By Ranjini Achuthan
September spoiled us silly with a string of western indie folk pearls, some soul and bedroom pop, Awadhi alternate rock and tech house bangers. Here is a playlist featuring 10 brilliant artists from across the country as we take our very first monthly stock of releases each carrying their own little stories.
Hanita Bhambri - Home Alone ft. Soham Mallick
Hanita douses Home Alone in a dreamy tenor with echoing, wistful vocals that builds up to a repetitive and addictive hook line. Written and composed by Bhambri, the track features a short cameo by Soham Mallick who arrives quietly and adds to the bittersweet pain with his soft singing. Midway through the song he leaves. Or does he linger? It’s hard to tell. The lyrical video by Madhurika consists of simple, animated illustrations replete with needles of time, shooting fire balls, empty corners of a home, flickering lights and vanishing Earth that could all be seen as remnants of a broken love.
The track has been produced and beautifully arranged by Miti Adikari in a minimalistic fashion. Home Alone although melancholic tries to nudge us to pick up the broken pieces and find a way back to ourselves in the face of negativities. This stunning piece of music could very well be your comfort song for a long long while!
Benhurmusic – By The River
By The River makes you wish for things you have never felt. The most striking aspect of this acoustic troubadour duo is the signature baritone voice of singer songwriter Amal Jose who can bring a unique depth and drama to any kind of sound, be it a deep whisper or a short flourish. Vishnu Das, the guitarist, on the other hand is known to be impulsive, spontaneous and intuitive while writing guitar parts to all Benhur songs.
By the River is sentimental and pines away about love that is ephemeral yet irresistible, the kind of love that makes life an adventure. The track adopts a minimal, acoustic arrangement layered with harmonies interspersed with a part-recital part-singing type of chorus between verses.
The artwork for the song is a beautiful canvas painting of a Swan by Meghna R Robins and the one shot, one frame video showcasing an unusually still Amal crooning beside Vishnu on guitars has been done by Hippie Films.
The track has been produced by Amal himself and the mixing and mastering has been done by Pato Podesta all the way from Argentina. The duo wishes to explore sounds with Celtic influences in their upcoming releases and we cannot wait to listen more from these geniuses on the rise.
Izora – Die Inside
Shreya a.k.a Izora recorded Die Inside when she had Covid! This resulted in a few noticeable errors while recording some of the high notes. In this day and age of autotune and melodyne, hearing vocal cracks is a rare phenomenon. But that was not to be the case here. Die Inside, according to Shreya, is as honest as it can be. “With the errors retained, it is a testament to what I have been through.”
This is the fourth outing by this bright and brilliant young artist and this time we are treated to a very dramatic, orchestral arrangement with violins and distortion guitars that could be mistaken for horn sections. One other striking aspect of this track is the time signature transition that just elevates the mood of the song. Izora has collaborated with her dear friend Katie Shaye from US who helped her write the bridge portion and the track has been produced by Lorenzo Celata from Italy.
Artwork has been done by Sur and a lyrical video has also come out. So what does the song talk about? For a clueless first time listener, this song could sound like a grim situation where the sinister world is at play trying to keep two loving hearts, apart. But Shreya says that more than anything, this song is a message to herself, about how she cares more about other people than her own self!
Khanabadosh – Fizool Hai Sab
Fizool Hai Sab, by Khanabadosh, takes its own sweet time to build from strumming quietude to a climax of euphoric crescendo. This beautiful track is the third and final one from their debut EP, Kaala Dil. Gaurav Solanki, the lead vocalist of the band says that, as the name suggests, the song is about the futility of life. Drawn from personal experiences of a painful break up, loss of a loved one, the existential dilemma of choosing money over passion and societal judgement that it entails, Fizool Hai Sab is an honest contemplation about life's challenges that gradually transitions into hopes of self-worth and self-love, in spite of the odds.
Musically the band has diverse influences ranging from ghazals and classic Hindi poetry to pop rock and alternative rock. The songwriting, according to Gaurav, is always an honest, organic process wherein the melody always comes first around which the rest of the elements like chords, time signatures and the overall sound is built.
The mixing has been done jointly by the band's guitarist Arpan Jain and lead guitarist Kartik Ganotra and mastering has been handled by Steve Nagasaki Sounds, Las Vegas. The artwork by Pallab Baruah is a genuine representation of ‘Kaala Dil’. It represents everyone who have had an epiphany that in a world full of nefarious souls, love is ephemeral, peripheral kind that is sweet like honey but stings like a bee.
Zoe Siddharth – Human
The debut single of the Chennai born musical prodigy Zoe Siddharth, is an ode to the support system made up of family and friends that makes every human, humane! The Stage 3 finalist abides by the simple philosophy of spreading positivity and staying true to her words, she wishes to make songs that are uplifting and motivating in nature.
2 years in the making, Human, touches a deep chord as the track pushes off to a slow start of soft piano bits over which Zoe builds and rouses into harmonies and vocal histrionics in a bed of minimal yet lush arrangement much like the sentimental ballads of yore. Incidentally, the artwork for the song has been done collectively by Zoe’s sister Zana and her mother both of whom are artists of their own accord. The song that has been languishing in her vault for a long time now, has been finally brought to life by producer Krishh Datta of Muzehub Bangalore.
Zoe insists that this has been the collective effort of her friends who inspired her to write the lyrics, the Singapore band with whom she had played the heavier live version much before its official release and of course Krishh who gave her the final recorded version. Zoe has also released a lyrical video for the song with animation by graphic illustrator Samara Sudhir. The road ahead looks promising for this talented and budding artist who plans to keep releasing originals with the aim to be on the road playing live and ultimately make a mark in the independent pop music scene of the country.
The Earflower Experiment – Grow
Grow is an earworm from the word go. The track has a fresh sound with some interesting vocal elements like breath sounds and beatbox bits in addition to just guitars supporting the vocals or so it may seem. In reality, though, the final output has around 100 tracks hiding in there, beams Astaaq Ahmed, the man behind The Earflower Experiment.
In spite of this, for a listener whole track imparts a very raw and organic feel. Astaaq says that Grow is based on a tumultuous personal experience where he was pushed to being someone he was not by a person who he believed cared about him. With a lot of unlearning, Astaaq was able to accept a lot of painful truths that has led him to grow and become the person he is today. By letting go, he was able to grow. This song has channelized all that pain and resolve and it shines through.
The video for the song that has been created in association with Vanshika Malik is made up of free stock footage for a total budget of zero rupees. The beautiful artwork for the track has been done by Dhruv Ganguly. Grow could very well become a mainstay in the playlist owing to its life-like elements, trippy rhythm and the progression of the song that leads to heavy guitar distortions towards the climax of the song.
pb – call u anyway
Paridhhi Bajoria a.k.a pb employs very little in terms of arrangement for call u anyway. Yet, this track is endearing for the teenage, carefree vibe it spreads. This brilliant young musician has produced, written, mixed and mastered the lo-fi song with just a laptop and earphones that doubles up as her mic. pb makes it up for the scarce orchestration with a lot of chorus and harmonies throughout the song. Riff made out of Rhodes/electric piano and simple rhythm sits well in this indie bedroom pop track.
Paridhhi says that call u anyway was written in an hour and half and has been inspired by various people that she has encountered in her lifetime who have taken her for granted. The song ultimately talks about unrequited effort of making friendships and relationships work in spite of the realization that they never really cared about you, the way you cared about them. call u anyway is the kind of song that lingers in your mind long after the song is over.
Daira – Basar
An absolute crowd favourite and one of the craziest powerhouse performers among the Hindi Art rock bands of the country, Daira is back with a single named Basar that pays homage to everyone who identifies their passion, does not hesitate in taking the tough road and makes a livelihood out of what they are respected for.
The band continues their tradition of playing and experimenting with genres with every release and for this one, has taken a simpler route in the songwriting process which results in an up tempo, groovy 5 minute, energetic outing with vocals by the frontman, Piyush Kapoor that can get the laziest of listeners to get inspired and rock ‘n roll.
The music video compiled and put together by Fahad Sheikh features some notable names from the music industry like Arunaja, Siddharth Basrur, Sahil Khattar, Anand Bhaskar, MC Mawali, 100RBH among others singing and enjoying the track in their own quirky ways. Artwork for the track has been done by Revant Dasgupta. Daira is gearing up to release singles regularly in the coming months that could ultimately lead to an EP or an album.
Kapow – Since September
Since September by Kapow has a history of almost being shelved because it was too personal for one of the band members. 3 years in the making, what began as a lo-fi acoustic track grew into a modern, full-fledged, 3 minute song that begins with a whisper gradually unleashing the vocal prowess of Mayank Mittal as he croons passionately gliding effortlessly through the highs and lows. There are choruses, harmonies coaxing and tugging at the heartstrings of the listeners.
The featuring artist Bhau, who is a dear friend of Mayank Mittal, has written and played the guitar parts for the whole track. The music video to the song is a moving story of Dan and Sarah who fall in love and fight to stay in love. Do they fight for their chances or give up trying forms the crux of the video that has been played by actors Kaatyayani Pandey and Pranav Brara.
For their latest updates, follow Kapow on Instagram to find quirky and witty content providing serious entertainment. As whacky as the name sounds, the band from New Delhi puts out music spanning a wide range of genres from high energy rock to pop to ballads and retro, disco sounds.
Klipr – Rotate
Keshav Bharadwaj a.k.a Klipr is an up and coming electronic house artist currently based out of New Delhi, who started his musical journey in college when he got the chance to witness live performances of some of his most favourite electro artists/DJ from around the world. Klipr has just dropped Rotate, a power packed groovy track with emphasis on the bassline and the sound design for the bass.
The track starts buzzing as soon as you press play with the bassline slowly coming in. The catchy vocal shots combined with the intense synths and classic tech-house drums move the track into an intense buildup and a drop that will be difficult to get out of your head for days.
Keshav says that this lockdown, like everyone else has been a bittersweet experience but he has been trying to stay positive and focus on developing his own style of music production. This is the time to grow as an artist and enhance one’s skillsets and as part of this, he has a few tracks planned to release before winding up this year. Rotate is a jaw dropping tech house banger and is now available on all streaming platforms.