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Emerging Artists of 2013

features Dec 31, 04:22pm

It’s been a good year for young bands, with crowds far more receptive to new artists – young and old alike – and promoters also taking punts on these new bands. Plus, with the internet and Bandcamp and Soundcloud allowing anyone with an internet connection to upload new music, the opportunities for musicians to be heard, reach out, and get attention have naturally increased. So yeah, it’s not all gloomy, even if the weather here in Delhi really is.  



Donn Bhat’s self-imposed hiatus after the release of 2006’s One Way Circle is bound make him a new discovery for most audiences; but the Mumbai-based producer/songwriter/guitar-player has shot out of his sabbatical with a shower of singles under the moniker of Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator, and a live band. His rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities are all but buried as the guitar continues to be a much-favoured voice in his repertoire as he fuses alternative rock and electronica to write songs that are unmistakably coated with soul. Dance music one minute, arena-rock the moment he cranks out those riffs, Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator have promised us an album and more live showings. Looks like Donn’s not going to go Sherlock on us this time. Shomi Gupta

Listen to 'Stars Align' by Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator below:




(Photo by Jelena Cvjetkovic)

What Colour is your Raindrop is, in essence, a very pure medium of communication, delivered with searing integrity and sincerity.  Tajdar Junaid’s live sets are much the same – low on gimmicks and frills and high on intensity; it’s five (or six or seven) guys playing music they truly believe in with conviction, earnestness, and a disarming honesty. The virtuosic Kolkata-based multi-instrumentalist/composer has been around for a while, and he has cultivated a moody, emotional style of writing that, quite endearingly, people in this country and beyond are taking notice of.  He’s this writer’s artist of the year, and really, we’re all waiting with baited breath for what lies ahead. Akhil Sood     



If it was up to me, this one would be at the top of every Album of the Year list in the country. Hoirong is the solo project of former Lounge Piranha guitarist/vocalist Kamal Singh. His debut record, The Resurrection of the Princess of Woe and her Vampire Hound Posse – recorded with a laptop mic and a pirated copy of Logic Pro (Editor: “allegedly”) – is a masterpiece in lo-fi. Singh pays tribute to the ugly, sludgy side of ’90s alt-rock but beneath all the dense, harsh noise and raw, menacing riffs are some absolutely beautiful melodies. Add in Singh's witty, reference-laden lyrics and his very distinct sense of humour and have what is easily India's best punk act since Messiah. Bhanuj Kappal




(Photo by Sachin Soni)

Frame/Frame’s debut EP, Swimmers. is a mere 19 minutes long but a curiosity-piquing sample of the potential that lurks behind producer Nikhil Kaul/Nikhil Kaul’s (okay last time, promise) left-of-centre sensibilities. United at the seams by a bass-heavy spine, Swimmers leafs across passages of trip-hop, glitch and some immaculate sound design crafted from the unlikeliest of sample sources. Despite the comparisons to Amon Tobin or Rusko, it’s the urban-melancholia themed standout ballad ‘Pastels’ that’s gathered the most hoots (and YouTube views for a sublime video); and with a live band and a busy year-end to boot we’re expecting more from this producer in 2014. Shomi Gupta




(Photo by Naman Saraiya)

Pop music is not a dirty word. It’s not supposed to be. And every now and then, we need reassurances about that. Nischay Parekh, all of 20, brought that aphorism to life with a charming debut album – titled Ocean – that nurtures a catchy, melodic core to fruition. It’s a carefully constructed approach that meshes clever hooks with an ear for arrangement. Indeed, it reaches spaces that are cheesy – cheery terrains that get too cheery, you know? – but acting as a counterpoint is a spirit of experimentation behind the music, lending it depth and substance. It is feel-good music that translates into a feel-good vibe live, which happened often as Nischay Parekh and his band performed heavily through the year, reaching out to (and mostly enthralling) a wide audience. What’s more – writing for the second album is already underway, so 2014 promises much of the same and more for Nischay Parekh. Akhil Sood




Until We Last, the post-rockers from Bangalore, are seemingly at the forefront of this vague little post-rock movement that seems to be taking shape in the country. They had a fairly promising year, playing loads of gigs and doing a darn good job of communicating their vision through to audiences with a moving and well-performed live set. Space behind the Yellow Room and A Mutual Question, also belonging in a similar space, took their bows this year to a reasonably appreciative audience.

Then there’s Lifafa and Jamblu, from the absurdist Peter Cat Recording Co. camp . The two “solo/side projects” of the band members tread experimental, ambient spaces with restraint. SundogProject released their mammoth debut album – Hex1/Visions – which explores unheard of (in India) terrains and they’re slowly managing their complicated live setup as well, and they’re definitely ones to watch out for. Then there’s Polar Lights, who play contemporary pop-rock, leaning towards pop really, and have this very keen sensibility, crafting really catchy earworms. Big City Harmonics, the Pune-based electro-producer, also garnered reasonable attention with his debut release, Foreward, that settles in in that smooth, mid-tempo range of chill-out-and-lie-around music.


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