by Guest Blogger Samuel Allen
With the Kominas, punk politics meets groovy reggae rhythms. The 2015 track “See Something Say Something” is a breezy, harmony-rich rumination on how a culture of paranoia can manifest distrust of innocent strangers. On an earlier, more aggressive offering, their bouncy “Sharia Law in the USA” mixes blistering guitars with Dead Kennedyesque lyricism.
Rupa & The April Fishes
Rupa Marya’s latest release, Growing Upwards, is a fiery indictment of the lingering violence from the vestiges of colonialism. The band’s style is a little bit of everything – pop, acoustic, reggae, rock, and hip hop. With graceful vocals and a diverse set of musical styles, Rupa and the April Fishes give you something to listen to and something to think about.
Shilpa Ray shines an artist who’s both a rocker, a balladeer, and storyteller. The highlight of 2017’s Door Girl is “Add Value Add Time”, a deeply-relatable, sighing track about panic attacks, the constant grind of life in New York City, and the nagging question of “is this really all there is?”.
If you’re looking for the next perfect addition to your pool playlist, give Raja Kumari’s “SHOOK” a spin. The song has everything to love about a proper rap banger: punchy bass, rapid-fire verses, and that oh-so-essential catchy hook.
The evocative music running through the background of NBC’s This Is Us is the brainchild of Siddhartha Kholsa. By far the standout track is “Blip On The Radar (Moonshadow)”, with soft, contemplative guitar and harmonized vocal murmurs that sound straight out of a José Gonzalez song.
Giri and Uma Peters
Nashville’s Giri and Uma Peters are a frighteningly talented brother and sister pair who breathe new life into bluegrass and folk standards. Tight harmonies and a furious interplay between Giri’s fiddle and Uma’s banjo make for a delightfully earnest performance.
Micropixie is the “alien alter-ego” of San Francisco’s Neshma Friend. Her latest offering, Dark Sight of the Moon, mixes eclectic instrumentation and silky vocals to produce a set of songs that can only be described as cinematic. Indeed, the album is the final section of a trilogy detailing the story of the Micropixie character as she lands on Earth and tries to discover why we humans are the way we are. With contributions from Rob Myers and Ashish “Hash” Vyas of Thievery Corporation, the album is replete with gentle breakbeats, shimmering guitars, and curious synth flourishes. A perfect companion for lying back and drinking in the music on a night in.
From Austin comes Bamako Airlines, whose brand of bright, sunny, infectiously catchy afropop is a great soundtrack for your summer. On top of bright, brassy horns and expertly-crafted polyrhythms, vocalist Meera Chandy flawlessly delivers an inspiring performance.
Abhi the Nomad
It’s safe to say Abhi the Nomad could easily be the heir apparent to Kendrick Lamar. With chirpy verses that smoothly flow over bouncing bass and trap snares, Abhi’s talent as a rapper is undeniable. Among many things, his single “RUN” namechecks icons of his Indian youth, including Batas, vada, and cricket.
This one takes no prisoners. “Bad Habits” is a firecracker of a track, with a voice that flies high above a pounding groove, with an instantly quotable chorus and a breakdown that leaves you aching for the beat to come back. Drop this at your next party and watch the crowd start to bounce as one. (And this is to say nothing of Madame Gandhi’s vulnerability about her struggles and pains in the lyrics).
Samuel lives in Austin. He likes riding bicycles, reading French, taking photos, and mixing old-fashioneds. Sam has been described as “decent on defense” by his fourth-grade soccer coach. His photography and more can be seen at www.sambiguous.com.