Patio Unplugged: Mumbai band Calico mixes alternative and R&B to create a smooth listen

Manas Mitul

Oct 24, 2017 17:19:52 IST

Editor’s note: Patio Unplugged — a platform for indie artistes and a Lazy Patio Films production — is bringing over 30 musicians from Mumbai in its first season, to audiophiles. Born out of a love for acoustic music and a passion for film-making, Patio Unplugged not only provides a stage to artists but also a chance to record their music, and shoot two music videos. What sets this programme apart, is that artistes from across genres recreate their music in an unplugged format. Each artist/band featured on the show will perform two original songs. The Habitat Comedy and Music Café is the audio partner for the show. The Habitat also records, mixes and masters the tracks for Patio Unplugged and hosts the artistes every Saturday as an event called 'The Listening Room Sessions'. We're featuring each of the artistes from season 1, on Firstpost.

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There is a lot of promising independent music to be explored in India from an ocean of genres, but most of it gets lost amidst the Poseidon called Bollywood music. With every streaming platform, every bootleg website and every major record label catering to popular beats that you've listened to a million times over till they've formed an annoying strand in your DNA, you rarely get a chance to discover.

Patio Unplugged: Mumbai band Calico mixes alternative and R&B to create a smooth listen

Mumbai band Calico on Patio Unplugged. YouTube screengrab

Lots of good indie bands peddling their own version of funk, soul, R&B, Reggae, hip hop and metal have come up over the years and some have even made a name for themselves. But our consumption of Western music has largely filtered down to finding comfort when that Ed Sheeran song comes on at the local pub. How has familiarity not bred contempt here? Music reduced to a trend: from the "Shape of You" to "Despacito".

There's a new Mumbai-based indie band worth checking out named Calico, and they have recently released two songs through Patio Unplugged on YouTube. They are a four-piece band who describe themselves as a sort of coming together of pop, jazz, soul, R&B and funk. Their first song, "Garnet Eye" does well to explain their style. The song stays within the boundaries of pop music but with a strong R&B spine. "Garnet Eye" has a smooth bass lick and even the guitars rarely venture into the treble strings, creating a very moody track. The soft vocals complement the acoustic arrangement of the song quite well too. A short bluesy guitar solo also finds its way towards the end of the song.

The band's second song "Tides" starts off as a more conventional alternative rock song, with a plucked intro. The song slowly builds up and intensifies with drums, chiming guitars and falsetto vocals joining in, before culminating in a proper jam. The song is pretty different from the first one, yet there's a definite identity to both of them that remains consistent.

Calico's sound isn't new or experimental and you've definitely heard it before, but it is well executed and smooth. I couldn't help but find shades of California-based R&B duo Rhye in their songs, especially in "Garnet Eye". They do have an atmospheric quality — the kind that could hang well in a club where 'loud' isn't the norm. Calico doesn't stray too far from the mainstream, but still sounds refreshing because of how singular the mainstream has become. Of course, acoustic versions do sound mellow and easy-to-listen, but they come with their limitations. It would be interesting to see Calico experiment within their style and incorporate a few more elements to their sound when they escape the confines and go plugged.

Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 17:19:52 IST