Tag Archives: indie

A Wednesday’s Mix – Five Records to Get You To The End of the Week

11 Mar

It’s the middle of the week! Top Five Records is here to break up the monotony of your depressing existence with 5 (sort-of) new songs that will hopefully tide you over until the weekend!

 

Fuck Art, Let’s Dance! – “Atlas”

Fald

 Fuck Art, Let’s Dance! bring more to the table than just a colourful name and a call-back to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. “Atlas,” FALD!’s title track from their debut album (released in mid-2014), is a gorgeous testament to the art of understatement. The Hamburg-based quartet eschew their moniker’s call-to-arms (or legs, at least) and instead have created a song that mixes Nico Cham’s half-swallowed voice with simple drum-loops, clean guitar lines and some heavenly synth sounds that urge you to sit down and quietly contemplate your life. The song’s music video takes the urge further with its sparse visuals of chinese martial artists and dragons; all the action and movement somehow leaves you standing still.

 

 

Shubh Saran – “Mission Man”

Shubh Saran

India’s jazz scene is arguably one of the most malnourished of all the already-starved non-Bollywood music scenes, despite the existence of the Mahindra Blues Festival and sporadic city-based attempts to create a culture for it. This may explain guitarist Shubh Saran’s decision to seek greener pastures at Berklee College of Music. His debut EP, however, is an emphatic underlining of why this was the right call. A Room With a View is a beautifully crafted work of smooth jazz and neo-soul, with just enough world-music to not be obnoxious. Mission Man stands out as a killer track that makes amazing use of a saxophone, creating a jazzy hook that’s coupled with just enough piano and bass to fill out and accentuate the song. Admittedly not without a few rough edges and odd phrasings, Mission Man (and indeed the entire EP) is a great way to shut critics up who lament the modern jazz scene.

 

Young Wonder – “Intergalactic”

Young Wonder

Ireland’s musical gifts to the world just don’t seem to stop coming. Young Wonder are an electronic pop due from Cork whose new single is vibrant, haunting, and all other good things associated with the word “sparkling.” “intergalactic” dreamily begins its space-bound journey right from the first screeching synth sound, guided shortly thereafter by Rachel Koeman’s reverb-laden vocals that are dripping with whatever the ethereal version of honey is. Just shy of 4 minutes long, Intergalactic makes full use of both Rachel and Ian Ring’s considerable talents before allowing you to float gently back to the round, hungry for more.

 

Pond – “Man it Feels Like Space Again”

Pond

What is the city of Perth smoking? It’s hard to imagine, but Western Australia’s capital is home to some of the most talented psychedelic bands in the world right now. Pond have not quite managed to break into the cultural parlance beyond the island nation to the extent that their contemporaries Tame Impala have, but they’ve arguably pushed the psychedelic envelope a good deal further with their single “Man It Feels Like Space Again.” It’s 8 minutes of sheer, unadulterated bizarreness; a cacophony of discordant, disjointed instruments and effects and voices that fall just short of being grating and instead end up in a surreal, blissful territory that is its own. It’s so good it’s good. The only thing more perfectly twisted is the music video: it would be unfair to describe the outlandish, almost unsettling faux-kid’s show as Kafkaesque or Dadaist because that would just be lazy writing unworthy of the lysergide-infused spectacle.

 

The Bots – “All I Really Want”

There must be an inverse relation between band-size and overdrive, because two-piece LA outfit The Bots have some of the fuzziest, grittiest, energy-driven tracks this side of the White Stripes. It’s unfair (though quite common) to make such a comparison, though; where Meg and Jack White often seemed held back, caged, brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei are unfettered and free to unleash their zeal. Their first single “All I Really Want” blazes by in two-and-a-half minutes and demands another listen, if only to keep those energy levels up. A jacked-up bass-line kicks in only to quickly segue into fuzzy guitars and Mikaiah’s deliberately-bored voice. What follows are crests and troughs of shout-singing followed by periods of short refractory, that are over all-too-quickly. The song is arguably anthemic for the milennial generation not just because of its lyrics (“Make a cup of tea/sit down and stare at the screen until I see something that relates to me/but it’s all so boring”) but with the music video: A Mac scrolling through a click-bait-titled Buzzfeed article. Literally the only time that image has made me happy.

 

 

And that’s our list! Love it? Hate it? Swept up by some third emotion we’ve failed to grasp? Leave comments below! 

 

 

Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Bangalore 2014 – Day 1

14 Nov

The Bacardi NH7 Weekender is one of our favorite events of the year. It lets us catch up with tens of acts from across the country – some new, some legendary – all within a beautiful, aesthetically arranged venue. On the weekend of November 8th and 9th, we went to the Bangalore edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, and were blown away by breadth of artists on stage. Here’s our take!

Beautiful aesthetics

Day 1

We kicked off our day with a gig by funk duo Madboy/Mink atop the Red Bull Tour Bus. Comprising Imaad Shah on guitar and Saba Azad on vocals, Madboy/Mink’s energetic performance was the perfect way to pump up festival goers for the several hours to follow. The duo’s show featured some well-known numbers (“Alley Cats”) as well as some new songs (“Powders”) that literally got the crowd jumping along to Saba’s lively stage presence. Imaad even showed off a brilliant T-shirt that said “Funk Junky”, which we saw many people pick up at the band merchandise stall throughout the two days.

R-L: Madboy, Mink

Immediately after the last staccato beats of Madboy/Mink dissipated into the air, a British act called Houdini Dax was ready to go over at the Bacardi Arena. From 3:30 pm, the band had passed around little chits to people around the venue with a polite invitation to come to their 5 pm show. Perhaps because of this early publicity, the band drew quite a large crowd for a late afternoon show. And if that didn’t work, their music sure did: for Houdini Dax was easily Top Five Records’ find of the day. The Cardiff three-piece, dressed to the T in sharp collared shirts and skinny jeans, enthralled the audiences with their delectably British sound. Besides, as a bonus, their bassist pretty much looked like a young Paul McCartney.

The McCartney look-alike

The McCartney look-alike

Soon after Houdini Dax, we trudged over to the MTS Discover stage to check out the peculiarly-named Sean Roldan, a.k.a Tamilian percussion wizard Raghavendra. After Sean Roldan, Australian musician Appleonia started her set with a psychedelic, almost Vedic-inspired stage set-up that went over quite well with the slightly inebriated crowd.

On that note, we headed to the Bacardi Arena for Australian band Money for Rope. The band took the inebriated crowd to a whole new level: shitfaced drunk. Featuring two in-sync drum kits, a keyboard that’s been kicked over quite a few times and a corded telephone for special vocal effects, Money for Rope blew the collective mind of the 6:30 PM Weekender crowd. By the end of the performance, 2/5ths of the band was shirtless and 5/5ths were in a music-induced, almost Doors-like haze. It was a good way to spend the afternoon, although it must be noted that in the midst of all the theatrics, none of the songs particularly stood out.

In a few minutes, this image went on to have a second shirtless person.

In a few minutes, this image went on to have a second shirtless person.

The next few hours featured, in our opinion, the least impressive part of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender at Bangalore this year. Thankfully, there were many new food and merchandise stalls this time, and the weak early evening line-up gave us ample time to check them out. At 8:30 pm, we headed to the Redbull Tour Bus for a lovely set by Kolkata’s post-punk act The Supersonics. Channeling a little bit of Springsteen and a touch of the National, frontman Ananda Sen’s vocals were the perfect transition into the evening’s final act, Amit Trivedi. The famed composer of Bollywood flicks such as Dev.D, Wake Up Sid and Ishaqzaade attracted nearly the entirety of the Weekender population into one  happy crowd.

Amit Trivedi

And thus, Day 1 drew to close. Overall, the good array of international and domestic acts – Houdini Dax, Madboy/Mink, Money for Rope – contrasted with a weak late afternoon lineup. We left Embassy Riding School hoping for a much better Day 2.

Words by Neeharika Palaka. Images by Rajat Tibrewal.

Wednesday’s Wolves: The Queen EP

4 Aug

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It’s a buyer’s market for fans of the indie-folk genre. The likes of Of Monster’s and Men, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Mumford and Sons have popularized melodic guitars and absurdly long band names once again, making it a sizeable challenge for newcomers to leave their mark.

Wednesday’s Wolves’ debut EP The Queen EP makes an ambitious and largely successful attempt at such an impact, with a record that ends up being much, much greater than the sum of its sparse musical parts. The ridiculously gorgeous album art doesn’t hurt either!

The brain child of Ysabelle Durant and Chrissy Renker, The Queen EP avoids some of the familiar trappings of the indie folk genre and embraces others wholeheartedly, providing 12 minutes of hauntingly beautiful music that runs through a whole gamut of emotions.

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 Chrissy and Ysabelle staring wistfully at the ground/horizon

 The EP starts off with “The Stranger’s Waltz” – an understated, harmonized musical delight that showcases the duo’s talent for making magic out of almost nothing. Chrissy’s rhythm-guitar-waltz and Ysabelle’s chilling glockenspeil do a great job of enrapturing right from the start, but it’s when their blended voices kick in that they truly seize your soul. Chrissy and Ysabelle each have vocal textures reminiscent of a mix of Joan Baez and Natalie Merchant, and together are able to create some incredible harmonies, particularly in the final verse’s round.

The song is backed by some vivid (albeit somewhat obscurantist) lyrics:

“All the golden coins the callers gave to me
They vanished as the daytime caused the dark to flee
And all the silver starlight that lit up my way
It faded as the sun came up, turned silver into grey”

Reading a lot like an early Neil Gaiman draft (which would make sense, given the American Gods reference hidden in the band’s name), the lyrics paint a romanticized, gloomy picture of a symbolic “morning after.”
Up next is “War Paint.” Despite the aggressive title, the song continues the musical theme of minimalist texturing, albeit this time in a major key. Chrissy’s finger-picked guitar provides a soft but sturdy framework on which to hang her lovely reverb-laden voice. Again, Ysabelle’s glock provides a punctuated descant at all the right places.

The cheerier tones of the song are somewhat betrayed by the darker lyrics: an abstract imagery-laden take on what seems to be broken love.

“War Paint” seems to capture the electric atmosphere of the world after a Thunderstorm, making it a great song to listen to during this monsoon season!

Rounding out this too-short EP is the titular “Queen.”

“Tamer of the savage beasts
And so much braver than I ever could be
You’re queen of all that you survey
And ruler of the youth that stayed in me”

“Queen” continues the upbeat trend of “War Paint” by sticking to finger-picked major key guitar. Not dissimilar to Goldspot’s “Miss Johnson” in its musical approach, “Queen” relies equally on all of Wednesday’s Wolves’ best elements. Ysabelle’s cajon makes its presence felt properly for the first time, providing a scattered barely-there rhythm that fortifies Chrissy’s finger pickin g and allows for a marvelously mellifluous vocal line to drive the song forward. “Queen’s” bridge features Ysabelle finally going to town on her glockenspiel, creating a rhythmically intricate melody that leaves traces of itself in one’s memory long after the song (and EP) is over.

The Queen EP is a wonderful debut effort, and is evidence of a band with a bright future ahead and the ability to stick out in an overcrowded genre. Future efforts could stand to see some more musically complex work to accompany their wonderful vocal textures and moods, but it’s clear that this level of musical craftsmanship is definitely not out of their grasp.

 


The Queen EP is available on Bandcamp for livestreaming and download on a “name-your-price” basis. Physical CDs are also available at the band’s live shows, for those of you lucky enough to live in England.  Check out Wednesday’s Wolves on Facebook for more updates!

Party Time! Excellent! : A Top Five List of Essential Party Songs

6 Jul

So, it’s Friday night. You’re throwing the party of the year (or month, or day) at your place. You’ve bought yourself a new outfit (totally rockin’ those skinny jeans and Williamsburg-esque beanie), you’ve picked out the drinks (Pabst Blue Ribbon, what else?) and you’ve even rented a VCR from a quaint little vintage store (hey, it’s an idea). The only thing left is the bread and butter of your circle… the music. Whether or not your party will have its own hash-tag on Twitter will ride on this, you know it. You know that you can’t play the old stuff: MIA, CSS and Ratatat are a tad too trite for your taste. You also know that you can’t (God forbid) play Usher or Pitbull or LMFAO. What to do? Lucky for you, we’ve picked out five new songs that’ll get you dancing more than just the Shoegaze Shuffle.

5. “We Are Young”, by Fun.

Used in everything from a Chevrolet ad to WWE background music (!), American indie rock band Fun.’s “We Are Young” has officially broken into the mainstream, in a manner as grand as the song itself. Dramatic, marching-band drums unfold a feeble apology for the violence in a previous relationship (“I know I gave it you months ago/I know you’re trying to forget”).But, suddenly, the verse closes, the drums slow way down, and the song goes from an apologetic Bishop Allen to My Chemical Romance at a New York bar. And I’m not just talking about the video.

A slow jam/power ballad is hardly the type of music to suggest for a party soundtrack, and you might just sneer away this article at this point. But just wait until “We Are Young” hits the chorus (“Tonight, we are young/ So let’s set the world on fire, we can grow brighter than the Sun.”). Listen to how each syllable there is repeatedly enunciated and stretched and dramatized until your life somehow achieves melodramatic, Hollywood-tinted sunglasses, and you know why this song is such a cross-over hit. A better way to put it is this: everyone at your party will feel like they’re on the Gossip Girl season finale, full of drama and exhilaration and the heady rush of youth, and if that isn’t a formula for a great party, I don’t know what is.

Sidebar: We do have one bone to pick about this song. Janelle Monae possesses a divine voice that needs to be showcased (if at least for a verse), not delegated to mere backing vocals on the chorus. Ah well.


4. The House That Heaven Built, by Japandroids

You’re twenty years old: listless, restless and reckless to boot. You spend your days drinking, partying and falling in and out of lust. One such night, drunk on God-knows-what, all inhibition thrown out the window, you and your best friend find yourselves a guitar and a drum kit, and just decide to jam the buzz away, singing about drinking, partying and falling in and out of lust. If you’re thinking this is a good idea, it is: Japandroids did exactly this.

Their first album was aptly called Post-Nothing, which makes sense because the band isn’t post-rock, post-punk or whatever else. Japandroids make the kind of candid music that would require quite a bit of inebriation: and in that state, coming up with a genre for your sound would be impossibly contrived. Their second album is called Celebration Rock, and this is even more apt, for the eight songs here are just that: a celebration of rock, in all its original sex-and-drugs-and-rock-and-roll nature, before certain artists ruined it with all that hair and ego tripping.

“The House that Heaven Built” is a post-break up song (“But you’re not mine to die for anymore, so I must live”) and a lusty invitation (“We’ll shove our bodies in the heat of the night/ All day the day after, blood in the skies”), which are both interesting elements to throw into your party. But best of all, the Japandroids are insanely fun when you’re drunk, and few things are more important than that.

3. Night and Day, by Hot Chip

Hot Chip’s 2008 single “Ready for the Floor” introduced a wide audience to the UK band’s dark, clever synthpop, which makes our job easier: we don’t have to spend entire sentences convincing you to listen to their latest single! “Night and Day”, from their latest album In Our Heads, is a hybrid genre monster (electronic disco-synth dance music?) that articulates, from beginning to end, of burning lust. Hot Chip makes absolutely no bones about it. “The way I feel about you, baby, in the middle of the night/ there’s just one thing that I can do to make me feel alright,” hints Alexis Taylor; later, he loses even that much politesse: “If I could be inside you darling, at the center of your life/ I’d write no more upon the page, we’d live with no disguise,” he slyly suggests.

Hot Chip are masters of penning sexed-up versions of 60s pop songs about love. Besides, disco-derived electronica is always the perfect soundtrack for creating a ruckus. Listen to the first five seconds of this song, and you’ll know why we insist that this is an essential party song.

2. Idea of Happiness, by Van She

Electronic/pop band Van She’s record label introduced them as “new band from Sydney fresh on ideas, fresher than Flavor Flav, fresh like coriander, fresher than the Fresh Prince, fresher than fresh eggs,” and we think they’ve got it spot-on. Van She appear to be Gods of the synthesizer: they make those electronic beats pop, pound, march or roll over you, in a very seamless manner. “Idea of Happiness” is the title track and first single of their second album, which releases today. Through the haze of electronica, the track just yells one thing at you: “Screw it all, it’s summertime.” It’s like Junior Boys remixed a collaborative track by Hot Chip and Passion Pit in the Sydney summer. Or, to put it better, Van She’s “Idea of Happiness” is three things: Sydney, synthpop and summer. In fact, their entire album seems to be about those three things, and we suggest you give it a whirl after you’re done with this party. Or maybe during.

1. I Love It, by Icona Pop

Here’s what you need to know about Icona Pop: they’re Swedish, they’re “90s bitches”, they just got out of a relationship, and they are loving it. Like, seriously loving it. In fact, they’re so over you that they threw your stuff down the stairs and drove their own car off the bridge, and guess what? They don’t care. About anything. To put it into perspective, it’s like someone teleported ABBA into 2012, got them drunk, and made them party with Ke$ha. Believe it or not, that entire combination produced one of the best tracks of the year, period. LMFAO, look out.

So there you have it. Give  our playlist a spin at the nearest party. And tell us what you think!

– Neeharika

Anthems for the Insomniacs: Top Five Late Night Tracks

1 Jul


 
It’s 2 in the morning. The silence of the world outside is almost overwhelming. ‘Normal’ people are fast asleep by now. You, on the other hand, are wide awake. Perhaps you’re lying in bed, mind wandering in the midst of a journey with no fixed destination. Maybe you’re at your desk, midnight oil burning away as you attempt to use the uninterrupted free time and creative boost of that ghostly hour. Or maybe you’re just awake because you have nothing better to do. Either way, you need a soundtrack – music to set the tone for your night, to capture the peaceful, bittersweet, beautiful nature of true late night. Luckily, you have us to provide you with five such songs!

5. Cayman Islands, by Kings of Convenience

Norway’s traditional musical export of black metal is heavily challenged by the indie-folk-pop duo Kings of Convenience (KoC). “Cayman Islands,” from the band’s 2004 album Riot on an Empty Street, sets the scene perfectly for an extended late-night session of intense pondering. Melodic finger-picked guitars flow and meld together in warm, rich, relaxing harmonies, and serve as the perfect backdrop for Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe beautiful, mellifluous voices. Øye and Bøe sing in perfect unison, in a vocal dance with neither leader nor follower.


 
4. If We Cannot See, by Devics

“If We Cannot See” by Los Angeles indie-rock outfit Devics features the same reliance on warm harmonies, but on a much more grandiose scale. Dreamy, ethereal piano chords shift into overwhelming shoegaze-inspired guitars, as soft breathy vocals whisper-sing lyrics full of beautiful melancholy. It’s almost as if this song was designed to inspire the late-night bittersweet artist in you.


 
3. All I Need, by Radiohead

Radiohead has always been known for the quality of their music, the emotions their songs invokes and their almost uncanny ability to musically portray your thoughts. “All I Need,” from the album In Rainbows, carries on this tradition. Thom Yorke’s moody, melancholic voice and lyrics underscore the low, driving bass-line, textured soundscape and drumbeat. Echoes of guitars and pianos turn up in odd, unexpected places. The song’s climax is paradoxically both chaotic and melodically refined. “All I Need” is a gloomy, realistic vision of everything in your life that’s going wrong, but what better moment to reflect on all that than while lying awake in bed at 2AM?


 
2. Take Me Home, by Sulk Station

Bangalore’s first real trip-hop duo are a class apart in India, and not just because there’s almost no one else doing what they’re doing here. Sulk Station’s Rahul Giri and Tanvi Rao have been getting rave reviews from anyone who’s been fortunate enough to hear them. “Take me home” from the album Till You Appear features Tanvi Rao’s beautiful voice in all its haunting, understated glory, admirably supported by computer-and-synthesizer based music that stands toe-to-toe with the best chill-step out there. This is the kind of song that perfectly captures that raw, soul-weary, tired feeling you have after a too-long day of non-stop work. Too awake and alive to sleep, yet tootired to get out of bed? Throw this track on, lay back, close your eyes and let Sulk Station take over your mind and soul.


 
1. Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl, by Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene has been a critical darling almost since their inception, and is one of the few indie music collectives that does in fact do justice to the term “supergroup,” even if they do eschew the term. “Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” features everything you’d want in a late-night song. High, breathy, effects-laden vocals are sung over a lilting combination of soft strings, banjos, perfectly simple drums, and guitars that focus far more on atmosphere than technique (and rightly so). The song develops gradually, gathering momentum and building up to a sustained plateau that will keep you on a musical high long after the final notes have died down. Spend some time listening to the lyrics – in a few simple lines, they express what countless teenagers and college kids have gone through and continue to go through, as they grow up and find their (sadly all-too-often fake) identities. This song will both paralyse you and invigorate you, breathless, as your mind races with all the possibilities that lay before you.


 
– Manickam.

Agree with the top 5? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section! 

Top 5 Artists from Chennai

28 Jun

Due to a certain chain of events in my early twenties, I was made to spend the first half of this year in (what I assumed was) India’s capital of fervent orthodoxy, Chennai. When people heard of my move, they offered their condolences and (more often) their schadenfreude: but not one of them offered me a heads up about the thriving musical scene here. Now, when you see the words “Chennai” and “music” in the same sentence, it’s natural to expect the word “Carnatic” to pop up soon after. The only phrase I knew that went against this intuition was “Junkyard Groove”. But, as I eventually discovered, Chennai is one of India’s premiere hotbeds for young, alternative talent. Here’s a list of the best alternative indie that the city has to offer.

5. Little Babooshka’s Grind 

Rounding out the end of our countdown are the excellently-named veterans Little Babooshka’s Grind (LBG). They really are pioneers of Indian original rock music, making great electro-rock songs (see: “Doll” on the Blue Butterfly Express EP) way back in 1999 when most other bands on the scene were covering songs that had already been covered a million times. Songs like “Codeine” and “Money” brought sufficient funk to their old-school classic rock sound on first album This Animal is Called the Wallet, while “Basics of Life” is our favorite track off of sophomore album Bad Children.

They’ve been around for almost two decades, but the all-originals band isn’t going away anytime soon. Last November, they released new single “Big Words”, from the upcoming album Wake Up… The Break Up, when they got selected as one of the five bands at the Ray Ban Never Hide Sounds band competition. As an added bonus, here is a rare LBG cover of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” at The Great Indian Oktober Fest, Bangalore last year!

4. Harsha Iyer

Next up on our list is a young singer-songwriter from Chennai whose debut made quite the splash last year. Harsha Iyer, at all of 19, released an album on which he wrote, sang, performed, and produced all of the twelve original tracks. Not bad for a kid who in an alternate timeline would be getting ragged by college seniors. Dabbling in a plethora of genres with a self-confidence that most 19-year-olds don’t possess, Harsha took the Indian indie scene by storm with Curious Toys. Tracks like “Overcautious” and “I Find You Boring” celebrate his considerable youth, whereas on songs like “Money” and “Not Dead Yet”, Harsha weaves tales of imaginary characters with surprisingly shrewd songwriting skills. The Chennai musician is now releasing a second album, a twenty-track behemoth, in two separate installments a month apart. His first single “Mystery Woman” is out already, and you should definitely give it a listen.

3. Adam & the Fish-eyed Poets

AATFEP is a real gem of the Chennai scene. The band is the solo singer-songwriter project of a certain Kishore Krishna, who also happens to serve as something of a mentor for younger city musicians like the above-mentioned Harsha Iyer. Both his debut Snakeism (a la the shape-shifting slitheriness of the genres on the album) and his sophmore Dead Loops are spectacular examples of what the country’s indie musicians can do if they push themselves to their boundaries. It really needn’t be said how there are far too many ‘indie’ ‘musicians’ in India who do no such thing. Snakeism in particular is dark, seething, stylish and clearly bursting at the seams with exceptional talent. “Black eyed Monster” and “Little Monkeys” are the shiniest in this gem box of a debut, whereas “Purgatory City” (Chennai?) captivates on Dead Loops. Don’t think too much. Go download both albums and just listen. Don’t be shocked if you are genuinely amazed at the influences and styles and genres that are at play in AATFEP’s work. This, my friend, is music for the cynics.

2. Junkyard Groove

At number 2 is the band that originally put Chennai on the indie map: Junkyard Groove, or JYG as it is fondly known. Ever since their debut way back in 2005, JYG has opened for some of the most famous international acts to perform in the country, and for good reason. Exceptionally refined production values, good songwriting, and truly gifted musicians: there is little that this band lacks. The energetic funk on “Feel Like a Knife” (from their 2009 album 11:11) entrances you seconds into the song, and just wait until you get to the fat bass interlude. “Folk You” and “It’s Ok” are pretty snazzy too. Their latest single “4 to 5 Things” sounds like a rocked-out Irish jig. We really suggest you listen to it.

1. The Shakey Rays

It’s hardly over-stretching the truth to state that there’s nothing in India quite like the Shakey Rays. Tight arrangements meet genuinely good songcraft in perhaps one of the most innovative bands ever to call India their homeland. You can literally listen to any five seconds off their debut, and conclude that it is both shockingly original and unnaturally good. Divine pop tunesmithery and a certain inimitable sense of musical intuition run wild and free on Tunes from the Big Belly, bringing up DMB and the Beatles and RHCP and the Kinks and whoever else with the greatest of skill: i.e., influenced by, but not imitations of. It can be safely said that there are about three or four new bands in India who have mastered this art, and possibly none as well as the Shakey Rays. As their name suggests, this band is truly the sunshine filtering through the smog of the Indian indie scene. Perhaps it is only apt that they hail from the city of year-round sunshine.

It’s impossible to pick favorite tracks on the album, but “I’m Gonna Catch That Train” is a good place to start. It takes a lot of talent to beat Junkyard Groove at their own game, but the Shakey Rays show immense promise. Music fans in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi rejoice, for the Rays are coming to a venue near you in July! Please don’t miss it.

Agree with the top 5? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section! 

Spud in the Box: “54”

27 Jun

“54”, a song from fresh new Bombay band Spud in the Box, is the musical version of a double-take. The song starts off ridiculously upbeat: a sparkly, summery ditty of a man with a fondness for pretty legs and juicy kiwi (albeit mysteriously with a shrink in the picture). By the time the chorus kicks in, still California-sunny, the lyrics veer into hypothetical stalking, seemingly in an obsessive, puppy-love vein of things. Alright. Quirky, but not abnormal.
But pretty soon after that, things veer sharply left of centre. Hypothetical stalking turns into imagined, deranged conversations with Dr. Phil. Then the story pans out to include a mental asylum, a car trunk stuffed with his crush’s boyfriend and – you guessed it – a serial killer’s knife in hand. You have to listen to the final lines of the song to understand what the ’54’ here signifies, although you might guess it. Either way, the contrast of the overt morbidity in the song and the outrageously sunny music (How sunny? It could work as the background for a Go Goa TV ad. Seriously.) is really something to look out for.
Mind you, this entire panorama of morbidity happens as a mere backdrop to the caefree, sunshine music. Imagine Cake singing about serial killers. Or Jason Mraz providing the soundtrack to Silence of the Lambs.
Spud in the Box recently signed on to The Random Dream Project, a brand-new record label (launched May 31st, 2012) that hopes to be a one-stop shop for India’s best indie talent. If all artists are as good as Spud in the Box prove to be on this track, we’re very excited indeed to see that this label puts out.
Verdict: As you can see, we’ve got nothing but good things to say about this track. Listen, listen, listen! We love this folk-rock band.

– Neeharika

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