Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 03:01
Listening to Red Barrat’s new album, Shruggy Ji, on a groggy, all-too-early morning is just like taking a monster-shot of caffeine. The sound is big, and they don’t ease into it; it hits the listener like a ton of bricks.
The eight-piece band was started in 2008 by percussionist Sunny Jain, of the jazz ensemble The Sunny Jain Collective. In Red Baraat, Jain and his crew have combined the raucous sounds of North Indian bhangra with big brass and jazz. Lyrics are sung in both Hindi and English.
Right from the opening track, Red Baraat is encouraging, and even commanding listeners to move and participate. “Halla Bol,” the title of the first song, translates to “raise your voice”, and it is easy to imagine the audience of a packed house raising their voices along with the band as they all jump up and down.
For most of Shruggy Ji, Jain’s smooth voice winds its way through the music in a way that is typical to bhangra, but in “Azad Azad” Jain adds an intriguingly rough edge to his voice that grabs the listener’s attention. A little more of that edge wouldn’t go amiss.
Shruggy Ji is heavy on the horns and percussion, high on energy, and exudes an atmosphere of positivity. This constant upbeat sound and message could be both a plus and a minus for the band. While each song is individual, the unrelenting fast pace could make Shruggy Ji seem like a one-note.
Red Baraat started earning a name on the international stage with its first album, Chaal Baby, and the release of Shruggy Ji, their second, is only going to make that name bigger. They have a sound that could get the world dancing.