New Year, New Post, New Place – The Finch

So I’m reviving my music blog as part of my New Year’s resolution. And this is one resolution, I’m going to try my hardest not break. My first post this year has to be about The Finch. You’ve probably already heard about this all new venue for gigs. Well, if you have or haven’t, keep reading.

As I would like to call it, The Finch is Bombay’s all new blueFrog. It may be located in the burbs, but it has everything and more than what blueFrog had to offer. I, personally, miss blueFrog and was heartbroken about their shutting down.

To cut to the chase, here’s a quick review of the place.

Food- fantastic

Sound – the best a musician could ask for

Management – professional

And no entry charges .. woohoo!

All in all, it’s a great platform for musicians. They have live music every night. You read that right. EVERY NIGHT.

It could take a few more months to a year for the place to pick up, mostly in terms of footfall, but they are moving in the right direction by doing a fantastic job with their social media promotions and line up of artists.

The Finch has taken a huge step towards finding singer-songwriters in and around Mumbai city, giving many upcoming artists a platform to showcase their talent while also introducing audiences to great new talent.

With Camille Polycarp handling sound, the Finch has not held back on any equipment, gear or instruments. They’ve got a killer Pearl Master’s series drum kit with a Zildjian A custom cymbal set and a Clavinova 635 electronic grand piano too. Really state-of-the-art.

Enough said! You have to come check it out yourself. Catch me live at the Finch on February 5, it’s a Monday, you can’t be doing anything better on a Monday. Also, entry free!

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The second song from Yes

Well, ‘Hello, You Beautiful Thing’ – the second song from Mraz’s upcoming album Yes didn’t interest me too much. It’s got the harmonies and it takes me back to the days of jumble-mumble Mraz lyrics but it just doesn’t have the punch like ‘Love Someone’.

Raining Jane is doing a great job with its pool of multi-instrumentalists. Mai Bloom takes to the accordion, Becky Gebhardt to the upright stick bass and Chaska Potter on baby guitars, while Mona still brings her A game.Image

Hoping next Monday has something better in store or maybe I need to listen to this one a bit more, in the hope that it will grow on me.

Rating: 5/10

Here’s the link to the song: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152178998990698&set=vb.6135205697&type=2&theater

Love in all its explicitness

Jason Mraz recently released a song from his upcoming album Yes that is due to release in July this year.  The song is tilted Love Someone. Mraz promises to release one new song every Monday. Now Mondays have more than just Game of Thrones to look forward to, with “Mraz Mondays” we don’t have to wait for the mid-July album release. Although some fans may find it excruciatingly painful that Mraz is releasing one song at a time.

Well I’m not complaining about how he’s announcing the album, because releasing an acoustic song that is adorably cute could never be reason for complaint. Cuteness aside, this song has got some serious music and lyrics too. The lyrics are explicit about how you feel when you are in love – “Shining stars all seem to congregate around your face when you love someone“.

If you followed Mraz closely over the last couple of years, you’d know he has moved into this whole yoga/universe energy/vegan/I love cats territory, that reflects in his music too. The song is starts with this whole Tanpura vibe and was recorded at Om studio.

What I personally liked about this song is that it’s power packed with women. Mraz has been collaborating with Raining Jane – an all women rock-folk band from LA since 2007. The band includes
Becky Gebhardt on the bass, I just love girl bassists
Mona Tavakoli who does an awesome job with the percussions – she doesn’t let you miss Toca Rivera
Chaska Potter on the slide guitar, what a lovely vibe to the song and finally
Mai Bloom on cello and baby guitar

All of them sing lovely harmonies and overlaps that make the song quite perfect. Monday please come sooner ☺

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The highs on lows of NH7 Weekender – Part 2

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I pick up from where I left off on my review on the most talked about music festival.

The last post of my review ended on a good note, quite figuratively because I concluded the review talking about Slow Club – the folk-rock duo from England.  In this part of the post, I promised to review the remainder of the bands that I watched and give you my most coveted list of the top ten bands that rocked NH7 2013 – Pune (in my opinion)

The review – Day two – Part two

After Slow Club, I headed to The Mavyns. I wasn’t particularly impressed, also partly because I missed a large part of their act.  Exit Mavyns – Enter Medieval Pundits, another band I was not too keen on listening to. The guitar solo had a few bum notes but all in all they were mediocrely tight. Soon after, I headed to the Skindred – the Welsh reggae metal band. Another mistake considering I am not a metal fan. However, it was quite entertaining to see the most pit and Tshirt helicopter. Skindred made my ears bleed, so I headed to Supersonics – a post-punk band from Kolkatta. They had a good vibe, but it was a pit that the sound didn’t work in their favour. They sounded a bit like one of my favourite bands – Goldspot.

Just when I was beginning to think that Day 2 was quite a bummer of a day, the unimaginable takes stage. Unimaginable = Raghu Dixit Project!

I’d heard people rave about RDP, and I also listened to his music on YouTube but nothing beats listening to them live.  Gaurav Vaz – the bassist, gave the band it’s larger than life effect. I have to be honest though, after a while the music for some may start to sound monotonous. This could also be attributed to the fact that the lyrics are in a language that not many can comprehend.

My summary of day 2 “All’s well that ends well.”

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Day three

After watching RDP, I wasn’t expecting the festival to escalate any further. However, there were some pretty awesome performances on Day three as well.

Vir Das and the Alien Chutney took the cake on Day 3. This time around, he had a choir to back him. The choir sang voices of almost anything he recited. It was absolutely hilarious to see a “church” choir harmonize some rather obscene words. Vir had his audience gripped, and not for one moment did the energy drop. He does many gigs in Mumbai and tours around India – a Vir Das gig is an experience of a gig, one that every stand-up/music lover should attend at least once in his lifetime.

Another performance that took me by surprise was Singer-Songwriter Winit Tikoo.  Good music, good lyrics, but the only drawback was the awful musicians backing him – particularly the guitarist.

A few other artists I had a passing glance of were Modern Mafia, Party Scribe and Dualist Enquiry. All of these bands didn’t seem to impress me too much. Dualist Enquiry has a huge fan following, but I thought the performance was strictly okay and catered to an audience that liked EDM. I also sat through a little bit of and Papon and the East India Company. Papon was his fabulous self.

The closing performance at NH7 was the Karsh Kale Collective. I, for one, didn’t think it was the best performance of the festival. At least not as much as the guys at OML built it up to be. It had all the big names in the industry, but I expected better.  Although, they were all individually extremely great musicians, they didn’t seem to work together as a band. Special mention of the Family Cheese that did a set at the High Spirits on Sunday, they were a tight band, and also featured the extremely talented sultry singer Rachel Varghese.

As promised my top ten acts for NH7 2013:

10: Winit Tikoo

9: Shankar Tucker

8: Maati Bani

7: The Family Cheese

6: Super Sonics

5: Slow Club

4: Karsh Kale Collective

3: Vir Das and the Alien Chutney

2: Blackstratblues

1: Raghu Dixit Project

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The highs and lows of NH7 Weekender – Part 1

You can’t call it ‘India’s answer to Woodstock’ (although the girls dress like it). However, you could settle to call it ‘India’s answer to Coachella’. The NH7 Weekender has got music enthusiasts from India and now even beyond talking about it – whether good or bad, you can’t ignore it. Let me start by telling you a little bit about the festival, and why and who should indulge.

All you need to know

Sponsored by Bacardi, NH7 Weekender is a three-day indie music festival organized by Only Much Louder (OML).  It was first held in 2010 in Pune and now is now an annual property held across 4 cities – Pune, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. I have only been to the festival twice – last year for just one day and this year for the entire festival.  There is music for just about every taste, from Indian classical to easy listening and EDM to rock and finally metal to dub step, it’s all covered at NH7 Weekender.

Do you fit the bill?

In my opinion, everyone should go to the festival at least once in their life. Music lover or not, young or old, the festival has a vibe that is just happy.  With over 10,000 people shuffling from stage to stage, trying not to miss their next favourite act, you will rarely have a dull moment at the festival. Although, the crowd is fairly young, there were quite a few exceptions. If you still think you are too old to go to a young and hip music festival, you may stand corrected by the 60-year-old man who was distributing prasad and yelled “Hindi mein gao” during Vishal Dadlani’s performance. 

 

Let’s get down to the music

Day one

I am happy I stayed for all three days of the festival. The highlight of day one for me was definitely BlackstratBlues. A solo project by Warren Mendonca, Blackstratblues is just pure Gold! No matter how many times over I watch this guy in action, he doesn’t cease to amaze me. There are times when I listen to his album – ‘Night in Shining Karma’ on loop and still listening to him on that stage felt so new. Sometimes I feel like his Startocaster is slicked with butter – how else can he produce such music? The tone of his guitar is like sipping on scotch.  He started and ended his set with two of my favourite songs -Soar the Sky and Anuva’s Sky. He also did his most famous song – Ode to a Rainy Day. However, the song started much differently than it is on the album. He has a new pianist – Beven Fonseca, this guy killed it on the keys! Although, Beven didn’t play any solos his backing was just right.  Warren then called on stage – multi-instrumentalist Tajdar Junaid, who I honestly think didn’t add much value to the band.  Lastly, I was thoroughly impressed with drummer Jai Row Kavi’s multitasking skills, while he dodged a big bug that was flying around; he managed to keep the beat too. It was a light moment, in an otherwise music-intensive performance.

Day one had its downs too. Singer-songwriter Siddharth Basrur had a particularly off day. He broke a string on his first song and came thoroughly unprepared for his set. He is usually a good act to watch.  The Colour Compound, an alt-rock band from Mumbai was also strictly okay.  Ankur Tewari came sans the Ghalat family. He didn’t seem to catch the crowd’s attention, maybe because he sang Hindi, or it was an acoustic set or the fact that Indian Ocean was prepping up at the opposite stage. He had some nice chord progressions though.

Another act to watch out for on day one was Shankar Tucker. He is an American clarinettist and music composer. He too is a multi-instrumentalist and gained immense popularity on his YouTube channel – The Shruti Box.  He fused Indian classical with jazz and funk as his singers were Hindustani or Carnatic and his band was funky. I have to make a special mention of the cellist who played an electric cello and was really good at it. Tight band + fusion music +American clarinettist who plays in an Indian style + funky guitar and cello = Pretty neat performance. However, I hated the Garba song they decided to play at the end. 

Day one ended with people having to choose between Reggae Rajahs and Indian Ocean. Considering, I am not an EDM/Trance/Dub step/Hip hop person, I chose Indian Ocean.  I was impressed by the drummer, the harmonies and front man Rahul Ram’s ability to grip the audience. However, I got bored easily as the song sounded alike and some even sounded like rip offs of System of a Down songs – ironic isn’t it. So I switched to Reggae Rajahs out of sheer curiosity. The vibe was epic, people dancing about, felt like Saturday night at a club but a real let down was the fact that people were dancing to recorded music with a singer attempting to mime the lyrics. 

Day two

Day two was like a curve graph. After Friday, I judged performances on a range of mediocre to ‘as good as BlackStratBlues’.  Carlton and the Saints was the first band I saw in action on Day two. Tight band but the singer had his blooper moments that totally turned off the audience. I particularly liked their last song. It had a fun vibe. The next band to take stage was Maati Baani. The band combines different genres of music. That is exactly how singer Nirali Kartik introduced the band. She said and I quote, “Whatever genre you are looking for its all here- Jazz, Funk, Hindustani classical, Blues, Folk.” The bassist was brilliant (along with his crazy avatar). He was the back bone of the band. Nirali’s vocals transported you to another place and guitarist Kartik Shah’s sevenths were stunningly placed. His wah pedal and surprising percussion on the body of his acoustic guitar did justice to the band’s sound. Definitely, one of those bands that is fit to be on Coke Studio.

The next act I headed too was Devoid. Big Mistake! Considering, I am not into heavy music, I should’ve stayed away. However, Sanju Aguiar is on lead guitar for Devoid. I have always liked Sanju’s bluesy tone. But to see him in this heavy metal avatar was quite depressing. I walked away in literally 30 seconds of their first song, what did it for me was the gruesome video that the NH7 team was screening on the backdrop of this stage.

Another act that I should’ve given a miss was Tajdar Junaid. He is the multi-instrumentalist who played with BlackStratBlues on the previous day. On day two, his act was yelling mediocrity.  Not only were his guitar skills poor, his vocals were ridiculously off key.  Warren joined him on stage for his last song, but even that did not save it for this act. Up next was Scribe.  The post-hardcore metal band from Mumbai has been around for a few years now. Frontman Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy has the audience in splits with his jokes.  I for one wasn’t too impressed with his jokes and the girl mosh pit that came later so I decided to head to watch Slow Club a folk-rock duo from England. I was highly impressed with this band, especially singer/drummer/guitarist Rebecca Taylor. Their music has got me hooked and it is one band I would recommend you download.

Stay tuned for the top ten bands and my final verdict of this edition of NH7 Weekender.