Tag Archives: Fog + Strobe

The Jack Daniels Rock Awards 2013

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The eighth edition of the annual Jack Daniels Rock awards was held on the 22nd of February at Mehboob Studio amidst little hype and no fanfare. The invite-only event hosted by Sameer Malhotra and The P-Man (Rohit Pereira) saw successful rock bands from the scene, across genres, being feted for their musical efforts over the past one year, by people who had little or nothing to do with the scene.

Bombay punk rockers, Blek kick-started the evening performing songs from their debut album, Hexes + Drama & Other Reasons for Evacuation to an audience of around 100 people. Their half hour long set included some of their popular songs like ‘Minus the Makeup’ and ‘Fog + Strobe’ which was also nominated in the best song category. Blek’s set was followed by the first set of awards which saw Shantanu Hudalikar win the best producer award. Advaita’s The Silent Sea and Swarathma’s Topiwalleh shared honours for the best album art while The Blue Frog, Mumbai was adjudged the best live music venue.  The emcee then made Michele Obama’s virtual presence at the Oscars seem less random by calling upon a Bollywood designer along with an eye-candy model to give away the next set of awards – Blek were back on stage to collect their award, after being declared the best emerging band of 2012. The next award handed out was for the best keyboardist which was shared by Jason Zachariah (Jason Zac Band) and Zubin Balaporia (Indus Creed). The designer-model duo then gave a priceless tip of advice in fashion to the musicians gathered (who, judging by the vibes, couldn’t care less), before handing over the best drummer award to Jai Row Kavi (Indus Creed). Bombay Jam band Something Relevant was up next on stage, playing a half hour long medley of songs from their second album, We Could Be Dreaming which was released last year.

Actor Suchitra Pillai was then accompanied on stage by Ken Ghosh (Bollywood director) to give away the next set of awards – Tony Guinard of the Ska Vengers tipped my personal favourite Roop Thomas of Blakc to win the best bassist award. Thermal and a Quarter frontman Bruce Lee Mani deservingly bagged the coveted best guitarist award, having being nominated alongside other stalwarts like Keshav Dhar, Baiju Dharmarajan and Mahesh Tinaikar. A clueless Mandira Bedi then walked onto stage to hand over the awards for best male and female vocalists – Vivienne Pocha won the award for the best female vocalist scoring over equally good singers Samara C (Ska Vengers) and Suman Sridhar (Sridhar/Thayil), while Angaraag “Papon” Mahanta overpowered the likes of Uday Benegal, Rabbi Shergill, Bruce Lee Mani, Gareth D’mello and Vasu Dixit in a star studded list of nominations for the best male vocalist.

The Rolling Stone all-star jam that followed, showcased artists from bands like Something Relevant, Split, Goddess Gagged and Colour Compound, recreate the magic of some of India’s most popular rock songs  – from Siddharth Basrur and Gareth D’mello’s duet take on Them Clones’s ‘Zephyretta’  to Rachel Varghese’s cover of Junkyard Groove’s ‘Imagine’, Saba Azad’s cover of  Orange Street’s ‘Candywalk’ to  Gareth’s beautiful delivery of ‘Lucy’ by Zero, Suman Sridhar’s horror screams and deafening screeches on Workshop’s ‘Pudhe Sarka’ to Rachel Varghese’s rendering of ‘Trapped’ by Indus Creed,  the wonderfully selected set list for the jam had something for everyone’s taste and gave the attendees a lot to cheer about.

The Rolling Stone jam session was ensued by the last set of awards that saw Keshav Dhar’s Skyharbor bag the recently introduced – best metal band award before Papon made it two for the night after ‘Boitha Maro Re’ was adjudicated the best song, overshadowing some splendid tracks like ‘Maeva’ (Skyharbor), ‘Fog + Strobe’ (Blek), ‘Dissolve’ (Indus Creed) and ‘For the Cat’ (TAAQ). Former Miss India, Yukta Mookhey was then called out of oblivion to hand over the last couple of awards – Advaita’s ‘The Silent Sea’ won the top honours bagging the best album award, however it was Indus Creed who won the bragging rights and took home the 5 lakh rupees prize money after being adjudged the best Indian band for the year 2012.

Despite oddities of the award presenters, a no-show by most winners and a kitty cat on the loose, the award show at large went off smoothly, thanks (largely) to the free flowing Jack at the event.

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Blek’s Debut EP: Hexes + Drama and other reasons for evacuation

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An old joke I heard about these guys when they first hit the scene, was that they are the Gujarati version of Blakc, hence the name Blek! The band actually takes its name from the French graffiti artist Blek le Rat – commonly referred to as the father of stencil – and not from any of the more entertaining ones devised by fans.

They’ve been around for a little more than a year now and they certainly seem to have moved in the right direction. They aren’t a new and distinctive-sounding band as such, but they are in a space by themselves in the blossoming Indian punk scene, managing to cramp a lot of the aggression, normally associated with the genre. However they don’t fall away to the modern mainstream punk sounds of Green Day and Fall out Boy and have the distinction of being the first band to be managed by ennui.BOMB Records.

The EP blasts away with ‘Hexes + Drama’, a song that appears to be dedicated to someone called Jolene, where Rishi pledges all sorts of silly stuff for her. Jared’s bass work is typical of live gigs, with a solid driving bass. Though, what I found pretty annoying was the guitar effect prevalent throughout the song!

Running into Walls Occasionally Helps’  was a song I had first heard at the Rush of Blood blood donation drive at Inorbit mall. The song has a semi-staccato bass line that contrasts beautifully with the guitar riff, although the chorus reminds me of a certain “amma dekh” riff.  The band convinces you that it has a foot-fetish, with lyrics like “Every time I’m hungry, I’ll lick your feet girl” – kinky to say the least. The song closes with a glorious outro that I wished was longer.

The third song has the same rhythm pattern as the second, although the songs don’t sound the same. ‘Minus the Makeup’ has awesome catchy riffs and the chorus riff is brilliant. Jared sticks to his punchy groove bass lines matching Varun’s straightforward driving rhythm.

‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ shares its title with a Bill Murray film and, much like its namesake, flops. The song starts with a drum intro and… surprise, surprise; it’s the same rhythm again! I found the song a tad boring and listened to it again, but even that didn’t help, so I skipped to the next track.

Finally, a different rhythm makes an appearance on the next track, ‘Fog + Strobe’, with clap snares and a positively disco-sounding beat. The chorus sounded very familiar but I couldn’t figure it out so I gave up trying. Interestingly, the song closed at 3.35 on the player so I was wondering why the band had left more than double that time on the recording. I scrolled ahead looking for maybe a hidden message or to see if it started up again and was rewarded with one of my favorite songs on the EP at exactly 8.39 on the timer.

‘The Monkey Song’ is one of their catchiest songs and I loved this song at the launch where Linford D’Souza, a friend of the band, helped out with some great percussive work. The recording does not disappoint either, capturing the same tight rhythm work and the pace of the song.

The music was produced by Ayan De and mixed and mastered at Midicore Studios who have in the past worked with releases from bands like The Colour Compound, Rosemary and Bones for BertieAlthough the mixes on most songs sound fine, the overall product lacks that punch. This is a feature evident on some of the studio’s other releases. Rishi’s vocals suffer the most, as in all of the songs; his vocals don’t make the impact I wished they would.

The EP features a gloss envelope cover with minimalistic art work. Although the EP was initially supposed to be only for free downloading, the band decided to print a few physical copies for fans who wanted them. A worthwhile effort it would seem, as many people have heard the music online and then bought the CD. It’s at the give away price of Rs. 50/- only so it’s more than worth the cost, and definitely a great prelude to an impending album.

Howard Pereira

Howard is a guitarist with Mumbai based bands, Dischordian and Overhung. His other interests include drinking, comic books and occasional writing.

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