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Monthly Playlist: May 2023

3 Jun

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these. As you may know, Top Five Records is a small company with just a few writers, and life events derails our plans of getting new music to you. But never fear, we are making our way back to putting out info on all the best tracks out there. Starting with – our top five picks for the month of May!

“UNHEALTHY” by Anne-Marie feat. Shania Twain

British pop singer-songwriter Anne-Marie has had reasonable success on her side of the pond, with her 2018 debut album Speak Your Mind reaching as high as #3 on the UK Albums Chart. Buoyed by giant singles such as “FRIENDS” and “2002”, Anne-Marie is one of those singers whose tracks you’ve probably heard a bunch of times on an algorithm-driven playlist somewhere. “UNHEALTHY” is off of her upcoming new album, also called Unhealthy, and features Canadian country star Shania Twain. The country-pop song features Anne-Marie’s strong vocals in a beautiful duet with Shania’s iconic vocals, set against a jangly guitar and a driving beat. Another great pop song from Anne-Marie – definitely check it out!

“From the Start” by Laufey

Laufey is a pop singer from Iceland blessed with a beautiful voice that transports listeners to elegant jazz clubs of yore. Indeed, the classically-trained singer lists female  singers such as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald as the key influences to her sound. Her sound is perfectly exemplified in her new track “From the Start” which mixes in an element of bossa-nova with plinking piano notes into her jazzy vocals. The crisp and clean production makes this a repeat-listen kind of song – as seen through the more than 5 million streams that it’s already racked up on Spotify.

“Should I” by Sir Chloe

Sir Chloe is an indie rock band created by singer-songwriter and guitarist Dana Foote, along with her four band members Emma Welch, Teddy O’Mara, Palmer Foote and Austin Holmes. The band first caught our attention due to their presence on the upcoming Beck and Phoenix tour across the US this August and September; however, this hasn’t been their first brush with fame. Tracks like “Michelle” and “Animal” from their 2020 album Party Favors have hundreds of millions of streams online, and for good reason – Foote’s drawling vocals are confident and rambunctious in a restrained punk rock sort of vein, and her bandmates do well to support her. With “Should I” – off of their latest album I Am The Dog – the band amps up the energy to new levels, showing an edge that hasn’t been on their earlier tracks. You’ll instantly find yourself nodding along, especially to the noisy and well-structured chorus. And for fans of early-aughts teen movies – we can’t be the only ones who see a similarity between this track and the one that Lindsay Lohan’s garage rock band performs in Freaky Friday

“The Narcissist” by Blur

Britpop legends Blur have made a couple of attempts to get back together in the intervening decades since their Parklife (1994) heyday. They released their first new album in 2015 – The Magic Whip – after a twelve-year drought, and embarked on a couple of reunion tours and shows since then. Of course, on the side, lead singer Damon Albarn is more than busy creating album upon album as Gorillaz, and the other members have done sundry solo albums and so on. Now, the iconic band is back with a new track, “The Narcissist”, off of their upcoming and recently-announced new album The Ballad of Darren.

“Infinity Repeating (2013 Demo)” by Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas & the Voidz

In 2013, French dance music duo Daft Punk released what would be their final record – the smash-hit Random Access Memoriesto critical and commercial acclaim. The album went on to win just about every award possible in that year’s music awards circuit, and still holds up 10 years later. The album features an all-star guest list, from Pharrell Williams to Stevie Wonder, but perhaps the most mellifluous collaboration on the tracklist was the subtle “Instant Crush” featuring the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas. The song came at the perfect juncture of the two artists’ evolving sounds – Daft Punk softened their club / house sound, just as the Strokes were also mellowing out in their peak Comedown Machine-era – indeed, the two albums released within 60 days of each other. Turns out, that collaboration had one more fruit to offer. “Infinity Repeating” was a demo from those sessions ten years ago, and offers a snapshot in time of Daft Punk and Julian Casablancas in 2013. Julian’s vocals are soft and beautiful, and the instrumentals have just the right touch of melancholy and yearning to make you hit repeat just as the track finishes. “Infinity Repeating” is the rarest of gifts – a last-ever song that adequately closes out a beloved band’s discography. (Side note: Not sure what the Voidz were doing here but it’s all Julian’s show here.)

boygenius – the record

24 Apr

The first boygenius album is exciting even before you hear it. Their EP was excellent music and it’s also just such a good feeling to see three exceptionally talented women living out the friendship we all wish we were lucky enough to have. This album feels like an evolution both in their music and their friendship and is excellent rock to boot.

We’ve heard a lot of Phoebe Bridgers of late and I’m always happy to hear more so it’s good to hear something like “Emily I’m Sorry,” which is as much of a Bridgers cut as anything on Punisher. She’s as delicate and wistful as ever and the apology of the song gives it a beating heart.

It’s fascinating how well it goes into Lucy Dacus’ “True Blue.” It’s much less gossamer than “Emily I’m Sorry” but they flow well into each other and the robustness is like eating something savory after something sweet. She drops some memorable epigrams in it too. “And it feels good to be known so well / I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself” is a strong lyric delivered well but “When you don’t know who you are / You fuck around and find out” is a truly excellent line in its reframing of a particularly trite aphorism.

Meanwhile, Julien Baker’s “Satanist” is one of the best songs of the album. It’s very funny and very personal and brings in a spectacular grungy guitar. Her “Anti-Curse” is also very strong. The lyrics don’t quite cohere, the two threads never splice together but it’s still spectacular indie rock.

There are some misses in the album though. “Letters To An Old Poet” would be too insubstantial were it not for Bridgers’ exceptional lyrics. “You made me feel like an equal / But I’m better than you / And you should know that by now” is an ice-cold line. The acapella opener with all three of them singing is better as an idea than a song. It has none of the energy that the rest of the album does well with and the it’s thankfully followed by the fantastic “$20” which adds a huge jolt.

“Not Strong Enough” really benefits from the video showing the three of them having fun. It makes a more complex statement about friendship, a statement about how you don’t need to be strong enough by yourself, but can instead rely on the people you love. It’s particularly interesting in an album that features a lot of my turn-your turn from the artists as they alternate songs in which they are clearly the lead.

Maybe though, this is what the album is about. It’s not about subsuming the individual for the collective, but instead of making sure that everyone has space for their own voice and sometimes using your own in support. “Not Strong Enough” does a lot of work with the line “Not strong enough to be your man” and then Dacus later reinforces that with a chant of “Always an angel, never a god” but the song, which is Dacus’ from the jump, ends with the three voices coming together powerfully.

Ice Spice – Like..?

4 Feb

Neeharika just put up her list of the most anticipated albums of 2023, but I already got mine with Ice Spice’s debut. “Munch (Feelin’ U)” was comfortably my favorite song of 2022 and “Bikini Bottom” wasn’t far behind. Her boastful, playful, sexy drill is the most exciting thing in music right now. It’s a little disappointing then that the rest of the EP doesn’t quite live up to the singles.

Firstly, both “Munch” and “Bikini Bottom” are as magnificent as ever. She drops incredible punchlines with tremendous confidence. That whole chorus from “Munch” is infinitely quotable and “Ayo, baddie, what it do? / Ayo, Maddie, what it do?” from “Bikini Bottom” always draws a laugh. When she says “Flow the nicest, but I’m rude” it’s just true. She has solved the question of how to do drill.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is not close to the same quality. Save for a guest verse by Lil TJay, it’s never actually weak and she brings an interesting deepness to “Gangsta Boo” and “Actin’ a Smoochie.” It reminds me a lot of Pop Smoke. I don’t think it’s her at her best, but it’s an experiment that I really appreciate. She also has bars like “No, you cannot have your boo back (Huh) / If I’m shootin’ my shoot, he gon’ shoot back (Grrah)” in “Smoochie” and “I’m think ’cause I be eatin’ oats” in “Princess Diana,” strong lines that her delivery makes unforgettable.

All told though, the EP really doesn’t do much to expand beyond what her glorious singles already put down. Those are strong enough to carry the EP by themselves, but it would have been very nice if there was something more here.

Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa

2 Mar

There are few artists that have maintained a certain level of quality over several decades – Bob Dylan or Red Hot Chili Peppers, for example – but perhaps the most underrated of these unerringly consistent artists is Austin, Texas-based Spoon.

Founded by singer and guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno in 1993, the band has remained a force in their hometown, with notable presence at SXSW, ACL and other cultural touchpoints that the city has to offer. The other members of the band have gone through several rotations, but the current roster includes Ben Trokan (bass / keyboards), Alex Fischel (keyboards / guitar) and Gerardo Larios (guitar).

Since their inception almost 30 years ago, the band has released a steady stream of great albums, notable of which include 2001’s Girls Can Tell, 2005’s Gimme Fiction, and many more. (In fact, ask a group of Spoon fans what their favorite album is from the band’s discography and you’ll likely get different answers from each – that’s how consistently good Spoon is.)

Now, the band is back with their 10th studio album, Lucifer on the Sofa, which, we are happy to announce, continues the band’s lifetime streak of catchy and highly-listenable albums.

Although we loved the band’s previous album – 2017’s Hot Thoughts – it was one of the more divisive albums in their discography; with old-time fans discouraged by the decidedly electro-pop edge that the album took. Lucifer on the Sofa is a back-to-basics rock album, almost as a direct rebound from Hot Thoughts. While both auras of Spoon have their musical highlights, the band definitely sounds more at ease on Lucifer.

The album starts off with “Held”, a cover of a 1998 track by Bill Callahan in his Smog avatar. “Held” serves as a perfect starting point to Lucifer, with a bluesy live-recording vibe that permeates the rest of the track-list. In fact, so good is their cover that you would not be remiss in thinking that it’s a Spoon original. “Held” melds coolly into “The Hardest Cut”, the best track on the album (and lead single) that easily made our end-of-year list upon its release in 2021. Here, Spoon take on the rock-and-roll mantle further than almost any other active band today – close your eyes and you can see this track in a Cadillac commercial in place of Led Zep’s “Rock and Roll”.

There are a few others here that come close to the vitality on “The Hardest Cut” – for example, the devilishly-good blues-rock track “The Devil & Mister Jones”. Another great track is “Feels Alright” with its melodious hooks and warm guitars, where we find Daniel’s charisma at a maximum. Jangly second single “Wild” is an homage to wanting to break free, which Britt Daniel expresses through some well-wrought lyrics. “I got on fine with modern living, but must I be such a citizen?” he asks, before confessing on the chorus: “And the world, still so wild, called to me.”

In fact, many of Spoon’s songs have to do with this feeling of restlessness – wanting to leave, skip town, run away and so on. Some others deal with his general sense of nostalgia and introspection – for example, the keyboards-driven classic indie rock track “On the Radio” – while still others are (surprisingly enough for a slick rock band) sweet love songs. The vaguely 1960s-tinged “Satellite” is one such song, with Daniel calling himself the namesake satellite to his lover.

Lyrically, though, the soul of the album lies in the title track and album closer, “Lucifer on the Sofa” – which is essentially a stream-of-consciousness poem of what it was like to wander through mid-pandemic empty streets. “Looking through the windows as you’re passing by / And I’m chasing every thought / And I’m walking over water / Thinking about what I lost,” he croons – and who can’t relate to their own experiences in 2020. Also, the song is very much set in Austin with references to Lavaca Street, West Avenue and others. “Lucifer on the Sofa” also clarifies the meaning of the namesake devil: a manifestation of the negativity in our own minds, freezing you into a disheveled state to the extent that it literally feels like an unwelcome guest crashing on your sofa.

With few drawbacks throughout the track-list – the weakest being perhaps “Astral Light” and “My Babe” – Lucifer on the Sofa is a thoroughly entertaining rock record.

Rating: 8.5/10

Best tracks: “The Hardest Cut”, “Wild”, “Held”

Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

25 Oct

Little Simz is just going from strength to strength. Grey Area was not music that you could miss and Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is very comfortably the best music she has ever made. She clearly still hasn’t fully realized her potential, but this is still a very strong album.

Firstly, there’s an astonishing variety in this album. She, of course, fills the album with her normal blistering raps. Both “Speed” and “Standing Ovation” are very strong this way and just great music. This is what she’s know for and where she’s always able to deliver. She mixes it up though with cuts like “Protect My Energy” that brings in a very nice dance music energy.

The real highlight of the album also comes from this experimentation. “Point and Kill” is really good afrobeats and hopefully the blueprint for a full album in the future. Obongjoyar works really well off her and it’s just an exceptional track.

She also gets in some nice storytelling in this album. “Little Q Pt. 2” is very well done and it’s just novel to hear about a sisterhood breaking down on a rap track. Unfortunately though, she can’t keep up this quality in other parts of the album. “I Love You, I Hate You” comes close, but it just falls too far into trope too often.

Substantially worse though are the interludes. They just lack any real meaning and don’t seem to understand how empty they are. The price of being someone like Little Simz is that there are higher expectations on you. She’s just too intelligent for me to overlook these lapses.

On the flip side though is the closer “Miss Understood” which is a very compelling story and a very apropos sound. It’s a really good way to close a really good album and both leave me excited for what she’s going to do next.

Victoria Monet – JAGUAR

22 Dec

Chances are, you’ve heard the handiwork of singer-songwriter Victoria Monet even if you’ve never heard of her before. The prolific pop creator has had her hand in recent hits such as “Ice Cream” by BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez and “Do It” by breakout sibling duo Chloe x Halle. Most notably, Monet has been a direct contributor to most of Ariana Grande’s recent output of singles, from “7 Rings” to “NASA” to “Thank U Next“. (Indeed, Monet was herself one of the recipients of Ari’s seven rings – apparently the song is based on a real story.)

On debut album JAGUAR, Victoria Monet finally steps out of the shadows of the Arianas and Selenas of the world, and comes into her own. The result is one of the smoothest, best-produced pop albums of the year.

JAGUAR spans a mere 25 minutes, but covers a lot of ground on its seven crisp songs (and two sub-minute interludes). Album opener “Moment” is a pop-R&B track with dramatic string flourishes and chillwave beats – in short, the track could easily appear on an Ariana Grande project. One listen through the track, however, is enough to make one realize that Monet plays a giant role in Ariana’s sound – because she owns this song. “Aye, this your motherfuckin’ moment / Yeah (That you manifested slowly),” she says on the chorus, presumably to her lover, but the words could easily apply to Victoria herself on JAGUAR.

First single “Ass Like That” strips away the R&B for a more hip-hop sound. Lyrically, Monet somewhat subverts expectations by talking not just about how her posterior makes men go crazy, but also about how she got, well, an ass like that. “Treat my calories like weed, yeah, I burn that shit / Shout out to my trainer ’cause he crack that whip,” she explains, rather helpfully. In a way, it’s a subtle indication of Monet as a behind-the-scenes that has had to work hard for her position in life – and also, it’s just an interesting pop songwriting choice.

A few other songs on the album work especially well too. “Go There With You” has a much stronger pop-funk sound that sees Monet suggesting intimacy instead of a late-night fight. On lines like “I don’t wanna go there with you / Let’s end the night on a good time / I can find a better way to be all in your face,” the simplicity in her lyrics make clear just why Ariana’s last two albums felt relatable yet well-written – like a heartfelt Instagram post. The title track “Jaguar” is an echoey, catchy ode to her own well-maintained sex appeal (“Supersonic pussycat / Just like a jaguar, silky black”) with slick beats for days.

JAGUAR is a strong offering from a seasoned player in the modern pop industry, and we’ve loved seeing Monet coming into her own, well-deserved spotlight. Although the album overall is too short and perhaps not endlessly playable, it was a great addition to the year’s debut albums. JAGUAR is apparently just the starting point of what’s to come from Ms. Monet – she notably calls it a project and not an album – so we are definitely staying tuned for more.

Best tracks: “Moment”, “Jaguar”, “Ass Like That”

Rating: 7/10

Bria Skonberg- Bria

30 Jan

42471c_2d54c26fe7cd45fa8150c9955310985bmv2Bria is a charming Jazz album well worth a listen no matter your experience with the genre. The music is very listenable and packed full of interesting moments. The Arabic tint of “Curious Game” is intriguing and the trumpet solo into vibraphone solo of “I Was A Little Too Lonely” is excellent.

Bria Skonberg herself has a wonderful voice for Jazz standards and it really sells songs like “Don’t Be That Way” and “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me.” Her chanting is the lovely and intricate “Malaguena” is also of note. None of this is to diminish her trumpet playing or the rest of the musicians, all of whom are irreproachable.

The album is a whole is laid back and not very challenging, but nevertheless quite good and packed with interesting little moments. Highly recommended for people looking to get into Jazz and worth a listen from those already invested.


The Last Shadow Puppets: Everything You’ve Come to Expect

28 May

everything-youve-come-to-expectIn 2008, the world was a different place for Alex Turner and Miles Kane. Turner was a shy lad, still getting used to the stardom accosted onto him after two hugely successful Arctic Monkeys albums. Kane was exiting from the Little Flames, a venture that failed to produce even a debut album, and touring with his new band, the Rascals, alongside the Monkeys. Perhaps as an escape from their main storylines, Turner and Kane began playing together backstage: a pair of gentle, romantic boys almost clinging to each other in a turbulent and uncertain time of their lives. This side project, dubbed The Last Shadow Puppets, culminated in a baroque-pop testament of drama and nostalgia entitled The Age of the Understatement.

A lot has changed in eight years. As Turner said in an interview with British late night host James Corden, TLSP seems to serve as an octennial documentation of the duo’s personal and professional lives. After five successful Monkeys albums, Turner has taken on a stereotypical rock-star persona (whether affected or real is still a matter of contention among fans). Kane has transformed into a modish cad, dating an array of models on both sides of the pond and attiring himself solely in razor-sharp silhouettes. Even in a very literal sense, both men have moved away from their roots in northern England to hedonistic mansions in LA. In a sense, Everything You’ve Come to Expect feels like a reconciliation between the 2008 versions of the two men and their 2016 versions.

This sense of reconciliation can be seen (as is often the case with pop stars) in their songs about girls. In 2008, Turner and Kane mainly wrote songs about wooing girls, in a tone that can best be described as early-Beatles-esque naivete. In 2016, the duo mainly writes songs about girls that have done them wrong, girls that are ill-advised pursuits, girls that are no more than that night’s entertainment, and so on.

In first single “Aviation” (about getting high, get it?), the narrator tries to convince a druggie girl with colorful eyes to start a casual relationship with him. In the eponymous title song, the narrator speaks of getting cheated on by a girl who liked him only because he was part of TLSP. “The Element of Surprise” takes a slightly different route; Turner talks about his rustiness at the wooing game, after meeting a girl who has caused him to fall in love after a long string of seemingly casual relationships. “Sweet Dreams, TN” is the thematic next step: an ode to his current girlfriend Taylor Bagley, who’s a Tennessee native with a septum piercing just like the girl in the song. Even though Turner’s friends and fans think of Bagley as a Yoko Ono of sorts in the Arctic Monkeys universe, Turner feels that he’s truly in love with her. It’s only on the album closer, “The Dream Synopsis”, that we see a glimpse of the old Turner. On that song, he reminisces to his new girl (probably Bagley) about his simple, pre-fame life in Sheffield – and immediately takes a self-conscious step back into nonchalance (“Isn’t it boring when I talk about my dreams?”).

Even though they have changed dramatically, one cannot underplay Turner’s signature lyrics. The Transylvanian descriptions on “Dracula Teeth” (“The full moon’s glowing yellow and the floorboards creak/C’est horrifique!”) paint a horror-movie setting for a girl that haunts the narrator like a ghost. On “She Does the Woods”, Turner speaks of a “spirograph of branches” behind the girl he’s shagging in the woods. On “Pattern”, he describes his complicated relationship with an ex as a spider slipping and sliding on an icicle. It’s the kind of intuitive imagery that we’ve come to expect from Turner’s words.

On a practical note, Everything You’ve Come to Expect does have everything you’d expect from a Puppets album: lyrics that smoothly roll off the tongue, the genius of Owen Pallett’s arrangement, the famed Turner-Kane chemistry. On a philosophical level, however, The Last Shadow Puppets no longer exists. What exists in its place is another side-project by an eight-years-later version of the same two men: a real-world example of the Ship of Theseus. The Age of the Understatement was a collection of lushly orchestrated novellas, created by two boys who wrote tender love letters in the age of Tinder and text message hookups. Turner and Kane are no longer those boys. In fact, they are now the very playboys that represent the “understatement” of modern-day romance. Understatement felt like a natural outlet; this album feels like more of a forced output. Still, it’s worth a listen, if only for Turner’s lyrics.

Best song: “Dracula Teeth”



Karnivool, Live and Loud at The Festival, Nicco Park, Calcutta (11/1/2015)

17 Jan

Dissidence is the mother of cohesion.

True words. We here at Top Five Records, for instance, may appear, on the surface, to be a bunch of music loving blokes, who are forever in unanimous agreement with everything that appears on the site; the sort who live in blissful harmony in the interwebs and who listen to good music that they all love. But the truth is far, very far from that.

Consider the Aussie progressive rock band, Karnivool.


Yeah, them.

In my opinion, and I’m sure, most of T5R would disagree, Karnivool is one of the greatest, yet one of the most under-rated bands, that exist in the world today. If you’re willing to look beyond the droning monotones of indie rock, and the tedium of modern day metal, Karnivool brings to the table, an oeuvre of music, so staggering in design and complexity that it leaves the attentive listener absolutely astounded. In the three albums that they have released since their formation in 1997, they’ve explored and experimented with styles of metal and alternative rock that very few bands have even dared to try.

So when Karnivool decided to drop by my hometown I was just short of doing this:

OMG I'm so excited I can't hide it OMG

OMG I’m so excited I can’t hide it OMG

I would hazard a guess that for the uninitiated, the concert, like most progressive rock concerts, was a deadly bore. But for people familiar with Karnivool, as for those who are familiar with progressive rock music, it was a rewarding experience. Prog rock works in a funny manner. There’s this learning curve associated with most prog rock songs, and the more you hear them, the better you understand the subtle complexities involved in them; and the better you understand these subtle complexities, the more you appreciate the music. Like a movie that you’ve seen a hundred times over – which you now know so well, that the hair on the back of your neck tingles when that epic scene is about to arrive, and you relish it in its entirety when it finally does.

Ian Kenny, the vocalist, wasn’t exactly the verbose type, so he let their music do most of the talking – which was pretty much what we wanted, because it was brilliant. He did seem to be enjoying the crowd support though, and looked relatively relaxed while singing – that is saying something, because it is honestly difficult to sing live, along to music that is so multi-layered and variable in terms of time signatures and rhythm. Steve Judd, the brilliant sticksman did some masterclass work on the drums (again, extremely commendable, because, you know, prog.)


They performed songs from their three albums, including some of my favourites – Simple Boy, Cote, Themata, Rocquefort, Mauseum. It was a fine display of musicianship and technical prowess and they kept the fans’ attention at a steady high throughout the evening, and when they finally ended their set list with a heavily requested “New Day”, it provided the perfect denouement to their act.

I’ll stop here, and let you check out some Karnivool songs for yourself. I’m sure these songs will evoke mixed feelings – some will love them, while others will find them to be a drag.

But then, as a wise man once said, dissidence is the mother of cohesion. So it’s all cool in the end.

Subhayan Mukerjee

Bacardi Nh7 Weekender, Kolkata 2014 – Day 2

12 Nov

Read our day 1 coverage here.

November is a wonderful time to have open air festivals in Calcutta. The weather, after having remained consistently lethal for the past six odd months, begins to enter a rather pleasant phase. The sky is the perfect blue. The heat doesn’t kill you any longer. The sweat dries faster. A zephyr actually exists. And best of all, unlike other places (cough cough, Bengaluru) where the rain often plays spoilsport, it remains wonderfully high and dry all day round.

So when Day 2 of the Calcutta edition of the Bacardi Nh7 Weekender kicked off on a fine Sunday afternoon, it was all smiles, laughter and cheer that rang around the beautifully set up Nicco Park grounds.

I was slightly late to the show that day, and when I reached, the first act had already begun at the MTS Discover arena – the French duo, As Animals. Their music was a rather interesting conflation of electronic and alternative, and seemed like the sort that you’d enjoy even more when intoxicated – which the lead singer Zara, going by her completely phased out appearance, probably was. But let that not deter me from transcribing the acts that were to follow.

After a brief stint with these French trippers, we crossed the English channel, and went off to the Red Bull Tour Bus to see Houdini Dax, an extremely … (no points for guessing) British three piece brit-rock suit. Houdini Dax hail from Cardiff, Wales, and they look and sound absolutely, and quintessentially British. They played a rather energetic gig upon the Tour Bus (which included a surprise Beatles cover), and the frontman even ventured down in an attempt to woo the women with his rather “fragile” paper heart. And oh! Did I mention that their bassist looked like a complete Paul McCartney knock off?

While the Houdini Dax was galvanizing a small crowd around the Tour Bus, an eclectic Indian folk outfit was slowly turning out to be the center of attraction of the evening. Maati Baani at the Dewarists’ Stage packed an incredible amount of Indian punch. They had it all – Hindustani classical, Bengali baul, rustic folk, Sufism – peppered with a dash of new age funk and world music. Fronted by the beautiful Nirali Kartik, and a host of other supporting musicians, they carved out a beautiful one hour of varied and soulful compositions in an environment that was predominantly Western-heavy.

Maati Bani

Maati Bani

Meanwhile, the ebullient (and yet another French) duo, The Inspector Cluzo had started creating a ruckus at the Bacardi arena. We went over to find a bearded frontman hurling profanities at everything that was American and British. He proudly touted the fact that their music was absolutely natural – with nothing that was pre-recorded and sampled – and all that they used to perform live, were not laptops and tracks, but their bare hands. On that note, he sent a few heavy riffs flying into the crowd while the drummer entertained us in some rather unique ways. Of the number of songs they performed, one was particularly memorable. This one, titled “F*ck the bass player”, was basically a song about the uselessness of a bassist in a band. Needless to say, they didn’t have one, but it did raise several eyebrows and ruffle many puritan feathers in the crowd.

The Inspector Cluzo

The Inspector Cluzo

The Inspector Cluzo then gave way to the Sky Rabbit on the Red Bull Tour Bus. This four piece electro-rock group from Mumbai played out a rather lackluster gig, following which we headed back to the Dewarists’ stage to see Appleonia – which wasn’t all that great either. The next big thing that we were particularly stoked about was Indian Ocean, which was still a good one hour away. So to while away this gap, we decided to remain near the MTS Discover stage, and munch on pizza slices, to see who filled in for Pentagram (who had cancelled earlier that day). And boy, were we in for a pleasant surprise.

The Ganesh Talkies, fronted by Suyasha SenGupta turned out to be The Undisputed Find of the Day. Suyasha’s captivating stage presence kept the whole crowd hooked while the extremely groovy rhythms and guitars kept a number of heads bobbing up and down. The Talkies’ set included songs from their Technicolor and Three Tier Non AC albums – the result being a heady mix of alt-rock, reggae and dance.

The Ganesh Talkies

The Ganesh Talkies

Next up, were two stalwart acts – both of which have been around for more than two decades and enjoy a cult following in the country: Mumbai based alt-rockers Indus Creed on the Bacardi Stage and Delhi based fusion masters Indian Ocean on the Dewarists’. For me, the decision was a no-brainer, and after having spent not more than ten minutes being bemused by the former, I headed off to have my mind blown to smithereens by the latter.

Indian Ocean is one of those bands that aren’t just heard or listened to. They are experienced. One’s perception of their music transcends far beyond the realms of the sensual, and borders on what could be called the spiritual. Be it Himanshu Joshi’s alaaps, or Rahul Ram’s bass riffs, or Tuheen Chakravorti’s Tabla – they manage to create those picture perfect moments when tranquility and ecstasy co-exist in harmony. Their gig that evening, was essentially part of their tour for promoting their new album Tandanu, and therefore most of the songs were new to me. The fact that they still managed to reach deep down and evoke a plethora of feelings just proved beyond doubt that they continue to be a class above the rest – even after all these years.

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean

Towards the end of Indian Ocean’s masterclass performance, I had to take my leave to go pay a visit to the Red Bull Tour Bus where Sriram TT and his gang of garage rockers – Skrat, were setting out for a hard hitting, angst-ridden gig. This would be my third Skrat gig in a little less than a year, but it turned out to be as fun as it always had been. Belting out their heavy, riff driven melodies, and their tongue-in-cheek lyrics (“love is like pool / all colour but only balls”) they brought in a completely new dimension to the prevailing mood at the venue, which had just been charged up, rather emotionally by Indian Ocean’s poignant tunes.



Forty five minutes of Skrat later, the entire crowd around the Nicco Park grounds gravitated near the Bacardi Arena where the headliners were about to take off. Mutemath, the American alt-rock group, who even boasted a Grammy nomination to their name, were known to some, and unknown to others. But from the moment they kicked off amid a flurry of confetti and electro-rock tunes, there was not one soul who didn’t have a huge smile plastered on his or her face. I’ll confess that I hadn’t thought so highly of Mutemath before (my primary exposure to their music being a soundtrack on the Asphalt 8 Android game) but boy. Were they bloody good! Paul Meany’s eclectic vocals, his dexterity with keyboards and keytars, Darren King’s thumping beats and not to mention Todd Gummerman’s wonderful guitar work – all fell in perfectly to deliver one of the best live experiences that I’ve ever seen in my life. They performed most of their popular hits, including “Chaos”, “Blood Pressure” and their Grammy nominated single, “Typical”. In the end, they added a wonderful twist when Paul got on top of a rather bling-bling mattress (or was it a magic carpet?) and went sailing over the crowd, while simultaneously performing with consummate ease.



It was close to 10 PM when the burning embers of the fantastic evening began to fade. The lights on the stages had been turned off. One of Quidich’s supercool quadcopter-cameras whirred above my head. I looked around at the venue that was quickly emptying and  couldn’t for the life of me reconcile the pity sight with the extravaganza it had just hosted.

So there you are. That was the end of the epic Calcutta Weekender. It had been a grand success, but if I had to choose I would probably choose Day 1 over Day 2 as my favourite.

As they say after Durga Pujo here in Calcutta – “asche bochor abar hobe”,  you can rest assured that T5R will be back for it next year as well.


Words and pictures by Subhayan Mukerjee (@wrahool)



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