Red Baraat is an eight-piece Brooklyn-based band that performs music that is technically classified as Bhangra, though boxing this outfit into a genre is almost an excercise in futility. It’s led by Sunny Jain on the dhol (a double-headed drum originating from southwest Asia… if you ain’t know already). Elements of Jazz, Funk, Hip Hop, Go-Go, Afrobeat and Reggae can all be heard in Baraat’s music, as evidenced by Shruggy Ji, their new full-length release. Infusions from nothern India are present throughout the album and many of its songs’ lyrics are in Hindi, so the Bhangra label is absolutely justified. But, the album’s appeal is far from limited to devotees of the Indian dance/pop music genre. Yeah, there are tracks sung in English. But, it’s the band’s sound that its broad audience connects with—a sound that requires no translation nor sub-titles. Actually, the vocals, regardless of dialect, seem almost blended into the instrumentation rather than being accompanied by it. Below, I introduce three songs from the album, and below that, you’ll find links to connect and keep up with the band.
I spent inauguration/MLK weekend in Washington, DC, where I had the pleasure (more or less) of hearing some of the city’s local DJs. After that experience, it’s impossible to not notice the influence of Go-Go on the album’s title track. Shruggy Ji is the type of mid-tempo party song that gets even the most lazy-footed folks bouncing to the beat.
“Sialkot” sounds like victory. It starts out with a very chill dohl solo, which sets the stage for the horns to add Goldie Locks-level heat to create a musical medley that sounds just right. Though Baraat’s website makes comparisons between another joint and a Tarantino car chase, it’s “Sialkot” that has that triumphant cinematic feel for me.
Speaking of that other joint, “Burning Instinct” is nearly four minutes long and is one of Shruggy Ji’s shortest cuts. Though I don’t quite hear the Tarantino car chase comparison (might be explained by the fact that I haven’t seen Grindhouse), I definitely can see a Coupe Deville catching air to this in a ‘Streets of San Francisco’ episode. Whatever pictures come to mind when you listen to this tune are cool as long as they are moving images that sync-up with the fast-paced, high-powered funk that this is.
If you like what you hear, enjoy and support Red Baraat’s unique and eclectic music. There is way more dope music on the record than could be mentioned here. Other stand-outs that I would love to share are “Private Dancers” and “F.I.P.”. You can stream these songs and the rest of the album via Bandcamp (you knew that already didn’t you). Better yet, you can BUY a digital or hard copy of the album and then watch them live at the Bowery Ballroom on February 1st. The band is embarking on a nation-wide tour, so, if you live in or around New York or Boston and you don’t see them at one their upcoming area dates (listed below), you may have to wait a little while for another chance.
See Red Baraat live in:
New York, NY – Feb 1st @ The Bowery Ballroom
Cambridge, MA – Feb 2nd @ The Sinclair
Keep up with Red Baraat on: