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Sonic youths

Calcutta band the Supersonics have given me the utter confidence to shout out my longstanding desire without any fear at last. Indrajit Hazra writes.

music Updated: Aug 28, 2009 22:54 IST
Indrajit Hazra

Death to all those Dream Theatre-Pink Floyd tribute bands. I always was worried about shouting out that wish of mine lest the live rock‘n’roll scene in the music holes across the country simply blimps off and disappears. But Calcutta band the Supersonics have given me the utter confidence to shout out my longstanding desire without any fear at last. The boys from the city of a million renditions of ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Comfortably numb’ do a heavy tilt with their fingers on display and come out with their delightfully titled and musically mova-moving debut studio album, Maby Baking.

The sound is contemporary, non-tweedy and has what few Indian bands manage to pull out of their pagri: fresh, broody, full-on, filled-up sound. You can sonically smell Franz Ferdinand, Joy Division and the Strokes on this CD, but the Supersonics, like any good band worth its amps, know that the trick is to bathe all their influences with their own yodelling.

And that’s what we hear from the start. ‘170’, with its frantic boogie-woogie bassline tickling away as the guitar runs pick up while frontman Ananda Sen sets up doppler effects in front of the mike. The vigorous guitar cha-changs bring a new melodic force, that when tasted with the dinosaur stomps and tempo change in the middle, has something almost epical about it.

In ‘Far from the human face,’ guitarman Rohan Ganguli riffs up things, as well as setting up the scene for Ananda, armed with his octave-dropping Ian Curtis voice to come up with a nice liederhosen and salute number. The chompy laziness of ‘We are we are’ is classic ‘sky-gazing with a bellyful of beer on the grass’ music. It’s here that I realise that these boys have a fast car with many gears and an extra set of wheels and a pack-up vehicle in the boot. Do I detect a New New Wave take on George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ in the opening chords of ‘Major Minor’? In any case, the boom’n’doom takes over quickly with a sepulchral (hooded?) Ananda droning, “I just need to find myself tonight/ Armageddon’s cries will swarm the skies.”

‘Blotter’ takes it soft and slow and George Harrison would have been pleased as the song tunes in, turns on and drops a wonderful tune at our earstep. Avinash Chordia makes the snare drums come alive in ‘I don’t ever want to’ and the pogo-friendly heart-popper is followed by the Hooghly surfer number, ‘Hey Aloha’ with those you-can’t-ever-go-wrong D-G-A chords. ‘Policemen and nice guys’ replicates a chase, with the band as the bad boys running, running with the tagline, “C’mon, I wanna see a little sunshine.”

The Strokes are once again gently recollected in ‘They lie’. The ska flavour in ‘Yeah whatever’ makes my body itch in a nice, restless way. The show ends with ‘In memory of’ — a number I had heard first on the collection, Kolkata: The Underground Vol 1, with its bassline caterpillar start that breaks into broad expanses of drums and guitar and speedball-flavoured vocals that makes me think of the Jesus and Mary Chain if they were on pot instead of acid.

The band has tightened into a cool, frozen unit since I heard them last at Calcutta’s Someplace Else. Maby Baking makes me finally rest in peace with the comforting thought that it’s the beginning of the end for all those Dream Theatre-Pink Floyd wanker bands.