A celebration of local artists during dark and trying times
The sudden arrival of the Coronavirus shook us all up in ways that will probably require years of therapy. But the one good thing we must give it credit for is the amount of creativity everyone around us displayed. Whether as a coping mechanism, or because they’ve finally found the time to do something they truly love, artists of all fields have kept us entertained during a time of distress. Some of our favourite local musicians have also taken the opportunity to create more of their magic. As appreciation for their contribution, here’s a playlist consisting of some of the many incredible songs released during lockdown:
Jon Kabir - Acoustic EP
Background: 2020 has been a major year for Jon Kabir as an artist, with him starting his own YouTube channel, and releasing his first single Moho in February. During the first phase of this “lockdown”, Jon went on to release not one, but 5 acoustic covers of renowned originals by Black (and a bonus track), as part of an acoustic EP. All these songs were recorded about two years ago, with no plans to release them. Interestingly, each of the songs was recorded in one take.
Banglamotorr - The Only Way Out Is Through
Genre: Post Punk, Indie
Background: The song was recorded in a studio that’s called Bedroom Pop Studio and the studio is literally located in the guitarist’s bedroom. The artwork and graphics were made by Shehab from Norf Made Production, who was also a part of their first single, “Lucid”. The certain effect on the vocals was predetermined. They laid the tracks with high-end microphones but it sounded too “clean” for their taste. Later, a budget microphone was used to blend with the garage-rock aesthetics. The lyrics translate to what the listener’s mind wants it to be; relationships, self, the world, or even attachments with toxic narcissism. Or as simple as a bad haircut.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8Ks3gArxW4
Circus Police - Bharshammo
Genre: Trip-Hop, Folk
Background: This song was written almost 10 years ago, for a mixed album that never came to be. Circus Police always wanted to make a Folk inspired song and thought why not mesh it with Trip-Hop. The song came to life with Zulyad playing the funky drumline that you hear in the song. Written by Zaki Adnan, the song talks about betrayal. It's about agony. It's about complete disruption of equilibrium -- bharshammo.
The video was made by their bassist, Efaz R Khan. Covid-19 lockdown gave him the time to create his own interpretation of the song and thus the lyric video was made. Efaz explained that the video represents a man lost in chaos, asking God why/how he ended up in this mess; meanwhile, the lead expresses our own wrongdoings, and how we've been destroying the very balance of the world, and life itself.
Rakat Zami, the producer, and Maher Khan played pivotal roles in producing the song.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWyjJFs7yUQ
Martian Love - Dynamo
Genre: Psychedelic rock, Art rock
Background: The lyrics of the song are just penned down spontaneous feelings of the vocalist, Sharruk. The song revolves around the idea of being trapped in toxicity and struggles to climb out of it.
They wanted to take on a challenge of producing a vintage sound. The song is inspired by old French movies and soundtracks from classic Godard films. The Nouvelle Vague played a part in shaping the sound of the track to some extent.
The video that came later seemed easy, as the sound gave it a visual already. The plan was to make a short film, which had to be changed because of the global lockdown.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT0bVjfVYn4
Jay Das - Drop Dead ft Juno Karr
Genre: Urban Pop, Alternative Hip-Hop, Trap
Background: The song was inspired by an inside joke. Nelson, the guitarist, changed from a confident and outspoken character to a shy one when he fell in love at first sight. Like a fool in love, he had lost his words. Hence, he would "drop dead" whenever she would be around. Jay wrote and co-produced the song which features Juno Karr. It was recorded at Noodleshop Studios in New Jersey, co-produced by Daryl Perez, and co-produced and engineered by Aiden Robert. The music video was edited by Guillermo Viera. The song hit 10k streams on Spotify in less than 2 weeks, and after Change, his first release, has over 20k streams on Spotify.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuBqE15Ctfk
Petty Never Grew - Bhor
Genre: Indie rock, Ambient
Background: On a Facebook post shortly after the release of “Bhor”, the band wrote: “We decided to release this song because we felt it was the appropriate time to sing this tune. Our world is sick. It is sick beyond our wildest imagination. But it is not stopping our human spirits to dream -- to dream of a new day where we will unite as one, to dream of colours and to let the world colour us in, our spirits, and our souls.”
The band has spread out across the world since the album was released last year. They were in Dhaka together for one day after that in December, and that was the day this song was introduced to the band by Rushmian, at Jatra. He had recorded the basic structure and the vocals of the song with producer Rakat Zami before he had left for Oklahoma, USA. The rest of the band joined with online tracks to finish the song and release it on the record label during the Covid-19 lockdown. The theme of the song, "New Dawn", seemed to fit perfectly with the occasion. The band suggests that Rakat has had to do a lot with the success of the song. This is the band’s debut with their guitar player, Sakib Manzur Zihan.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgj9ik1ouxg
The Attempted Band - O Moushumi
Genre: Bangla Rock, Soft Rock
Background: "O Moushumi" is the third single, and the third track from The Attempted Band's concept album "Agoon O Moushumi". It’s based on a tragic love story set in the 1990s, in Dhaka's Green Road area. In this song, the boy Agoon waxes lyrical about his newfound love, Moushumi.
The album was conceptualised and recorded remotely. The Attempted Band members Arafat Kazi and Imran Aziz (both also members of The Watson Brothers) and Jason Cammarata live in separate cities, as do singers Punam (Prayer Hall) and R (Blunderware). They overcame the challenge with the compositional ease and freedom given to all the players, and "Agoon O Moushumi" released earlier this year on all streaming platforms, under the label of The Mothership Records.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y_fzQwaCrs
BeatBaksho X NAOHA - Downpour
Genre: Indie, Ambient
Background: "Downpour" is a single written by young singer/songwriter Pragata Naoha, and composed by Moktadir Dewan, aka BeatBaksho,. It was released on all platforms via The Mothership Records right at the beginning of the quarantine, amidst all the April showers. The song could be interpreted as an ode to lonesomeness, the masochistic side of love, or just the feeling of hollowness that the rain sometimes brings with it. The song was recorded, mixed and mastered at Hungry Dog Studio by Mohammad Raihan Mahbub Rasha.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os7fmlMke1s
Pieket - Pay the Troll
Genre: Dream Pop, Lo-fi
Background: “Pay the Troll” was released as a teaser for the band’s EP "Underwater Mania”, released on all platforms under The Mothership Records. "Pay the Troll", like a lot of Pieket's discography, has mysterious lyrics, and according to them, the short album is about a fantastic adventure in Super Mario with an underwater kind of theme, which begins with chancing upon a troll under a bridge, and having to pay a hefty toll. Both the single and the EP have been recorded at the Hideout and at Sparky's, and mixed and mastered by Sinjan Saadat.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG8royMLa9Y
Embers in Snow - The Woods
Genre: Indie Rock, Ambient
Background: The song is a single off the upcoming album "Solstice". It’s primarily about longing. It's about things you want, things that are apparently easy to have but, for some reason, they are always eluding you.
A part of the song -- drums and bass -- was recorded earlier at Acoustic Artz Recording Studio sometime around October of 2019. It's an old song, written back in 2016, and it developed and changed to finally what you can hear. There was a plan for shooting a music video, but that proved to be impossible because of the lockdown; so, the lyric video came about based on the song's artwork which was done by Tuba Zehra Huq. The typography was done by Tilok Adnan, and then it was just a matter of arranging it in a sequence and putting it together with the song!
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZuN3qlC8u0
Farooque Bhai Project - Shuno Pls
Background: Farooque Bhai is a Toronto-based Bangladeshi artist and his EP "Gin Bhoot Tonic" was released in May with the first track being "Shuno Pls".
This new song speaks about a strong woman who can survive and carry herself in a way that the artist thinks he never can. His language is communicative with a mix of English words in the midst of Bangla.
Farooque bhai came across Monowar Ashraf Khan's artwork through his Instagram (@trashartandwatermelon) and was blown away by the diversity of his portfolio and his use of colours, and thought he would be perfect for a music/lyric video.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqgIZZFSWYg
Genre: Easy Listening, Soft Rock
Background: The song “Ghore Achhi” released under the label Ajob Records. The lyrics of the song have tried to portray life during the pandemic; stories of being stuck at home in contrast to the struggles of living without pay. The song pleads everyone to follow safety measures as now is the time to “save the world”. It goes on to tell how it’s time to stay away from each other to save one another and never lose faith.
The song has been arranged by the founder and guitarist of the band “The Miliputs” from Kolkata. The lyrics are written by a young writer, Mrinmoyee, and the music video by Himu. Suhrid has an exciting collaboration in the making with Demalya from the Miliputs. It is the beginning of a series between the two Banglas.
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUF-DMaa6qU