left for higher studies and was replaced by Paul Dharamraj, a former member of the Bicycle Days. This aspect is probably one of the major challenges for any band, especially when the band members are so young and other aspects will tend to take higher priorities.

However, working with so many artists has also helped Until We Last’s music evolve. One of their former band members, Bhargav, continues to send across pieces of compositions from Singapore and they are continuing to reach out to other artists who could collaborate with them to produce more music.

Photo courtesy Until We Last’s Facebook page.

One good thing that struck us about Until We Last is that they don’t seem very concerned about the prevalent culture of piracy, especially in a country like ours. Admittedly, the growing number of music festivals and venues is changing that culture in India, but the fact remains that platforms for indie artists to sell music are uncommon and finding people who are willing to buy music is even less common. Until We Last has also seen a good amount of traction from countries like Germany and Russia, where listeners are willing to pay for their music.

But in the end it’s all about sustainability: fans need to buy music to support good artists. On that note, please do listen to Until We Last’s music and maybe buy it too. And be sure to follow their updates on Facebook and Twitter too. We wish them all the success with their upcoming album!

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