• Wed, Nov 14, 2018
Reviews

The Riot Peddlers - Sarkarsm

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album Reviews Sep 01, 04:23pm

AKHIL SOOD Whoa. The expression of astonishment escapes my fingers since I just heard Sarkarsm by

AKHIL SOOD

Whoa. The expression of astonishment escapes my fingers since I just heard Sarkarsm by The Riot Peddlers. Is that an actual flesh-and-blood hardcore punk band? In India of all places? These guys should probably go into hiding – they’ve gone ahead and railed against the system with some degree of insolence, that too in Hindi (at times). In my experience, that usually means censorship, moral outrage, public outcry, flogging, maybe even a prison sentence or two. All they need to do now is visit a church or a temple and start dancing the fuck out.  Alternatively, they should get their ‘Chai Paani’ (aka the last song) ready just in case.

In form and approach, Sarkarsm mimics the irreverent hardcore punk movement of the ’80s in the US, spearheaded by the likes of Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys, and Minor Threat. There’s also some latter day punk influence, ala Pennywise, or maybe that’s just me. In any case, it’s punk at its crudest and funnest best, with vulgar screams delivering blasphemous and impertinent bilingual words (also often hilarious – ‘Where’s the system? ‘Cause I wanna fuck it'), unreasonably catchy melodies, and frenzied assaults of noise atop furious tempos. The music may not be too ambitious, but what these guys have successfully managed to do is lift the essence of a movement and drawn from its core, and transposed it into a relevant context, from bribery to local trains to Bollywood. In short, they’ve steered clear of being described as contrived (shudder). It’s a fresh and energetic record that, while only six songs and some 12 minutes long, retains its magnetic potency throughout. Right from the opener, ‘Bollywood Songs’, a rant against MTV, radio, Bollywood and ‘Tujhe Dekha to ye Jaana Sanam’, up until its concluding hidden tracks, Sarkarsm is relentless in its angst. And with none of the songs exceeding the two minutes-or-so mark – a hallmark of hardcore – the chance for monotony to set in is precious little, despite the repeated use of pinch harmonics and a sort of formulaic songwriting approach. Plus a major flaw here is that the songs, fast paced no doubt, could still have been faster and louder and noisier. The temptation to call the record ‘refined’, with all its negative contextual implications, is strong.

And while well intentioned and sincere, there’s always the risk that The Riot Peddlers, if they actually believe in what they’re trying to do, might just get jaded and worn out, much like their American predecessors. Call me a cynic but the state of affairs they’re so pissed off about isn’t likely to change, and then there’s the fact that they’re possibly preaching to the choir – I’m going out on a limb here but I do think their listeners are unlikely to be right-wing nuts. Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction – change has to start somewhere and all – and as long as the band has loads of fun doing what they’re doing, which they evidently do judging by Sarkarsm, well then, keep ‘em coming then. A little more than 12 minutes would be good the next time though.

Sarkarsm is available for download at www.ennuidotbomb.com

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