Tag Archives: bollywood

The Bombay Royale: You, Me, Bullets, Love review

Taking on vintage Bollywood the same way that Dengue Fever takes on Cambodian pop, the Bombay Royale manage to evoke the bold glamour and easy swagger of R.D. Burman’s ’60s and ’70s soundtracks while adding just the right amount of cheeky, surf-rockin’ groove to get modern Western audiences to pay attention. The 11-piece band hails from Melbourne, Australia, but their covers of filmi classics like “Jaan Pehechan Ho” and the danceable, hard-swinging originals like “Dacoit’s Choice” that make up most of the record are Bombay-legit and essential party music.

First appeared May 31, 2012 in Orlando Weekly.


DJ Suketu show preview (Seattle Weekly)

For those naive hippies who arrive in Mumbai expecting a world of gurus, cows, and a quaintly impoverished populace that seeks refuge in the technicolor glamour of Bollywood, the reality on the ground is always somewhat shocking. From the southern tip of Colaba to the northern suburbs of Bandra, the city pulses with a vibrant club culture that’s hedonistic and trend-driven. The scene is only one aspect of Mumbai’s pop culture, but it’s a defining one. Most DJs in the scene make their names by remixing Bollywood hits, usually with a tough-guy, street-hop approach or, more likely, a trance-pop vibe that’s upbeat and club-pleasing. DJ Suketu falls firmly into the latter camp, with a remix style that tends to strip everything but the giddy choruses out of the movie’s item number, transforming them into propulsive, four-on-the-floor bangers. His style’s not subtle, but it’s definitely appealing.

First appeared March 17, 2010 in Seattle Weekly.

Kailash Kher show preview (Seattle Weekly)

Of the many vocalists who have staked out careers as successful Bollywood playback singers—the guys and gals who sing the songs the onscreen actors mouth along to—Kailash Kher stands as one of the most distinctive. His singing style is soulful and room-filling, but it also dwells in the upper registers, so it comes across as far more insistent and spiritual than do many of his male counterparts in the business. Deeply influenced by the mystical music of the Bauls and theQawwali singing of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kher’s voice is as effective in historical period pieces like Mangal Pandey as in comedies like Chandni Chowk to China. Further setting himself apart from the playback-singer crowd, Kher fields a full-time band, Kalaisa, that has scored several hits in India. Although Kher has taken part in some of the big-ticket Bollywood superstar tours of the U.S., this show at the Crocodile is decidedly more grass-roots, with Kalaisa bringing an accessible blend of pop and traditional South Asian sounds. While Kher may belt out a few of his bigger Bollywood hits—if you shout a request for anything, make it “Show Me Your Jalwa,” just for kicks—this is going to be a show that’s light on spectacle and strong on substance. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $25 adv./$30 DOS.

First appeared in Seattle Weekly, Sep. 22, 2009.

A.R. Rahman: The Best of A.R. Rahman CD review (Shockhound)


A.R. Rahman

The Best of A.R. Rahman – Music and Magic From the Composer of Slumdog Millionaire

(3 out of 5)

Well, that didn’t take long. A.R. Rahman probably just landed back in Chennai with his new Oscars in his hand, and already Sony has cobbled together a compilation that’s supposed to give American listeners the opportunity to understand what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, this compilation – though it contains a number of incredible numbers Rahman composed for some of the dozens of other movies that weren’t Slumdog Millionaire – is far from able to represent the best of a prolific and enormously gifted composer. To be clear, it does have the best ballad Rahman ever crafted (“Tere Bina,” from 2007’s GURU) and a couple of Rahman’s more interesting forays into songcraft (“Warriors in Peace,” which was composed for a Chinese film, and “Rang De Basanti,” a jaunty collaboration with bhangra superstar Daler Mehndi). Furthermore, numbers like “Dheeme Dheeme” and “Barso Re” are excellent examples of Rahman’s ability to weave sweeping sonic gestures into pop numbers. But by leaving out songs from such seminal soundtracks as the ones for TAAL and BOMBAY – on which Rahman singlehandedly upped the standards for Bollywood composition – is very nearly inexcusable, as is the absence of anything from the only soundtrack that Rahman himself considered a complete success, that of 2005’s WATER. Minus those, as well as any of the orchestral pieces Rahman composed for Bose or the Craig Armstrong collaborations done for ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE, this compilation falls well short of truly being a “best of.” That’ll probably require a boxed set.

First appeared Feb. 24, 2009 at Shockhound.com.

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ soundtrack CD review (Shockhound)

(4 out of 5)

Though it provided her with the biggest chart impact of her career, the placement of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” in the PINEAPPLE EXPRESS soundtrack was somewhat, er, incongruous. Not that one should insist that South Asians make music only for movies based in South Asia, but hearing “Paper Planes” again in the context of the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s incredible, Bombay-based SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE makes more sense of both the song and the movie. The crackling, urban militancy at the song’s core beautifully reflects the chaotic and improbably optimistic milieu of Boyle’s film. Moreover, hearing M.I.A. collaborate with Indian soundtrack king A.R. Rahman on opening cut “O…Saya” provides a perspective on the rapper’s music that may have eluded many Western listeners; despite the overt Bollywood references of M.I.A. cuts like “Jimmy,” the rapper’s previous tunes have been greeted as less an extension of South Asian musical forms than as a grafting of those influences onto electronic music and hip-hop. Here – with Rahman’s sweeping compositions defining the sound of the film – M.I.A. becomes another top-shelf playback singer alongside the likes of long-running Bollywood talents like Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik and Sukwinder Singh. Rahman keeps a firm conceptual grip on the album’s overall sonic approach, and though glitch (“Liquid Dance”) and hip-hop (“Gangsta Blues”) make their way into the mix, it’s the grandiose attack of his digital orchestra that defines the proceedings here. For many, this may be their first opportunity to listen to a Bollywood soundtrack, and thankfully, Rahman provides an excellent introduction.


First appeared Dec. 9, 2008 at Shockhound.com.

The Best Music of 2007 (at least according to the ballot I submitted to Idolator.com)

1. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin – 15
2. Airiel – The Battle of Sealand – 14
3. His Name Is Alive – Xmmer – 13
4. Battles – Mirrored – 12
5. Anoushka Shankar & Karsh Kale – Breathing Underwater – 11
6. Madlib – Beat Konducta in India – 9
7. Maps – We Can Create – 8
8. Extra Golden – Hera Ma Nono – 7
9. Bad Brains – Build A Nation – 6
10. Parts & Labor – Mapmaker – 5

1. M.I.A. – Jimmy
2. Spoon – Don’t Make Me A Target
3. Sunidhi Chauhan – Aaja Nachle
4. Snares – Black Sabbath
5. Elk City – Cherries in the Snow
6. Sukhwinder Singh – Dard-E-Disco
7. The Attack – Getaway Car
8. Les Faux – Boogie Drums Eldoradio Livemix
9. Shankar, Eshaan & Loy – Mast Kalander

1. Aretha Franklin – Rare & Unreleased Recordings
2. Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue
3. Sly Stone – Fresh
4. v/a – Angola: The 100 Best Songs of the 60s and 70s
5. v/a – The Heavy Metal Box

1. Battles
2. Spoon
3. Band of Horses
4. Parts & Labor
5. M.I.A.

Appeared as part of the Idolator Pop 2007 poll.

2007 in review: Orlando Music (Orlando Weekly)

Things I liked this year:
Maybe it’s because I wind up drinking too much when I go see them or maybe it’s because they play the best kind of punk rock – the straight-to-the-point, fists-in-the-air kind – but whatever the reason, the Attack warm my wrinkly old heart. The video they did for ‘Time to Collect’ is possibly the best video ever made.

“Incest, schmincest. There’s a reason I asked Bao Le-Huu to write for Orlando Weekly back when I was music editor: The guy is a great writer who cares about – and understands – the local scene. He also puts forth a valiant effort to spotlight said scene’s better components. The Bao Show, his semi-regular series of shows held at various venues, is Good Orlando Bands 101.

“My ‘retirement’ show – this little party I threw for myself upon leaving the Weekly – was, if I do say so myself, not too shabby. From the opening acoustic set (and comedy) of Bloom’s Devin Moore straight through the barnstorming closing by the Legendary JC’s (with great performances by the Attack, the Country Slashers and Matt Butcher in between) it was a hell of a Monday night at the Social.

“For the record, the first time I was exposed to garage pop band Tres Bien’s greatness was at the Back Booth, and not on America’s Next Great Band. For the record, they’re completely awesome.

“I got my review of Spacebar’s new album wrong, and this is my humble attempt at a mea culpa. Our Fight is the best pop record to come out of Orlando in 2007.

“Here are my 12 favorite local CDs of 2007, in alphabetical order:”

The Attack: self-titled demo

The Country Slashers: Love, Lost & Found

History: Ghosts in the City

Jeanie & the Tits: “Slut Fame” 7-inch

Khann: Tofutopia

Kingsbury: The Great Compromise

The Legendary JC’s: Open Day and Night

Mumpsy: Sings Those Golden Hits From the Misfits

Spacebar: Our Fight

The Sugar Oaks: Red Grapes in the City

Summerbirds in the Cellar: Druids

various artists: Stone Soup Compilation

First appeared in the Dec. 27 issue of Orlando Weekly.

The edited version that appeared in Orlando Weekly did not include the below copy that was part of my original draft. I think it’s pretty easy to understand why.

The Ugly
The Cutthroats I thought that, after seeing Generation play the Florida Music Festival oh-so-many years ago, I would never see a band approach a similar level of misguided awfulness. With the Cutthroats, I can say I’ve seen a band actually surpass it. While Generation was convinced they were the reincarnation of Pearl Jam, the Cutthroats seem to think they’re the Cult, when in fact, they’re closer to (in the words of a friend who witnessed the same amazing/awful show I did) Spinal Tap’s “Jazz Odyssey.” It’s not so much that these guys are terrible musicians – though they may well be – it’s just the all-out cluelessness of their approach. A drum solo in the Back Booth? Turning “The Immigrant Song” into a 15-minute jam? A none-too-sexy singer writhing around as if anyone in the crowd wants to squeeze his lemon? Selling bandanas? (OK, I bought three, but still.) Paleo-rock is usually aces in my book, but these guys put my Priestess-calibrated bullshit meter on high alert. Definitely worth seeing though, if only for the comedic value.

This part was also excised and did not appear in print. I’m not really sure why.

Asha Bhosle at UCF Arena The queen of Bollywood playback singers performed in Orlando. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Even more exciting? This show helped me figure out that there’s a theater in town (Touchstar Southchase) that plays new Indian movies.