Stupid Ditties is back. The annual compilation, which features all sorts of indie music in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and forms, just as long as it’s not metal, is in its seventh year now. That’s seven years of the good people over at Ennui.Bomb listening to millions of bands, carefully and patiently scrutinizing every single entry sent, and lending the lucky few their support and helping them reach out to an audience that they wouldn’t otherwise have had. It’s an honest and almost noble endeavour, one that’s providing young and old artists in the country with a platform. Clichéd as it may sound, that platform is actually priceless to the young musician, and as listeners, we get a fun compilation (for FREE!) with loads of new music to discover and share.
This year’s edition has 29 songs. 29. That’s twenty-nine. 29 songs is roughly three times the length of the average album, seven times the average EP. At around 110 minutes, the album is far longer than even the average Tool album, and almost as long as a guitar solo in the average Dream Theatre song. In the age of the internet and fun-sized attention spans, that doesn’t always fly. There’s bound to be the odd shitty song that’s going to sneak through the vetting process, and that’s exactly what’s happened. That’s OK since there are a lot of very new bands in there, still trying to find their feet and discover what their sound really means. There’s also lots of bands who’re broke or didn’t have the courage to ask the producer to, you know, cut the highs every now and again. All that is fine.
But the heft and the variety of music on offer do affect the listening experience a tad. There’s just so much to consume, and all the songs just sound so different from each other that I’m instantly made to pick favourites, choose songs I like, shift-delete the ones I don’t. I’m making mini-compilations within the compilation. That’s one major flaw with the album, and the concept of a large compilation album itself – the lack of any discernible overarching theme or concept beyond the categorization as “unmetal” is something my ears aren’t able to adjust to that easily.
But intellectual asides aside, the actual music here reaches great peaks – there are enough exceptional songs on SD7 to validate the high number of tracks on the album. And they all fashion diverse moods and feelings: the Bollywood/disco infused pop-rock of Ganesh Talkies, a band that sounds far better live, has its rightful place, as does the watered down pop garage vibe of ‘Apocryphal’ by The Vinyl Records, a band that sounds far better on record than it does live. ‘Fancy Dress + Hindi = Awesome’ (by Hoirong) wins best song (probably) and best song title (most definitely), while the wistful and very enchanting ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ by Duncan Rufus wins best lyrics – “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…” is all I could gather.
There are enough guys who’ve been around the block just a bit – like The Lightyears Explode, Toymob and Audio Pervert, Sky Rabbit, Spud in the Box, Modern Mafia, etc. – who’re featured here. But the process of discovering new music is the most exciting part of a compilation such as this one; it becomes essential to the whole experience. The Nirvana-soaked ‘Old Man’ by Bone Broke being one such; as also ‘Dive’ by Loch Lomond, which is one of those raw acousticky alternative songs that sounds very much like it could collapse and fall under its own weight at any second – it’s weird in a very likeable way. Protest group Kabir Kala Manch also make their debut in this niche space with the scathing ‘Zopadpati Re’. And the most oddball and endearing song on the album has to be ‘Hindi for Dummies’ by Gowri and The Jass Bstards – it’s a charming little ditty about learning Hindi, with the most eccentric backing vocals one could picture in such a song. Essentially, there’s just a lot that the album offers, musically.
So coming back to the overriding theme of the review, Lucky 7: Stupid Ditties does work, simply by virtue of the songs on it. The sheer length of the album is daunting, which is kind of a problem, and whether the quality of the music makes it OK to listen to an album for almost two hours straight is a judgement call. I’m leaning towards a reluctant ‘Yes’, but I’m not really 100 percent sure just yet. (I’m also not quite sure why there are 40 seconds of silence at the end of ‘Light Bulbs’ by F16s.)
Download Lucky 7: Stupid Ditties here