Posts Tagged ‘Highonscore’

Punk’s Not Dead : An Indian Perspective

Posted: June 28, 2012 by Karthik Iyengar in Music
Tags: ,

 

Punk Rock since times of old has been sidelined and neglected by the other genres. We delve into the depths of Punk and its development in India

Amidst all the chaos and the cacophony of the mid 1970s, a new musical genre emerged from the dark, its essence so alienated from the rest that it was almost too bizarre for the eyes and ears of the time to comprehend. This was Punk Rock, an offshoot of music, expressive and straightforward both in sound and words.

Punk had an inexplicable allure for the youth. It promised a sense of openness, a chance to break free from the shackles and perceptions of society. Ostensibly annoyed with the current scenario, a multitude of Punk bands emerged, many of them armed just with an arsenal of a few power chords. Fueled by no bullshit, uncomplicated rock and roll and blunt, clamorous lyrics thrown in with a nasal twinge, they seemed to have figured out the perfect recipe. The now famous DIY ethic was contrived, with many bands creatively conceptualizing their own records with nothing more than their gear and a tape recorder. A sudden realization that the corporate honchos were no longer needed to get their material across to the audiences emerged. And then, they took the world by storm…

To them, flamboyant guitar solos and complicated technical bass lines were just an intruding compromise. What they lacked in technicality and production, they made up in nihilistic insanity. There was a distinguishable swagger about the artists and the way they connected with their audiences was unconventional to say the least.

Being a Punk back in the day had its fair share of tribulations. Having your records banned, getting thrown out of gig venues in addition to being chastised in general by the community was commonplace. Perhaps it was the unrest inciting lyrics, or the cheeky antics on the stage, some element about Punk definitely got on to people’s nerves. Maybe here’s where the Punks got their amusement from.

Roughly three decades of diversification, decline, revival, and a turbulent ride later, Punk Rock finally surfaced on the Indian subcontinent. A mild inquisitiveness towards the genre, so far shrouded in mystery was sparked, reflected by Pop punk artists flooding the Indian Charts. Green Day, Blink – 182, Good Charlotte and the like became familiar names among music junkies. The Indian music circuit, so far dominated by Rock & Roll and Heavy Metal witnessed the steady arrival of Punk outfits, highly influenced by the stalwarts of yesteryear.

With the Indian Punk revolution at a nascent stage during the early 21st century, bands like Tripwire, Messiah and Indigo Children paved the way for many to follow. Although a struggle, Indian Punk eventually garnered a dedicated fanbase. Messiah released their first self produced album, ‘The Antidote’ in 2005, apparently the first Indian adaptation of the genre. Tripwire followed suit, with ‘StandBy’, a remarkable revelation in 2007.

Intriguingly, the Punk scenario in India somewhat mirrored the Punk of the past, encompassing the very same cheekiness and dilemmas. We caught up with Tripwire, a three piece band from Mumbai, who have been rocking the Punk circuit for more than a decade now. With their electrifying on stage performances which would get the soberest of people to blow the lid off, few bands know the genre better. “The Indian punk rock scene is like a flower bud, pretty when small and instinctively intimidating when fully grown. Punk rock bands get distinctively less royal treatment compared to other communities like metal, classic rock and the likes. Venues are biased, organizers are helpless, and audience is mainstream.” reflects Tripwire bass player Shaggy. Misconceptions about the commercial viability of Punk and the reluctance of venues and organizers to experiment hinders the growth of the genre. This sentiment is echoed by the relatively new and promising act Punk on Toast. “There are people who don’t keep their professional life and personal grudges separate. The genre makes it difficult for gigs to come by and sometimes venues don’t pay their dues.” 

The music and the words still have an overwhelming edge to them, with bands unafraid to juxtapose social issues and music. Humour blends with distorted guitars, melodious bass and intense drumming in a bid to dish out more than just aural pleasure. Amey, responsible for uplifting tunes off his Fender along with his unique vocals interjects, “There are bands playing songs about the corrupt police, while there are others doing songs on sex, drugs and the likes. It’s a variety that you want, but you won’t choose it given a choice.”

India’s rendition of punk soon began to embrace the fashion and the culture of their obtrusive western counterparts, with piercings, tattoos and mohawks in vogue among musicians and fans alike. But of course, that’s not what punk is all about, as Jack clarifies. “Punk rock is not only about the music and the thoughts that flow with the sounds, but it has been integrally knotted to the lifestyle of people. You will see a true punk, not in the style he talks in, but the manner that he comes up with and the way he deals with it. Mohawks are not hard to find here”. 

Punk Rock in India, no doubt is being dwarfed by the other genres out there, but not because of the lack of potential. True, the genre faces certain stumbling blocks akin to what Punk artists in other countries faced over the years. But there’s where the beauty of Punk lies, opposition fuels its rebellious nature. Punk is survived by the vitality of the listeners and the artists, which is never found lacking in an energetic country like India. With acts like The Lightyears Explode, Lavender Carnage, Skrat and Pip of the Fourth Mother in addition to the hundreds more, grabbing more than just a little bit of attention, the genre is like a ticking time bomb, certainly waiting to take the world by storm…Again.

Image

  

Tripwire and Punk on Toast will be releasing their new albums by the end of the year. Stay tuned for Punk mayhem.

Written for The Score Magazine

Advertisements

Bored listening to the same old rockstars brandishing an electric all the time? Get a load of these talented, fresh-as-lime acoustic guitarists you’ve probably not heard before.


John Butler Trio

John Butler Trio are a bunch of Aussies jamming around and having a good time with their musical instruments. Already seems fun, doesn’t it? John’s impressive guitar skills are sure to leave you with your jaws wide open. Check out this guy playing insane, impossible riffs with a funny looking face on his 12 string.

 

If you’ve ever listened to The Dave Matthews Band, you will probably be able to relate to John’s voice texture, which transposes brilliantly over his acoustic skills. The percussion on the tracks is also engrossing, showcasing myriad instruments. Surely very pleasurable to listen to.

Igor Presnyakov

If you’ve never heard Igor play on YouTube, it could be because of the following two reasons:

  • You probably don’t know what the Internet is.
  • You are one of those music err..purists who detest listening to covers.

Apart from being totally insane with his fingers, Igor’s interests include manipulating newbie guitarists into smashing their guitars in envy with a sledgehammer. Look at the way he performs loud and clear hammer-ons and other weird stuff on his acoustic. Sure to make even electric players hang their heads in shame.

 

Igor’s countless covers of legendary musical tracks give you a really nice perspective on how much better they actually could have been. Of course, there’s no need to mention how he has a great taste in music too, which you can judge by the songs he’s chosen to cover. Also it’s also not so difficult for those stuck up, ‘won’t listen to new stuff’ kind of people to listen to him. And yeah, if you didn’t notice, that’s just one person with two hands. He’s also working on getting his new album released, and we’re hoping it’ll be worth the wait!

Ben Howard

Ben Howard is an English songwriter on his way to definite fame. With an indistinguishable folkish aura surrounding his tunes, powerful straight-from-the-heart lyrics AND swift fingerstyle playing, he is sure to more than tickle your musical fancy. He has a pretty diverse, adoring, fanbase earned by his ability to put his heart and soul into his songs. Note that by diverse, we don’t just mean the chicks who crowd around him because he’s so awesome. Here’s him performing one of his better songs in ‘Old Pine‘.

 

Set aside your burgeoning jealousy about his looks and listen to his debut album Every Kingdom which has great tunes like ‘The Wolves’, ‘Only Love’ and ‘Black Flies’ along with ‘Old Pine‘.

Newton Faulkner

Newton Faulkner is a guy who has enough potency to replace Prozac as the official happy drug. He can make your mood ebb and flow with his amazing vocal range, deeply melancholic, sometimes unusually cheerful lyrics, and colorful guitar playing. He’s a master of multitasking too, simultaneously pedaling along with those flamboyant taps and knocks on the guitar body. And because he does not have annoying Indian parents, legends say that he’s been growing his mind-blowing dreadlocks since he was 15.

That was also the last time he ever had a hair wash.

 

Newton’s already released two great albums which we can’t get enough of and we’re awaiting the third one which is to be released somewhere around July 2012.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

His eerie voice and tackily long name notwithstanding, Benjamin can sure work up some elegant tunes. His mellow guitar playing and accompanied by a voice which sounds heavily like Nick Drake and Chris Martin’s love child is sure to leave you relaxed and wanting for more. If you’ve unfortunately not heard about the highly influential Drake (who would have made the list if he were alive), do so HERE! The newcomer’s music seems promising and it’ll be interesting to see how his career progresses. Here’s one of his tracks for your review.

 

Benjamin’s debut album is called Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm which has been received quite positively. A fine record which aptly showcases his talents.


Think we’ve left out a few good ones? Let us know in the comments bar below! With YouTube links, preferably.

Written for The Score Magazine: http://www.highonscore.com/5-not-so-popular-acoustic-artists-you-should-definitely-listen-to

Rapper André 3000 Cast as Jimi Hendrix in Upcoming Biopic

Posted: June 8, 2012 by Karthik Iyengar in Music
Tags: ,


We take a look at André 3000, the rap artist who’s supposed to be Jimi Hendrix in the upcoming Hendrix biopic ‘All Is By My Side’

American rapper André Benjamin, alias André 3000 (not another shady beer brand) has been cast as Jimi Hendrix in the long awaited biographical movie, ‘All Is By My Side’ which commemorates the musical legend. André, famous for his work in the hip-hop duo ‘OutKast’ is visibly pleased to emulate Hendrix. For those who don’t care, or cannot recollect, you might have seen him featured in the Gorillaz track ‘DoYaThing’. Yes, we see how your wicked mind is already trying to relate the poor guy to actual Gorillas, and we just want to state that it’s ethically wrong and you’re going to die in hell.

Although the decision to portray André has caused music fanatics to swear and snigger like Muttley, due credit must be given to the artist for his fervent campaigning for the film to be given the go ahead. André has acted in a few films before, and is excited to face this impending challenge. In addition to the four chords he’s already played on his hit number ‘Hey Ya!’, the rapper/actor is showing great signs of promise by trying to learn the F Major chord, augmenting his guitar prowess significantly.

The movie will portray Hendrix’s unadulterated awesomeness when he was working on his highly lauded debut album ‘Are You Experienced?’. But to the disappointment of all Hendrix fans, it looks as though the movie won’t be featuring any of the guitar legend’s psychedelic tracks, with Hendrix’s estate publicly denying the filmmakers’ requests to feature the guitarist’s songs in the movie. Practically speaking, it’s not the wisest call to make a biopic where you won’t be using the protagonist’s music, but lets give it time and see how it pans out.


Written for The Score Magazine: http://www.highonscore.com/rapper-andr-3000-casted-in-upcoming-jimi-hendrix-biopic



If you’re in Mumbai and have an ear for good music, Blakc is probably one of those names you’ve heard a lot. They started their act in 2007 and have come a long way since, releasing their second album “Motheredland” which is no mean feat, given the relatively short time span. The album itself seems to be really polished, with big shots like Shantanu Hudilkar of Yash Raj, Keshav Dhar of the Skyharbour fame and Mastering Engineer Chris Athens who has worked with AC/DC and Coldplay, involved in its production.

Shady as the area surrounding Blue Frog may be, the ambiance inside more than compensates for your questionable judgment. Although it looks like the insides of a Star Trek spacecraft, The Frog exhibits reasonable sound and lighting. Sufficient care has been taken with respect to the acoustics and pristine sound hits you as soon as the first note is struck.

I’ve been to a few Blakc gigs before, and I’ve had the opportunity to see their sound evolve over time. An unexpected piano on the stage made me curious as to out how well would it fit into the Blakc sound. Their set began with a strong opening track in ‘Bitten‘, well worth the initial anticipation which smoothly flowed into ‘The Dreamcast’. You could notice the audience singing along with the vocalist, Shawn Pereira, which speaks a lot about the band’s fanbase. After all, the best thing a band would want to see is people humming their tunes.

Shawn’s ability to modulate his voice and hit the high notes has only gotten better with time. The stage was owned by him and bassist Roop Thomas, who managed to keep the audience engaged. The sound, driven by his slap and pop, funk-reminiscent basslines, the intertwining guitar riffs by Anish Menon and Reinhardt Dias, and the heavy hitting by drummer Shishir Thakur seemed very complete. Blakc brought some  beautiful women to perform the backing vocals and play the piano on some tracks. In addition to making Mumbai uncannily seem like Delhi for a second, due to the hoots and wolf-whistles, they did a fairly reasonable job.

Armed with his trademark Tweety brandishing bass, Roop’s has an impressive array of bass playing techniques up his sleeve. Reinhardt’s sweet sounding guitar tone and Anish’s smooth playing complemented each other very well, with both the guitarists taking turns to solo, almost as if they were competing with each other. The new album seemed to have a progressive angle to it, with a multitude of guitar effects all around. The grunge-like performance from the band, the high energy and cohesive sound of the differently influenced band members made up for a unique listening experience.

The sound eventually began to sound a bit too heavy to be labeled alternative, with the band seemingly abandoning the old-school verse-chorus scheme. Almost each track was adorned with both mellow and vigorous parts, as if they’re giving you time to recover before you get back on your toes. After flaunting their new material, they moved on to the staples from their 2009 album, “Choking on a Dream”, giving some of the old-timers a treat. The set included the headbang inducing ‘Rift‘ and the beautiful sounding toms on ‘Field of Thought‘, ‘Alone’ accompanied by hollow promises about how they’d be playing it for the last time. A different sounding ‘Sold‘ metamorphosed into ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘, a last hurrah to reward the folks who hung around till the end.

Apart from making balding men burn up in envy with their badass hair, Blakc are really upping the ante when it comes to live performances. People who complain that there are not enough reasonable gigs going around in Mumbai should really start looking harder. A Sunday night, well spent, the only pleasurable agony being my ears ringing with their sound.


Photo Credits: Parizad D

Written for The Score Magazine: http://www.highonscore.com/blakc-album-launch-the-blue-frog-mumbai-june-03-2012