by Anurag Tagat
With the summer comes songs of warmth and exuberance but also ones that are mindful of the country’s ever-changing situation. Whether it’s songs of hope, upliftment and escape by Zaeden, Sidharth Bendi and Firuzeh Mihrshahi or rap by Vedan which puts listeners in the midst of ground realities, these are our top picks from the past month.
Newness – Sidharth Bendi
Originally intended to be released after the Hyderabad singer-songwriter’s 2019 EP Lost, Newness sees Sidharth Bendi bring forward a happy, cheery disposition. Unlike the introspective, angsty Lost, his latest single talks about the universal feeling of experiencing something new in our lives and letting it become an instant mood changer. In the case of Newness, the nimble acoustic melodies and his distinct voice are directed towards confusion but boldness in such an experience.
Take Me to a Place – Firuzeh
Pune-based singer-songwriter Firuzeh Mihrshahi pens a song for the pandemic times and elegantly avoids most of the cliches that listeners could spot by now. There’s an earnest plea about going back to how things were, which is pained yet honest. She teams up with New Delhi producers Ritwik De and Amar Pandey for soothing ukulele and guitar melodies that invoke self-reflection during these tough times.
Wild For You – Anza
Growing up in Guwahati and subsequently moving to Chicago, singer-songwriter Anza is still navigating how to balance the worlds of Indian and American pop/R&B with her music. Her latest single Wild For You gives it another shot, this time twisting around vocal melodies excitedly while also switching between Hindi and English in an almost conversational manner.
Days – Zaeden
On his latest single, electronic music producer/DJ turned pop singer Zaeden aka Sahil Sharma evokes a breathiness that’s about prioritizing oneself and not feeling remorseful about it. Over acoustic guitar-inflected production from Budi and cowritten lyrics by Nikita Ahuja, Zaeden sticks to strength as a charming singer who’s got a loverboy image to maintain, while introducing a calming, optimstic listen.
Mixed Feelings – Dystorizon
Tracking a metamorphosis of sorts in the course of three and a half minutes, Valencia-based, Bhopal-bred producer Dystorizon aka Kshitij Singh introduces dreamy, dance floor friendly and trip-hop steady beats on Mixed Feelings. Taken from his new EP Escape Velocity, Singh is definitely a synth enthusiast, launching off a theme of change and how we perceive it. The video is a crowdfunded snapshot from around the globe.
Dopamine – Abdon Mech
Singing from the heart can quickly become a difficult task for singer-songwriters who’ve bared their soul with warm reception. But that’s not the case for Abdon Mech. The Nagaland singer-songwriter who wrote Again last year is out with his debut EP From A Bamboo Room and songs like Dopamine (featuring singer Akhrieze) is wonderfully straightforward and alluring in telling a story of attraction and infatuation.
Bless Ya Heels – Tribe Mama Marykali
Among the fiercely strong and unabashed voices of sexuality and sensuality from Kerala, Tribe Mama Marykali turns up the heat and stays suave on her latest single and music video. Over a tropical Latin-inspired beat that works in subtle elements of Indian music (flute, tabla), Marykali sings invites listeners to move with her and asserts her place as a supernatural woman.
Vaa – Vedan
Never one to disappoint so far, socially conscious Malayalam rapper Vedan brings the fire on his latest track Vaa, packaged in the form a clarion call to revolution. With striking scenes from the music video which reference social media activism, crises faced by farmers and the power of the collective, Vedan emboldens those wishing to unite and fight against inequalities.
race – No Home
Producer and singer duo Mary Ann Alexander and Tejas Ramakrishna land upon on a saccharine, dreamy yet melancholic sound on their debut EP Mind Games. One of the standout cuts is race, a wandering journey into complicated feelings and grappling with them in a way that acknowledges the temporariness of things, how things can just be a phase.
Aadataan – Bhau
Providing refreshing hip-hop, R&B and pop in the vein of artists like Drake, Jammu artist Bhau digs into a love story gone awry in his new Dogri song Aadataan. The title track off his latest album sees the singer and producer confront a significant other and arrive at a difficult but necessary place, complete with guitar leads and lo-fi beats.