Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gaana 3.0 Unvieled - Review

Gaana.com has revealed its new look, revamping itself by a large margin. Well, I got an early access to it couple of days ago, thanks to the my music blogging privileges and I loved it, every bit!

So what's new?

Looks : It looks great. It resembles the iTunes store somewhat, but its just me probably. Anyway, the new metro interface is pretty cool, user friendly. Its compact, and space conscious unlike the older version where everything was stuffed into one place which made it hard to distinguish between albums sometimes. And its brighter!

Music : Collection wise, there isn't much changes I guess. Gaana boasts of 2 Million songs. I don't know, it is practically not possible to know how much bigger the library of Gaana is compared to the competitors. But I'm satisfied with it.

Interface : Interface has changed a lot. The uber cool looks are eye pleasing. Same goes with the fluid movements of the tabs when they are pointed upon. The drop-downs works great. The home page shows the new releases as well as the features playlists. Scrolling down, we get the Radios, top songs, and top artists. Search has improved a lot, I'd say. Its way easier and faster than the old one and more organized.

Player : High quality and and high clarity. I think Gaana has so far the best music player among Indian streaming sites. 128 kbps streaming they claim and I think the quality is up to that. Shuffle, repeat, volume controls all good. Playlist is easily accesible and detailed. Only problem, which was there in the old version and remain unsolved is that even a slight glitch in net connection may result in the player being stopped. Its irritating, they need to work on that.

Apps : The SingAlong feature is still there, which I personally love, though it'd have been great if a recording feature was there too. Playlists from Zoom and Radio Mirchi continue to be present. Radios and pre-programmed playlists are good, but not much use to me.

Gaana Mobile has also some great changes, but I'm yet to try it out.

So give a try to the new super cool Gaana.com!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Top Songs - Coke Studio at MTV Season 3

So Season 3 of Coke Studio at MTV comes to an end. Better than Season 2? I think yes, definitely, why not? The production quality was better, the aesthetic appeal was better, lineup was better, popularity was better and on an average there wasn't a single disappointing episode overall. Even the various artists' one, which I consider was the weakest, had its own perks so there is that.

Having 8 episodes, with an ensemble of top notch artists, Coke Studio India strived to be, if not above, but in par with its Pakistani counterpart. Whether it has achieved that or not is another topic of discussion, but the efforts are appreciable and thankfully going in the right direction. Roping in A R Rahman was a highly clever decision, I'd say. For one thing, the show got a wider reach riding on Rahman's popularity. I don't think people took notice of Season 2 like they did with Season 3. It definitely helped the other artists too, Papon and Ram Sampath mainly. The good artists they are, their popularity among the masses weren't too great before the show, their songs were definitely, but their faces weren't. I'm glad for that.

Speaking of the artists, Rahman shined as usual, throwing us some intelligent gems like Zariya, Ennile Maha Oliyo and Aao Balma and giving a tremendous start to the season. Ram Sampath followed, maintaining the momentum to an extent, though a notch below Rahman. Nevertheless, his songs Piya Se Naina and Kattey are among the most popular of the entire season. Clinton Cerejo came next and while he wasn't in his stellar form he showed in Season 2, got us satisfied with his contrasting choice of genres. Baina, Kalappi and Marghat. I mean, even superficially, the tracks are grossly different. With the early release of Bismillah, expectations from Salim-Sulaiman were in the peak and they kind of dealt with it beautifully. Kare Mann Bhajan and Cheene Mora Chain for instance. Papon's and Amit Trivedi's episodes along with Rahman's comprises my top 3. Papon, the clear underdog among the producers gave a pleasant surprise, churning out high quality tracks like Benaam Khwaayishein, Dinae Dinae and Khumaar, took our attention through the perky and energetic Tauba. Amit Trivedi on the other hand was rock-steady, above all creatively, just like in season 2. 5 songs, one less than the usual and all my favorites! Hitesh Sonik was in his usual self. Haal Ve Raba intrigued, Ghar tried to ape Husna and Ramaiyaa will be among the top songs of the season. The various artists' episode was the weakest, as I said before, but then again you can't speak bad of Vyakul Jiyara and Man Manam. Where in the former, Vijay Prakash revealed his excellent prowess as a composer and in the later Sonam Kalra mesmerized with her singing.

Lets talk about the best singers. Ani Choying Drolma & Farah Siraj scintillated us with Zariya while Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, needless to say was legendary. Bhanvari Devi and Sona Mohapatra ruled Ram Sampath's turn while Vijay Prakash, Kailash Kher and Sidhaarth Basrur did at Cerejo's. Kailash Kher again was the highlight of Salim-Sulaiman's Bismillah and Salim Merchent proved again how good a singer he is. Anweshaa Dutta mesmerized in Benaam Khwaayishein, she is definitely somebody to watch out for the future! Papon along with Benny Dayal and Harshdeep Kaur did a great job in his episode. Amit Trivedi made sound every singer with him just great. Himself, Tochi Raina, Kavita Seth, Karthik, Shalmali Kholgade, Tanvi Shah and Jaggi, to name! Hitesh Sonik worked magic with Piyush Mishara as expected and Hans Raj Hans was in superb form too! Then again, his wife Sunidhi Chauhan was the best of the lot, singing Ramaiyaa with such grace! Vijay Prakash nailed Vyalul Jiyara as composer and singer both and Sonam Kalra has shown immense promise.

Among some of the other artists worth mentioning is Mohiny Dey. 16 year old she is and already among the top bass players in the country! Also Rushad Mistry, bassist, but of course he doesn't need any more compliments for the talent he has. Sivamani totally rocked his part in with Rahman.

I don't have a definitive top 10 or 15 number of songs from the show, its higher basically, and I don't know how to rank fusion music in an order. There is no benchmark, the genres are so diverse and different so comparisons are are out of the equation. So I trust my ears, posting the songs which I've heard the most number of times and which I'll prefer hearing over the others in the coming weeks and months.

The below songs are listed in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, though songs coming at the top are the ones most listened by me.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Attuned Spirits | Vasuda Sharma | Indipop Music Review

Attuned Spirits Music Review
Artist : Vasuda Sharma

Listen to the album online HERE
Buy the album legally HERE

Vasuda Sharma was an unknown name for me until I heard Maajhi on YouTube one fine day. I took a liking for it and have been following Vasuda since then.  From the research I've done, Vasuda Sharma is part of Aasma, the pop band which surfaced from the second edition of the band hunt reality show Channel [V] Popstars. The status of the band is unknown, but some of the other members have made their own name in Bollywood, Neeti Mohan and Sangeet Haldipur, to name. Vasuda had composed for a movie in 2010, then went on to study at The Berklee School of Music for an year. Attuned Spirits is her return act I guess. Another interesting fact is that the album is fully funded by crowd sourcing! That is quite appreciable, for the crowd sourcing culture is yet to grow in India, some good demonstrations are needed.
So all said and done, the expectations from Attuned Spirits, Vasuda's solo debut album, are definitely pretty high! Taking a look.

Maajhi gives a heady start, the free flowing composition work magic with Vasuda's soulful vocals! The Hinglish lyrics gets along well, makes the song soothing to core. #Repeat
Sax is the highlight of the otherwise too superbly arranged Meera bhajan remake Giridhar. Here again, the melodic backbone is pretty strong which gets to another high with the well refined singing bit. #Repeat
Almost the same can be said for the breezy Barsan Lage Nain, though it takes more of a classical route towards the end portions and stands out, obviously. #Repeat
Love-drenched lyrics of  Laagi Lagan demonstrates Vasuda's excellent range and vocal variations while the strings and occasional Violin gives highly pleasing results! #Repeat
Classical base of Jaagi Jaagi Raina is evident, though not very clear and while Vasuda moves gracefully with her vocals, the arrangements simply stand out! A smooth amalgamation of Sax, Violin, Keys and Guitar (and some other indiscernible instruments too) provides one hell of background! #Repeat
Calling out to you aptly alternates between a modern, frothy outlook and an intense pathos led avatar, and the Cello along with the keys, Violin and Guitar are used to brilliant effect! #Repeat
Perplexing is the word for the heavily unconventional sounds behind Maula! The Kabir dohas are skillfully stuffed into an ensemble of sounds with an Arabic feel in parts while switching to a bass led metal like sound towards the end! #Repeat
Dhola somehow changes the entire mood of the album. Mainly because of  its rich and joyful Rajasthani dance base which gets along wonderfully with Vasuda's sweet and perky vocals! #Repeat
With Keep the Faith the album does a somersault again, this time to land on an aggressive Emo base! Vasuda sounds passionately deft and expressive while conveying the deeply laid out emotions of the lyrics with fantastic skill! #Repeat
The genre switches to bluesy base in Cruel World but the prospects aren't much exciting here, not really. The guitar interludes are great BTW which somehow raises the bar of the otherwise average composition. 
The immensely swayful tune works in great favor of Never Lose your Heart which feature a lilting A capella-ish background! Spritely singing by Vasuda helps. #Repeat

Verdict : Back with a bang?! Definitely. Attuned Spirits doesn't go wrong anywhere along the way. A masterful association of world music with Indian roots, the album is a steal! And Vasuda Sharma has taken me by surprise! She is a lot of talent. Composing, singing, arranging. I mean, how many Indian girls are out there doing all these things together and with a mellifluous perfection? Oh yes, the spirits are attuned and good things are happening to Indipop again! :D

Must Hears! : The Entire Album


Again, buy the album legally HERE. For Rs. 100, 11 bloody good songs are totally worth it!

P.S : Here is an article published in Rolling Stone where Vasuda talks about the album, song by song. If you want to dig deep into the classical bases that is the raga and stuff of the songs, this might help.

And here are the two accompanying videos released.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mickey Virus Music Review

Mickey Virus Music
Music Direction : Hanif Sheikh

What I expected? : Nothing

Tose Naina by Arijit Singh is pleasant, sufi-ish, but I have a feeling that Mohit Chauhan would have done a better job than Arijit.
Aakhan hi Aankhon makes the cut, the good tune as well as the singing by Mohit Chauhan and Palak Muchhal helps! #Repeat
Pyaar China Ki Maal Hai, Sajna Ve Sajna and the Title song are simply 'skip'pable!

Verdict : What intrigues is the fact that Hanif Sheikh manages to sound every singer incredibly nasal! Arijit Singh hasn't sung so nasal in his entire career, and the the guy who sang Pyaar China can beat even Himesh Reshammiya! Same goes with Sajna and the Title song. As the saving grace, Palak Muchhal doesn't go with the trend. Not for two hearable songs, Mickey Virus would have gone down to the poor zone. It maintains a Below Average identity somehow.

Must Hears! : Aankhon Hi Aankhon


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ram Leela Music Review

Ram Leela Music

Music Direction : Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Lyrics : Siddharth - Garima

What I expected? : Going by the trailer and the music direction track record Bhansali has, an emotional ensemble.

Raam Chahe Leela doesn't soar, its appealing in parts but that is it. Indian Idol find Bhoomi Trivedi does an impressive job though!
Lahu muh lag Gaya sounds pleasantly seductive, the traditional arrangements help while Shahil Hada shines his way through!
Ang Laga De works the same way, although the mellowed down arrangements and Aditi Paul's graceful vocals make it a bit more luscious affair! #Repeat
Poore Chaand has Shahil Hada again, but can't help getting a monotonous sound, the tune isn't exciting either.
Nagada Sang Dhol has Shreya Ghoshal in pure form, especially the vocal variations she brings into the framework fits in the garba dance mood perfectly! #Repeat
Laal Ishq flaunts a bhajan-like outlook for most parts, thanks to that hypnotic tune and temple sounds, while it is more of a romantic affair going by the lyrics. Arijit Singh gets the job done pretty well here, he aces it actually! #Repeat
Ishqyaun Dhishqyaun is weak in itself, lyrics and composition wise, while Aditya Narayan, the good singer he is, strangely sounds like his dad but somehow lacks the charisma and is oddly bleak.
Mor Bani Thanghat Kare is folk-ish in core, like the usual songs Osman Mir sings, nothing to brag about but.
Dhoop can be easily mistaken for an Ismail Darbar song, the sweet yet moody melody is marvelously crafted! With Shreya Ghoshal flowing in beautifully, it makes one hell of a hear! #MustHear
Tattad Tattad, again by Aditya Narayan has a loud south Indian dance template, boringly noisy. Skip.

Verdict : Maybe this is the kind of music the movie needs, but Ram Leela soundtrack leaves one somewhat dissatisfied. Bhansali does great when it comes to the arrangements, but he must really work on his tunes, I'd say. Good effort, could have been a lot better.

Must Hears! : Dhoop, Laal Ishq, Ang Laga De, Nagada Sang