Tough on Tobacco

The Happy Goat – TOUGH ON TOBACCO – 2009


Indian Rock/Independent music has grown a lot since, let’s say 2002. But not enough to truly appeal in a big way yet. As a result, it is in danger of becoming insular and incestuous, a bit like what most people conceive of the art world- old farts without much relevance to the outside world.

But then, that is not to say that this shrink-wrapped intermingling doesn’t yield good results. Yes, it produces utter crap on occasion (try Shaair and Func’s latest) – unnecessarily experimentative and counter-intuitive excercises in look-how-much-I-can-play/produce/layer. But there is also stuff like Tough on Tobacco, genuinely nice listenable music aimed at listeners. It’s composed of a couple of members of the legendary Zero, and then some. It’s a bitta rock, a bitta reggae and a bitta something else in a nice little package with humorous lyrics that aren’t contrived. I like this. Sample “Concert Piano”, about the singer’s inability and frustration to play the piano. This could have been a dangerously daft and silly attempt at humorous rock- a joke that no one laughs at, with only the incestuous lot liking it. Remember Navjot Singh Sidhu laughing his arse off in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge? It could’ve been something like that. But this works.Err.....sexy.

It’s a bitta rock, a bitta reggae, a bitta something else in a nice little package with humorous lyrics that aren’t contrived.

And the best part is that its backed up by some really catchy rhythms and hooks, like the opening bass and keyboard hook on “Consuella” or the guitar and bass doodles on “Already told you”, or the really very catchy guitar on “Don’t leave me behind”. These are real songs by mature musicians, having fun. Good shit. 

As far ‘good songs’ are concerned, I’m finding it hard to point out a bad song here. They’re all kind of light hearted and fun. But, if you were to poke me with a stick, I’d say “Wait till the Night’s Out”, “Tough on Tobacco”, “Forest of Doom”, and “Concert Piano” are my favourites. Check ‘em out.

Stumbling blocks are sometimes flawed mixing/production, especially with regard to vocal harmonies, which jangle and jar. The bass should’ve been heavier in the mix. This is- after all- reggae influenced. But all said and done, this is an encouraging sign that there is some good music floating about. It’s hardly Bob Marley, but Tough on Tobacco generally sounds right.

– El Bajista

More DESI ROCK reviews HERE.

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