• Sat, Sep 26, 2020

2019 Wrap-Up : The Old And The New

Dec 31, 07:13pm

The year and decade are done. Here is some music you should know about.

2019 and this decade in general have been huge years for the music scene in India. With an independent scene that is closer to being fully realised than ever before and a lot of willingness shown by various outlets to invest in and market the artists therein, we are in a great place to take our music and our talent forward into the next decade. This year was also quite a prolific one, with tons of new music being released. It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses, however. This big push has brought with it a set machinery of promotion and media-curated opinion that focuses on marketing big names and making sure they stay right at the top of the mainstream. This means that (as with any growing culture) even though it is easier to release material than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that there is a set of big names that is focused on a bit more than others. So you all know about Prateek Kuhad (whose ‘cold/mess’ EP was absolutely stellar and a highlight of the year) and the whole rap scene (that has completely exploded and pretty much dominates popular listening today). You know that indie music and singer-songwriter stuff is big this year. But here are 12 potential artists, some more well known than others, that you should check out and stay up to date on. 


1. Coma Rossi
These guys are a progressive metal outfit from Bangalore who released their self-titled debut album late last year, and it is excellent. It is incredibly rare for a debut effort to be this polished and well-written, and the band also have the advantage of being very skilled musicians. They tackle long-format songs and instrumental trickery with ease, and the album flows extremely well to boot. If the genre is for you, do give this a try. The band has signed a record deal and played live a bunch over this year, so here’s hoping we see more of them in 2020.



2. The Koniac Net
These guys have been doing their thing for a while, and their album ‘They Finally Herd Us’ is pretty clear proof of that. They’ve been quite active on the gig circuit too, with many performances including one at NH7 Weekender, so chances are you might have seen them live. They’re a multifaceted band but root their sound in rock and a bit of alternative too, which is a sound that’s slowed down by an unfair amount in past years. The album is solid and the performances are obviously really good, so make sure you keep an eye out for their future releases.





3. Beard Of Harmony
This 2-piece released one of the most drop-dead gorgeous EPs of the year with the amazing ‘Roots’. Featuring nothing but two acoustic guitars and two vocals, they put out four of the most ethereal and yet rootsy songs released in a while. Anyone who went to their live performances would have enjoyed them to the hilt too. Unfortunately, the band ended up being a casualty of Bangalore (their base) pretty much shutting shop as a place for live music and all the opportunities to showcase their art, so the future of the band perhaps lies elsewhere. But the EP is an absolute treat, and you must hear it.




4. Peter Cat Recording Co.
A lot of you might say this is redundant because PCRC is big enough, but their album ‘Bismillah’ warrants a mention at the very least because it represents something you just don’t see that often, which is a band doing exactly what they want. Even though some people might feel differently about it than others, the band doesn’t sound like they care. Genres be damned and opinions, too. This album deserves a listen just by virtue of that. And it’s quite good, of course.





5. Gauley Bhai
This band is based in Bangalore. Their music is a fascinating collage of cultures, upbringings and the individual members’ varied musical influences. And the result is often stunning. Their full-length will be out in 2020, but do yourself a favour and watch the music videos they’ve put out so far, with the art direction measuring up to the music in every way possible. These guys have the opportunity to blow up in a big way, so help make that happen.




6. Colorblind
Kartik Mishra makes music under this moniker, and his album ‘Post Modern Holocaust’ is a banger. It’s got the works; post-rock, noise rock, some droning guitars and some of the most interesting production on an album in today’s gloss-ridden cookie-cutter age of pop. It’s definitely worth checking out, and the album as a whole is a great listening experience. It’s a good reminder that variation in genre is still viable.




7. Gumbal
The Mumbai 4-piece put out an album that defines being ambitious in 2019; ‘Armstrong’s List’ is a 7-track concept album that chronicles Neil Armstrong’s moon journey and music that might have represented his thoughts and feelings along the way. And it’s a mix of prog, rock and some old-school sounds. Yeah, in 2019. The fact that the band even decided to do something that requires so much attention and has such a big concept means that the least you can do is give the album that much. Luckily for you, the listening experience is a good one and the production on the album is fantastic. Hopefully the band continues to stay on this road and keep improving.




8. Aswekeepsearching
Yes, you know who Awks are. Yes, you’ve heard a few of their songs and maybe you’re even a fan. But their album ‘Rooh’ really is the band’s first big step forward in sound, which results from them taking a big step away from what made them big. Don’t worry, the post-rock and slow-building ethos of the band’s music is still very much present. But on the album, they have some riffs. They have genuine rock structure. They have hard-hitting chorus lines. Hell, they even have a fully acoustic song in there. And they excel at it all, and that is why the album is worth a listen. It’s the sound of a band changing it up and succeeding.




9. Heat Sink
This is an Ahmedabad-based band that does pretty much whatever you want. They have the neo-soul that is every music major’s wet dream, they have the smooth and buttery grooves that are still popping, they have some prog and other elements to keep other people interested. They still have space to grow, but they’ve been doing some big things like getting on the NEXA program and so on, so keep an eye out for them.





10. Sandunes
Sanaya Ardeshir is not an unknown name by any means, but her EP ‘11:11’ is truly one of the best electronic releases of the year. You’re not going to find much else with the sheer depth of production, subtlety of sound and songwriting strength in the genre, so this is pretty a no-brainer. If you like downtempo and the kind of half-acoustic half-electronic thing that artists like Bonobo made famous, go ahead and give this release some listens.





11. Easy Wanderlings
Pune’s Easy Wanderlings put out just a little 2-song EP ‘My Place To You’, but it showcases room to grow for a band that’s already making strides with every year and show. They are not afraid to have big string arrangements or quiet acoustic sounds in their music, often changing between the two over the course of a single track. Check out the EP and watch for them to polish and make further progress with their sound in the years to come.






12. Blackstratblues
Blackstratblues can be the most famous band on planet earth and their every release deserves to be on every list, so they are the correct artist to round out this small list. ‘When It’s Time’ is the album that young people love because it’s the blues, and older people love because, well, it’s the blues. The fact that an album like this exists and is popular this day and age is undying proof that we are ready to move forward while taking out past and influences with us. That is called wisdom, and if there is one thing to do next decade, it’s to be wise.


Another ten years or whatever arbitrary unit of time we choose is ahead of us. Let’s make it count, and let’s keep making and listening to music. Heaven knows that’s what counts in the end.



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