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Indie music releases from the first half of August 2020- Reviewed

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Namo Fusion/ Ninnukori – The Unlock Version, self-released

Last year, Mumbai band Namo Fusion released the album Namo, blending Indian and western elements. Led by violinist Narayan Raman and guitarist Sarosh Izedyar, the group was well-received by connoisseurs.

Now, Raman teams up with tabla player Bhushan Parchure, mridangam exponent Rajesh Srinivasan and keyboardist George Joseph on ‘Ninnukori – The Unlock Version’. Based on a varnam in the pentatonic Carnatic raag Mohanam, the tune boasts of intricate instrumentation and smooth build-up.

While a keyboard part adds a western feel, the tune and structure are more Carnatic by nature. The coordination is excellent, though all musicians play from their respective homes.

Rating: 8/ 10

Nikitaa/ Goddess – Acoustic, self-released

A month after releasing her pop-rock single ‘Goddess’, singer-songwriter Nikitaa releases its acoustic version. It’s a good attempt, retaining the basic feel of the song, and yet giving a twist.

Nikitaa has played all the roles herself, from writing, singing, mixing and producing the song to creating the video. The lines “Know the road is longer, you gotta be stronger, if you try and come for a goddess, goddess” can be hummed along.

The outro, where she sings ‘Yeah’, displays her range. If the original version was more party types, this one makes you sing along.

Rating: 7/ 10

Hanita Bhambri/ Jalpari, self-released

Not many independent singers have released Hindi songs that are only two minutes and 15 seconds long. Delhi-based Hanita Bhambri attempts that, and manages to pack in quite a bit.

The singer-songwriter, who released the English EP Nothing For Our Own last year, uses the metaphor of a woman sitting on the shore and watching the sky, wondering why she can’t fly. “Le chalo mujhe chand taaron ke taley, bhool jaaoon gham jo na bhoolte”, go the words.

A ukulele and Ashwin Adwani’s vocal harmonies provide support. It’s a short and simple piece, well presented.

Rating: 8/10

When Chai Met Toast/ When We Feel Young

After the lockdown, one has seen a sudden rise in the number of animated music videos. For the title track of its new album, Kochi band When Chai Met Toast comes out with a brilliant such video, and credit equally goes to director Anjali Kamat.

The song is marvellous too, as it takes one on a nostalgia ride. Vocalist Ashwin Gopakumar sings, “Into the night, I feel alive, at fifty-nine, when we feel young”. Guitarist Achyuth Jaigopal, keyboardist Palee Francis and drummer Pai Sailesh add to the charm.

The song has a feel-good vibe, much needed in these times. And though the sudden switch to Hindi at the end sounds interesting, one wonders whether that was actually needed.

Rating: 8/ 10

Payal Dev and Stebin Ben/ Baarish, VYRL Originals

It’s the same old formula – take two good-looking models with wooden expressions, give them fancy mobiles to see each other’s photos, have some picturesque locales and sing nostalgic lines like “Tumhe baarish bada yaad karti hai”.

Actors Mohsin Khan and Shivangi Joshi team up on ‘Baarish’, sung by the sweet-sounding Payal Dev and over-expressive Stebin Ben. Though Dev’s composition is pleasant, Kunaal Verma’s lyrics are adequately nostalgia-filled and the santoor is used well, the song and the video offer nothing new.

We’ve experienced such stuff from 1995, with only the smartphones being new. Hum it a few times and move on.

Rating: 6/ 10

Arunaja/ Cyanide, self-released

A finalist at The Stage Season 2, Kochi singer Arunaja definitely has range and power in her vocals. After releasing the single ‘Broken’ with Universal’s Sterling Reserve Music Project, she teams up with producer BlueNucleus on her first independent single ‘Cyanide’.

The song has an electro-pop meets contemporary rhythm n’ blues vibe. The lyrics have dark lines like “I’m lost, I’m losing my mind, and my heart turns to cyanide”. It’s clearly something that grows on repeated listening, thanks to the sheer soulfulness of the rendition.

Rating: 9/ 10

Narendra Kusnur

Author: Narendra Kusnur

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