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10 Best Indian EPs of 2017

From collaborative records to comeback albums, the past year was filled with triumphant releases

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Jan 09, 2018

Mumbai reggae/hip-hoppers Bombay Bassment released their EP 'OK, Dance' in May 2017. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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1. Time Machine: Around The Corner

Although New Delhi duo Time Machine’s debut three-track EP Around The Corner falls into the electronic genre, listeners will instantly recognize the singer-songwriter-like approach behind the tracks. The EP is a refreshing example on how electronic music can be produced with more than just beats and drops. Time Machine blend acoustic instruments superbly well with synths and percussive grooves that all sit well on top of each other and make for a tasty sounding record. Overall, listening to this EP is an immersive experience.

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2. Runt: Rhymes With

Popular vocalist-guitarist Siddharth Basrur recorded everything (except drums) all by himself on his latest release under his new moniker Runt. Nineties rock fans will particularly dig Rhymes With, which is replete with feisty guitars, crushing breakdowns and Basrur’s soaring vocals. The EP opens with the scintillating “Bad Words,” a track that pretty much sets the tone for the record. On “Black on Beige,” the musician sings about his innermost demons as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.

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3. Bombay Bassment: OK, Dance

With two albums already under their belt, 2014’s eponymous debut LP and Bombay Bassment X FUNC VIP released two years later, Mumbai reggae/hip-hoppers Bombay Bassment aim to soundtrack your parties with their third release OK, Dance. The group’s new upbeat five-track EP is a party playlist and is packed with fresh sounds, smooth bass lines and slick samples. The opening track on the record, “Yes Yes Ya’ll,” is almost anthemic and other tunes such as “Put Em Up” and “Party Party” are straight-up “party tracks,” according to the band.

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4. Short Round: With Friends Like These

The theme that unites Mumbai singer-songwriter Jishnu Guha aka Short Round’s seven-track EP is that it is a wholly collaborative record. With Friends Like These is filled to the brim with features from the likes of vocalist-guitarist Siddharth Basrur from alt rockers Last Remaining Light, Saurabh Roy from punk rock outfit The Lightyears Explode, Chicago-based singer Anna Holmquist, and Mumbai-based singer-songwriters Mali, Fat Yellow Moon and Rahul Pais (formerly of Guha’s rock band The SOS). On With Friends Like These, Guha also cleverly incorporates the ‘intro’ and ‘outro’ formats with the delicate 40-second instrumental “Introvert” and its continuation “Outrovert.”

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5. BLEK: Break The Beat

Mumbai alt rockers BLEK finally released new music in 2017 with their four-track sophomore EP Break The Beat. The record also marked the first time their drummer Linford D’souza (who joined in 2013) has hit the studio with bandmates– vocalist-guitarist Rishi Bradoo and bassist Jared Creado. All four songs on Break The Beat retain the trio’s signature sound: Bradoo’s no-nonsense vocals on a bed of resilient grooves and feisty guitars.

6. Aditi Ramesh: Autocorrect

Bengaluru bred and Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Aditi Ramesh’s debut EP Autocorrect opens with an excellent introduction to her profound vocal abilities with “Efflux Of Time.” The track is a masterful exercise in looping, and contains one of the most deliciously unexpected vocal transitions of the year. “Stuff On Our Minds,” showcases Ramesh’s chops as a jazz vocalist while “Marriageable Age” moves towards a more hip-hop sound. The final track on the record, “Small Fish In A Big Pond,” is a jazz Carnatic fusion song.

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7. Eccentric Pendulum: Tellurian Concepts

If you want to hear the most punishing, eerie tunes this year, look no further than a three-part concept ‘song’ that spans 18 minutes and goes from jazz fusion bass noodling and cacophonic saxophone to pummeling tech-death madness. Bengaluru metallers Eccentric Pendulum still remain underrated in Indian metal, but Tellurian Concepts EP almost justifies the four-odd years they took in crafting and perfecting a mammoth offering that they actually play in one go at their shows. Between atmospheric dissonance, Eccentric latch onto spiraling grooves, while vocalist Kaushal L.S. brings an indestructible voice at every given chance.

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8. Blindnight: Where is the Fire?

Where is the Fire? is a heady, intricate trip-hop offering from Bengaluru-based producer Suren Makkar aka Blindnight. There is sophistication in its 808 roughness, often evoking a sense of nostalgia associated to Eighties Japanese video games and 3 am conversations. Blindnight gets playful at several points, bringing in samples of a baby cooing in “Fever” and manic laughter in “Everybody Likes to Die Sometimes” which he contrasts sharply with social commentary from Ustad Kitty on “Fruity Pie” and delicate but eerie vocals from Disco Puppet, both fellow producers.

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9. The Ganesh Talkies: The Great Indian Freak Show

The Kolkata rock band come back strong and angry on their sophomore EP The Great Indian Freak Show. While the politically-themed title track is a deliciously angry, Soundgarden-esque anthem, second single “Dendrite” emerges as the true star of the ‘freakshow’ with its intriguing blur between post-punk and dance rock. The EP is very Nineties-nostalgic, bringing back the now less common threads of ska punk (“Rum And Coke”) and midtempo electro-rock (“Protest”).

10. Wide Octaves: Losing My Mind

With thrumming bass lines, robotic vocals and oscillating ticks, Mumbai producer Vineeth Jay aka Wide Octaves’ two-track EP Losing My Mind is one of the more unusual releases of the year. “Traces” and the title track both communicate a hazy, almost dream-like atmosphere, ushering listeners into a space of pure zen. Losing My Mind also features elements of retro-futurism with its chill, down-tempo but bass heavy synth.

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(Releases are listed in no particular order)

Compiled by Anurag Tagat, Riddhi Chakraborty and David Britto

 

 

 

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