By Kavya Singhal:
“Yaar tera superstar, desi kallakaar…” sang the group of the seven-twelve year olds with a smile on their face so big that I wouldn’t have been surprised if their cheeks decided to tear open (No, I’m not exaggerating). These kids happen to literally know each and every new Bollywood song that is released time and again. They aren’t exactly the only ones whom this song has gotten head over heels – whether you like it or not, media, especially the radio, has made sure to make each and every Indian to be at least introduced to it. If not the song, every Indian at least knows or has heard of Honey Singh, such is the power of media.
Before I receive any death threats from Honey Singh fans out there, I should let you know that this article will have nothing to do with him now onwards. My only motive is to put under the limelight some of the most underrated musicians in this country, to whom media hasn’t been as kind.
Without further ado, I shall start with an artist who belongs to one of the most widely accepted genres today – EDM (i.e. Electronic Dance Music). This genre has managed to make its way into mainstream these days, and is especially popular among teens. If you do happen to fit in this category too, Sahej Bakshi could be your favourite person on this planet right now. He formed a rock-influenced electronica solo project in February 2010 called Dualist Inquiry. One of the many things that make his music stand out is the way he mixes electronic music with guitar-based rock. The song below, called ‘One More Thing,’ will allow you to hear him mesmerizingly mixing elements of the two genres:
If you liked this song, you might want to consider listening to: Specter, Isoterra, Lumina, Qualia, Exile etc.
Avenged Sevenfold, Black Sabbath, Opeth and Soundgarden – these are some metal bands that we have all at least heard of. Skyharbor, (consisting of vocalist Dan Tompkins, guitarist Keshav Dhar, guitarist Devesh Dayal, bassist Nikhil Rufus and drummer Anup Sastry) on the other hand, doesn’t seem to ring too many bells. This Indian progressive metal band performed along with all these well-known bands not too long ago. They shared the same stage, the same audience and the same talent- yet they don’t receive the recognition that they deserve in their own country. Well, it’s never too late so let’s start with your ears and not keep their awesomeness away any longer-
If you liked this song, you might want to consider listening to: Catharsis, Evolution, Maeva, Aphasia etc.
A similar well-recognized-world-over story belongs to an amazing Mumbai-based progressive rock band called Coshish (which comprises of vocalist-guitarist Mangesh Gandhi, lead guitarist Shrikant Sreenivasan, drummer Hamza Kazi and bassist Anish Nair). Coshish started working on their ingenious debut concept album, ‘Firdous’, in the year 2007 and finally released it in the year 2013. Along these long six years, they didn’t only work on their music, but also increased their budget by 50% just to make their fans feel proud of holding the album’s physical copy. The product of these rigorous efforts was surely worth it – the album received positive reviews from French, English and Spanish magazines all over the world even though their music is in Hindi, a language that is obviously alien to them. Moreover, their music was played on some radio stations in the UK. It’s a little hard to digest, isn’t it? You’d know how and why this was possible once you listen to the song below, which is from Firdous and is called ‘Raastey’.
If you liked this song, you might want to consider listening to: Maya, Behti Boondey, Bhula Do Unhey, Rehne Do etc.
Speaking of ingenious concept albums, Grasshopper (which consists of singer Bhaven Dhanak, guitarist Gaurav Shah, guitarist Survir Singh, bassist Crosby Fernandes, keyboardist Rahul Singh and drummer Gautam Deb) came up with India’s very first cinematic psychedelia based concept album called ‘Mirrors of the Mind’. This album makes the listener go down a path of self-discovery, making them question everything they know and how they know it. It “lends listeners the experience of an introspective musical journey about the various conflicts we face in our lives”, as Grasshopper says. This band is often claimed to be the “Indian Pink Floyd” by many of its listeners. Let’s give proof to this claim, shall we? Following is a song by Grasshopper called ‘Monochrome Night’:
If you liked this song, you might want to consider listening to: Map of Hope, Dancing On Leaves of Silence, Deadweight, State of Flux etc.
When I’d only started discovering all these splendid Indian bands, I was surprised to find that a majority of them were metal bands. However, not too many of them were formed before or around ten years back from now. Demonic Resurrection, however, is a Blackened Death Metal band (consisting of vocalist and rhythm guitarist Sahil “The Demonstealer” Makhija, lead guitarist Nishith Hegde, bassist Ashwin Shriyan, drummer Virendra “Viru” Kaith and keyboardist Mephisto) which was formed in the year 2000. To have had the audacity to form a band, in the first place, when its mere concept was barely accepted in this country, must have required the kind of passion worth giving a standing ovation for, and these incredible bunch of people had the courage to have formed a metal band. Their music is as wonderful as this passion and dedication; listen to the following song called ‘The Unrelenting Surge of Vengeance’,Â I’m sure you’d be able to hear it if you happen to be a fan of the metal genre.
If you liked this song, you might want to consider listening to: A Tragedy Befallen, Frozen Portrait, The Summoning, Apocalyptic Dawn etc.
Lastly, I would like to bring to your notice a fusion band called Advaita (comprising of Western vocalist/guitarist Chayan Adhukari, guitarist Abhishek Mathur, drummer Aman Singh, Keyboardist Anindo Bose, bassist Gaurav Chintamani, Hindustani vocalist Ujwal Nagar, tabla player Mohit Lal and Sarangi player/vocalist Suhail Yusuf Khan). This band incorporates elements of rock genre and Hindustani music so well that the listener is left completely astounded. A perfect example of this effect would be the song below, which is called ‘Hamsadhwani’:
If you liked this song, you might want to consider listening to: Drops of Earth, Words, Mere Yaar, The Silent Sea etc.
I hope that all the above mentioned musicians allowed you to get a glimpse of all the talent that dwells in our country. If you liked any of the above stated, please do listen to more songs by them. I tried to incorporate a vast variety of genres, which forced me to eliminate some of the best Indian bands and artists that I know. Therefore, I would like to suggest you to give a listen to bands like Junkyard Groove, Them Clones, Zero, Lightyears explode, Your Chin, Tajdar Junaid, Sky Rabbit and Sifar. There are a number of websites available that you can utilize to find out more about such bands (like indianbandshub), so please make that minimal effort and provide Indian talent with the justice it deserves.
The music of all Indian bands and artists is much cheaper than that of international ones. Therefore, I would like to recommend you to buy the albums/tracks of the musicians you like instead of downloading them so they can continue doing what they love. After all, it’s the least that we can do for all the astounding music that they gift our ears and soul.