Before The Dawn [album] – Dream Alive

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As we enter 2015, it is quite simply remarkable how many of us – including me – reminisce the days of classic rock [late ’60s to the late ’80s, primarily focusing on the commercially-popular hard rock sounds of the ’70s] – and remain firmly entrenched in a time warp. Thank goodness for that as even the sounds of this generation have got their priorities right, even though none of them were probably born then, such as the Los Angeles based quintet – consisting of Nik Phoeniks [vocals, keyboards], Ramon Ryder [rhythm guitar, vocals], Karan Parikh [lead guitar], Martin Fredriksson [bass], and Stanley Love [drummer] – who are known together as Dream Alive. They have been slogging it out in and around their hometown areas, building up a sizeable audience because they deliver live too and, now, Dream Alive has delivered an album that not merely summarises their strengths, but captures everything that was good in those days of classic rock.  This is unabashedly mainstream rock, but there is a real urgency to the songs and the performances that provides the album a real emotional core, including the tight production – courtesy guitarist Karan who triples up as the album’s engineer and mixer too – that keeps the sounds tied to the early, pre-visual ’80s.  Among the surging tracks, some standing out more than the others, are “Don’t Say No”, which has a marvellous, brief interplay between bass and keyboards, then there is “Waiting For So Long”, which contains some remarkable guitaring from Karan and, far from taking it easy, the rockier “See You Tonight”. Many albums may have scaled to the top of the charts, many of them not so good but, in ‘Before The Dawn’, here is a band that is a hands down winner!

 

Listen and Download the songs here: http://www.artistaloud.com/dreamalive

– Review by PARAG KAMANI

Alphaaz [album] – Mustafa Sabuwala

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An entrepreneur who has diversified into becoming a ghazal singer, Mustafa Sabuwala, extends his musical passion on ‘Alphaaz’, his [debut?] album. The compositional style by music composer Shubhankar and his rhythmic instincts are strong points, effectively supporting the comparative simplicity of Mustafa’s lyrics. The musical arrangements across the songs – some of them being “Zindagi In Raaston”, “Javani Toh Javani”, “Kuch Is Tarah”, and “Is Haseeno Mein” – feature different instruments, ranging from flute to santoor among others, and the subtlety in their usage provide an innocence and freshness resulting in the effective musical charm of ‘Alphaaz’ with Mustafa’s uncomplicated vocal techniques and ability providing the rest. The songs, all framed inside a single genre, are beautifully written and played.  A sincere effort that needs to be commended.

 

Listen and Download the songs here: http://www.artistaloud.com/mustafasabuwala

– Review by PARAG KAMANI

Main Ladlaa – Aimann Singh

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Father cum composer, lyricist, and producer MS Randhawa has ensured that his youthful son Aimann may unexpectedly emerge as a pre-teen idol in 2015 with the sing-along of “Main Ladlaa”, a catchy keyboard-based, reggae-styled ditty which, by being thin on both instrumentation and on production, assists in showcasing the exuberant voice of Aimann.  Although the song does tend to get repetitive, it should not take anything away from the challenge of having an eight year old sing on a track, moreso considering that Aimann does not want to seek his future fortune as a singer. With India’s build up to the World Cup in shambles, parent MS appears to have a better opportunity of furthering his career here than the other one!

 

Listen and Download the songs here: http://www.artistaloud.com/aimannsingh

– Review by PARAG KAMANI

Holiday – Hipnotribe

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Formed in 2008 by brothers Naresh [bass] and Paresh Kamath [guitar, vocals], Hipnotribe is supported by Kurt Peters [drums], son of luminary bassist Karl Peters, Abhijit Nalani [keyboards], Sankarshan “Shanks” Kini [flute], and Sanket Athale [tabla]. Their offering here, “Holiday”, is a lean, fluid sound of hip-hop that has a tremendous crossover opportunity with the ethnic sounds of tabla and flute. No doubt, the band has discovered a new music identity and approach to conventional sounds, and relies on original hooks, but by twisting them with a no fuss sound and subtle instrumentation where the entry into, and exit from it occurs from one of the primary instruments featured, the flute. With no flash – either in vocals or in instrumentation – the approach here is of a simple style that is easy to understand.

 

Listen and Download the songs here: http://www.artistaloud.com/Hipnotribe

– Review by PARAG KAMANI

Tum Hi Ho – Nish B [Nishita Biyani]

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With multiple Nish Bs and Nishita Biyanis in existence, it becomes difficult to pin which Nish/Nishita has sung “Tum Hi Ho” considering that the bio contains no clue on her origins. Nevertheless, the intrigue behind the artiste – me thinks, she is Mumbai-based – should not reflect on her low key voice, but the true key to this song’s potential success is undoubtedly the production and writing of Gaurang Soni and Vaibhav Panch. They have wrapped the song in down-to-earth guitar chords, and all-stops-in subtlety in arrangements.  Although the song is repeatedly described as “Alternative Rock Music”, I find none of it, as “Tum Hi Ho” is straight forward pop that remains consistent throughout.

 

Listen and Download the songs here: http://www.artistaloud.com/NishB

– Review by PARAG KAMANI

Kuch Is Tarah – Mustafa Sabuwala

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Indian musicians are no longer taking chances with past consumer consumption patterns of purchasing physical formats and, for the first time ever, irrespective of genre, artistes are launching products predominantly online. While the release of products by indie pop/rock artistes – singing in English and in Hindi – is now a given, the genre that has sprung a surprise of going digital is ghazals. New talent has stolen a march in this initiative over the old school, such as Mustafa Sabuwala who is, in reality, an entrepreneur supporting his furnishing business, as well as in apparels, with musical passion. The arrangements on “Kuch Is Tarah” are melodic, and contain interludes from the featured instruments with Mustafa’s rendition of poetry assisted by clear diction.

 

Listen and Download the songs here: http://www.artistaloud.com/mustafasabuwala

– Review by PARAG KAMANI

Nobody Cares – Deane Sequeira

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Heralded as India’s “youngest female rapper”, the Mumbai-based youngster not only sings hip-hop but, apparently, composes her own songs too. On “Nobody Cares”, Deane proves that her style of singing is no longer just a specialty niche genre, but has the crossover potential to be a commercial pop juggernaut, not only appealing to children, but to adults too due to its not intrusive lyrics. As Deane has made an effort to decipher and mellow sounds of hip-hop that usually appeal only to the select, she really does have her future work cut out to make improvements in her compositions, sounds, arrangements, and production to take her local hip hop sounds global. Nevertheless, it remains heartening to read of her aspiration to “set foot” someday as the Deane of Grammy Awards.

 

Listen and Download the songs here: http://www.artistaloud.com/DeaneSequeira 

– Review by PARAG KAMANI

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