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Top 25 Songs of 2013

features Jan 10, 03:21pm

We racked our brains for days to come with this list of 25 of our favourite songs released by Indian indepedent artists in 2013, from rock, jazz, electronica, fusion, experimental, and so forth. Point us to all the songs we've missed out on.


'Ironclad' - Undying Inc

A groove-laden beast that's almost suffocating in its relentless aural assault, 'Ironclad' is five-odd minutes of what Undying Inc do best.


‘Try and Stop Me’ – Smooth, Relax

How lo-fi is too lo-fi? There’s no such thing as too lo-fi, definitely not if you ask Delhi’s Smooth, Relax, who use a standard post-punk vibe to great effect, with emotive vocals running in conjunction with a shivering guitar line and incomprehensible (or at least inaudible) drums. 


‘Within You’ – Big City Harmonics

The underlying ‘bassy-ness’ – you know the kind that hits you in the abdomen without the jarring up-tempo whizzing – defines this song, even as it melds together Indian samples with western sounds to craft a pretty individualistic sensibility.


The Bicycle Days – ‘Crawl (The Human Experience)’

The Bicycle Days are a bit of an acquired taste – one moment sublime, the other moment lost in translation, but with an accompanying sense of always being on to something. The aesthetic charm to Calamitunes is captured well in ‘Crawl’ which ends up as too short only if you don’t have enough mushrooms. Shomi Gupta 


Tajdar Junaid – ‘Dastaan’

A stunning piece of music that that oozes an emotional depth that is grafted unmistakably, even across the moments of silence on this song, ‘Dastaan’ is a masterclass in restraint and communication.  The Sarangi and Charango are used to great effect as each pause and each note breathes a different story into the song everytime you play it. SG


'Cross Polynation' - Reverrse Polarity

Ludicrously catchy riffs, a cameo by Anushka Manchanda and shout-along choruses that make you want to roll down the car windows and flip off passerby, RP absolutely nail their sound on this one. 


Pangea – ‘Life of an Epson Printer’

The Mumbai-based progressive metal band is an enviable crew of musicians, guitars, synths and influences, and this, their only release of the year. An immersive passage through ambient and riff-laden territories, LOAEP is this writer’s single of the year.  With endorsements from the likes of Meshuggah and Ben Sharpe (aka Cloudkicker) and a release in the works, 2014 is only going to be theirs to win. SG


'Marghat' - Siddharth Basrur, Clinton Cerejo - Coke Studio Season 3

Alice in Chains met Hindustani classical in the darkest tune to come out of three seasons of Coke Studio India, executed in Siddharth Basrur's gritty, tortured howl.


‘Tin Can Man’ – Skrat 

Rock ‘n’ roll you can dance to. And catchy as fuck. Skrat are a band that will draw out their diamond-crusted hooks at the drop of a chorus. Theirs is one of the underrated releases of this year. SG


‘In This Laboratory There Are No Rules’ – The Circus

Resounding bass thuds craft a diligent frame for all the quirky, often berserk, musings that the music undertakes, before opening up into an ambitious, melodic chorus as the song shuffles in momentum and moods with ease.


‘Pastels’ – Frame/Frame

Whirring bassy sections underneath which the cozy, mid-tempo percussions rest, lend an unyielding spine to the catchy and fairly controlled words in this single from Frame/Frame’s debut EP, Swimmers.


Amy Datta – ‘Ironic Bionic’

An exercise in minimal guitar playing for the largest part, ‘Ironic Bionic’ is underscored with a tension that is reminiscent of noir-suspense and surprise plot twists. A skitter-beat wrapped lesson in dissonance, this is India’s finest guitar player breathing some much needed freshness into that much abused term, ‘experimental’. SG


‘Newbury Street’ – Nischay Parekh

‘Newbury Street’ treads that ideal pop music territory, where the hookiness of the music doesn’t engulf the subtle quirks and exploratory spaces the music heads in. Simple, endearing, singable, the song practises restraint and showmanship in equal measure.


Hoirong – ‘Glassjaw’

Hoirong is my new ‘secret’band. By ‘secret’ band I mean that one band I can’t stop listening to while the other trendy folks reject the same. While I secretly wish that the cult of Hoirong grows large enough, I’m hoping that Kamal Singh does not have to step beyond his wall of noise for the same to happen.  And if you listen carefully, each flourish of melody is like discovering a secret route into a realm meant for the few. SG 


'Raastey'  Coshish 

Coshish's easy listening music hides much complexity under its earwormy exterior (hark those drum grooves) and none more than 'Raastey'. You'll be humming this tune long after you've forgotten its name.


‘Maybe Is Open Tonight’ – Sky Rabbit

‘Maybe Is Open Tonight’, from Sky Rabbit’s 2013 EP, Where, is them doing what they do best. Steeped in post-punk, the song is directed towards its many melodic resolutions through the diffident and languid vocal delivery, a Sky Rabbit hallmark if ever there was one. 


Spud in The Box – ‘Attention Please’

I’ll admit it took me a while to ignore those lyrics (the average age of the band is 20, I believe) but it was taking way more effort to ignore the crafty, hook-inclusive, pop-rock burst that everyone seems to be going ga-ga over. I’ll take this single over the album any day. SG 


Karajimo – ‘Gaia’

Viraj Mohan (AVR/Sundog Project) and I.P. Singh (Faridkot) have been working on a new project for 2014 and, if ‘Gaia’ is any indication, this is going to confuse genre purists. IP’s voice is just the brush-stroke of soul to accentuate the spaces that Karajimo creates.

Post-industrial-fuckyoufusion rock, yeah? SG 


‘Awakener’ – A Mutual Question

‘Awakener’ retains a slow, brooding disposition, taking ages to develop, to grow, to swell to an entity that it really isn’t when it first starts off, with layers upon layers entering steadily to create an evolving identity to the composition, before finally concluding with a very restrained, very reserved mini-crescendo.


Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator – ‘Stars Align’



Beneath the dreamy, delay-kissed arrangements that swirl around Ashaar’s vocals, there lies a four by floor friendliness that will seek out a swivel when (in my case) no one’s watching. All you need is a misty afternoon that lasts a day and a half. SG 


‘Venus’ – SundogProject

Building up obstinately until a massive guitar-rock release, the song offers some sort of respite from the brooding passages that the rest of Sundog’s debut, Hex 1/Visions, offers. It’s steady, unswerving, insistent, relentless, and really quite brilliant.


‘Old Fashioned’ (_RHL remix) – Lifafa

_RHL, whose day name happens to be Rahul Giri of Sulk Station, plays around with ‘Old Fashioned’ by Lifafa, whose day name happens to be Suryakant Sawhney of Peter Cat Recording Co. The already eclectic song is further eclecticalized by _RHL, who adds a carefully constructed hollowness and a sense of motion and groove to the almost a capella original, creating a new identity to the lonesome, melancholic ‘Old Fashioned’. 


‘Rollcage’ – Killer Fan

Killer Fan’s unconventional approach to electronic composition and songwriting comes to fruition on ‘Rollcage’, building eerie routes and passages, finally culminating in classical Indian vocals to further develop the moody soundscapes. 


‘Street Boy’ – Nucleya

We always thought bass-heavy electronica music was supposed to be all self-important and shit. Here, though, Nucleya firmly puts those misplaced notions to bed with such a fun and joyful energy – sure, it reminds a bunch of people in our office of the very worst of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations blocking traffic on the street, but is that always a bad thing?


'Brahma Weapon' - Devoid

The kick-in-the-head adrenaline and the unyielding energy of this song makes for an angry release, the good kind of angry. And the thundering rhythmic assault and Death-influenced vocal delivery are even more explosive live.



Compiled by: Deepti Unni, Shomi Gupta, Bhanuj Kappal, Aaquib Wani, Akhil Sood


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