Attempting to keep up with new releases is exhausting. And the never-ending quest to discover an act before they hit >1000 plays on Bandcamp is all but rewarding. Having given up full-time music writing a little while ago, more often than not, I find myself feeling a mix of FOMO and IDGAF about new, local music while compiling my Spotify playlists. With this feature, we (that is, I) aim to put together a weekly mixtape—without being judgemental assholes.
On this Friday, I’ve rounded up the lovely folks from Pagal Haina Records to recommend a bunch of their favourite tunes, inspirations and playlist staples that otherwise inform their serene, harmonious and hummable sound, spread across their various artists. Be it the straight-talking Ditty, or the swing-gypsy-cabaret sound of Peter Cat Recording Co. or the lo-fi, lackadaisical landscape occupied by bowls—Pagal Haina’s corner is one I wouldn’t mind being thrown into.
With a bunch of releases lined up from their side, I couldn’t have been happier to have them take over this week’s playlist as we await releases from Peter Cat Recording Co., Ditty, Shashwat Bulusu, and Rounak Maiti, to name a few.
“Fay” by (Sandy) Alex G
"I picked this song because it's kinda new and I love it, and I love Alex G. He is probably the greatest songwriter ever in my humble opinion. He has so many albums and each and every one of them blows my mind. Enjoy!"
—Shantanu Pandit, singer-songwriter aka Morning Mourning
“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell
"I can't tell you how much I love this song and her, Joni. I think, like many others, I've wanted to be her. I love this live version: she's laughing whilst singing about issues that are still true today. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"
—Aditi Veena, songwriter at Ditty and an environmentalist
“Ivy” by Frank Ocean
"This song, to me, summarises an experience that is probably familiar to anyone who has been in a romantic relationship. Especially when they (and I) were young. Beyond that, Frank's peculiar (read: SO GOOD) style of crafting deceptively simple melodies is the reason why I blackhole back to this song over and over and over and over again."
—Dhruv Bhola, singer-songwriter aka bowls
“Devotion” by Tirzah
"Tirzah's 2018 album Devotion was one of my favourite from the year. Ditching the maximalist and over-produced tendencies of a lot of singer-songwriter R&B out there, Tirzah's approach is a lot more raw and rudimentary. She teamed up with an incredible producer and composer, Mica Levi, to make ballads full of otherworldly percussion, warped samples and dark, romantic lyricism. The title track with Coby Sey is my absolute favourite from the record. The intertwining of Tirzah and Sey's voices is particularly haunting."
—Rounak Maiti, singer-songwriter and writer from Mumbai via Los Angeles
“Boys Can Never Tell” by J Roddy Walston & The Business
"I have to be honest that most of my music discovery comes via Dhruv Singh (Pagal Haina founder), including this song. Why do I love this song? I mean, it just pulls at my heart. That's it for me when it comes to art. I ache, I feel something, and it's that real connection—a connection to something so true within myself that makes the piece of art so special. One could read these lyrics and analyse, but I prefer to just feel. And I feel all sorts of things with this song."
—Lucy Peters, Co-founder, Pagal Haina
“W.I.G.F.Y.” by bowls (ft. Ditty, Karan Singh)
"It's a beautiful, depressing and catchy song, and I love listening to sad songs whenever I'm sad myself. Perfect for whenever self-doubt kicks in and dopamine doesn't. I won't go into details about why I relate to it personally, but the lyrics do hit home every time I listen to the song (i.e. quite often). I love singing the second half of the song; it's the most beautiful thing ever."
—Param Saran, tour manager in the making, Pagal Haina
“Franklin the Flirt” by Porches
"Lately, I've found myself coming back to this song and binge listening more than one would consider healthy. I love singing along to it really loudly, to the detriment of whoever is in the vicinity."
—Dhruv Singh, Founder & Barista, Pagal Haina
“Where The Money Flows” by Peter Cat Recording Co.
“If the first single, "Floated By", and this song are anything to go by, will it sound too cheesy to say I’m already in love with the upcoming Peter Cat Recording Co. album? The title of the album, the artwork, that signature PCRC aesthetic—it all comes together so well. Having signed to Panache, a Parisian label, and sorting out their management has bode well for the larger career arc of this band, and I’m hard-pressed to believe there’s not too many other Indian indie bands that embody their Indian-ness so well, without exoticising the homeland.
From the samples to the laidback vibe of the song, "Where The Money Flows" establishes itself as the perfect album opener, and Suryakant Sawhney’s vocals only cement this. The band’s lyricism is barely ever dodgy, making me question whether this song is about running out of love, some strange-ass take on capitalism or perhaps the national disaster known as demonetisation? I keep trying to find words to establish my feelings for this song, but keep getting lost in its beauty… no kidding. Tried this four times, over and over.”
—Naman Saraiya, Producer and hyped for all the releases this month