Friday, 29 June 2012

Swarathma - Topiwalleh

Bands promoting their albums via facebook is old hat. The Bangalore based folk rock band Swarathma decided to take a novel approach and asked their followers to don a colourful topi on their profile picture to support the release of Topiwalleh. The resulting gallery of mad hatters would have made a great promotional poster.

Swarathma have a way with rhythm and folk influenced percussion. Throughout the album the syncopated beats the band use are infectious. The use of traditional instruments and how Swarathma blend them with more modern musical instruments techniques is innovative. I particularly liked how the violin was given a starring role in many of the tracks. Sanjeev Nayak is the rabbit that Swarathma pull out of their hat each time they want to give a song a special finish.

There is a message in the music that Swarathma make. Ghum is a dark and sinister track about child abuse. It’s atmospheric and the contrasts in the song are excellent. The lyrics of Topiwalleh take a dig at Indian politicians while beachy summer vibes play underneath. There is a great laid back reggae groove to the title track of the album which makes a great opener.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bhangra for Germany at Euro 2012

When Germany play Italy tonight in the semi-final stage of Euro 2012 they will have some Indian football supporters watching them. Two brothers called Lovely and Monty who live in Hamburg have sung a bhangra song in German to support their country's team.  

Oh Germany We Love You uses traditional instruments and has a typical bhangra beat, but the lyrics to the song are German instead of Punjabi. The song praises the team and states that the Germans will be the winners. Oh Germany We Love You is not as sophisticated when compared to the other German song sung for the tournament by Roger Cicero, but the enthusiasm the brothers show for their adopted country is brilliant. I love the football scarf wrapped around the turban. 

Lovely and Monty Bhangu moved to Hamburg from India 28 years ago and worked as taxi drivers. They made music as a hobby and played their songs while driving. Their German passangers enjoyed the bhangra that they heard in the taxi but complained that they could not understand the Punjabi vocals. So the brothers decided to write German lyrics for their songs and even made a music video starring their customers as backing dancers.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cocktail Review

Cocktail is the next big release that Bollywood is getting hyped up about. Starring Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and Diana Penty, Cocktail is a romantic comedy with a love triangle. Pritam is responsible for the soundtrack which is a substantial ten songs long.

The album kicks off with the peppy Tumhi Ho Bandhu. It has a nice summary feel and is quite catchy. Daru Desi is somehow subtle and understated. With its minor key and dark tones the song is quite unique and sophisticated.

Second Hand Jawani is indeed second hand. It is a copy of Some Boy by the Kray Twins. Even though I didn’t instantly recognise her voice, I never thought I would hear Punjabi singer Miss Pooja on a Bollywood album. But the song is a waste of her vocal talents. Second Hand Jawani is one of the weakest songs on the album as there are too many elements which do not fit together and the lyrics sound odd. The soundtrack lacks a big Bhangra number and it’s a shame that Miss Pooja didn’t have the opportunity to provide it.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Beat It Boliyan - A Tribute to Michael Jackson

It has been three years since Michael Jackson passed away on 25th June 2009. His work inspired may artists including Rajeev B. To mark the anniversary, producer Rajeev B has made his own tribute track called Beat it Boliyan which uses the vocals of Sani Surinder.

The track uses a sample from Beat It by Michael Jackson and combines it with some high energy bhangra.  Sani Surinder's vocals are excellent and the whole song works well. The accompanying video is interesting and tells the story of a Michael Jackson fan dancing and winning a talent contest.

Beat it Boliyan is available as a free legal download from

Jatt and Juliet Review

 I don’t often watch Punjabi films. The storylines are usually clichéd, cringe worthy or make no sense. If I do watch one, I end up laughing for all the wrong reasons. But when a film called Jatt and Juliet claimed to have the most viewed Punjabi film trailer ever on youtube I had to take a look. The pun in the title, lifted from a famous Shakespeare play also made me curious.  

The internet marketing for the film is impressive and obviously aimed at Punjabis abroad. The plot seems like yet another “boy meets girl via Canada with a bit of humour” story, but the music seemed less clichéd. The album consists of just seven short songs and five of them are sung by Diljit Dosanjh who also takes the lead role in the film. He is a good singer, but I would have like a little more variation on the album. The only female vocals on the album are backing ones and the songs seemed to run into each other.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Parichay - She's A Playa

Parichay, the Canadian artist who won Zee Tv’s Antakshari at the age of 12, has released a new single called She’s a Playa on itunes. It’s the first song from his forthcoming album Surprise.

The video is directed by Jason Matos and full of content. It shows Parichay breaking up from his girlfriend and reminiscing about their happy times together. They are shown on various different scenarios including a stroll in the park and a guitar lesson.

There are some odd shots of the girl putting on her makeup and I’m not quite sure how they fitted into the story line. As the song is mourning the end of a relationship, the video could have had more scenes of Parichay showing emotion and looking forlorn and heartbroken. I liked how the couple were shown in different locations and situations. It made the story seem more believable.

She’s a Playa has a nice laid back pop feel to it. The tone of the song switched between happy and sad and this caused a slight disconnect between the slow and faster sections. It is less memorable than Parichay’s other tracks but is still catchy. Songs about being wronged in love can be sad and self indulgent. But this had a nice mellow sound that was more upbeat than depressing. Helpfully the lyrics and English translation are on you tube if you feel the need to sing along. Parichay’s vocals are excellent and he switches languages seamlessly.

Overall, this is a great song to come out after All New Everything. The video is of a high quality and the song shows off Parichay's talents well. She’s a Playa is a solid offering from Parichay.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bhangra At The London 2012 Olympics

A song by bhangra producers Tigerstyle is on a list of tracks that could be played at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. Nachna Onda Nei is on the list of 86 songs, which was apparently leaked to the media.

Danny Boyle, the film producer behind films such as Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, is the artistic director for the opening ceremony who put the playlist together. Along with Tigerstyle, songs by other musicians including the Beatles, Eric Clapton and Amy Winehouse feature on the compilation. The opening ceremony will be broadcast to a global audience. It was estimated by The Washington Post that as many as 4 billion watched the opening ceremony at the last Summer Olympics in China in 2008.

However, this playlist has yet to be officially confirmed. An Olympics spokesperson refused to confirm the the musical line up. She said in The Sun: "There is endless speculation about the content of the show - much is simply guesswork - and we are keeping the rest of the show under wraps."

Nachna Onda Nei was originally released on Tigerstyle's debut album The Rising back in 2000. The song uses a sample of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean with vocals by Kaka Bhaniawala over the top. It was used by dance duo Signature in 2008 on the second series of Britain's Got Talent, who went all the way to the final stage of the competition.

RDB - Yaadan, A Tribute to Kuly

A tribute song and video for Kuly, who passed away from a brain tumour in May, has been released by RDB to remember their brother. Yaadan was composed by the group's father Harjog Singh, who also wrote other RDB hits including Oh Preeti and What. Manj and Surj provide the vocals on the track and a verse is sung by their father. Nindy Kaur will release a track featuring Kuly’s vocal and a hook line produced for her by Kuly before he passed away.

The video for Yaadan is incredibly moving. It shows photos and film clips of Kuly throughout his life. He is shown performing and making music as a part of RDB and also at a much younger age. Manj, Surj and their father are silhouetted against the screen showing the pictures of Kuly.

Fans of RDB are being encouraged to make a donation to Brain Tumour UK in memory of Kuly through a JustGiving page. Brain Tumour UK funds research, provides support and raises awareness of the condition.

Yaadan can be downloaded for free from RDB’s Facebook page or from soundcloud.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

RDBtv Shows on Youtube

Episodes of the RDBtv show, an online music TV programme made by producers RDB, are once again available to watch. Today about 20 episodes were uploaded to the Three Records channel on youtube. They were made in 2004 - 2005 and include an episode which showed the making of the video for Dil Mera.

75 episodes of the RDBtv show of around 30 minutes each were made between 2004 and 2007. They contained interviews with musicians, a top ten chart and news. Presented by RDB, the shows give an insight into the industry and took bhangra fans backstage at events such as the Asian Ball in Manchester and the Zee Mela. There were interviews with big name artists including Jassi Sidhu, Raghav and Juggy D.

The shows look unpolished and slightly dated in places, but the energy and enthusiasm still comes across. The power of hindsight makes the shows even more interesting to watch and it is a great record of bhangra in the mid naughties. In one episode Manj mentions that Tigerstyle are doing production work for Gunjan and Bikram Singh, American artists that "are going to be massive". Kuly featured heavily in RDBtv and the shows are a sad reminder that he is no longer with us.

In today's world where music stars are in constant contact with their fans through facebook and twitter, the concept of RDBtv seems quaint. But back in 2004 the show was revolutionary in a way that younger music fans might not understand. Youtube and social networking barely existed and most artists hardly bothered with personal websites. TV interviews with bhangra stars were rare and the interviews that appeared in magazines were often too basic. RDBtv was the closest some people had ever been to their musical heroes and they could watch the show at anytime as often as they wanted for free.

These shows still make great viewing and I spent most of my evening watching them getting nostalgic. When they were orginially removed from the internet, RDB were just beginning to break into India. Now that some episodes are online again they act as a history of bhangra at that time. I hope that the rest of the episodes will be uploaded soon.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Medhi Hassan Passes Away

Medhi Hassan, the Pakistani singer who became known as "the King of Ghazal", passed away today at the age of 84. According to the Times of India, he was admitted to the Agha Khan hospital in Karachi where he was put on a ventilator a few days before his death. He had been suffering from a lung condition and had suffered a major stroke almost a decade ago.

According to an estimate by his son Arif, Medhi Hassan sung around 20,000 songs in Urdu, Bengali, Pashto and Punjabi. Lata Mangeshkar once described his voice as the "Voice of God."

Mehdi Hassan was born on 18 July 1927 in a village in Rajasthan in India into a family of musicians. When he was 20, he migrated to Pakistan with his family after the Partition of India. He worked in a bicycle shop and as a mechanic before receiving an invitation to sing on Radio Pakistan in 1957. He sung hits for the Pakistani film industry and had fans in India including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Teri Meri Kahaani Review

Teri Meri Kahaani is the next big film from Bollywood releasing this month. Starring Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapoor the film is a love story set in three different places in three different eras. Sajid-Wajid have composed the music and features the usual Bollywood playback singers including Shreya Ghoshal, Mika Singh and Sonu Nigam.

The opening of Mukhtasar, which starts the soundtrack, sounds like the beginning of a bad eighties tv advert, but it gets better as the song goes on. Wajid's vocals are brilliant, but his vocals are drowned in a thumping beat. The remix of Mukhtasar is tolerable and adds even more electronic beats on top of Wajid's vocals.

It seems like every Bollywood soundtrack these days needs a track from Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Allah Jaane is Rahat’s track on this album. It’s typical of what we have come to expect from Rahat - lyrical and beautiful. In a film that spans three different eras, it is clever to have a song that sound timeless.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Fundraising In Memory of Kuly From RDB

Fans of RDB are being encouraged to make a donation to Brain Tumour UK in memory of band member Kuly Ral. Last month Kuly sadly lost his battle with brain cancer in Houston, USA where he had been undergoing specialist treatment. A JustGiving page has been set up to collect donations. So far 23 donations have been made raising £1,750.

Brain Tumour UK funds research, provides support and raises awareness. According to the charity malignant primary brain tumours take more years off the average person’s life than any other cancer. They are the most significant cause of cancer death amongst men under 45 and women under 35. Around 8,600 primary brain tumours are registered in the UK each year but research by brain tumour charities suggests the true number could be as high as 16,000.

Anyone wanting to make a donation to Brain Tumour UK can visit