- 11 Nov 2016
- Fathima AbdulKader
Kochi has come of age, both in its sense of self and its musical tastes. Kochi today, does not listen to romantic songs from mainstream movies, but listens to music that is not genre bound; Folk, progressive Carnatic, alternative rock, psychedelic, experimental rock and many other genres that cannot even be defined have become the norm to music lovers in Kochi. The city itself is at a point where it is constantly in flux, growing while still being connected to its roots and hence the music reflects the state that the city is in. It takes a lot from where we are and are projecting it through the sounds. Kochi has essentially created a voice for itself that is entirely it’s own. The following are 20 songs from bands that are redefining the #KochiMusicScene (in no particular order), as curated by Manaf Abdul of Kochi Musing.
1. Pravasi - Thakara
This song says a story all too familiar to the Malayali crowd. It eloquently captures the struggles of most NRIs who spend the best part of his life toiling away abroad and often comes home to family dissatisfied with whatever wealth he has managed to acquire over years.
2. Chathe - Thaikkudam Bridge
A haunting tune with an equally haunting video to boot, the song by Thaikudam Bridge keeps one returning for the disturbingly beautiful lyrics and feeling. In one short music video, it managed to show the futility of life and the endless cycle that it is.
3. Monalisa - The Freefall
Written in Assamese by the lead of the Kochi band The Free Fall, nothing much of the lyrics may be legible to the Malayali crowd (unless they know Assamese of course). But the tunes of the song set a positive vibe that one would like to keep listening to again. The use of instruments and backing vocals make the song especially more appealing.
4. Chekele - Avial
The song that started it all back up, there aren’t many Malayali youngsters who can help but sing along when “Chekel adikkum mumbe” starts playing. Avial is an independent act that found place for itself in the hearts of the state when movie soundtracks were ruling the scene. The electrifying energy and the classic “thara thaka dhimi dhom” hook kept people hooked, even to this day.
5. Mahabali – Suraj Mani and the Tattva Trip
Suraj Mani and The Tattva Trip’s performances and songs are usually a trip, down a philosophical path and this song is the take on the age old “Maaveli Naadu Vaanidum Kaalam” (which has also been sampled in the song). With opening lines that say
“so great my kingdom, the Gods asked for my life
so great my sacrifice, the taker gave me back
one day, every year, for all eternity
amongst my people I am Mahabali”
It’s hard for any Malayali not to smile to themselves in recognition and keep listening.
6. All I want is to Rock and Roll - Rocasauruz
A band from Kochi opening for someone of international recognition like Slash might be hard to believe, but that came true for Rocazaurus. A quick hear of their most popular “All I want is rock and roll” can tell you the “how and why” of them landing such an achievement.
7. Maya - Blank Planet
Blank Planet is an experimental rock band and their song Maya put them on the map of the independent music scene. According to the band, Maya is a song about finding purpose to live on earth and with its heavy acoustics and contemplative lyrics, the song managed to capture and hold many people spell bound.
8. Where Gravity Fails- Nikhil J Menon
Although this song is “technically” part of the soundtrack of the movie Neena, the song was done by some of the front running independent musicians from Kochi, including Nikhil J Menon of the band Segments, who did the vocals,music,lyrics and guitar, programmed and arranged by Sushin Shyam of The Down Troddence, Ben Sam Jones of Vidwan on Bass and Frederik M John of Rocazaurus on Lead Guitar.
9. Sky Full of Stars (Instrumental cover) - Govind Menon Project
It might seem odd to come across the cover version of one of the most beloved Coldplay songs in this particular list, but Govid Menon Project’s take on the song brought in a new dimension to this all too familiar song. The fact that violin, of all the instruments takes the lead is the peculiarity as well as the beauty of this song
10. Kashttapedum - Oorali
Oorali is a truly Malayali band that sings in the native language and brings a refreshing take to music with their folksy and quirky touch while singing about something as dire as global warming and pollution.
11.The Boat Song - Agam
Agam is a Bangalore based act that defines itself as a Carnatic progressive rock band. With a strong instrumental backing and a classic Malayalam “vanchi paatu” inspired lyrics and tune, the song is genre bending in its best form.
12. In a Blue Moon - Mushroom Lake
Mushroom Lake is one of India’s first Psychadelic/Post rock bands. Their songs are vocal-less composition which creates certain moods that build over time.
13. Alayal Thara Venam - Masala Coffee
From the original poem to Nedumudi Venu singing the lines in the movie Alolam, this song is familiar to most. Masala Coffee did their own take on the song combining elements of various influences from folk, Carnatic, pop and rock music.
14. Nagavalli - The Down Troddence
Nagavalli is somebody that has haunted most Malayalis and yet remained close to heart. This song by The Down Troddence (or TDT) attempts to give voice to the tragic antagonist of Manichithrathaazh in their thrash/groove metal way with lyrics like
“I'm done pleasing your avaricious, virile company
You're not half a man for me to deserve your sympathy”
15. Daya - Kaav
Kaav is an instrumental trio band and the song Daya, like most of their songs are on a contemplative note, with vintage visuals that paint many images commonly known to malayalees.
16. Moham - Baiju Dharmajan
Baiju Dharmajan is one of the best guitarists of the age and the song Moham is his cover of the beautiful song “MohamKondu Njan” from the movie Shesham Kaazhchayil.
17. Jihad – Motherjane
Motherjane is perhaps one of the oldest bands formed in Kochi that is still widely known. The song Jihad was written and composed for the movie soundtrack of Amal Neerad's Anwar and became the #1 Most Watched Video and Discussed Video in India and #78 most watched in the World on its Day of Release.
18. Firefly - When Chai Met Toast
Firefly by When Chai Met Toast is a happy tune, like most of their songs. With its roots in Kochi & Trivandrum and a following that has reached farther in a short time, When Chai Met Toast defines its genre to be “Happy!” and is just that.
19. You Say - Black Letters
You Say by Black Letters is reminiscent of songs from the likes of Linkin Park and Hoobastank, the alternative rock bands that started it all in the early 2000s.
20. MG and Main - Fix the World
Although MG & Main does not have a YouTube video to its name, their song Fix The World sounds like something out of an internationally acclaimed bands repertoire. With its strong acoustic guitar strums and the voices of Tamme and Shawn, the husband and wife duo sets the mood and makes everything light. You can listen to the song here.
Words: Fathima Abdul Kader
Feature Image: Abby Williamson
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