Today marks the beginning of our blog’s very first themed week—India Week. Don’t ask how it came about, but, through the alignment of various random starts, all week we’ll be bringing you stories from the great subcontinent, food, and, today, music.
Our original intention was to scour the interweb in search of the various indie Indian bands for today’s post, likely choosing from a virtual plethora of awesome indie bands we would doubtless find. I mean, at the very least, how can you resist the moniker of indie Indian? But here’s the thing—that did not work out. I’m not saying there aren’t any good independent musicians in India, I’m just saying, they’re very hard to find. It seems like most of what we combed through were myriad variations on metal, bizarre but aurally flat electro-Bollywood smash-ups, and some kind of weak psych.
This is coming off as overly harsh though, I realize as I write it. We did happen across a pretty decent new-folk group called Swarathma and found a seemingly exciting site for independent musicians in India, called TempoStand, that allows them to post and distribute their music, so that’s cool (we kinda thought this guy had some promise, in an Indian K Records sort of way). But, most of it was simply not our cup of Darjeeling.
Then, on the recommendation of our friend, Anne, we checked out a Brooklyn-based band called Red Baraat, who is kind of awesome, it turns out. In their own words, they are “the first and only dhol ‘n’ brass band in North America, melding the infectious North Indian rhythm Bhangra with brass funk and expressing the human spirit through improvisation and a powerful live sound.” Now, usually we steer WELL clear of anyone or thing that mentions the word funk, in any capacity. But this band just sounds like one big awesome party. Kind of like an Indian Gogol Bordello. That’s hard to not like, funk or no funk.
We can only imagine Red Baraat’s live show is messed up fun, so you can catch the band on tour and at various outdoor music festivals once the warm weather hits. In the meantime, check out their song, “Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle),” as this week’s Song of the Week, listen to and buy Red Baraat’s album here and take a look at an interview they did last year with the Village Voice.
And be sure to stay tuned for more India Week features!