Black Letters

Black Letters: Indie Dream Pop from India

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I don’t know what “Falter” is trying to do, and that’s a good thing. The latest song by Bengaluru’s Black Letters starts off like it’s going to build into a Portishead groove before stopping and taking a clearer, R&B-like turn. Now I hear romantic Mogwai. Now I see an endless horizon and a blood red sky going on and on and wanting to drive all through it. The song’s music video shares a similar dreamlike haze. It’s all quite lovely.

From Bandcamp:

“Falter is the debut single from upcoming full-length album by Black Letters.
The new release via Overfeed Records is a follow-up to Petrichor, EP (2015) and Shapes On The Wall, LP (2014).”

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Peter Cat Recording Co.

Peter Cat Recording Co.: for fans of Broken Social Scene and Yo La Tengo.

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You know that heady feeling you get when you listen to Broken Social Scene and Yo La Tengo? New Delhi’s Peter Cat Recording Co. specializes in this frizzy ghostly sound, which they refer to as “postmodern jazz.” And they’re wedding specialists?

All their releases, especially their latest ‘Transmissions,’ are worth listening to from start to finish. Stick around after “Bebe da Vyah” for “Connection (?)” and the BSS comparison will make more sense.

Peter Cat Recording Co.: Website Bandcamp SoundCloud

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Adam & The Fish Eyed Poets – “Charliesheen”

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Year: 2015

Album: More Songs from an Island

“Charliesheen,” my favorite song named after Charlie Sheen, bears a forbearing sense of dread from its fluent guitars and opening lines of its music video: “Where there is a will there is a way to delay disappointment.” From there things get less optimistic.

Like the postcard that reads “welcome to Malibu,” the narrator, who is the Chennai, India-based musician Kishore Krishna, the man behind Adam & The Fish Eyed Poets, is holding onto the idea that there’s place somewhere where he will feel less sad about being sad. Maybe it’s a physical place, like that Malibu beach. Maybe it’s more abstract, like death via suicide. I don’t think Krishna knows. That’s probably the point.

More Songs from an Island is a continuation of 2012’s Songs from an Island (how clever) and it continues the theme so clearly stated on the band’s Bandcamp: “Two terrible human beings find themselves stuck in an arranged marriage. Nothing really happens. So it goes.” I appreciate Krishna’s self-deprecation in his Kurt Vonnegut-like mission statement and the band’s genre description on its Facebook page, which simply reads “ugh no.” So it goes. Come for the guitars, stay for the storytelling.

Check out more of Adam & The Fish Eyed Poets on Bandcamp.

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Anoushka Shankar

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From: London, UK

Sounds Like: Classical Indian sitar

Anoushka Shankar has been playing the sitar since she was four years old when she began taking lessons her father, the late Ravi Shankar, who helped introduce the sitar to western popular culture through his association with the Beatles and his performance at Woodstock. Famous father aside, Anoushka has an establish career of her own and now performs sold-out shows all around the world, including places like Carnegie Hall, and she collaborates with several renowned musicians, including her half-sister Norah Jones. With her skill and diverse works, from collaborating with DJs and playing electronica and Spanish flamenco, many will claim that she is one of the best sitar players alive today.

Her latest album Home finds Shankar back to her roots in classical Indian sitar music. With no other major collaborators, Shankar is front and center performing in the style of her late father. Rather than being flashy, Shankar puts emphasis on several different ragas, melodic modes in Indian classical music, which will transport you back to India.

She tells NPR that the album, like much of Indian music, takes time to grow on the listener:

“This music is a slow burn, you know? If someone’s used to the average two-and-a-half-minute song on the radio, it can be hard to understand what’s going on, because at two and a half minutes we’re still just playing the first notes and establishing things,” she says. “Give it the time to open up and play, and then it sort of seeps under your skin, and it has a very profound impact as a result.”

Home is both a tribute to her father and a return to form for the still young sitar musician, and it is an excellent introduction to classical Indian music.

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Kavita Shah – “Oju Oba (ft. Lionel Loueke)”

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From: New York City

Sounds Like: A soft-spoken, jazzier Regina Spektor singing with Seu Jorge aka the guy who played the David Bowie songs in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Kavita Shah is a New York-based jazz singer of Indian descent who sings original arrangements based in her Indian origins along with some clever pop covers. Her partnership with West African guitarist virtuoso Lionel Loueke, who also co-produced her excellent debut album Visions, gives her music an interesting edge, which at many times combines traditional Indian tablas with West African koras while sounding like a jazz quintet.

Visions is out now on Spotify and iTunes, which also includes a great jazzy cover of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes”.

 

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Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle – The Queens Of Bollywood

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You might not recognize their names or faces, but you’ve heard the singing of sisters Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle many times already. Together they hold the Guinness World Record for most recorded singers in history, each sister singing in over a thousand (!) Bollywood movies since the 1940s – and they’re still recording today. Pretty much when you think of Bollywood music and any sort of Indian female singing, you’re thinking of these two.

In Bollywood films, attractive young actresses lip sync and dance to Lata and Asha’s voices, which might be the reason why you don’t recognize them since they’re doing all the work off camera. With music being such an important part of Bollywood, the most popular movie industry in the world, these sisters are considered true living legends of world cinema and music.

Below are two examples of each sister’s singing, two from older Bollywood films and another from a more recent movie. This shows how Bollywood has changed over the decades but how some aspects, like the singing of these two legends, hasn’t changed.

Lata Mangeshkar – “Chalte Chalte” (from 1971’s Pakeezah)

 

Asha Bhosle – “Dum Maro Dum” (from 1971’s Hare Krishna Hare Rama)

 

Asha Bhosle – “Mujhse Dosti Karoge” (from 2002’s Mujhse Dosti Karoge)

 

And just to prove that these woman are really the singers, watch Lata’s live performance below.

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