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10 Best Indian Albums of 2017

With top-notch rock, pop and hip-hop releases, the past year was probably the best in Indian indie music till date

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Jan 08, 2018

Punjabi rapper Prabhdeep Singh aka Prabh Deep packs a strong punch with his debut LP 'Class-Sikh.' Photo: Courtesy of Azadi Records

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1. Prabh Deep: Class-Sikh

Punjabi rapper Prabhdeep Singh aka Prabh Deep packs a strong punch with his debut LP Class-Sikh, ripping into the underbelly of New Delhi with witty but profound lyricism, clever sampling and just a touch of fury. He gets right down to business on the first single “Suno,” addressing the city’s rampant drug problem. The beats on the LP are mostly slow trap, keeping the focus on the lyrics and it’s a move reminiscent of work by Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$. The album’s menacing lead single “G Maane” takes a direct dig at the Punjabi-rapper-party-anthem trope Bollywood propelled into popularity and is just one of the examples of how ferocious this humble Punjabi boy from Tilak Nagar can get.

Buy the album below:

2. Blackstratblues: The Last Analog Generation

Probably one of the best releases of the year, Mumbai instrumental rock group Blackstratblues have crafted a stellar piece of art with their fourth album The Last Analog Generation. The group’s talisman, guitarist Warren Mendonsa shines on almost every track with his face melting guitar solos and intricate chord progressions. Drummer Jai Row Kavi is at his best beating the heck out of his kit on “Reconnaissance Mission” and adding to the song with a pulsating groove. Bassist Adi Mistry sets the mood for the record with a groovy bass line on album opener “Lead Chain Swing” while keyboardist Beven Fonseca holds his own well on the whole LP.

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3. Tejas: Make It Happen

Mumbai singer-songwriter Tejas’ ten-track debut full-length album Make It Happen is filled with clever lyrics, hooky melodies and some high-quality instrumentation. The record—a perfect road trip companion—opens with the bright and sunny title track while one of the standout songs on the album is the seven-minute banger “Wine.” It is on the final track, called “Maybe We’re Not Enough,” that you can feel the full weight of the LP, with just guitar and vocals.

Also See  Hear Dreamhour’s Shimmering New Album ‘VLLNS’

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4. Skrat: Bison

The only way Chennai rock band Skrat was going to top their much acclaimed 2014 third album The Queen, was to get louder and heavier on their latest release Bison. The new record has everything you would want on a Skrat album and some with in-your-face guitar work, crushing drums; banging bass grooves as well as frontman Sriram T.T.’s steely vocals, while retaining the pumping rhythm section and breakdowns Skrat are known for.

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5. Menwhopause: Neon Delhi

On the dark and delirious Neon Delhi, their first album since 2011’s Easy, you realize surely much has changed for New Delhi rock band Menwhopause. Although vocalist-guitarist IP Singh contributed and toured with the album, the band now comprises only two founder-members—guitarist Anup Kutty and bassist vocalist Randeep Singh—along with keyboardist Shiv Ahuja and a rotating drummer. The aesthetic of morose guitar-led melodies stays, but you can tell they’re much more cynical about where they live—even as they take a dig at politics (“Ship of Fools,” “Maybe Who Knows”) and the class divide. It’s sonic storytelling like few others who’ve survived Indian rock.

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6. Gutslit: Amputheatre

Europe and pretty much all of India already knows that Mumbai brutal death metal band Gutslit are at the top of their game even as they were made to sub vocalists a few years ago. They found a reliable throat-shredder in Bengaluru-based Kaushal L.S. and worked on their full-length album Amputheatre. With Aaron Pinto’s drum sound as massive as a canyon (or abyss), Gutslit waste not a single second on nine tracks, bending into barbwire grooves (“Brazen Bull”) courtesy of bassist Gurdip Singh Narang and breakneck speed fretwork from Prateek Rajagopal (“Scaphism”) on some of the most punishing Indian metal you’ll hear this year.

Watch the video for Gutslit’s “Scaphism” below and buy ‘Amputheatre’ here:

7. Kraken: LUSH

Japan can be a source of inspiration for many around the globe—for their culture, animation and then some. Before the release of their long-overdue debut album LUSH, Kraken guitarist Moses Koul visited the place he (probably) dreamt of while writing music. It served as retro-inspiration perhaps, to carry on a band that had worked up a name since 2014 for their post-hardcore-esque sound, filling up a Scribe-shaped hole in heavy, fun music that you can get down to as well as scream along to. If we want to keep at least one ‘fun’ heavy band, let it be Kraken.

Also See  No Joke: Four Killer Gigs You Can Attend on April Fool’s Day

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8. Joshish: Ird Gird

For a band that’s been kept alive chiefly by bassist Sameer Rahat, for a better part of a decade, Joshish finally hit upon the right mix of solid accompanying musicians, finished and released their debut album Ird Gird. Self-styled as “Urdu post-prog,” Joshish present eight tracks of sublime, lushly-produced multi-layered rock with lessons about the self, growth and dreams. They latch on to good hooks on “Nashedi” and “Ho Subah,” get wistfully regal and emotive on “Maujood,” amp up on “Besabra,” and dream with hopes in their eyes on “Ird Gird,” exhibiting a range that shows Indian rock still has vibrance.

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9. Disco Puppet: Princess This

Released via Bengaluru-based independent record label Consolidate in September, Princess This is a hair-raising and slightly unsettling offering from electronica producer Shoumik Biswas aka Disco Puppet. The LP is filled with generous doses of eeriness via distorted, hazy vocals, powerful, echoing percussion and lo-fi synth. The producer doesn’t forget to add variety however, evident in the touch of harp on “When You Listen”, the ballad-esque “Lie Alone” and moments of old-school swing on “Cheese Chase.”

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10. Aswekeepsearching: Zia

The Ahmedabad post-rockers hit new levels of maturity on Zia, showing audiences their penchant for taking risks. The band turn the focus on instrumentals, varied collaborators, experimenting with Hindi vocals and doing an impressive job of molding classical Indian instruments to their particular brand of synth-ambient-infused rock. “Sleep // Awake” and the dreamy anthem “Reminscence” are particular standouts while metal sitarist Rishabh Seen’s appearance on “Sometime Somewhere” is a stunning completion to the LP’s overall soundscape.

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(Releases are listed in no particular order)

Compiled by Anurag Tagat, Riddhi Chakraborty and David Britto

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