Here we come again with our playlist for a kickass start to your weekend, amigos. From a number from Living Room Sessions by Pandit Ravi Shankar to Penn Masala's beautiful rendition of Swades' catchy song Yun hi chala chal rahi, we are sure you will croon and groove your way throughout the weekend.
Suckerpunch by Delain
Warning: Don't let the 1980s synth-pop opening put you off!
Dutch symphonic metal sextet Delain's Suckerpunch soon grows wings and takes off. Despite the presence of a few sections of the song that could easily send the members of Rammstein scampering off to their lawyers, this is at its heart a radio-friendly, poppy and perhaps most importantly, accessible tune — even to those who don't normally listen to metal. Solid rhythm parts and catchy guitar riffs underpin a deceptively multi-layered song. And the singalong chorus ensures that by the time you've reached the end, Suckerpunch has grown a pair of claws (in addition to those aforementioned wings) and buried them deep into your brain. This song is going to be stuck in your head for some time.
Although singer Charlotte Wessels' voice just seems to lack that edge, that oomph, that je ne sais quoi usually associated with women in metal, this track is essential weekend listening.
Yun hi chala chalrahi by Penn Masala
It is an established fact that Penn Masala's renditions of Bollywood songs are always amazing. (Check their YouTube hits for proof.)
But when the world's first and internet’s favourite Hindi a cappella group combines its fresh tone with AR Rahman's classic tunes, it is a sheer delight.
On Saturday, they released their take on Swades' catchy song Yun hi chala chal rahi, from their ninth studio album Resonance, and it is one song you must listen to this weekend.
The original song, which came out in 2004, was performed by Udit Narayan and Kailash Kher to Rahman's music and was an instant chartbuster (and a personal favourite). Now, 12 years later, Penn Masala's cover revives the song and how! From the depth of Kher’s voice to the lightness in Narayan’s, the cover encapsulates the different ends of the vocal spectrum wonderfully. It is a mark of the group’s inimitable talent that their cover seems more of a revival than a remix. Oh, and did we mention that it’s a cappella? So those Rahman tunes are actually recreated by singing it aloud and is literal and metaphoric music to the ears.
Song to the siren by Tim Buckley
In this amazing world of music, there are vocalists who sing and then there is Tim Buckley. Buckley, who appears in the video, wrote this song in 1967 but didn't find the earlier recordings convincing. The video is from The Monkees TV show wherein he appears with his 12-string guitar and his voice grows on you. And then, of course, the lyrics just uncomplicate your life.
No. I am not over-exaggerating here. Just think about it: What effect would it have if a stranger comes up to you and says, "Here I am, here I am, waiting to hold you?"
I bet you'll creep out. Pretty ladies might even reach for pepper spray. But Buckley is not like that stranger. He sings with his honey-dipped voice as if he means what he says.
As his words fall on your ears, you will think that he is talking to you. You will feel the warmth just as you feel when you are at home. Then you'll find a roof growing over your head. You'll long for an arm, a shoulder, and even a spot by the fireplace. This is how I relate to Song to the siren. I hope this song grows on you too.
Summer of '78 (instrumental) by Yann Tiersen
There are days in the newsroom (especially while writing tech reviews) when you just need to drown out all background chatter and focus. Lyrical songs just don't cut it then. Yann Tiersen's instrumental ballads are my go to choice in such scenarios.
Summer of '78 is from the OST of this comic as well as heart-breaking German film called Goodbye Lenin, which you must watch if you love world cinema. Summer of '78 perfectly distills the entire melancholic theme of the movie wonderfully in under four minutes. The star of the composition are the piano chords accompanied by violins and vibraphones which result in creating a calming experience. The anxiety of the characters and the situation they are put in, in this film, are wonderfully presented in the musical arrangement in this track and eventually on the OST. It definitely puts you in a contemplative mode, which works for me while writing.
Theme song of American crime thriller TV series Narcos
So I've been tripping on Narcos this week. And I've been hooked on to the credits sequence of the show. Some research on the track tells me it was composed especially for the Netflix show by Brazilian artiste Rodrigo Amarante.
For the uninitiated, Narcos is a biopic of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and while writing it, Amarante visualised the thoughts going through Escobar's mother's mind as she saw her little child become a monster, a drug-addled killing machine.
The song features the gentle voice of Amarante and a soothing, almost soporific Latin guitar melody - which is ironic considering the brutal and bloody violence that the song is about. The lyrics are entirely in Spanish and one might be excused for thinking it’s a romantic ballad, but a closer inspection makes it clear that it’s a dark and foreboding number, one that evokes terror rather than love. And the helplessness of a mother who doesn't even recognise what her son has become.
Four tet evening side by Oneohtrix Point Never
There is a swell to Oneohtrix Point Never’s compositions that at once recalls the organising principles of baroque arrangements and the sort of digital furrows ploughed by early arthouse musicians like Brian Eno and Apex Twin. Evening Side, drawn from the crepuscular section of his two-track album Morning/Evening, which released last year, is prototypal of this method. It contains as its substrate an approach to music that predates electronic instrumentation, and layers upon this compositional ideas that are au courant. This ‘edit’ - hipster for remix; what aubergine is to brinjal - by the English post-rock musician Four Tet, supplants European compositional impulses with Hindustani classical influences to excellent effect; a Raga Bilawal-Deep Blue Day supermix, sort of.
Dirt by Phish
Jam bands like Phish are a rarity in times like these, where songs start bad and end worse, all in a matter of four minutes. But just like The Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, Phish aren't limited by structures and time, especially when they play live. You'll often find Phish going into a song and emerging 17 minutes later; a rendition that will start brilliantly and end even better.
Dirt is one of the simpler ones. And in the song, Phish shows what quality is even when it is conventional. Mellow guitars and complementing keys make it a wonderful listen. And you can't help but whistle the lead riff. The lyrics are melancholic, but the high-pitched guitars towards the end still lift you up. You've heard a sad song, and it made you happy. Hard to top that.
Hurdy gurdyman by Donovan
This 48-year-old song was written by the man who taught The Beatles some brilliant guitar techniques. Its resonant melody enclosed in Donovan's soft voice echoes through your mind. Composed during a trip to India (which is evident from its sound) Hurdy gurdy man features Jaun Paul Jones (from Led Zeppelin ) playing bass.
P.S: You might have heard this song if you have watched the end credits of David Fincher's Zodiac.
I'm an albatraoz by AronChupa
For the longest time I didn't understand what the word 'Chutzpah' meant. It just sounded like noise. And then Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider happened and it gave me a bit of an inkling to what the word means. However, it was only until I heard the track I'm An Albatraoz did I really get what chutzpah means: audacity.
Helmed by Swedish electronic music producer and DJ AronChupa, I'm an Albatraoz is naughty, cheeky and audaciously awesome. It's the best song to start your pre-gaming with this weekend. I dare you to not want to dance.
Living room sessions by Pt Ravi Shankar – Raga Bhairavi
For the uninitiated, this album might sound like any other piece by Pt Ravi Shankar. But the great part about this track is that it is cheeky as opposed to his older works. At the age of 91, Pt. Ravi Shankar invited his friend, tabla player Tanmoy Bose, over and recorded a laidback album in his living room. Hence the name. Living Room Sessions by Pt Ravi Shankar was recorded in 2011 and released in April 2012, eight months before his death. It earned him a Grammy in the year 2013, which was received by his daughters Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones.
The piece is composed in Raga Bhairavi and taal Teental. Bhairavi is a late morning raga, hence a good time to play this piece would be when you are going through your morning rituals. It starts at a medium-paced tempo, as opposed to a slow-paced one which is typical of any classical music composition. From there on, it maintains the pace and ends with the same sweet note, as the beginning.
For some, Ravi Shankar’s earlier experimental work was his best. But I personally like his later work. There is an ease and comfort in his demeanour, it’s almost like he is worshipping the music, as opposed to proving his skills. I love how the piece ends with Ravi Shankar’s laugh and an amusing note, “Oh this was fun!”
Beirut by Yasmine Hamdan
If you've watched Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive (an obscure, strange but excellent film with the fantastic Tilda Swinton), you'll probably recognise this haunting voice singing Hal — a song that poured life into the final scenes of the film.
There is a sense of mystery in her voice — it lingers and it is easy to be transfixed to her cadences.
Hamdan's Beirut is a reinvention of Omar El Zenni's poem written in the 1940s. The song is about the essence of Beirut and by extension, the essence of any city.
If Hal was her pining for an old lover, Beirut is Hamdan pining for a city and its imagined spaces: "Beirut, a flower off its season," she sings. It is difficult not to be reminded of Italo Calvino's fantasy-travelogue-philosophy in Invisible Cities, "You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours."