So, young Harsha. I swore to you once that if your new record sucked, I’d personally come down and set you on fire. I’m going to keep my promise: once I’m done writing this, I’m ringing the butler for kerosene, a box of matches, and a train ticket to where you live.
There’s a small homemade revolution brewing here right under everyone’s noses. In the past year, three improbable little records have come out of Chennai which knock a modest, but significant, hole in the otherwise very sensible view that nothing good is ever going to come out of this country the way it’s going. These albums – Tunes from the Big Belly by the Shakey Rays and Curious Toys by Harsha Iyer, both débuts, and Dead Loops from Adam & the Fish-Eyed Poets, a sophomore – make up an oddball trio: in an industry lorded over by over-privileged brats playing the superstar to crowds conditioned to not erupt in outrage when yet another too-well-known-for-their-own-good rock group shows up and condescends to them and insults their intelligence by hawking triteness and bloat, these three stand by the backdoor, looking smarter-than-thou and refusing to make friends.
I’m going to get a clamp to hold my jaws shut, I’m beginning to feel a little foolish. I’ve gone at Harsha Iyer’s record from all angles, I’ve held it up to the light, sniffed at it and tried stomping on it, played it back-to-back with the Beatles to try and humiliate it; whatever I do, the little fucker stays persistent in being a gem. I’m not daft. I can tell a genuinely great record from a heroic teenage effort. I can tell when I like something because I’ve held it to simpler standards than otherwise, like how you’re sometimes kinder about your friends than they truly merit. It’s irrelevant that the boy’s nineteen. It’s irrelevant that he’s played all his instruments himself. When you do a record like this, you don’t deserve a handicap.