No Spotify Bio, no Wiki Page. Thank goodness for the Roo app!
"It's a sound so powerful it has left the band in its own utterly unique and enviable class."
And they're from Brooklyn.
This is a band that plays some of the most prestigious festivals and venues in the world, and still rocks out basements and gross sweaty NYC clubs. Apparently, they're a party altogether, as a dhol (a double-sided barrel-shaped North Indian drum slung over one shoulder) 'n' brass band led by Sunny Jain. This nine-piece group includes a drumset, percussion, sousaphone (WHAT?), and five horns. Lots of North Indian, jazz, and latin influences are woven throughout.
This is their debut album, and while it's apparently not nearly as amazing as their live show, the energy is there - we just have to feel it.
"Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle)" starts things off in an obviously pleasant mood, with dancing and joyful celebration. The instruments really do have a raw, simple sort of sound, though they create an entire cacophony of music. It's really neat to launch right into a scene like this, where you can just feel the excitement of the whole band straight through the speakers.
The drum takes the primary role to lead in to "Tunak Tunak Tun." This fast rhythm always makes me want to type just as fast, somehow feeling like I need to keep up, but never being able to. It's wild to me how music can overtake you, right down to your fingertips. This one is probably just as fun, but somehow the tone takes on a slightly more serious note, maybe emphasizing a stronger, more intense dance involvement. That may, however, just be on my mind due to one of the books I'm reading. That muted trumpet is kind of something else though.
"Chaal Baby" is the title track, and brings a lot of the cultural aspects of the band to light. If you've ever seen a good Bollywood film, you'll understand what I'm talking about. The horns give it this really cool ska-ish feel on top of everything, just adding to the unique experience. It's like there's entire room of sound coming out of these tiny little computer speakers.
About this time in an album is sort of make-or-break for the listening experience. Either you're going to get a little bored with the sound, or your interest maintains. "Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna" would have probably put me on the edge of the first side of that, but there's this familiar aspect of this that I can't totally get over. There's something within the sound that keeps the interest level up because I've heard it somewhere before. The way the horns move in this one is exotic, and being a little entranced isn't totally out of the realm of possibility. Here's the song performed at The Mercury Lounge:
Yah know, I have to hand it to these guys - this is great music to just walk back into a room on, even when nothing's going on in said room. I came back in to "Arcana" and immediately felt the need to dance around a little. The beats are great, and the instruments call for the actual precise moments you wind up making.
"Hey Jamalo" starts with a heart-pounding drum, commanding you to get moving with the rhythm. The rest of the party joins in just a few moments later, with horns playing heavily and quickly. I'm not sure how I'd ever be able to keep up with this one on the dance floor - it moves so incredibly quickly. Then again, I'm not entirely sure how the musicians themselves keep up with this one either. Talk about intense calluses probably going on. Whew.
In more of a funk move, we get "Dum Maro Dum." The horns are still taking the majority of the melody, but there is this under-lyring trumpet keeping just as much rhythm as the drums are. The result is sort of fascinating. The musicians answer each other dynamically, playing things up and down with much more passion behind the notes than I think I could have expected. This is a really short set of comments for such a long number, but this is one you just need to feel to know it's right.
"Baraat To Nowhere" really does feel like a good travel song for some reason. It's like we're with the band, going down this dusty little road, partying the whole way. Can we film this journey? Someone? Anyone? Please? Man, things like this are just to cool, and you'll never heard them in the mainstream world, but you'll always wish you could. These are the moments and magic George Harrison was so wise on.
I walked back into my room a little farther in to "Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai" and as I came back towards the music, there was a definite feeling of walking back into a party. The fact that sound from an album can promote that feeling is just downright cool. Again, I imagine the live experience is something better and different entirely, but hey, this is just good. This is a classic Hindi song, where the title means "Today's My Best Friend's Wedding," but... they tell you that at the beginning of this video!
Added to My Playlist:
- "Chaal Baby"
- "Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna"
- "Dum Maro Dum"
- "Baraat To Nowhere"
This definitely lays on the different side of Bonnaroo artists I've sat through, but fits right in with the awesome nature that so many of these artists have had. The unique factor is at a high here, with emotions so prevalently out there for the world to hear. I'm entirely impressed and even moved by the work experienced here - and yes, this is another must-see-live.