Very rarely does an Indian band blow my mind away. Not just sonically or technically, but with their super feel, mood and melodies.
Something Relevant (STR) has blown me away with their latest offering We Could Be Dreaming. The subtle mix of technical proficiency, multi-genre music, brilliantly written lyrics, quality recording mix, and the Indian feel, makes this an album that you can listen to when you are on one of those long drives on a highway on a cloudy day, or while you just want to get up and dance to some tunes, or just for fun! I am a sucker for technique, and audio mixing. Throughout the album, they not only manage to keep the listener hooked on to the tunes, but also convey the messages behind the songs The best part is that you will remember their music.
These gentlemen from Mumbai certainly are here to stay and change the way audiences perceive Indian Bands and their music. This album perhaps is a milestone on the Indian Music Journey. A journey that aims to take Indian Band Music closer to audiences around the globe.Without much ado, let me go straight to the tracks on offer in this album.
The album starts off with this song called Liar Liar. The song starts off with a bang. The band maintains their happy-go-lucky feel that one would associate with a STR song. The song has a brilliant chorus that just sticks to you incorporates superb use of the saxophone, which is neither too dominating nor too subtle to ignore, along with the mouth organ, the guitar tones, and of course the vocals which sound absolutely perfect for a feel-good pop-rock song. Its a song I can imagine the band playing live, while the audience put their dancing shoes on and enjoy with the band! One thing which really pleases me when I listen to this song is the aesthetic sense of the musicians. They know exactly when to play what and when! Kudos to Something Relevant!
The second song is called More. Here again, it starts with the traditional drum roll, but goes to a quick bluesy/Latin groovy rhythm, and just like Liar Liar, this song has a phenomenal chorus. The lyricist must be congratulated for coming up with something that is so rich and musically and sonically pleasing! I loved the keyboards on this one, which stays in the background for most part of the songs, and fades in and out. From an Indian band, such high quality studio mastering is pleasantly unexpected and marks the beginning of perhaps an era of awesome Indian Bands with a unique sound.
Move Yourself is one of my favorite songs on the tracks. What I love about this song is the way it is sung, and the upright acoustic bass, which adds a brilliant flavor to the song. These guys definitely know how to get a crowd get up on their feet and shake a leg or two! The changes in the song are definitely worth applauding. For an Indian band doing this kind of stuff, I am sure, many will agree that this sounds pretty path breaking. The saxophone solo, which goes on with the bass and drums in the foreground with the guitar doing its subtle thing in the background is a treat for the ears, not to forget the slides used with the guitar which give it a splendid feel! The song addressed to the city of Mumbai is definitely one that you will remember!
Digging for Water is my favorite song on the album, for several reasons. First, the way the song starts is just plain smooth, reminds me of a train trip, the beats are reminiscent of a train chugging along. Second, the lyrics are just superb, and finally, this song has a superb saxophone part which sounds classy. The changes, the arrangement, the melody and the interludes make this pure ear-candy! I will say no more.
Heartbreak Interlude is my second favorite track on the record. I am a fan of minimalism, and this song is played by one stringed instrument that sounds like a ukulele, which has nylon strings, and an upright bass.
Just Another Heartbreak is perhaps one of the happiest songs to have come our way, that talks about heartbreaks. And what stands out in this song is the jam feel to the song. You can tell the vocalist laughs at one moment in the song, but they keep going. The drums and the bass form a very important part of the band, and in this song, they are like the superglue that holds the song together. Some phenomenal moody drumming with tasteful bass makes it a must listen. You never know what to expect. And the song ends with a brilliant jam. I am fan of the band just because of the guitar tones, and way they mix their tracks. The number of layers might not be apparent to the casual listener, but boy do the intricacies mesmerize the more serious listener, not just in this track but in the others as well.
Be Real starts off, and I know instinctively that there will be quite a lot of rap. I was proved right as the song went forward. Be real is a very different offering from STR – a song bordering on rap, with a chorus which is quite interesting. What I loved about the song is that you could clearly hear the instruments, unlike the electronic beats that you generally associate with rap. Along with a solid groove, the real hero in the song is, apart from the vocalist, the guitarist. Splendid use of the guitars to come up with something that sounds so simple and yet so interesting.
Groovy Sense of Timing, a duet with guest vocalist Sofia blew my ears off. What an amazing singer, she is! Perfect for the blues or jazz! You name it, she can sing it! The song keeps a very solid bluesy-pop-rock feel throughout. And finally our man behind the keys Luis, gets a solo, which sounds like hot chocolate sauce on a cold vanilla ice cream scoop! This song will take you back to the days when pop had real instruments behind it. The saxophonist is a wizard in this song. And believe you me, you will want to groove to the song. This song is my third favorite on the album and just goes on to show the versatile the band is.
Matters of State is a brilliant take on the state that the band refers to. Replete with solid laidback lyrics, reminds you of this group called One Giant Leap! The total reggae feel is superb. You will be bobbing your head up and down by the time song ends. The keyboardist is very subtle and shows his prowess throughout the song. It is something that if you listen to closely will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, thanks to the sheer awesomeness of it. Bongos are a perfect ending to a song about a King who has lost his crown and mind.
When the song Turn the Wheel starts off, you immediately imagine the Saturday Night Live band playing the tune, but then the tempo and mood changes, and you are immediately transcended into an ethereal space, which is a surreal place to be in. The exemplary mixing and recording, not to forget the skills of the musicians of the band, makes this a brilliant song. I am sure I am not forgetting these lyrics in a hurry. Superb display of musicianship and a must listen.
I Can Swim starts off with a solid movie background score feel, but suddenly the tone changes and there are tablas and a plethora of other instruments. The melancholic tone of the singer and the general appeal of the song make it sound a little sad, but then the chorus gives you hope. The bass fills up the song throughout, while various instruments fade in and out beautifully. The song was sung by two singers, and they have done a fantastic job. Laced with rap, melodic lines, and beautiful harmonies, this song greets you like the first rains of the monsoons! And maybe that is why the song is called so, it reminds you of the cool feeling when you get drenched in the rains, or maybe jump into the pool for a swim. I love the different tones used by the guitars in the entire album, but this song truly brings about some beautiful tones. Kudos to the guitarist Tanmay Bhattacherjee for this song! The tempo changes from melancholic to downright happy. This song would make for a good live performance. One that I would love to be part of.
All in all, an album every music lover must definitely buy. No, they dont sound like any other group of musicians. No its not like everything you have heard before. The musicians prove again, that proper training, know-how and sheer focus and dedication can lead to music that is both unique and something that can reach out to masses without being commercial.
I came across this band in 2011, when I was browsing Reverbnation for new bands and sounds. The tracks listed were live recordings of songs the band played at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I was struck by the seemingly simple, yet multi-layered and rich sounds, the feel-good, peppy lyrics and the genial use of various instruments. Then I tried very hard to see them live, but failed, only to learn that they had taken a break from making music to go attend music school and hone their skills! I have been eagerly awaiting the release of their second album, ever since.
While I was waiting, I did some research on the band and found a lot of things which were very interesting. The band wanted to set up their own jam studio, and finally found an old cotton mill in Mumbai, which they converted to their own studio calling it Cotton Press Studios. This is a group of individuals who are driven and are definitely here to stay. I am eagerly waiting to listen to whatever else they can churn up.
This album is self-produced at the Cotton Press Studios, a place where one can jam in a professional environment. A final hats off to all the band members for composing and coming up with such a treat for the ears. . I think one of the hallmarks of this album is that all the choruses are absolutely spot on, not to mention the use of all the instruments. Kudos to all the instrumentalists who have contributed to this album. A special shout out to all the guest musicians who were a part of the bands songwriting and production process. The audio engineers deserve special credit for lacing the album with such finesse.
So my strong suggestion to all music lovers is that you give Something Relevants We Could Be Dreaming a listen. I am sure youll want to buy their music, which I consider to be an important milestone in the bittersweet journey of Indian music.