Editor’s note: Once a month, we feature a fantastic playlist of the best new indie music curated by our partners A Humming Heart (AHH). Independently run and reader-supported, AHH also supports upcoming indie musicians through their Artist Fund. These recommendations have been written and curated by Anubhab Roy.
Indie inspiration from A Humming Heart
Did you know that digital music streaming compels upcoming artists to release singles frequently, instead of full-length albums? This is so that they can stay visible and relevant in the short-lived memories of listeners and playlist curators. Before we get to the best new music this month, we urge you to check out two full-length albums that have come out this month and caught our attention. The length and breadth of both these releases is commendable and worth a try. Listen to Punjabi rapper Prabh Deep’s 13-track long Bhram, and Hindi singer-songwriter Piyush Bhisekar’s Marham.
Now, on to our selection of the best new singles of the month. If you are new to the indie music scene, the songs below are perfect to dip your toes and test the waters. If you are a longtime indiehead, these have the potential to become staples in your personal indie playlists.
Summer of Love by Zadieum: For any listener, the correlation between summer with all its mirthful connotations and an uplifting pop song is too obvious to point out. Zadieum with his debut, ‘Summer of Love’, self-consciously banks on this basis to create a song that is in titular acknowledgment of its intent. This attempt at a run-of-the-mill beat-driven sound works for the most part, and does so quite well instrumentally, as the terse 2-minute track keeps the listener bopping. The song falters a tad lyrically, as it is mostly confused whether it seeks to talk about hopeful heartbreak or rueful romance.
Pills by The Lightyears Explode: Alt-rock act The Lightyears Explode have been quiet for a while. The Mumbai-based band makes a comeback with their latest single, ‘Pills’, which sees them try their hand at a pop sound as exposition, which soon transitions into the heavy force of rock. The electronic guitar and the steadily thumping drums predominate as instruments, with hints of psychedelic electronica that both tonally and thematically complement the track, which packs a lot of power throughout its runtime of two and a half minutes.
Happy This Way by Vacoustics: Vacoustics’ debut release, ‘Happy This Way’, is not the average fast-paced song intent on getting to the finishing point. Instead, it is occupied with savouring the trip. The song is a curveball with a deliberately slow pace and an oddly askew rhythm, which is further complicated by the heavily and consciously accented vocals. The strengths of the song perhaps lie in the potent vocals, the dissonant mixture of the acoustic guitar and the randomly peppered percussion, and its lack of self-awareness. Do check out this happy-go-lucky song gone awry.
Just Another Phase by Takar Nabam: Singer/songwriter Takar Nabam is back after a hiatus of almost five years. ‘Just Another Phase’ is Nabam’s latest release single, one that is quirky in all its bends, and hopefully a telling clarion call for the artist’s resurgence. ‘Just Another Phase’ feels laid-back and chill, and yet it talks about loneliness and (overcomeable) despondence: “With no one to pull me, I’ll / struggle my way out.” Nabam also, interestingly, uses consciously poetic imagery and metaphors for his latest pop number.
Is This Love by Kalumé: Bangalore-based artist Kalumé has just released a single titled ‘Is This Love’, and the song holds a lot of promise. Spanning a bit short of the 3-minute mark, ‘Is This Love’ opens with an acoustic guitar, and Kalumé’s powerful yet melodic vocals soon take over. The seemingly uncomplicated chord-progression highlights the inherent heart of the song. Predominantly instrumental, ‘Is This Love’ still holds space for Kalumé to ask questions about transience (“will it pass me by soon”) and the titular question (“is this love?”).
Keeping up with indie
We hope you enjoy this month's selection of independent music. We’re currently hooked by the growing trend of web series and films, which is translating into more opportunities for independent artists. Recently, we caught up with Aditya N. and Nayantara Bhatkal who gave the soundtrack for the first season of Netflix’s ‘Class’; and with Kanishk Seth (you might have heard his popular track ‘Rangi Saari’) who supervised the music for the Disney+ Hotstar film Gulmohar.
Stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest in the indie scene through our regularly updated Spotify playlist, Currents. We carefully curate our playlists for your every listening mood from introspective moments with a cup of chai to party-ready vibes with a beer. Follow us and let us provide the perfect (or near-perfect) soundtrack for your every mood :)
Looking for some serious indie cred? Check out our fourth issue of the only print magazine for independent music, available now at a special discounted rate for Splainer readers! Don't miss out on the latest issue that's packed with the best indie music, exclusive interviews, reviews, games, and more.