Artists To Watch Out For
2014 was a great year for breakout artists – whether indietronica from Kolkata or rock bands from Jammu, we’ve rounded up our favorites
Who: The Jammu-based three-member indie rock band formed in 2011 and have beaten everything from irritated neighbors to floods wrecking their jam room to create music. They recently made their Mumbai debut at gig series Live From the Console in October, with a full-length album in the works.
Sound: The band’s vocalist-guitarist brothers Aqib and Hamza, who front the band, say their major influence has been the simple, catchy rock of the Beatles.
Spin This: MoonDogs build up from an acoustic melody to a blazing solo in the two-minute “Invaders.”
Chandbibi and the Waste Candidates
Who: The four-member jazz/funk band from Bengaluru have been releasing singles and EPs since February 2013, but the current lineup of the band – vocalist Mana Dhanraj, guitarist Sidhant Jain, bassist Kavita Sarna and drummer Navneet Rao – has been steady since February this year after meeting at Chennai music school Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music.
Sound: Chandbibi present a laidback mix of jazz, funk, ambient and neo-soul. But they are also influenced by other genres from Latin music [“Sway”] to pop rock [“Moonlight”] on their debut album Tidy Funk. Says Dhanraj about the making of the album, “We had no problems jamming and coming up with ideas, but the hardest part was giving them shape. We had recorded endless hours of jamming and had to sift through all that before we came across parts where we thought, ‘this could work’.”
Spin this: The mammoth, trippy nine-minute jam that is “What Have We Become,” which was also one of their best moments when they debuted in Mumbai earlier this year.
Who: The Shillong-based experimental metal band, who formed in 2012, made a big mark at the first edition of Outrage Festival in Delhi in July, their first gig outside the North East. Aberrant released their debut self-titled EP in the same month. After marking off opening slots for the likes of prog metal band Skyharbor in Guwahati, Aberrant are now set to open for Australian prog rock band Karnivool at their Delhi show in January.
Sound: What makes Aberrant sound fresh is their mix of modern prog metal with elements of death, thrash and groove metal, best heard on songs such as “Collateral Damage.” Says guitarist Imti Kharkongor, “It’s very groovy, with lots of technical elements as well. It’s all mixed into one.”
Spin this: While “Collateral Damage” was the first single that gained Aberrant fans, it’s “The Vanguard” that’s a chaotic riff fest from start to finish, guitarists Kharkongor and Jerry Nelson Ranee dueling on the fretboard.
Who: Anyone who announces his own set on stage as a “historical moment in Indian hip hop” is setting an example in swag. That’s just how Kolkata hip hop artist Vik Sen aka Feyago opened proceedings at his set at Ziro Festival of Music in September this year. Feyago, who performs with just a laptop and a mic, started off in December 2012 and went on to bag the Best Hip Hop Artist trophy at the Vh1 Soundnation Awards in mid-2014.
Sound: Influenced by everyone from Kanye West to Lil Wayne, Feyago does hip hop which samples R&B like singer Jason Derulo. Feyago gives Hindi rap a go as well, on songs such as “Socha Hai” [about a consumerist girlfriend] and “Marzi.”
Spin this: Feyago teamed up with Shillong-based R&B singer MelodyCrab aka Longnam Wanbiang Kharpuri for “Someday,” in which the rapper lists out addresses the anti-homosexuality law Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, economic inequality and sexual harassment.
We The Giants
Who: The Dimapur based indie rockers started out in late 2013, jamming for a few weeks so that they could compete at the Hornbill International Rock Contest in Kohima. With just a handful of songs, the band placed first runners up at Hornbill, and have since gone on to perform across the North East, including Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh in September.
Sound: Although vocalist-guitarist Kevi Pucho describe We The Giants as a post-indie rock band, the four-piece group have already proved they can do justice to the biggest stages with an arena rock sound that includes crunchy riffs and a hint of math rock, like on their song “Joker For You.”
Spin this: With two singles released so far and an EP in the works, our pick is the groovy, squeaky clean hook-laden “Take It Away,” which features Pucho going into full R&B mode.
Who: The Kolkata indietronica duo, comprising vocalist Aniket Dutta and guitarist Shubharun Sengupta, started off in late 2013, after Dutta’s band, post-hardcore act Tint, went on a break. With an EP under their belt [Clouds Woke No Clocks] earlier this year, the band has gone on to play Mumbai, Delhi, Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh and Vans New Wave Musicfest in Goa.
Sound: The bubble-gum sweet synth sections set to programmed drums puts Oh, Rocket in a chillwave space that’s also influenced by everything from indie rock like Foster the People to freak folk acts like CocoRosie.
Spin this: Their lead single, “Cat Door Back Door Man,” however, is more inspired by a theme that bands have been preoccupied with for centuries now – love. The single features a dance floor-friendly beat and funky synth over Dutta’s R&B-inspired vocals.
Who: The brainchild of guitarist-vocalist Kamal Singh [previously from Bengaluru alt rock/post rock band Lounge Piranha] that started out with a fuzzy, lo-fi debut rock album The Resurrection of the Princess of Woe and Her Vampire Hound Posse in 2013, Hoirong expanded to include guitarists Samar Grewal, Akhil Sood and drummer Akshat Nauriyal in early 2014. While Hoirong’s live lineup was based in Delhi, Singh moved back to Bengaluru in late 2014, releasing Nursery Lies, a take on children’s nursery rhymes, and his second album Dandniya Apradh.
Sound: While Singh and Lounge Piranha went through a punk-influenced phase in 2008, Hoirong is all out noisy, punk and alt rock that still retains a hint of post-rock. Singh has some fun with his programmed drumbeats, going into disco rock mode on songs like “Jalebi” and “Dacoits.”
Spin this: With over 30 songs to pick from, our favorite is “Bonda,” the raging, fuzzed-out three-minute track in which Singh reels off every major holiday, from Diwali to Independence Day, for whatever reason.
Who: Mumbai-based electronica duo Nicholson comprising singer-songwriter Sohrab Nicholson and drummer/producer Rohan Ramanna, Nicholson released their debut EP For What in June this year. The EP was themed around make-or-break relationships. Since then, Nicholson have been performing regularly at venues across the country, including festivals such as NH7 Weekender and Magnetic Fields Festival.
Sound: Nicholson, often performs with electronica duo Dirty Jays, to create music that is distinctly electronic, but also refashions good old piano-and-vocal driven pop.
Spin This: The second of a three-part video series, Nicholson’s video for “For What II,” a reworked version of the title track of For What.
Who: Bengaluru-based producer Nathan Menon, who performs under the alias Monsoonsiren, creates music that induces synaesthetia. Whether it’s collaborating with musicians such as American electronic duo Odesza or Melbourne-based electronica producer Tom Day, Menon’s music scales emotional and melodic peaks. He is currently working on his debut EP Falstrati, which is slated to release on January 20th, 2015, via Project Mooncircle.
Sound: Between his logic defying falsetto and his tinkered electronics, Menon has an ability to interlock layers of synths.
Spin This: “Falstrati,” which premiered via i-D magazine, digs deep. A prime example of his “cinematic funeral music,” this track dismantles what we know about electronica, spinning Dostoyevsky and jazz influences around his fragmented beats and vocal overlays.
Who: Twenty-six-year-old producer Abhishek Bhatia, who is also the vocalist of Delhi experimental rock band The Circus, launched his solo electronica project Curtain Blue in 2013. Building his sound with a looper, drum machine, guitar and a collection of percussive instruments, the producer treats his live performances like a one-man jam session. Bhatia is now working on his debut EP, a collection of three tracks, which is tentatively titled Drones.
Sound: Using overlays of undulating vocals, synths and bass kicks, Bhatia rarely deviates from a mid-tempo groove to create somber, glitchy compositions.
Spin This: One of the first tracks from his upcoming EP, “Sentinels,” can kick off any party on a high note.
Who: Karthik Basker, frontman of the now defunct alt rock group The Bicycle Days from Bengaluru and psychedelic/chill out producer and former guitarist with Bengaluru prog metal band Eccentric Pendulum, Faheem Hasan, make magic together as Klypp. Klypp was formed in 2013 and released their debut four-track EP Manifest in early 2014.
Sound: If you’re looking for a sound that owes as much to rock as to electronica, Klypp is your pick. Hauntingly trippy, Basker’s lulling vocals and Hasan’s synth pop sounds float and soar despite the downtempo tag.
Spin this: “Be” is our favorite track from Manifest because it unravels oh so slowly and is sumptuous with beats in an odd time signature leading us to the sweet spot.