Top Ten Mutinous Music Moments

When I was a rebellious little punk teenager, the only Brown I saw on stage at shows was Tony Kanal playing bass in No Doubt. And he was dating bindi wearing Gwen Stefani, who was by far the coolest rock chick ever. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Sepia Mutiny as a reader that I noticed other punk, alterno, progressive musicians – the most prominent one being of course, M.I.A.

Here we are in the last week of Sepia Mutiny. On these pages as a reader, I’ve discovered some of my favorite songs and as a writer, I’ve gotten to interview some of the most amazing people. I’ve loved discovering new Desi music and examining musicians exploration of hyphenated identities through lyric, music and movement.

Since I love lists – what better way to remember this then… a Top Ten Favorite Mutinous Music Moments.

  1. M.I.A.- Maya has graced the pages of our site an innumerable amount of times – 100 posts to be exact. From her first “galang”, to her so-called retirement, to a pregger M.I.A. singing at the Grammy Awards with A.R. Rahman. She was the first things that drew me as a reader to the pages of the Mutiny. In the past 8 years peoples opinions of her may have waned, but she definitely has made her mark
  2. Das Racist – Despite Abhi’s first post where he made his firesauce prediction that Pizza Hut, Taco Bell was going to be a Desi fave, could we have suspected these guys would have exploded the way they did? They’ve gone from a YouTube sensation to dropping Shut Up, Dude & Sit Down, Man & Relax to selling out shows as an international music sensation. But by far, PhillyGrrl’s interviews Part 1 & Part 2 were my most favorite interviews to grace these pages.
  3. Vijay Iyer – He’s gone from Still Life with Commentator in 2006 to the #1 Jazz Album of the year IN 2010 for Historicity. Sugi’s interview with Vijay is one of the sweetest interviews Part 1 & Part 2.
  4. The Kominas – Who would have known when I first blogged about these guys in 2006, that my life as a blogger would get so intimately intertwined w/ this band and the taqwacore scene? My first interview with Basim Usmani goes down as one of my favorites. Following the growth if this band personally has been epic to say the least, whether following them on cross country TaqwaTour or as my “camera crew” at Sundance for my Aamir Khan interview. Epic, indeed.
  5. DJ Rekha – the infamous and legendary, we’ve talked about Rekha since she smacked Daler Mehndi down. Whether Basement Bhangra (dance party AND CD) or DJing at the White House Easter Egg Hunt. There’s a reason why she’s one of my Desi Women of the Decade. Continue reading

Shanti Outta Brooklyn

With only a couple of Mondays left for a #MusicMonday, I know I had to make this one a song that will stick in your head for a while.

The song is by an MC I’m really surprised hasn’t been covered by the Mutiny before. Brooklyn Shanti, a Bengali DJ coming outta…. well … Brooklyn,  I heard about via Mandeep Sethi, my connection to all the latest in Desi hip-hop. Brooklyn Shanti is ridiculously prolific – his website and his bandcamp have tons of songs available for download and he’ll be coming out with an album in the next couple of months. Of course, I have an affinity for all things Bengali, and I absolutely instantly fell in love when I heard his Bangla lyric-ed song Rani, Rani.

His theme song’s not so bad either. Keep an eye on this guy – Brooklyn Shanti’s going to be going far with these skills.

Check out his bandcamp discography – if you like the above songs, I’m sure you’ll like what else he has. You can download his full album from June 2011 for free right here: Brookylin Circa 2012

I hope you’ve enjoyed the #MusicMonday’s at Sepia Mutiny these past couple of years – I started them because I wanted to have some content to provide for you on a weekly basis. After a while though, it became more of a scavenger hunt and a game to find the songs I would actually listen to on my iPod. I’ve found and befriended many of the artists profiled on these pages – and I’m hoping that my fantastical dream of Alterna-Desi Music Fest on the So Cal desert of Bombay Beach with these bands will happen some day. Some day…

Spills All Over

This Valentine’s Day, feel free be prepared to spill your heart with this week’s belated #MusicMonday. Breaking into the scene with his first solo album, Feel Free, 25 year old Sid Muralidhar otherwise known as the NYC beat master Spills has released an album that gives The Weeknd a run for his money. The first half of the album start with a slow drawl with songs like Pregnant Silence and the two stepping Siren featuring Basim Usmani’s falsetto and leads up to the second harder half of the album with deep beats, such as in Mariah Carey’s Satanic Offspring.

But you don’t have to take my word for it – the album Feel Free is available … well, for free. So download it for free now!  

Two things I love about Spills. First, I love that he was part of an acoustic dub/hip hop duo called Two Dirty Desis. And the second is this:

For those who want to delve further into his creative mind, Feel Free Ableton session files will be available to be used in any way, shape or form on February 21, 2012. On his decision to release the Ableton files, Spills remarked:

 

“Honestly, I would have never even thought to give away ALL the session files… some would say a hip hop producer is only as good as his samples and synths. But that whole Internet black out thing to protest government and corporate censorship really inspired me – made me realize that we’re only as powerful as our connections to each other. So everyone should feel free to do with this project whatever they want … go nuts.”

 

You heard him. Go nuts!

New Anthem for the Bad Girls

With rumors spinning about M.I.A. appearing at this Sunday’s SuperBowl halftime show to do a song w/ the Material Girl & Nicki Minaj, it’s no surprise that Maya dropped a song on the interwebs for all of us to peep. This morning she released the video for her song “Bad Girls” – with the kind of slow beat that makes you want to drop the seat back in your ride and do the gangster lean while rocking a keffiya.

The song is great, but I absolutely LOVE this video – if only because I can imagine Saudi women blasting this rebellious song as they drive unlawfully through the desert. The stunts are pretty legit and gritty without the Hollywood flair too. I feel as if “Bad Girls” skips over Vicki Leex mixtape and goes back to the world orientalist flavor of the Kala days of M.I.A.. I loved the Kala days.

The video, directed by Romain Gavras (see: M.I.A.’s “Born Free”) was shot in Ouarzazate, Morocco, and premiered exclusively on VICE’s new music channel Noisey. The short features daring car stunts that had M.I.A. terrified the entire time.[huffpost]

 

“It was dope to have so many people from so many different backgrounds speaking so many different languages come together to create something that we believed in,” says M.I.A about the video. “I thought I was gonna die on the shoot when I saw the drifting.  It was a four day shoot so everyone was on edge the whole time specifically ME when I had to do bluesteel singing to the camera while the cars did doughnuts on the wet road ten feet away. In my mind I was thinking how I was gonna deliver the video to Vice with no legs.” [bizjournals]

 

But, yo… this track that just premiered with Madonna and Nicki Minaj though leaves a bad taste in my mouth. They dress Nicki and MIA to be cheerleaders and give them a two line rap? And what’s with the blonde wigs to make them look like Madonna/Marilyn? Oh so bad. Video after the jump. Continue reading

Redistricting in Nehru Jackets

Himanshu Suri of the infamous Das Racist is stepping out from behind the microphone, kind of. He’s teaming up with his childhood friend Ali Najmi (of Desis Vote) and joining the board of Queens based SEVA-NY to bring awareness to a very heated issue, redistricting in immigrant heavy Queens because the plans that are being drawn up will make you want to yell, “Das RACIST!”

Prominent Queens-bred rapper Himanshu Suri is adding his voice to the contentious redistricting debate, joining the board of directors of SEVA, a Richmond Hill-based immigrant rights group.

 

Suri’s childhood friend, Ali Najmi works for SEVA and introduced him to Gurpal Singh, one of the founders of the group and also a music producer. Within two hours of meeting one another, Singh and Suri were tinkering with tracks and discussing local politics. SEVA has an “army” of volunteers, Singh said, but Suri adds some much needed star power to the organization. [link]

 

Himanshu is at a SEVA community meeting performing right now (Monday night). It just so happens that his solo album titled after his very popular tumblr site Nehru Jackets also just dropped online on SEVA‘s website (thx for the tip, Pardon My Hindi!). For your #MusicMonday pleasure, you can find the link to the download here. Continue reading

The (r)Evolving Kominas

A belated Christmas present for all y’all for this #MusicMonday – our oft written about friends The Kominas have released an (almost) self-titled album called “Kominas.” If you thought the previous albums were too punk/too political/too “taqwacore” for you – then it is time to give the band a second chance – this album might just be for you. With a more Desi-rock sound, gritty riffs, lo-fi vocals and lyrics taking a back seat, the band’s path has turned and taken on a new sound. Gone are the sing-along playfully raunchy hooks, this album is all about the bass line and dirty drum beats.

The band members of The Kominas have shifted to not only to now include the duo from Sunny Ali and the Kid, but also in instrumental roles – three of the four bandmates take a turn on the mic for this album. With multiple talents acting as the driving force between music and lyrics, the album is eclectic and completely different sounding from anything previously released by The Kominas. People have been saying that their sound has “matured” but instead, I feel the new album better reflects the skills and sounds of the new band members trying collaborate and create a new cohesive sound (Basim Usmani is the only original band member that remains from 2005).

Don’t just take my word for it. Follow the link here to the megaupload site to download the album. And if you are too chicken to download the album before listening to a song – here’s the demo to Ren, a song off of the new album.

Frankly put, it sounds like our punks have evolved – they just may be growing up.

The Donkeys Rock

It always surprises me when I find a band that is really good that should have been on my radar a long time ago. The Donkeys are on their third album release, Born with Stripes. The song below, Don’t Know Who We Are, is a single off of this album and my selection for today’s #MusicMonday.

But like California, the real-life Donkeys (best friends from Southern California, Timothy DeNardo, Jessie Gulati, Anthony Lukens and Sam Sprague) are much more… real. If their backstory contains those top-down cars and suntanned utopian surf tableaus, it also contains the malaise and the escape fantasies familiar to all suburban kids of the 80s and 90s. Miraculously, the music manages to comfortably communicate both moods at once. [deadoceans]

Turns out the making of this album was side tracked just a little bit when guitarist Jessie went to India for sitar lessons. The influence can now be heard on sitar influenced tracks “West Coast Raga” and “East Coast Raga” peppered throughout the album.  Check out The Donkeys on facebook and at their site. And let me know what you think!

Why This?

I’m not one to follow pop hit music trends in India – but this one is getting a little bit too big to avoid. I briefly peeped the song a few weeks ago, didn’t think much of it. But people can’t stop tweeting about it. Now, Tigerstyle did a Bhangra remix of it, there’s a dubstep remix of it, acoustic covers of it, and my favorite, the soothing soulful R&B remix. There are now over 20 million hits to the YouTube video for this song! Am I missing something? Why this song so popular?

Why This Kolaveri Di (Why This Murderous Rage, Girl?) is an Indian song from the soundtrack of the upcoming Tamil film 3, which is due to be released in 2012… The song was officially released on 16 November 2011, and it instantly became viral on social networking sites for its quirky “Tanglish” (portmanteau word of Tamil and English) lyrics.Soon, the song became the most searched YouTube video in India. Within a few weeks, YouTube honored the track with a Gold Award for getting the most number of hits. [wiki]

 

My favorite to all this is how slapped together the song is – they were looking for a playful love song and wrote this in about twenty minutes. And bhas, sensation!

“When I was writing down the lyrics, I kept in mind all the English words that are used in the Tamil vocabulary. Words like I, you, me, how, why, cow.. I just framed them into sentences and thats how I came up with the song,” said Dhanush, who also penned down the lyrics of the song. [TOI]

 

So here you go – Why This Kolaveri Di to get stuck in your head for today’s #MusicMonday. With enough remixes to last you the month. I’m going to get started on the Banglish remix of this song ASAP.

Traveling with the Dewarists

The hunt for the perfect song never ends and I remember last time I was traveling South Asia, I was trying to connect with local musicians in every city I went. On today’s search for #MusicMonday, I found a online series that wasn’t just traveling and highlighting songs of India, it was documenting that beautiful moment when collaborations are made. The Dewarists is eight episodes in and I’m pretty surprised this is the first I’m hearing about it.

In this latest episode, we take a beautiful trip to Goa where Humble to Poet, Midival Punditz and the host of the series Monica Dogra create a song together, No I.D. Required. If you want to go directly to the song, it’s at 32:15, though the whole show is beautifully shot and I would recommend watching it fully through. I knew that Humble was traveling India, but I had no idea that he was pairing up with legends like Midival Punditz while there. It’s so out-of-the-box to put a hip-hop poet with a legendary electronic/dance duo, but I think it totally worked.

The series pairs Imogen Heap with Vishal-Shekar to sing a Tagore poetic classic in Rajasthan; classical singer Shubha Mudgal with folk rock band Swarathma in Mysore; and  Karsh Kale travels with guitar virtuoso Baiju Dharmajan in Kerala. Funded by StarWorld, this documentary web series is a brilliant idea and I’m excited to see what comes out of this project. Best of all, it’s all viewable on YouTube!

Ear Blasting Beats for the Pyar

I love when “world music” actually fuses into transnational worldly sounds that blend together melodically and intensely. This week’s song does that. Today’s #MusicMonday is a DJ Rekha & Dave Sharma (of Sub Swara) remix original - “Pyar Baile.” Though the single has been making the rounds since last year, the remixes (there are four) dropped in an EP form on Itunes a couple of weeks ago, which you can download here.

The single features Zuzuka Poderosa & Meetu Chilana and samples “Pyar Karne Wale” from the Bollywood movie Shaan. Twitterverse shows that DJ Rekha spun this at the Brooklyn Bowl this past month. I’m really digging this kind of a sound and looking forward to hearing more of this new sound from DJ Rekha. In the meantime - I’ll be listening in to DJ Rekha’s weekly podcast “Bhangra and Beyond” for a leak of her next ear blasting tune.