Top 10 Guitar Anthems Of 2011

This list celebrates all those amazing guitar-driven songs that emerged from the bubbling Indian indie music laboratory over the past 12 months. Songs that pushed the guitar beyond its conventional role, as well as tunes that reaffirmed our faith in the classic role of the guitar in the music we listen to. Feel free to add to this list and send us your feedback in the comments section at the bottom!
1.       Avial – ‘Annakallan’ (from Salt N’ Pepper OST)
Kerala’s favourite alternative-rock sons of the soil haven’t released a new album since their 2008 self-titled debut though the band has kept hinting that their next album is literally just around the corner. Till then, they’ve kept fans happy with the release of ‘Annakallan’ from the OST of the movie ‘Salt N’ Pepper. All crunchy guitar swagger and slamming drums, ‘Annakallan’ sees Avial infuse their alternative rock DNA with a healthy dose of radio-friendly glamour to make their catchiest and tightest tune yet.
Watch the video for ‘Annakallan’ here:
2.       Swarathma – ‘Aaj Ki Taaza Fikar’ (Single)
Best known for their socially-conscious folk-rock sound, Swarathma crank up the rock on ‘Aaj Ki Taaza Fikar’, the new single from their upcoming second album. With guitarist Varun Murali more involved in the song writing and production this time around, his classic hard rock influences shine through on this boisterous romp from the Bangalore folk-rockers. While the song still retains Swarathma’s signature tongue-in cheek social commentary, the new sound kicks the rock factor into top gear resulting in a sinewy, guitar-infused beast of a single.
Listen to ‘Aaj Ki Taaza Fikar’ here:
3.       Junkyard Groove – ‘Beautiful Crime’
As his band collapsed around him twice this year, Ameeth Thomas, frontman and creative fulcrum behind the Chennai alternative-rock band, kept on recording, releasing an EP of acoustic versions as well as two new songs. ‘Beautiful Crime’ released in August featured one of the best guitar riffs of the year, a wailing, jangly electronic squall courtesy JYG guitarist Naveen Thomas Joseph.
4.       Pentagram – ‘Nocturne’
Having been around for the last fifteen years, Pentagram are Indian indie’s elder statesman. Still, you’d never guess it on the strength of Bloodywood, their fourth album. Seized by a restless creative energy, the Bombay foursome has crafted what is probably their most complete album to date, a buzzing, banging ode to their hometown Bombay.  In contrast to the rest of the album’s electro-rock riffs and beats, album closer ‘Nocturne’ actually lets the guitars and drums breathe just a little bit more, making it Bloodywood’s guitar hero moment. Shimmering with atmosphere, ‘Nocturne’ is without a doubt, one of 2011’s most epic guitar anthems.
Watch the making of ‘Nocturne’ here:
5.       Karsh Kale, Baiju Dharmajan and Njeralathu Harigovindan – ‘Sacred Science’
As part of the TV music and travel series The Dewarists, Asian electronica producer and multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale, Carnatic rock guitarist Baiju Dharmajan and edakka drum maestro Njeralathu Harigovindan were brought together in Angadipurram in Kerala. Over the next few days they collaborated on a song that saw them throw all their individual musical influences and backgrounds into a metaphoric communal pot of ideas, eventually emerging with a swirling collision of cultures and ideas.
Watch the video for ‘Sacred Science’ here:
6.       Skyharbor featuring Daniel Tompkins and Marty Friedman – ‘Catharsis’
Skyharbor quickly became the most exciting new act in Indian metal when it became known that Keshav Dhar, the man behind Skyharbor, was quietly working on a solo progressive metal project that featured collaborations with the likes of ex-Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman and ex-Textures vocalist Daniel Tompkins. Over the course of the year, the buzz encouraged Dhar to put together a band to perform the project’s songs live with a single instrumental performance at the NH7 Weekender. The album titled Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos was set to release at the Weekender but got pushed to a 2012 release date after Dhar signed with British metal label Basick Records.
Listen to ‘Catharsis’ here:
7.       Goddess Gagged – ‘Visionary’
Alongside Skyharbor, the Goddess Gagged’s album Resurfaces was one of the most anticipated Indian metal releases of the year. The buzz around the band quickly grew after the band released the original version of ‘Visionary’ online earlier this year. They released Resurfaces, their debut album at this year’s NH7 Weekender Festival in November to rave reviews.
Listen to the album version of ‘Visionary’ here:
8.       The Lightyears Explode – ‘She Probably Still Is’
Three minutes and forty six seconds of sweaty, fist-pumping, high-energy punk rock, ‘She Probably Still Is’ is the Mumbai trio’s opening salvo on their debut EP. Combining The Lightyears Explode’s three-punch formula of slashing guitar riffs, pounding drums and a super-sticky na-na-na chorus, the song goes for the kill from the get go. The Lightyears Explodes make music that demands that you get up and move. With that kind of energy, it’s no wonder that the band is one of the most exciting live acts to emerge from the scene this year.
Listen to ‘She Probably Still Is’ here:
9.       Dualist Inquiry – ‘Gravitat’
From Dualist Inquiry’s (real name: Sahej Bakshi) Dualism EP, ‘Gravitat’ combines futuristic electronic beats-and-bleeps with the urgent buzz-saw edge of Sahej Bakshi’s guitar playing to create a banging electro-rock crossover anthem that works equally for dance music junkies and rockers alike .  ‘Gravitat’ is part of one of the most stunningly brilliant debuts this year. Look out for more from this pioneering production maverick as he takes Indian indie in a whole new direction.
Listen to ‘Gravitat’ here:
10.   Sidd Coutto – ‘Free’
The first single from Coutto’s debut album Sunny Side Up, ‘Free’ saw the multi-instrumentalist choose not to throw everything into the mix, opting instead for a simple acoustic guitar, a trumpet and minimal percussion. The single would set the tone for the rest of the album, a collection of acoustic guitar led tunes that featured Coutto’s signature pop hooks and laidback, almost soulful vocals.
Listen to ‘Free’ here: