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Through The Cracks: 9 Honorable Mentions 2023

columns Dec 26, 04:38pm

List number two.

One thing you can’t ignore about Indian indie these days is the sheer volume of its output. We have listened to hundreds of releases this year, if not more; not all of them have landed on a feature or a review here at RSJ for a variety of reasons (taste, feeling, time and many more). But a piece of music not always being our speed does not mean it should not be highlighted. We are all different kinds of listeners, and there’s a lot of stuff you might enjoy. So let’s do you a solid and briefly talk about 9 releases that we didn’t end up featuring. Until now, that is.

 

Nemophilis – The Iceberg

Here’s an album from Pune band Nemophilis, who have had a very productive 2023. It’s an alternative rock album with some awesome performances, really good production and excellent chemistry between the band members. It often serves 2000s tropes a bit too much instead of innovating on them (sometimes overtly so, to be fair), but if you’re a fan of this time in modern rock, ‘The Iceberg’ is an album which is going to greatly impress you.

 

Hiraeth – Save The Living

Guwahati outfit Hiraeth are downright impressive on their virtuosic single about deforestation in Assam; this thing’s got contemporary jazz and pop-funk sounds with a couple solos and some great grooves… one would wish the band had opted for production that wasn’t so slick and borderline sterile. That bit takes ‘Save The Living’ into glossy pop territory, which is something it really isn’t. Still a hell of a song, though.

 

Pratika x PrabhuNeigh – Growing Up

It’s fair to say that Mumbai duo (and siblings) Pratika and Pritish Prabhune released possibly the most honest rap EP of the year with ‘Growing Up’, a completely (and often uncomfortably) open look into their childhood and upbringing in Mumbai. Uncompromising as the performances and production on this thing are (and as urgently relevant the subject matter is), maybe a couple of sounds are a bit dated…? Either way, this one’s a must-listen.

 

Shreya Bajpai – Differences

We kid thee not when we say this really could be the most literal interpretation of arena pop that was made in the indie scene this year. Every single thing about it is built for radio and playlisting; big chorus, very good production, cool vocals, and more earworm-y elements per square foot than Ariana Grande’s home studio. It’s borderline too catchy, and don’t worry; we won’t tell anyone if you replay it tens of times over the next days or weeks. We also did.

 

Splinter – Kill The Parasite

Pretty heavy and brutal bit of metal here from Pune-Kolkata outfit Splinter, but for some reason, the guitars are a bit papery in the final product and sit beneath one of the loudest (by proportion) drum mixes in what is meant to be a wall-of-sound heavy thrash tune. Don’t let that distract you from the ace writing on the song, though; it’s plenty headbang-able.

 

Komorebi – The Fall

Obviously the new concept album from Tarana Marwah (and all the great collaborators on this) is immaculate. You’ve heard of her, you know she’s hyper-talented... honestly, the only reason we didn’t write a 2000-word review is that we assumed everyone would be playing the hell out of it anyway. In case we were wrong and you didn’t know ‘The Fall’ exists, please go listen to it. It’s one of the best-crafted albums of the year.

 

Anohnymouss – Entammo!

A multi-lingual and multi-artist collaboration, ‘Entammo!’ is really one of the funnest hip-hop songs that came out in 2023. It’s wacky as hell, every featured artist (Agan, Patch Eve, and MC Couper) has entertaining bars, and the song doesn’t take itself too seriously. This one’s just lots of good fun. Give it a shot.

 

Swara – limbo

Swara is from Bangalore and her highly listenable new EP borrows heavily from 2000s R&B – this would very happily land on any playlist that has Usher and Brandy songs on it. Not that this is a bad thing; the city is leading a cultural movement of making slick, catchy music that belongs just as much in a club as at home during an evening when it randomly starts raining for no reason and you need to cancel all your going-out plans. No offence, Bangaloreans.

 

Chirag Todi - Yearning (feat. Anubha Kaul)

Mr. Chirag Todi out of Ahmedabad was on the Weekender bill recently, which caps a big year for him. Everything he’s been part of has been excellent, he’s in the Compass Box collective which has been relentless in putting out high-quality music all year… ‘Yearning’ is a super-polished blues tune with great vocals from Anubha Kaul and lyrics from Sreenath Sreenivasan; if we covered everything he and Raag (Sethi) and Ahmedabad’s indie scene was up to in 2023, we wouldn’t have had space for anything else. So go and listen to it if you haven’t yet. Duh.

 

If y’all enjoyed this, we’ll do another one of these this week. We always have more to highlight. See you tomorrow!

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