Best New Music – Feb 2023

From seasoned scene veterans Hari & Sukhmani, to debut acts, the best new independent music of February 2023 features a mix of catchy bops and some mellower, easy-listening tunes.

Hari & Sukhmani – Kikli

As the Apple Music introduction to the album observes, Hari & Sukhmani’s latest release- Folking Tech– is an experiment in taking an evolution to its logical conclusion. The experiment here is Folktronica, and ‘Kikli’ is a tellingly representative track of this release. The uninitiated listener is immediately hooked by what is essentially a radical retelling and refashioning of Punjabi folk (the song is based on ‘Bajre Da Sitta’) in a cloak that elevates it to stellar levels. What sustains the song is the manner in which the Folktronica duo let the song soar, even while its feet stay rooted by the folk vocals that are never too far gone. All of this results in an eclectic terrain that still remains gentle, as Hari & Sukhmani let themselves loose on the electronic accentuations to take the “bop factor” to uncharted territories with ‘Kikli’. 

Tejas – Some Kind of Nothing

There is a very special category of songs that stand out with their heads held high in how paradoxical they are in terms of the relationship between tone and lyricism. Tejas’ latest single, ‘Some Kind of Nothing’, in the greatest light of compliment possible, is probably some kind of nothing if its paradox remains ungrasped. Tonally speaking, it is a blitz of electronica and percussion that keeps the listener on their feet, apparently keeping them unthinking. Once you sit down to have a listen however, when you really listen, the almost vengeful pessimism of the song catches you off your guard. As self-indulgent as it is self-aware- “I need you to notice, as I sell out” sings Tejas- ‘Some Kind of Nothing’ demands intent listenership in its every crevice.

Taba Chake – Udd Chala

Taba Chake has been for quite some time now in the business of saccharine easy listening, and his latest single, ‘Udd Chala’ reinforces his credo further. Lyrically speaking, the song tends to get derivative: “Teri hasi, sabse haseen”, sings Chake, and we believe him because tradition has given us no reason not to. As the lyric video underlines, the song makes no pretences of being anything beyond a love song, but within this spectrum it builds for itself, it works quite well. Easy percussion and hints of electronic arrangements blend in a relatively fast-paced serenade, as Chake builds on imagery that is not exactly unfamiliar, as the melodious charm of the song redeems it to completion.

Prakti – Aporpoise

In case you hadn’t heard, Prakti has just released a sweet little EP titled Feel Butter, which with its concise brevity is the real deal of heartstrings tug of war. ‘Aporpoise’ sets the album off, and an alternate bedroom version of the song brings it to a close, creating the thematic framework of the album. This thematic framework is important to note, for it is quite different to the offhand humour betrayed by the title of the album. Besides the stellar sound of ‘Aporpoise’ and the other songs, behind which Amartya Ghosh as producer plays a key role, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the lyrical density of the song. Even on a level as self-evident as vocabulary, Prakti sets herself apart from the average songwriter out there, as literary lexicon lies in perfect harmony with lilting longing.

Radha – One Way Street

Radha is a name that you should start looking out for, as her debut outing single, ‘One Way Street’, is as beautiful as they come. Debuts and instrumental minimalism often go hand in hand, and they consequently turn out to be the more telling for it. In ‘One Way Street’ for example, the organic strength of Radha’s voice is unencumbered by any redundancies, for what she sings of does not need any to begin with. The song of yearning and lament, an  addition to the slew of melodies in that route, is accompanied mostly by the acoustic guitar, occasional strains of the electric guitar and the piano. Radha laments as she wonders “Why won’t you fall for me, love is not a one way street”, but she will be pleased to know that we have fallen for her craft far more easily than she would have probably envisioned.

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