The Carlsberg Exceptionals

EMI Music; Music CD; Rs. 395

The Carlsberg Exceptionals is the record of the week, and what a rewarding risk they have taken with this compilation album of independent Indian bands. The album opens with Delhi-based band Menwhopause who have in recent months been active on the circuit touring with their album. “Can't We Be Dreaming” is haunting and is superbly complemented by the throaty vocals. Like a shot of neat, very expensive single malt, the song flows smoothly till you realise it is over.

“Puppets And Paupers” is a sly track, with a very subtle guitar and soft lyrics, you don't realise when the song hooks itself into your system. The next Indian band on the list is Advaita. With their trademark fusion sound that cash on the ragas and taalas, their songs “Suspended” and “Drops Of Earth” are but obvious choices. From their debut album these two songs are competent in music and lyrics.

“Them Clones”, the Delhi band is also featured on the album with “All About a Heartbreak”, a fairly straightforward and simple song, with a strong and apparent influence of Hinder. “Jealousy” is another one by the band which in my opinion should have been placed before “All About Heartbreak”. This is one of the gems they have in their live shows, which gets better on record.

Indian folk-rock band Swarathma is next on the playlist with “Pyar Ke Rang”. The song opens with an Indian beat that already has you shaking a hip or tapping a foot. With a strong flavour of rural complemented by their choice of instruments and treatment of the song, it is the one you will want to set on loop. “Patte Saare” however is a personal favourite and there is not a single bad thing I can say about the song or Swarathma.

Something Relevant, is a younger band who have made quick impression, which lasted. “Aha” is just too much fun, and they flirt with jazz and are having such an infectiously good time making the song. “Mr. Invisible”, is viscous, and moves with an exciting stealth. If “Aha” didn't make sure you want more, you would surely be a convert by the time you are done with “Mr. Invisible”.

Also on the album are bands Arko & Dev, The Supersonics and Midival Punditz. “Far From The Human Race” is a powerful song with strong vocals and some intricate guitar work. The album closes with Midival Punditz, the instrumental “Drifting” and “Four Sticks” is the result of some very clever mixing, and simply superb music.