The problem of choice is a sentiment well felt through the last two weeks in Indian independent music. From sultry pop bops to commendable songwriting and arrangements that demand your attention, here’s a rundown of the best new music to check out.
Tarang Joseph – Achilles Heel
“You’re my Achilles Heel, the crack in my foundation” is a line dramatic enough to feature in a piano-led ballad and be acceptable as such, and yet, Bangalore-bred musician, Tarang Joseph offers up a sultry, noir pop-rock track in ‘Achilles Heel.’ Combining heavy electric guitar riffs with subtle R&B beats, pop-psychology terms and literary license, Joseph shines bright in this intriguing, and slightly confusing track. The story is as old as time – excitement, nervousness, uncertainty, doubt and restlessness in love – which works out well for the artist because the music itself, instrumentally, takes on a very different direction than one would expect. Juxtaposing familiar themes with a disarming arrangement is a bold move, and in ‘Achilles Heel’, one that is well executed.
Definitely more fun than a piano ballad, let’s just say.
Anubha Kaul, Aman Jagwani – come through
Musician-producer Aman Jagwani and singer-songwriter, Anubha Kaul collaborate once again (their last being on Jagwani’s 2021 album, This Place), on a catchy 4-minute track called ‘come through’. Textured and laden with a multitude of elements – guitar picking, a steady electric drum beat, reverb and more – the track makes for a peaceful and reflective listen, ebbing and flowing in skilful progression, adding nuance till the very end, making for a most satisfying end.
Aside from achieving sonic balance, ‘come through’ also accomplishes the oft difficult feat of giving enough space to both artists to breathe, flourish and leave a mark on the listener.
Nikhil Posé – All the Things
A common thread tying most releases together over these past two weeks is ‘intriguing arrangements.’ Nearly every track on this list offers a surprising turn of events in terms of sound and Nikhil Pose’s ‘All the Things’ is a prime example of that. The Mumbai-based singer-songwriter and music producer combines striking songwriting with equally captivating production. Mellow keys start us off, with the song slowly blooming into a tree of sonic wonder. Electric guitars, the synth, layered vocals and a useful drum beat make ‘All the Things’ a commendable effort, a great listen and a hopeful teaser of all the great music on its way.
Bharat Rajgopalan – let go nonetheless
Guitarist-musician Bharat Rajgopalan picks up his guitar and offers rawness and vulnerability that is worthy of imitation in his debut album, ‘writer’s block.’ Featuring a collection of “one-take, live recording [tracks], without any comping or quantizing,” owing to the artist’s attempt to give listeners “the same experience” he has when he’s playing these songs, Rajgopalan goes back to the beginning, the very root of his artistic endeavours, capturing lightning in a bottle with every song. One in particular stands out – ‘let go nonetheless’. Moody, intensely reflective right off the bat and measured in its progression, the track is sure to give listeners a space to feel the messiness of it all and be done with it.
ASHWYN, NATALIE – Pink Skies
Bangalore-raised producer and singer-songwriter, Ashwin Sriram aka ASHWYN, arrives with his debut EP, Skar, featuring certified bops throughout. The young artist has made his presence felt over the past year or two, patiently crafting his musical persona with every release. This EP is a worthy first step, combining his love for guitar-work, songwriting, and the convergence of pop and EDM, creating an unlikely but pleasant groove for himself. ‘Pink Skies,’ the chosen one for this rundown, featuring NATALIE, is a fun, synth earworm that keeps you hooked and amplifies all the best parts about Skar in one song.
Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Prabhtoj Singh – Out of Tune
Sanjeeta Bhattacharya collaborates with fellow singer-songwriter Prabhtoj Singh on the brand new, certifiably haunting single, ‘Out of Tune.’
The track details the end of a relationship and the beginning of self-discovery. Bhattacharya writes, “This was born out of a feeling of never being enough for someone, or being too much. Never on the same page, always out of tune. Where you give so much just for an ounce of affection, moulding yourself into a version you don’t recognise, only to be broken again.”
Set to a delicate yet powerful set of keys, supported by violin, and Sanjeeta’s signature vocals, ‘Out of Tune’ is a brave attempt at healing through sharing.
THE RUNWAY – Find Me Find You
Kohima-based indie synth-pop band, THE RUNWAY, arrives with a fresh but familiar track, reminscent of the good ol’ The 1975 days that had so many of us in a tizzy.
Comprising of Thungdemo Ezung (vocals), Ahoka Shohe (lead guitar), Zibemo Berry (bass guitar), Nzanthang Ozuyo (drums), THE RUNWAY hits unpause on a three year hiatus with ‘Find Me Find You’.
Mastered to perfection, the single combines pop-rock elements (a well-structured electric guitar riff and fast-paced rhythm) with synth harmonies and strong vocals. The track also features some notable lines of song writing. All in all – a good song to keep you company through the week.
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