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Ocean by Nischay Parekh


The singer-songwriter genre is becoming increasingly popular among younger pluckier musicians who’d rather be earnest than glamorous rock gods. However, every emo youngster out there who has basic guitar-playing skills considers himself/herself to be a singer-songwriter, which is a mockery of the genre. Very few artists in India have made a name for themselves as singer-songwriters with their sheer talent and musical sensibilities and one such person is a musician from Kolkata – Nischay Parekh. Nischay is a precocious 21-year old musician and may still be a student of the Berklee College of Music but he has already played at sold out venues throughout the country and was a crowd puller at last year’s NH7 Weekender. Incidentally, Parekh would rather that people called him a pop musician instead of a singer-songwriter.

Quirky, quietly confident and massively talented, Nischay Parekh had always been interested in music – having started guitar lessons at the age of 11. His teacher just happened to be  another Kolkata-based artist – Tajdar Junaid, who is a multi-instrumentalist and immensely talented musician in his own right who has just released a very successful album of his own. Although, Tajdar Junaid’s musical style is very different from that of Parekh’s, we wouldn’t have heard Parekh’s music without the insistence and guidance of Tajdar Junaid.

Parekh exploded onto the indie music scene last year and we suddenly saw him everywhere – from playing at A Summer’s Day music festival at Mumbai, which was headlined by Norah Jones, to being a featured artist at all four NH7 weekender festivals. Nischay Parekh is now the face of pop and indie folk in the Indian music scene and has gained a loyal following with his boyish charm and unique style. His pop sound, soulful words and unaffected style has drawn comparisons to Jason Mraz, John Mayer and Jack Johnson – which is high praise indeed. Unlike what we normally associate with pop music, Parekh’s music is replete with straight-from-the-heart lyrics, stripped down arrangements and squeaky clean vocals – showing that the genre itself has matured and Indian musicians are not afraid to be associated with it anymore.

At an age when most musicians are discovering themselves, he has already come out with his debut album – Ocean, which was released on 4th October, 2013.  Although he collaborated with members of his band The Monkey In Me – Jivraj “Jiver” Singh (on the drums) and George Matthew Dylan Varner-Hartley (on keyboards) on the album, it is largely a solo effort. Other collaborators include the famed producer Miti Adhikari on the bass and Pedro Zappa, who provides additional vocals along with the bass duties. The first thing that any listener will notice about this 9-track album is that it is way too short for an album this good – lasting less than 25 minutes. Most of the songs are barely around 2 minutes in length and you will find the songs ending too soon much to your dismay while you are busy humming them. Sitting squarely in the pop-genre, all the tracks are soft and groovy and each song has the potential of becoming an earworm. The youthfulness of the tracks belies the heavy and grand themes that Parekh tries to tackle with his music – love, loneliness, longing and life.

The lyrics might be straight-from-the-heart, but they aren’t straightforward! This is why you will find yourself wondering why this album has a song called ‘Panda‘ on it. This is not a simple coming-of-age album but is a mature and restrained offering reminiscent of the music of Ben Howard and Paolo Nutini. Parekh’s musical style on this album can best be described as pop and acoustic with the honesty of country-music. The tracks are unpretentious, with infectious riffs and effortless melodies. The album starts off with songs that are clean, upbeat and very pop but as the album progresses, more synth-pop and R&B elements crop up that give the songs a slightly darker edge.

The first song on the album is ‘Newbury Street’, which is an excellent start to the album and is so polished and beguiling that is can be a very successful single. With a riff-driven intro and a very likable melody, you will soon find yourself listening to this track on repeat. This song seems almost like it was written in a stream of consciousness and talks about being ready for a positive change and the accompanying rush of uplifting emotions. Parekh’s soothing vocals, earnest lyrics and the very addictive melody make it very hard for you to get it out of your head.

The oddly named ‘Panda’ is up next with eccentric lyrics like “I used to be a Panda in my past life” and the song seems to be Parekh’s way to describe himself rather than love. This track is definitely more electro-pop and is one of the more complex tracks on the album. Another very catchy and lively song with unobtrusive vocals and it is a testament to how well he works with his bandmates from The Monkey In Me, as the track is seamless where no one musical instrument overpowers the other.

The next song ‘I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll’ is more folksy and acoustic and proved to be a very successful single earning him a legion of groupies. The bongos really underscore the folk element of the song and again Parekh keeps his vocals restrained, clean and painfully earnest. Laidback, cheeky and sweet, the background vocals lend a very breezy quality to the track but sometimes the song can sound more like a lament rather than a love song.

The album suddenly shifts to a very synth-pop track ‘Hill’, which is personally my least favourite song on the album. With muffled vocals and alarming squawks, this song does not flatter his vocals or his talent as an acoustic guitarist. The lyrics and the accompanying music lend a very eerie and disturbing air to the song. ‘Hill’ stands out like a very sore thumb and can come as somewhat of a rude distraction when one is so comfortably put in a state of cheerfulness with the preceding tracks.

Thankfully, the bad taste left by ‘Hill’ is quickly replaced by utter bliss as ‘Philosophize’ is a masterpiece of song – something you will not expect from such a young artist. Unlike the rest of the tracks on the album, ‘Philosophize’ is more piano or keyboard-driven with more of an R&B feel where Parekh dazzles the listener with his pitch perfect falsettos. The song does have some synth-pop elements but they never come to focus. The soothing tempo gives Parekh a chance to show off his vocals and control and lends a very relaxing note to the whole track. There are no musical interludes or dramatic tempo changes as every musical instrument used is there only to compliment the emotion and the words that Parekh is trying to get across and boy, does it work!

The next track called ‘Me and You’ is a very pop number and is a sweet romantic track and again is so sincere that it will leave you with no doubt as to why Nischay Parekh is such a “chick-magnet”. The languid lead guitars and extremely tranquil tempo never gets boring or monotonous and you will find yourself smiling to the song. It is just a happy sort of song that will give you a spring in your step and melt all your worries away. Again, his vocal finesse and control shines through even though there is no power singing involved.

‘Secrets’ plunges the track into the realm of psychedelia, with a very trippy intro complete with the buzzing of insects. This song is very short – barely over a minute and a half in length so you will probably write it off as an aberration. When you have heard so many excellent, upbeat and pop tracks and are in an album-induced state of calm, this track can disturb the peace slightly. However, overall this track is quite forgettable and does not seem to sit right with the rest of the album.

The album then moves into another laidback song ‘Ghost’, which is a bit R&B, a bit soul and a bit dream pop. Parekh hits such high notes on the song and with so much control that it lifts the whole track to a very ethereal level.  With a groovy bass line and a piano drenched melody, the song can sound very lounge-ey sometimes. Like ‘Philosophize’, it is a very memorable track on the album and you will appreciate the fact that it is almost four minutes long giving you all the time to savour its intricacies.

The last and title track of the album makes for the perfect conclusion. With very effective hooks and sparkling riffs, ‘Ocean’ will make you want to listen to the whole album repeatedly. Bright easy vocals and a sprightly tempo allow the album to end on a high note. Add to this the playful backing vocals and summery feel of the song, and ‘Ocean’ will “stick to you like glue”.

What is most startling about the album is that none of the songs were recorded in a studio. Nischay Parekh and his band recorded most of the songs in his and Jivraj Singh’s family homes in Kolkata and in parks in the country and the United States. For a debut album, Ocean is uncharacteristically polished all thanks to legendary producer Miti Adhikari who also contributed creatively to the album. Nothing about Ocean betrays the fact that it is the debut effort of Nischay Parekh. Sublime, easy on the ears and filled with sophisticated lines, most of the tracks on the album have the potential of becoming a earworm. This cannot be said for most albums let alone a debut one. The fact that every single track can become a very successful single shows the talent and the ingenuity of everyone involved in the making of the album.

Ocean is like an exciting little gift with a bow tied around it. Most of the songs are devoid of dramatic intros, progressive build-ups and vocal acrobatics and this is why the album is so special. It shows the power of restraint, candour and youthfulness and will make you appreciate the artistry of these young musicians. There is hardly any negative criticism about the album and all I have to say is that be prepared to have the album playing in your head at all times once you have heard it.

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Anusmita Datta

Anusmita Datta is an ardent day-dreamer, music lover, die-hard foodie and occasional writer. Her obsession with pandas is sometimes disturbing and she can be often found lusting after momos!


Raat Raazi by Prateek Kuhad


This is the era of the singer-songwriter. Singer-songwriters with guitars strapped on are cropping up everywhere with everyone wanting to emulate John Mayer or Nick Drake, but very few have the talent to stand out. Fortunately, Prateek Kuhad is one such singer-songwriter. Fiercely talented and unnervingly honest, he has managed to turn audiences with his performances in the US and India.  It is surprising to learn that the Jaipur-born, Delhi-based musician had no aspirations of becoming a musician growing up and in fact has studied Mathematics and Economics at the New York University. Although his interest in music was piqued when he learnt how to play the guitar while he was still at school, a true passion for the art form was born when he moved to the bustling city of New York and was introduced to Elliot Smith.

His obsession with Smith and other similar folk-rock and pop artists lead him to start songwriting seriously and focusing more on his musical career. He recently devoted himself fulltime to music and has already played at various venues in New York and other cities in America. Calling his decision to focus full time on music instinctive and something that felt right at the time, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down or turning back anytime soon. He already has a debut self-titled EP and various singles under his belt. His debut E.P was released in 2011 and consisted solely of English songs. His follow up EP Raat Raazi, however, may have a similar musical styling but is written entirely in Hindi.

His music is deceptively simple, heartfelt and unassuming and one can easily pick out the musical influences that have shaped him. A massive fan of Elliott Smith, Nick Drake and Ben Howard, his songs sound like an homage to his musical heroes. As a result, his music can be classified as pop-rock and folk-rock with influences from a wide range of genres. There are no complex lyrics designed to wow and confound – his lyrics both in English and Hindi are straightforward, effortless and soulful and compliment his music perfectly. The things that set him apart from the rest of the crowd are his unique fingerstyle guitar technique and the beautifully honest lyrics of his songs. The arrangements on his songs are minimal and barebones making his songs all the more distinct and evocative.

Raat Raazi was released on 18th August, and was influenced by a period in the artist’s life where he was hooked on to the songs of old Hindi cinema. He effortlessly switches to Hindi on the tracks on the E.P. and none of the songs sound forced or superficial. The lyrics talk of life, love and living – trite themes but spun into something new by Kuhad’s talent. The whole album is upbeat, light and laidback without becoming cute and kitschy. Though, Prateek Kuhad is a multi-instrumentalist as he plays the ukulele, harmonica, bass and even the drums, he seems most comfortable with his acoustic guitar. This album shows off his fingerstyle guitar technique to great effect. On this E.P he has collaborated with Sahil Warsi on double-bass and Vir Singh Brar on percussions and the three are popularly known as the Prateek Kuhad Collective.

With clean crisp tracks, poetic lyrics and great melodies, this EP is a cracker and a worthy follow-up to Kuhad’s debut E.P. If you prefer tracks that are easy to listen to, bittersweet and devoid of theatrics and drama, Raat Raazi is for you. The Prateek Kuhad Collective shows us that even without dramatic vocals and sudden tempo shifts a song can be memorable and interesting.

The EP starts off with ‘Ab Hoga Kya’ – a happy, upbeat and summery track. This track sets the mood for the rest of the album and has a sprightly intro. A bright romantic track; with a very catchy chorus, this song seems to talk about the feelings accompanying new beginnings – especially a new love. Listening to Prateek croon “Ab Hoga Kya”, the track comes off as being slightly cheeky, which makes the song even more addictive. Prateek’s soft vocals go really well with his twangy guitars and upbeat tempo and the overall feel of this track is quite folksy.

This is followed by the title track, and my favorite song of the E.P. – ‘Raat Raazi’. Written while Prateek was walking around the city of New York, this track talks about the joy of just living and feeling youthful at heart. This song shows off Prateek’s interesting technique on the guitars and his soft and teasing vocals. The percussions don’t kick in until after half the song is done, giving Raat Raazi a very mellow and minimalistic feel. The sparse arrangement shows off Prateek’s vocal range and control and this song never gets bland or boring. The sharp beat that is introduced late into the song contrasts beautifully with the breathy vocals and string instruments.

‘Chahe Ya Na Chahe’ is the third track on this E.P – another upbeat track however, this track has a cello in the bridge that lends a slightly gloomy edge to the song. It has some interesting shifts but the song goes back to the laidback melody by the end. Although this is a great track, it does not make as much of an impact as ‘Raat Raazi’. 

The album then moves on to what is probably the liveliest track – ‘Voh’. This song has a deep and groovy bass line that is quite distinct, which is not the case on the other tracks. Featuring bigger vocals, energetic strumming and rock and roll beats, ‘Voh’ is a welcome break on the album, which teeters on the edge of becoming slightly monotonous at this point. The laidback tracks are excellent but the album needs this high energy track to keep it fresh. It has a more rock feel to it compared to the rest of the album but it never becomes garish or loud. The only gripe I have with this track is that it ends very abruptly, which can be quite jarring to the listener.

The album ends on a much softer note with ‘Yeh Pal’, where he seems to be comforting the listener and easing them out of the album. Another favorite from this E.P, this song has a bittersweet feel to it. It almost seems like Prateek is lamenting the end of a time spent together with a loved one, of lost promises and life taking its course on relationships. ‘Yeh Pal’ also features soft backing vocals, unlike the other songs and it captures the essence of nostalgia and loneliness. All in all, a great albeit wistful end to a splendid album.

One cannot help but feel a slight twinge of sadness as the album ends. Even though the arrangements are flawless, the songs never sound over-produced. The sheer talent of the members of the Prateek Kuhad Collective shines through in each track. The songs on Raat Raazi will grow on you and each track has the potential of becoming a earworm. Going by his albums, Prateek Kuhad is definitely a force to be reckoned with among Indian singer-songwriters and indie-pop musicians. He stands out effortlessly by showing great restraint without losing the emotions in his songs and possesses a huge advantage by being able to write and sing in Hindi and English with ease. Although he is not a seasoned musician, there are no traces of inexperience in the album.

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Anusmita Datta

Anusmita Datta is an ardent day-dreamer, music lover, die-hard foodie and occasional writer. Her obsession with pandas is sometimes disturbing and she can be often found lusting after momos!


Bhoomi, Caesar’s Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012


First things first – What a venue! The open air amphitheater with the UB City tower looming majestically in the background, and its big bright blue horse logo looking down upon us was quite an amazing sight! And what’s more – for a city perpetually stuck in traffic jams, its habba started dot on time.

The line-up on this particular evening comprised of metal aficionados Bhoomi, the multi-genre, Bangalore based Caesar’s Palace and Bangalore rockers Thermal and a Quarter who made a surprise entry later. All three of them, veterans of the Bangalore rock scene, took to the stage with the promise of a great Saturday evening and they sure lived up to it.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

First up was Bhoomi, one of Bangalore’s oldest and best metal acts. They started the evening with their renditions of rock classics like AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, and smoothly drifted into Deep Purple land with Jason Zachariah belting out the keyboard solo to Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and then Tony Das belting out the guitar solo from ‘Burn’, both playing them absolutely perfectly. Though I’m a fan of bands covering songs their own way rather than playing it exactly like it is, I have to admit that Bhoomi’s version of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ did seem a tad out of place and unnecessarily heavy. Tony Das sang the next song ‘Burn it Down’, a very bluesy number with some great guitar licks. This was followed by another cover, Mr. Big’s ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’.

They finally went into their originals, starting with ‘Inside Story’, a song about the press today and its obsession with the personal lives and affairs of celebrities. It had some great harmonies between Tony and Jason and ended with a really cool guitar-hero solo from the former. Next they played ‘Uncultured’, a song about riots with some really powerful vocals. It had a great vibe and had me replaying “Come help us fight…War without reason” in my head even after they finished. Their last song was ‘The Game’, a song about playing music live (I loved how Sujay bonded with the audience by explaining each song before playing it. Tony thought the better alternative was to chug some beer before each song. I loved that too!) The final track had a great riff, fierce drumming from Kishan Balaji and very eerie vocal harmonies, a powerful song to end their performance.

The band announced their new album set to release later this year, which is being produced by Neil Kernon, of Queensryche and Nevermore fame. When asked if this is the next big step for Indian bands i.e., to have internationally produced and marketed albums, frontman Sujay replies, “Definitely. It’s already happening. Not only international producers, but there are also many Indian producers with very good technical skills. In a few years, the Indian rock scene will be self-sufficient and we won’t have to look to the west for everything.”

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

Next up were Caesar’s Palace   a rock/funk/blues/soul/jazz/disco/phew! band from Bangalore. They played a very groovy, almost dance-y set of songs. They started with a cover of RHCP’s ‘Readymade’ and soon went into originals starting with ‘3 hour love affair’. The bassist Kenneth Wilson’s getup with his hood and shades (at 8:00 in the night) looked exponentially less pretentious with each note he played as he got them grooves going. ‘Stare’ had some funny lyrics about the cliche` of thinking deeper. Unni, the frontman then announced that they were going to cover Bappi Lahiri and frankly, I was disappointed to know that it was a joke. This is one band that could actually pull it off! They did come close to it though as they played a very 80s disco style original called ‘Get Your Mojo On’. By this time, Kishan Balaji had begun to look like some medieval war hero (read madman) behind his drums. He and Jason Zachariah had battled and conquered every style from heavy metal to funk and now even disco, both of them having played for both Bhoomi and Caesar’s palace.

They continued their brand of funk with a sense of humour with ‘Wol Chod’, which had some cool slap bass and screeching wah. ‘Dreams’ had a groove that got the entire amphitheater swinging their heads from side to side and had some interesting guitar and bass harmonies. The song ended with a great keyboard solo. They then went into a very well done medley of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ followed by Tenacious D’s ‘Tribute’ that ended with the outro of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which Unni pulled off perfectly. It was great to see how open minded they are to different genres of music, and not just open minded, but also technically proficient enough to pull off all these varied styles.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The highlight of their performance was ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ by Ray Charles, done in a modern John Mayer style. It ended with a jugalbandi of sorts between the guitar and keys. Jason then played a beautiful piano solo that quietly blended into ‘Swim’, a lovely ballad. They ended with ‘Bittersweet Mind’, a typical 12-bar blues song but with some exciting odd-time signature twists to it.

The night was already going on a high when Unni announced that Thermal and a Quarter was going to take to the stage next and caught everyone by surprise. Thermal and a Quarter or TAAQ , as they are popularly known, consists of Bruce Lee Mani on vocals/guitar, Rajeev Rajagopal on drums and Prakash K.N on bass who happen to be Bangalore’s favourite power trio. This was proven by the fact that despite the fact that it was getting late and terribly cold in the open air amphitheater, the audience didn’t seem to want to be anywhere else.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The trio kick-started their set with ‘Can you fly’, a typical TAAQ song with jazzy guitar playing, great vocals and a powerful rhythm section. Their second song was ‘Meter Mele One and a Half’, about the auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore. As Bruce Lee Mani sang about the woes of the average Bangalorean, I couldn’t help thinking that the band’s music IS indeed the sound of urban Bangalore. They do sound like UB City at night, like the traffic jams, like Masala Dosas, like an auto-rickshaw’s faulty meter, like Cubbon Park, IT parks and all things Bangalorean.

They continued in the same spirit with some “tapang-blues” with ‘If Them’ and ‘For the Cat’ which got few audience members even doing some tapang moves in the front row, as Bruce himself cheered them on! Quite impressive on the part of the dancers I’d say, considering the fact that ‘For the Cat’ had many time meter changes.

Their next song ‘Birthday’  was dedicated to Rajeev’s mother as it was the eve of her birthday. And apparently it’s no ordinary birthday song. As Bruce explained, “It’s about wanting my birthday to be a space and not a time. Very deep…very deep!” This was followed by one of my personal favourites – TAAQ’s rendition of ‘Hey Jude’. It amazed me to see how they could take a classic as popular as ‘Hey Jude’, turn it upside down and change it around completely and still maintain the feel of the original. TAAQ’s version of the song has to be heard to be believed! Their last song ‘Chainese Item’ sounded like the theme song to a spy movie where everyone’s running behind a plate of chow mein, for some reason. Or maybe the ridiculously cold breeze was finally getting to me!

Thermal and a Quarter were undoubtedly the heroes of the evening, captivating the audience with their distinct sound and energetic performance. Overall, a great gig and a perfect Saturday evening, all three bands providing three different versions of that rock and roll sound we all love.

The moral of the story at the Habba’s rock fest seemed to be that rock fests no longer mean copying the west. As the three veterans showed us, rock music in Bangalore today is more about ourselves and all the things that affect us in our lives. It’s more personal and easy to relate to than ever. I think it’s this quality of the music that made it so enjoyable and is making an increasing number of people turn up for concerts like these.

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Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash is a Bangalore based guitarist and is a third of local act Groove Chutney. He loves jazz, street food, Woody Allen movies and often pretends to be a writer.


Thermal And A Quarter at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore


Before reaching The BFlat Bar on 29th of October 2011, where Thermal And A Quarter were set to play that evening, I was on a different kind of high having witnessed an exhilarating football match. I caught up with TAAQ’s vocalist/guitarist/frontman Bruce Lee Mani who acknowledged BFlat as one of TAAQ’s favourite venues. There was a slight uncertainty about drummer Rajeev Rajagopal’s whereabouts near the start of the gig and naturally, manager Divya Joseph appeared a tad concerned. However, after numerous sightings of Rajeev which could now be confirmed as positive, TAAQ took to the stage with Bruce surrounded with an arsenal of three lovely guitars, the “little guy” Prakash who did a quick tune-check of his bass and Rajeev behind the drums. There were no supporting artists to assist the trio this time, so it was an evening of pure, unadulterated TAAQ.

The band started off with a new number, ‘De-Arranged’ while a crowd gathered right in front of my table and I had to stand for greater parts of the show to actually see the band. The song had a groovy interlude and pithy lyrics which has become an integral part of TAAQ’s songwriting process. Before their second number, Bruce brought into context all those people in Delhi who were robbed of the Metallica show, a day before. That second number, ‘Sorry for Me’ had a fantastic guitar solo and the band expertly demonstrated their signature tightness. The sound was perfect and had few differences from the sound in their recent studio releases.

Thermal And A Quarter at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

After the warm up, Thermal belted out another new number ‘Meter Mele One and a Half’, one of the standout songs of the evening. I would give it a 11 on 10 for songwriting simply because the band brought to the fore through their music, most of the emotions related to the titular quote that Bangalore rickshaw drivers use. A chorus in 6/4, a solo with a sporadic burst of notes and an absolutely amazing drum solo were the hallmark of the song. And some cowbell! This song is dangerously catchy however, and you should be well-warned to resist singing this while actually travelling in a rickshaw.

By this time, I noticed that TAAQ’s songs have brilliant chord transitions and an expert usage of multiple scales. The amazing fact is that there is very little similarity that you could find between TAAQ’s music and that of any mainstream western band. The music is unique and very Bangalorean indeed. The band showed great volume and tempo control using them effectively to convey a message. Rajeev’s drumming was crisp and his use of the right sounds to complement the rest of the band is worth a mention. The band was a tight unit and also sounded full with just three members. This is a testament to Prakash K.N’s surreal bass fills and his superb ability at keeping the pulse of the song running.

Thermal And A Quarter at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

And then there was Bruce Lee Mani who isn’t just one of India’s greatest guitarists, but also a superb vocalist. His voice is an essential component of TAAQ’s sound. He belted out a brief falsetto in their next song, a Beatles cover, ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ which had elements of reggae in it. Another standout song of the evening which had received a roar of approval from the now-packed BFlat, was ‘Bangalore Flowers’ dedicated to the women of Bangalore. The crescendo towards the end of the song got everyone to their feet and cheering!

After a song in 6/8 blues, TAAQ went on to cover Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. Bruce ornamented the song with a Mayer-style fingerpicking intro and Prakash contributed with some slap bass in the interlude. The band improvised around the “I Know, I Know” line and Bruce even indulged in some twinning, scatting as he played the notes on the guitar! Prakash followed that up with a stylish bass solo of his own. ‘Billboard Bride’ was up next for which Bruce played a surreal legato solo with his Gibson Les Paul.

Thermal And A Quarter at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

The evening progressed with numbers like ‘Birthday’ and ‘For The Cat’, the latter being a tribute to Cat Stevens. One of the last numbers was ‘Holy Jose’, a funky number which was probably the longest song of the set. Bruce used his whammy bar to support a bass solo by Prakash and Rajeev rounded off the song in a drum solo that included a run at the double bass pedals! And some cowbell! TAAQ strangely went on to cover Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’, but I’m glad that they did it like TAAQ while retaining some of the essential grunge elements of the song.

TAAQ ended the evening with ‘Bend the World’, ‘Galacktiqua’, ‘Paper Puli’ and ‘Hey Jude’. Towards the end, Bruce seemed to ease into the songs while also letting the crowd handle some of the lyrics. He duly acknowledged the crowd’s rapturous response at the end of these songs.The band left the stage to a thunderous applause that lasted quite a while. If not already, the band has further cemented their position as one of the premier and most unique rock bands of the country. I could safely conclude that this was the ONLY thing that could have eclipsed the high I was talking about at the start.

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Ganesh Viswanathan

Ganesh Viswanathan is a musician, a designer and sometimes both at the same time. Caffeine is known to derive its energising properties from him. Nobody knows the exact moment when he dismantles an idle mobile phone or steals food from another plate.


Mihir Joshi’s The Bombay Rock Project at Inorbit Mall, Mumbai





The Bombay Rock Project, although being a new entrant into Mumbai’s music scene, comprises a line-up of musicians who are well established in their own right, each of whom plays for a number of city bands. The gig they were playing today was at a mall, and I didn’t really know what to expect from them in terms of music, or the venue’s sound setup.

It was a typically windy and rainy June evening in Vashi, as the band set themselves up in the Inorbit Mall compound, close to the entrance. The place was sheltered by an unusually psychedelic looking ceiling way above, and kept out most of the rain. There was a sparse crowd present, as you’d expect in a mall, most of who were either known to the band, or curious passers-by.

A quick chat with one of the band members told me that I was to expect covers of classic Bollywood songs, with a twist, and maybe a couple of English songs thrown in as well. This surprised me, given the kind of music that I’ve heard each of these musicians play before with other bands.

So finally after a long drawn out sound check, the band was good to go. On lead guitar was Sanju Aguiar of Devoid, on bass was Ishaan Krishna of The Hoodwink Circle, on drums was Agnnelo Picaardo of Dischordian, on keyboards and saxophone was Nigel Rajaratnam of Dischordian, and spearheading the project was The Works’ vocalist, Mihir Joshi.

The first song was an upbeat cover of the title track of the Amitabh Bacchan starrer, Don, and set the stage for an energetic set list. The next was a cover of ‘Janu Meri Jaan’, from the 1980 classic, Shaan. At this point, I must admit I didn’t quite know what to make of the band. It felt a little bit indulgent, and more like they were playing to the masses, and not to a more discerning audience.

The band seemed tight and the overall sound was fairly good, given the windy conditions and that the location was for all practical purposes, a driveway. Ishaan had broken the top string of his bass guitar at the end of the second song, but to everyone’s bewilderment, nonchalantly proceeded to continue without it.

The next one was a rather crowd-pleasing mash-up medley of ‘Summer of ’69’, ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’, and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. The songs were blended together quite well, but essentially stayed true to the originals. This was followed by another two hindi covers of the songs ‘Dekha Na’ and ‘Jawani Janeman’. So far, I had no complaints about the performance itself, but given the set list, it felt a little like we were watching an Amitabh Bacchan tribute gig.

Things started picking up with the next song, an interesting jazz-like cover of  ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ with a nice drum solo from Agnnelo and a piano solo by Nigel. Things got even more interesting with a reggae mash-up of John Mayer’s ‘Your Body Is A WonderLand’ and Lucky Ali’s ‘O Sanam’, scoring highly on the creativity scale.

The next two songs were covers of ‘Saara Zamaana’ and ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’, both of which had a distinct classic rock feel to them, and were followed by ‘Inteha Ho Gayi’ (yet again featuring the Big B) and was for me the best song so far, with Nigel switching to the saxophone towards the end.

Tossing in another English track, the band did an unusual take on the David Guetta house sensation, ‘Love Is Gone’, before moving back into hindi mode with a cover of the title track of the movie ‘Rock On’ as Mihir went into the crowd and got people to sing along with the chorus.

In response to the crowd’s request for another fast song, Mihir belted out ‘Dance Dance’, probably not my favourite of the evening, but there was a lot of energy in the performance, and some nice guitaring by Sanju. The list concluded with ‘Om Shanti Om’ and a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’.

The performance overall was very entertaining. Agnnelo was solid as ever on drums, Nigel was creative with his keyboard, Ishaan was quite flawless despite playing with only three strings, and Sanju’s guitar riffs were excellent. Mihir was clearly the life of the band and though his vocals were at times a little bit pitchy, more than made up for it with some incredible showmanship and stage presence.

I’ve always found it interesting to see the name of a band qualified with the word ‘Project’. It indicates a certain lack of pretence, a degree of experimentation, and to some extent, an organised approach, all of which, The Bombay Rock Project at first glance seemed to fulfill in fair measure.

The band appears to be well prepared to take on the music scene. Their costumes and logo look to be steps towards creating a solid identity. Their performance looked tight and well rehearsed, and the members appeared relaxed and were enjoying themselves. The musicianship was of excellent quality and had a balanced sound. All in all, they appear to be unabashedly, a hindi cover band, and clearly look to be taking the commercial route by introducing rock music to the masses.


B69 Hindi Bajaao





To be quite honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this gig. I was telling people “I god a bad code” all day and the meds I had been taking hadn’t really helped so far. To top it off, it was a dry day and looking for alcohol when you’re sick is never fun.

I reached what is probably my second favorite venue, B69, at 8.30pm and was hoping that I hadn’t missed much. As it turns out, I was early and it was quite a sight to see and meet everyone outside the venue instead of Vasant Bar which is the normal meet and greet point, as it was closed.

After narrowly dodging a passing by Sai Baba procession, and managing to down some strong swipes of Old Monk and Pepsi, we stepped inside to catch the first band Kamaal Ke Phool just as they were starting. The first thing that everyone probably noticed was the girl bass player. The guitar player in his cool jacket had an awesome tone going for him with his Godin guitar plugged into a Marshall amp. Nice tone for someone who was only switching between A and B on the amp. The singer, Hitesh I think, sounded like he was having a hard time. His voice sounded harsh, as opposed to the soft music that the band was turning out. I think he wasn’t well. The song ‘Hey Ram’ deserves a special mention here, particularly for the cool duet between the drummer and guitarist. Overall the band had really long songs and was quite boring in parts. But great potential as all the musicians were committed and rehearsed. Special mention for Bryan on drums, who impressed one and all with his fast rolls and great time keeping.

Having watched Sector 8 perform acoustically several times over, I was already familiar with a few of their songs. And seeing as they had won the Artist Aloud, Rock your November competition recently, I was really looking forward to hearing them tonight, full band, and full power. And they certainly didn’t disappoint! Great compositions and vocals, and the band was TIGHT! Full marks to Abel’s clean picking guitar technique, and superb presence by the vocalist, Mrudula. The geeky rhythm guitarist on backing vocals looked afraid of the mic again. Excellent performance, although they only played four songs, and this was probably the only aspect of their set that I didn’t like. Definitely a band to watch out for in the future!

Next up was Pradakshinam. This band has been around for a bit now, although it has had a line up change or two. A very hard working band, always in the news and up to something or the other. I must say, they looked very weird on stage with the way they were dressed individually. To everyone’s amusement, the vocalist, Suraj started off by announcing, “It’s republic day so lets DO IT!” which really seemed like he was suggesting something else entirely. The guitar player is one funny dude, calling the sound guy ‘Szechwan’ every time he asked for something on his monitor. I don’t think he knew that the sound guys name is ‘Shezan.’ The band had some tight drumming and nice harmonies. ‘Ajnabee’ had a nice build up, although the song in parts reminded me of a John Mayer pop song. Major chaos on the third song but they recovered well. Nigel’s keyboard and Aggie’s drums suddenly got too loud towards the end of their set. Nice tight performance as expected. Stand out job by the drummer again. Looks like it’s a night for the drummers to shine!

By now the slight buzz from my meds coupled with the rum was beginning to fade, but the real headache was something else entirely. The last band of the night, Seher, had just started and they were extremely LOUD. And not in a good way. I really don’t know what the vocalist was on. Probably a mix of ecstasy coupled with Viagra. The guy looked really loony, eyes closed, hands almost caressing himself as he swayed from side to side making some weird humping movements. I gagged a little bit. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but he was off key way too many times, shouting into the mic on all high and long notes, while somehow managing to look serious. Imagine the corny applicants at American/Indian Idol auditions who think they can sing and you will get the idea. Bad stage presence, no one was in sync, and the compositions were nothing out of the ordinary. I’m surprised they headlined. I really felt bad for the drummer as the band was making him sound amateurish as well and he was the guy who impressed the pants off all of us with the first band of the night! Being the headlining band and also easily, the most tenured band, that was a very tardy and amateurish performance – far from what I expected.

Well I guess you take the bad with the good. Great effort by HRC (Hindi Rock Circuit) and I hope they keep ’em coming!

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Howard Pereira

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




In the day and age of death metal, we often find ourselves staring at tattooed guitarists wielding Super-strats loaded with a combination of Emg pickups and the Floyd Rose Bridge, but what in heaven’s name has happened to the good old Strat? If you walk into a guitar store you will notice people toying with a plethora of guitars: The Ibanez’s, The Schechter’s, The Esps seem to be favored by guitarists these days. If you talk about a good old Strat, people frown. Have we forgotten the value of a Stratocaster? From Guitar-God Hendrix to Clapton to Gilmour, everyone has used the Strat. In Clapton’s case he switched from a Les Paul to a Strat!

The Fender Stratocaster has been the single most copied guitar in history. All the Japanese manufacturers came to the spotlight in the 70s because of their ability to make high quality knock-offs while the CBS owned Fender itself was struggling with quality issues. Why do we call a guitar with a double cut away and a dual humbucker combination a ‘Superstrat’? The answer is: its design was stolen from the Strat. These guitars combined the comfort of the Stratocaster with the power of the dual humbucker combination. At that time, people were looking for more power but the single coils were either too weak or too noisy so they pumped it up with humbuckers.

Some of the notable inventions of Leo Fenders magnum opus were the tremolo system, which according to me is still way better than the Floyd Rose locking trems. In my honest opinion, the Floyd Rose is only good at sucking the sweet tone from your guitar! All our modern guitar heroes like Slash, Tom Morello, Kirk Hammett come from a generation of guitar heroes wielding a Strat. The reason people don’t buy Strats these days is probably because they feel it is “not cool”. They don’t have a logical, sonic justification for not using one. Heck, the guys from Iron Maiden use Strats! With modern pickup technology, one can have the power in a single coil package along with the pureness of a clear single coil tone. Doubters must check out the Eric Clapton signature model. With the in build mid- boost circuitry it pumps out a level of gain which eclipses the EMGs of this world by a mile! People think if they own a Jackson RR3 its cool.

For me, the Fender Stratocaster isn’t the single most important instrument in rock history, it is also the coolest one. From the violin-like tone of Eric Johnson’s Strat to the Dreamy echo of Gilmour’s Strat to the Fuzz laden mayhem of Hendrix’s Strat , no other guitar has influenced the destiny of Rock music. From insanely vintage Strats of the 50s to the modern Shred machines such as Yniwe Malmseem’s, the Stratocaster rules the field; not even the great Les Paul manages to match the legend of the Stratocaster.

One often overlooks the curvaceous craftsmanship of a 50s Strat which is still continued in the modern American models. There is no cooler guitar than a completely worn out Strat; remember the little guy from Ireland whom Jimi Hendrix rated as the greatest guitar player on the planet? I’m talking about Rory Gallagher. Coming to modern players, the sight of John Mayer playing his worn out Strat is just iconic and people say wielding a Flying V is cool.

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Sahil Mohan Gupta

Sahil, the byline may read, but they call him ‘Bones’ because of his undying love for Star Trek. Sahil is a crazy tech journalist at BGR.in, who also happens to be a blues guitarist and a sound engineer based out of Delhi. Oh, and he also has 14 dogs!