The world continued into June, whodathunkit? Covid-19 or not, we might be developing an immunity to the fear of a pandemic at the least. Apathy may be more contagious and threatening in 2020; it starts at home, extends to the migrant crisis, or to global protests against police brutality, a justified reckoning of systemic racism and oppression all over the world. Not to mention a cyclone that asks us to literally weather a storm, but we’re like “let’s open malls”!
So amongst all that internal and external chaos, new music sure feels like a respite for all of us that have the privilege to consume it. It can help understand and empathize, soothe and heal, even inspire our thoughts and actions. Here are some guiding mine this week.
Tejas – Lead
Talk about hope. I’ve been a fan of Tejas’ writing and sensibilities since the days of Reverbnation, and every release since has been measured, evolving and bound by aesthetic prowess (the artwork is evidance enough). Soaring with horns and strings, piloted by guitar strums and pads that hold aloft Menon’s lyrics and featuring other stalwart musicians of Mumbai (including Jehangir Jehangir and Adil Kurwa), this Lead single off his upcoming album Outlast is a deep breath of hope and positivity on a day they claim the lockdown is easing its grip on our lives.
Mono Neon – Breathing While Black
Dwayne Thomas Jr. channeling Prince, singing truth to power, inciting revolutions. What’s not to love? Black Lives Matter.
Tre Ess – Fakir (For COVID-19 relief in India by aaj kal)
Tre Ess (Sumit Singh Solanki) released this great track as part of an album back in March, but this week’s release comes as part of a compilation album by ‘aaj kal’, a fund-raising initiative that is “a direct response to the Indian government’s continuing failure to provide adequate assistance to marginal communities in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Support some of the best music makers in India and help fight the marginalization of minorities, all with one album? Yes please.
Okedo – Impulse
This round-up led me to Okedo’s music and it’s incredible. This duo, (comprised of Will Clark and Ishaan Gandhi), shows its colours in so many ways through this song. The hypnotic polyrhythms are nuanced, the crooning filtered voice sits atop the mix beautifully, and slow evolving elements give great unpredictable payoffs. I’m giddy to hear more.
Run The Jewels – “Ooh LA LA” feat Greg Nice & DJ Premier
RTJ4 dropped two days earlier than planned (just so I could include it in this round-up), while this video came out more than a month before countrywide protests broke out in response to police brutality. The album dropped with a statement: “Fuck it, why wait. The world is infested with bullshit so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all. We hope it brings you some joy.”
Huyana & Three Oscillators – In My Head
Bangalore based songwriter Varshita Ramesh and Bombay based producer Brij Dalvi collaborate to bring a new song that has nostalgic vocal sampling, detail oriented beats and soaring vocals to boot. The song apparently deals with anxiety, and the glitchy pull and push of the rhythm and ah-ooh-ing choruses make it perfectly sing-along and head-boppy, all you really need to keep those voices in your head at bay.
ITSA MEEE, MARO! – Calling Leonel Garcia
Portuguese multi-instrumentalist and singer, Maro, may be the one account on Instagram I keep logging back in for. Off late she’s collaborated with amazing artists from across the globe while in quarantine, including the legend, Eric Clapton. I was lucky enough to watch her perform live with the prodigious Jacob Collier last year at NCPA, who is undeniably spectacular; but Maro can steal any limelight, everything about her artistry is passionate and sincere. She released three consecutive EPs in 2018 that are worth diving into.
Voctronica – Seven
Speaking of the same Jacob Collier show, the opening act was the powerhouse that is Voctronica. They absolutely slayed on stage. Ah, remember stages? Remember venues with one exit? Well, anyway, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this first single, and now looking forward to more.
Kayan.a – Please
Another first single, this one by Kayan.a. (singer Ambika Nayak of Kimochi Youkai, Nothing Anonymous) and produced along with Nate08 (Nathan D’souza, bassist of too many great acts). It effortlessly shows off the singer’s unique vocal inflections and moody R&B melodies, as well as Nathan’s low end mastery with gritty basslines driving the track; quite a perfect sultry accompaniment to the first showers in the city this week.
Dua Saleh – Body Cast
The Sudanese-American songwriter from Minneapolis released this song just days after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in her hometown. Apart from how powerful the production and writing is, heart wrenching samples and a piercing voice has an undeniably lasting impact. Watching the artwork scroll is in itself a statement for the times.
Radiohead – In Rainbows From The Basement (April 2008)
This one may be a cop-out, admittedly. But when a live performance that came out 12 years ago is re-released (in 1080p this time!) and sounds as good as this, how can you resist? The band has been uploading old concerts as part of At Home #WithMe so there’s more to look forward to in the future as well. In a time when haphazard live-streams are finally waning out, reliving albums as good as this is a blessing.