Art doesn’t have a language and Indian bands have been showcasing their creativity through numerous regional dialects. There are different tunes in every corner, each unique yet slotting seamlessly into the larger Indian symphony. Discounting the barriers of language, we bring you a set of bands from across the country that are brimming with musical talent and raising the bar for Indian music ever higher. #DSSCRecommends 6 bands that are making waves in the Indian soundscape.
The Local Train, Delhi
“Khudi ko khud se milane,
Chalaa hai oh deewane.”
Since its inception in 2008, The Local Train, an Indian rock band, has achieved significant commercial success. Their sincere sound and lyrics made it absolutely essential for us to feature them in our indie-artists-you-must-know-of list.“Kahin door shor se, ek naya dor hai” is characteristic of the refreshingly hopeful, signature verses this band has come to be known for. Their music is raw and honest, and resonates with today’s youth. When we listen to The Local Train, it takes us to some of our best memories of listening to Green Day, U2, Indian Ocean, and Alt-J. Everything we love about the sound of these international artists, but closer to home and with sound and lyrics that are simultaneously comforting and vitalising. The band tastefully plays with the various reactions of instruments to each other. These Hindi rockstars, out on a voyage to write their own music, have motivated and spread Indian rock all around the country.
Thaikkudam Bridge, Kochi
“Raat gehari, odh lenge
Khwab toote, jod lenge
Daudte hai, log kitne
Hum bhi thoda, daud lenge…”
The name Thaikkudam Bridge is symbolic of the band’s inception near its namesake in Kochi. This Kerala-based fifteen-member band is multilingual (Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil) and multi-genre. The rock, classical, sufi, and reggae specialists in the band come together in perfect harmony and have created something rather unique. Their take on folk music is often infused with electric guitars and drums, giving the songs a complete makeover. The band’s first song Fish Rock put them on the musical map in 2013. The song is, of course, about the band’s love for fish fry! (Disclaimer: the foodie in us may be a little biased towards this band.) This local hit inspired them to go ahead with the album Navarasam, which too garnered a lot of appreciation. All the songs in the album are by various artists and showcase the myriad vocal ranges of the band. The title track, Navarasam was a tribute to the art of Kathakali and caught the attention of virtuoso musician A.R Rahman. From social media hit Fish Rock, Thaikkudam Bridge has flourished into one of the most successful Indian bands.
“Tasveerein hai purani
Par sapno ke rang zinda hai
Jeene ka dhang zinda hai.”
Established in 2001, Swarathma is one of the best-known Indian folk rock bands. Stemming from folk rock, their music is blended with blues, carnatic, reggae and unveils a world in which sounds of different cultures come together. Their lyrics are inspired by personal journeys and social and political themes in the Indian setting. The band takes us back to the golden days of Dylan with its simplistic verses and eclectic, homely sounds. Swarathma embodies a sense of rebellion in it’s most digestible form. Their latest album, Topiwalle, is a satirical take on the Indian political scene. The story behind the album is an interesting watch and promotes love, colour, and hope in Indian politics through colourful topis. The band is the perfect example of how meaningful music can be and has gained country-wide recognition for its spirited musical revolution.
Easy Wanderlings, Pune
“Then the ray fades and we split ways
The moment you know that this will end
and stay a memory, or a beautiful dream.”
Formed in 2015, this indie rock band is ready to take you on a journey of soulful conversations and creative escapades while you sit in your living room. Amidst the monotony of daily life, the Easy Wanderlings help us close our eyes, relax, and find solace in their melodies. The band’s sound has been inspired by artists such as John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and our personal favourite reminiscence, Etta James. Their album As Written In The Stars is a musical cruise into their belief that “everything will fall into place”, creating a wonderland for all listeners. Transcending boundaries of trivial differences, their music wanders into common human experiences making it relatable and comforting. The band has received recognition and acclaim within the Indian music scene and are certainly on their way to greater successes.
The Ganesh Talkies, Kolkata
“Come with your pick-up lines,
And your shiny clothes
You sweep them all off their feet…
…I’m not the kind of girl who’d fall in love,
I’m not the kind who’d cook and clean.”
Having come together in 2011, this multi-genre band is one of the most unconventional and quirky music groups we have had the pleasure of hearing. Rather than drawing inspiration from ‘80s western music, Ganesh Talkies is influenced by Bollywood, colours, shiny objects, Bappi Lahiri and Kumar Sanu. Their music is a blend of alt-rock, reggae, ska, and pop, all thrown into a pot of Bollywood fun and masala. Songs such as Item Song come with a sarcastic undertone that tackles the issue of objectification of women in Indian cinema. Ganesh Talkies challenges our society on such matters as textbook education, politics, socialisation, and saffronisation through their music. What sounds like fun dance numbers on the surface are actually satires and piercing questions about the state of our community. Besides the bold move of the band, we always enjoy reliving the ‘90s dance music vibe (and our crazy dance moves which follows) that Ganesh Talkies delivers.
Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe, Mumbai
“Zara halke gaadi haakon, mere Ram gaadi vale,
Zara dheere dheere gaadi haakon, mere Ram gaadi vale”
In 2006, a revolution in the Indian music scene came about with the inception of Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe. This band is unique in that it draws inspiration from the words of saint Kabir. To them, Kabir was a person, just like us, with the exception that he had the ability to speak his mind out loud. The band presents the words of Kabir set to contemporary music. This diverse five member band has made the words of Kabir their way of life. Their sound is inspired by Indian Ocean, Mukhtiyar Ali, Bhanwari Devi, and most interestingly, the ironic calm amidst the maddening rush of everyday. They often explain their philosophies on greed and money, and what they do to man. We’ve had the pleasure of witnessing their performances and were enchanted by the electric energy the band creates. The dedication with which they speak of Kabir and the effortlessness with which his words are weaved into their beautiful melodies make listening to Kabir Cafe an otherworldly musical experience. Even though the band has been successful in the music industry, the vibrancy they exude made it paramount for us to feature them amongst our recommendations.
It’s time we lure some of these comforting and refreshing voices in our playlists. Let these exuberant bands take you back to the sound of home.