These are exciting days for the independent music industry in India, with a host of brave young bands and musicians coming out with exciting new material, with an attitude that’s fresh, with the nerve to refuse to follow popular trends in music and show a finger to the Bollywood film music behemoth, that mostly churns out regular pop fluff for the helpless listener. These artists dare to question this monopoly, preferring instead to create intelligent music, that is free of boundaries. The bands listed below are unique in their own right and deserve to be listened to and noticed the world over.
A band that consists of four talented musicians, who dared to think differently and create what they call “Alternative Malyali Rock”. Their songs contain Malayalam lyrics which are blended in perfectly with exquisite guitar riffs, driving bass and catchy drum grooves along with samples and scratching on turntables. One can find the flavor of Kerala within each song even though they use western instruments. Their first song that bought them recognition at home was the driving ‘Nada Nada’, that gained instant popularity in Kerala and later all over India. They continue to play live shows and are gathering new fans everywhere they go, proving that barriers of language do not matter when it comes to music.
This band is for those who love heavy metal. Bhayanak Maut which in English translates to “Terrible Death”, started out as a five member band from Mumbai. They quickly gathered a loyal following in colleges around Mumbai after winning a number of college competitions and performing at various venues around the city. They later added a sixth member, a second vocalist, which added to the band’s uniqueness, and made it one of the few metal bands with two vocalists. Their sound is a major mix of heavy guitar riffs, with driving drums and growling or throwing vocals. Though their music could be considered extreme by some, it only makes them all the more special to the metal fans around the globe.
From the city of Kolkata, a band that is unique in every aspect of their approach to music, from their deep and well thought out lyrics and diverse themes to their use of Indian scales and melody structure in their songs. They work towards creating a sound that is melodic with a vast contrast of emotions. They have created quite a fan following and have played together for more than eight years. They refuse to follow common trends and continue to do things with their unique style.
One of the major bands in India in terms of market reach, these guys are a fusion band, that excels in mixing various styles of music with Indian Classical Music and mostly Hindi lyrics. They have huge fan followings with their fans all over Asia and Europe. They are also one of the few bands who have been able to break into Bollywood and give music for a commercial Hindi film, “Black Friday” that was based on the Mumbai riots of 1993. Their song Bandeh from the movie went on to become quite popular among a great variety of listeners. They have also been involved in various political and social activities all over India.
Jalebee Cartel is the most famous Indian export when it comes to electronic dance music. This band from New Delhi, consists of three ex-DJs who joined together to use their experience along with a vocalist/percussionist, to create a unique band that has been able to generate interest all over Asia. They have played a number of live gigs. And have featured on a number of radio stations in many countries all over the world. If you are a fan of electronic music, you must try Jalebee Cartel.
This band from Chennai has steadily been gathering a major fan following all over India, and are known for their energetic performances. They blend funk and rock together to create an enjoyable sound with positive lyrics and hooks that will keep you sing along. Although they do not use Indian instruments, one can detect a distinct Indian flavor that is subtly understated within all of their songs.
Other honorable mentions: Goldspot, Pentagram, Parikrama, Medusa, Advaitya, Indigo Children and Zero.