Monday March 31, 2014

Top recent listens (March 2014)

Posted by Karthik

Mast magan, Chaandaniya & Hulla re – 2 States (Hindi – Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Dependable trio, again. They seem to be raising beyond Dharma cliches by and large, to deliver a very listenable soundtrack. Hulla re is a particular favorite!

Symphonica – George Michael
As a long-time George Michael fan, Symphonica is a bit of an oddball album, with the string arrangements recorded in a studio and live vocals from each of his live shows on the Symphonica tour selected by the late Phil Ramone to arrange in this album! That does sound both confusing and disingenious overall, but the quality of the album is impeccable. George voice is absolutely intact and sounds better than it ever has, given the he is also singing live (mostly). The focus is exclusively on his vocals with the music (by Czech National Symphony Orchestra) beautifully underplaying their part. Symphonica is a good stop-gap reminder of the man’s talents before they get his next studio album out – I believe there’s one cooking right now!

Oru mozhi – Law Point (Malayalam – Mejo Joseph)
Like most Malayalam films these days, Law Point has just two songs. Oru mozhi worked easily for me, very reminiscent of Nammavar’s ‘Poonguyil paadinaal’ melody and sounding wonderfully pleasant. I do want to hear more from Mejo.

Nee thanna – Happy Journey (Malayalam – Gopi Sundar)
Yet another Malayalam film with just 3 songs – I should stop complaining about this really 🙂 In fact, I feel it helps the film’s narration better… and since labels like Satyam Audios routinely share the songs on YouTube, there’s really no reason to complain (they rarely complete credits, however – that IS a major irritant), but for pointing to this curious trend of 2-3 songs per movie only in this industry, against the trend in every other movie industry in India. Anyway, Happy Journey has music by Gopi Sundar and the man’s is dependable, once again, particular in this song… a catchy song with his trademark hooks and Latin guitar. The video is mighty absorbing too, with Lal taking along a group of visually impaired people (including Jayasurya) all across Bangalore’s very familiar points! After Cuckoo, this is another recent film focusing on visually impaired people, I suppose.

Olakkam & Thalavettam – 1983 (Malayalam – Gopi Sundar)
1983 is Gopi Sundar again! Olakkam is a fascinatingly minimalistic melody with Gopi using guitars and violins to wonderful effect amidst the waltz sound. Nivas and Aleetta Dennis sing this almost conversational song damn well! Thalavettam is an energetic very-Kerala sound (chendai?) interspersed among many other sounds, including a surprisingly softer turn in the charanam!

Kaanaan njaanen – SIM (Malayalam – Gopi Sundar)
Gopi… yet again! Man, he’s on a roll. Kaanaan njaanen is an instant winner since it sounds so, so, so like Nattakurinji raagam (remember Rahman’s Kannamoochi yenada from Kandukonden Kandukonden?). Sachin Warrier deivers the song really well, as is Gopi, who handles the raaga beautifully.

Char botal vodka – Ragini MMS 2 (Hindi – Yo Yo Honey Singh)
No, sorry – I’m not from the group that sways to Baby Doll. My vote goes to Char botal vodka – Yo Yo knows his audience well and delivers perfectly here.

Besharmi ki height & Tera hero idhar hai – Main Tera Hero (Hindi – Sajid-Wajid)
I’ve always wanted to check notes when it comes to remakes – Main Tera Hero is supposed to be the remake of the Telugu film Kandireega, which had predictable music from Thaman, but for one super highlight – Champakamala. Wonder what that song’s equivalent in the Hindi remake is, assuming song situations may be largely similar (though the Telugu film had 5 songs and the Hindi has just 4). Sajid and Wajid do well for themselves here, but with a distint Pancham swagger in Tera hero idhar hai too!

Meduvaagathaan, Manappennin sathiyam & Idhayam – Kochadaiiyaan (Tamil – A R Rahman)
A sound album from Rahman, with a distinct orchestral sound befitting the alleged scale of the film. The sound is more from his Hollywood pursuits (Million Dollar Arm, Rahman’s next Hollywood venture, with an Indian twist in the plot – an Indian baseball player! – already has some great reviews, for the film… though no word on the music, yet) and is adequately grand enough to suit the lavish vision of the film starring a cartoon Rajinikanth. Idhayam is personal favorite!

Kaathiruppen – Ettuthikkum Madhayaanai (Tamil – Manu Ramesan)
Manu attempting a Adiye (Kadal). Very competent attempt, I should say!

Baby, Desaiyum ezhandheney, Kannamma & Ding Dong – Jigarthanda (Tamil – Santhosh Narayanan)
Santhosh eclectic run continues and here he juxtaposes spaghetti western sound with Madurai… Madurai imagined as American Southwest!! Baby is the quintessential song that captures that juxtaposition… I can almost imagine Siddharth walking towards the villain, in a poncho! There are other delights like the hip-hop Ding dong that channelises the inner Vinu Chakravarthy! Santhosh, is without doubt, the most exciting composer in Tamil cinema is recent times with a distinct world music sensibility that seems completely fresh!

Hey vaasamoakka – Vaalu (Tamil – Thaman)
Vaalu is a easy-listen from Thaman, but this song is sureshot winner! The choice of another composer, Anirudh, seems odd, but works very well in the song’s context. That Andrea (Anirudh’s ex-flame) is the female singer adds to the oddity and showcases how songs are really recorded these days… completely in isolation from singer to orchestra, unlike the glass-doored mega group performing together in Ilayaraja days that was a scene in many a Mike-Mohan films!

Ab kya hua hei – Praise The Lord (Malayalam – Shaan Rahman)
A Hindi song in a Malayalam film… who would have thunk! Shaan’s music in this film is several shades below his current form, but this curiously catchy Hindi song makes the cut, despite the hangover of the rhythm from Partner’s Soni de nakhre!

Boochade, Sweety & Gala gala – Race Gurram (Telugu – Thaman)
True to its name, the film has a racy enough soundtrack, though falling strictly within commercial limits that Thaman has carved out for himself. But it’s good fun, anyway. Thaman makes some interesting choice in singers as well, like Dinesh Kanagarathinam in Gala gala and Siddharth Mahadevan in Sweety – both choices work damn well! And Shreya is her usual diva self in Boochade anyway!

Penne & Yelelo – Naan Sigappu Manidhan (Tamil – GV Prakash Kumar)
The young composer, relatively free from his duties acting as hero (besides Pencil, I hear he’s planning to star as hero in more films!), does pretty well here! Yelelo, in particular, is a great listen the way he builds it, with tremendous world music elements. And Penne, despite the strong whiff of Minsara Kanavu’s Vennilave, works really well too! Good to see the composer back in flow after a spate of not-so-interesting soundtracks like Nimirndhu Nil and JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai.

Podhum nee, Kaadhal ara onnu vizhindhuchu & Maatraparavai – Vaayai Moodi Pesavum (Tamil – Sean Roldan)
A very fresh take on a conventional film soundtrack by Sean Roldan aka R Raghavendra, no doubt hugely inspired by the sound Santhosh Narayanan has already pioneered in Tamil films (that’s a good inspiration to have, IMO). Podhum nee is a hot favorite for me, having played it a LOT in recent times!

Dheeme re & Aayi bahaar – Aankhon Dekhi (Hindi – Sagar Desai)
A simple, uncluttered soundtrack from the composer who seems to be either choosing such films with finesse or has already been typecast to be the composer of choice for slice-of-life, middle-of-the-road interesting films like this. I’d really like to place Sagar Desai in a big budget ‘hero’ film and see what he delivers!
Listen to the songs here, on Saavn.

Maanja – Maan Karate (Tamil – Anirudh)
Law of averages catching up with Anirudh? It all sounds good but very, very predictable within the kind of sound he has worked on so far, and even encroaching Harris Jayaraj territory a bit, which going by Harris’ current form, is not an exciting place to be in. Maanja is a great listen, however!

Jal de & Zaalima – Jal (Hindi – Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh)
Sonu and Bickram debuted in Sooper Se Ooper – it was a fairly odd debut for an odd pair, musically. But the duo have done tremendously well in their second outing, with limited songs and more musical pieces that demonstrate Bickram’s prowess more than Sonu’s. But the songs are really good on their own too with Sonu doing a zingy Zaalima in an unusual voice and pulling it beautifully.

Saahib – Bhoothnath Returns (Hindi – Ram Sampath)
I was quite surprised by Ram’s involvement in the film, though it turned out to be one of those multi-composer soundtracks that also has a mandatory item song by Meet Bros Anjjan and Yo Yo Honey Singh… standard fixtures in such soundtracks. It is then no surprise Ram’s contribution sounds best (though the Party song by Meet Bros Anjjan is not bad at all). Sahib by Ram is my favorite!

Aisi mori – Postcard (Marathi – Gandhaar Sangoram)
Aisi mori has two versions in the soundtrack and the one that appealed to me instantly was the one with Nandini Srikar’s voice. The song reminds me of SP Balasubramaniam composed (and sung) Vannam Konda Vennilave from Sigaram, so I’m assuming the song is based on Pilu raaga. Nandini’s voice adds superb value to the tune, which is handled with a lovely flourish in its classical roots.

Listen to the song from Sigaram too, in context!

Uppu huli – Dil Rangeela (Kannada – Arjun Janya)
Like Anirudh in Tamil, I feel Arjun Janya in Kannada too is reaching a stage where his songs are starting sound like they are from a common template. Arjun’s Paaru Wife of Devdas was a soundtrack that went completely above my head with nothing working, for me. Dil Rangeela is another album, though Uppu huli, in Arjun’s trademark gruffy voice, offers some solace.

Jis tan nu lagdi aye – Jatt James Bond (Punjabi – Mukhtar Sahota)
The soundtrack has more than one composer as far as I know, with Jatinder Shah being the lead composer. Mukhtar Sahota, from what I understand, has done two songs and one of them is this cool track featuring Arif Lohar – almost sounds like a prayer with a distinct Middle Eastern twang, with the song title hook acting as the repetitive prayer-style hook amidst pulsating guitar!

Beautiful Billo & Lattoo – Disco Singh (Punjabi – Jatinder Shah)
Disco Singh is Jatinder Shah’s solo soundtrack and together with the film’s lead Diljit Dosanjh, the composer has a jolly good time producing catchy ditties! Lattoo is my personal favorite, featuring Diljit and Sunidhi Chauhan, while Beautiful Billo is typical, racy Punjabi masala done well.

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