Tag Archives: swing jazz

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.

Rachael Price: The Good Hours

4 Jul

The Good Hours is a jazz album by 23-year-old singer Rachael Price, who is blessed with a voice comparable to that of the jazz greats (and uses this fact to great effect throughout this album). In fact, the first thing that will strike anyone listening to this album is how good Ms. Price’s voice is. You could place her tracks in between those of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and they would not seem a hair out of place. Her voice is far and away the strongest thing about this album and, despite the occasional instrument solo, is all you are likely to remember.

If you doubt her vocal prowess, listen to her version of “Skylark” or “Mood Indigo” – they may as well be a capella for all the impact the band makes. She moves into Samba jazz for a single song in the middle of the album called “Lagrimas Negras”, which, although a weaker track, is quite a fun change. A dabble in Samba is all well and good, but Rachael Price is in essence a classic jazz singer who just happens to be releasing records now, and she shines most on classic jazz songs.

This album does have its share of swing though. The first track, “That Old Black Magic” starts things off well and the album keeps its bounce throughout. It has all of the energy and the simplicity of a 1920s swing record and manages to reconstruct much of the feeling those albums would bring up. However, possibly as a result of all that old-time feeling, this album does not challenge the listener, which could be a fatal flaw in a jazz record. There are exceptions, such as “The Trolley Song”, which has all of the verve of Billie Holiday singing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”. However, the majority of the songs, while not as easy-listening as a Kenny G record, are far from cerebral.

Although this is Rachael Price’s album, the band backing her does a quite solid job throughout. There are a couple of nice solos; the vibraphone in “That Old Black Magic” or the piano in “The Trolley Song” come immediately to mind. They do not stand out, but they perform quite well and do all that could be asked from them. The piano especially frames her voice excellently, but like any frame, is a distant second to the picture itself.

“The Trolley Song”, “Skylark”, “Stairway To The Stars” and “Mood Indigo” are all exceptional performances and should be picked up if you have any love of swing jazz or just good singing. The rest of the album however is nothing really special. If you have exhausted your Fitzgerald and Lady Day collections but want more, then this is certainly worth picking up and even otherwise you will have a quite solid album on your hands, just not a very challenging one.

Verdict: The lack of challenge in the album and a number of weaker performances keep this from being a masterpiece. However, the stand-out tracks make the album worth a listen, or five.

– Nikhil

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