The 15 Best Indian Albums of 2022 

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15. The Anirudh Varma Collective – Homecoming 

New Delhi pianist, composer and producer Anirudh Varma’s outfit, The Anirudh Varma Collective, released their 10-track sophomore album, Homecoming, this year. The record juxtaposes Indian classical music, jazz, R&B as well as fusion and world music quite impressively. With over 150 artists performing on the record, Varma said that the music “aims to bring artists and musicians of diverse musical and cultural backgrounds together to form a unique contemporary identity of Indian classical music for audiences of all age groups.” – DB 

14. Rushaki – She Speaks 

After dabbling with music in various capacities, Mumbai/Pune artist Rushaki released her 10-track debut album She Speaks this year. In it, Rushaki sings about her own struggles dealing with anxiety and mental health issues. She Speaks kicks off with a melancholic sound before shifting gears to a more energetic lift midway through the record. – DB 

13. Ahmer – AZLI 

With the release of Ahmer‘s debut album Little Kid, Big Dreams in 2019 (with production coming from Sez On The Beat), the Srinagar hip-hop artist set the roadmap for his fearless rap. On AZLI, he takes it up by several notches. He never lets us forget that it’s his own story and his values pouring out on songs like “Gumrah,” “Nishaan,” “Shuhul Naar” with Junaid Ahmed, and “Kun” with an unflinching yet spectral verse from the region’s forerunner, MC Kash. With several Kashmiri artists joining him and production that’s often rooted in Kashmiri folk cadences, Ahmer’s voice is as strong as ever, especially because he’s not afraid to show his deepest scars, inflicted by decades of brutality upon the people of Kashmir. – AT 

12. Prateek Kuhad – The Way That Lovers Do 

A drum machine-like beat opens Prateek Kuhad‘s The Way That Lovers Do, on the starry song “All I Need.” The first full-length album out via Elektra Records immediately sets the tone for a familiar yet different song-writing phase India’s most popular singer-songwriter has developed. There’s that distinctive quietude and stillness, but now it’s layered with pulsing synth (“Hollow”) and disrupted by fuzzy guitars (“Favorite Peeps”). He overthinks and offers explanations in the most relatable ways (“Co2”) but always makes a sunlit, soul-baring love song where it counts on “Just A Word.” In the true manner of sad bops, there’s still plenty of fuel for lonely late-night thoughts on The Way That Lovers Do, which is still where Kuhad’s special talents remain. – AT

11. Prabh Deep – Bhram  

Even with an overarching, discernible concept and theme on show, it’s never the easiest to sum up or accurately describe a Prabh Deep record. Bhram is the artist’s quickest turnaround to release an album after last year’s opus Tabia and the gears are turning just fine. Building on mystique and genre-hopping production, the eight-track album reflects Deep’s signature charm that can move clubs and arenas alike. From wealth to friendships to fatal flaws, Deep runs mad hooks (“Inayat”), sleek lessons (“Paisa”) and just injects a lot more varied personalities (“Tajurba”) in his music. There are spaced-out meanderings (“Izzat,” “Shaurat”) but Deep always brings us back to earth with the dopest concoctions. – AT 

10. Seedhe Maut x Sez on the Beat – Nayaab 

New Delhi hip-hoppers Seedhe Maut teamed up with producer Sez on the Beat to deliver an explosive 17-track album titled Nayaab. The album focuses on the artists wanting to create a pathway for the next generation through their slick wordplay, sonic embellishments, and honest and empowering lyrics. – DB

9. FILM – FILM 

Among the most transcending albums that should have ruled the clubs and festivals of India is also a record that’s perfect for a headphone/speaker system listening session. New Delhi producer Sanil Sudan takes from hip-hop, ambient and more to create a techno and general electronic record that speaks to the mind and gets your feet moving too. Songs like “Call Me” hang loose, while “DBRK” is trenchant, which sets the intensity levels for “Discordia” and the tabla-sampling “I’ve Always Liked Trance,” all the way down to the slowly unravelling engima that’s “Drill Masala.” There are pop culture nods (“PLPFCTN,” “Mother”) that Sudan takes seriously, all of which make this FILM a cerebral, heart-filling blockbuster. – AT 

8. DIVINE – Gunehgar  

Three albums in three years is DIVINE‘s way of proving that he’s in his prime and not wasting a second at the top. With a who’s who of hip-hop and other artists joining in – Jadakiss, Russ, Armani White, Jonita Gandhi, Wazir Patar and Noizy – the rap star gets behind pop culture references and even switches to English at times. “Baazigar” is a towering cut produced by Karan Kanchan that nods to Bollywood (once again, as Kanchan and DIVINE did for “Satya” on Kohinoor), while “Bornfire” with Russ aims for party-anthem territory and he trades stories with Jadakiss on the heavy-footed “Traffic Jam.” There’s an earnest tribute to Sidhu Moose Wala on “Street Lori” with Wazir Patar too, all of which proves Gunehgar is an album for the present but also has serious potential to be a monument for the future. – AT 

7. Ali Saffudin – Wolivo 

Srinagar-based singer-songwriter Ali Saffudin has delivered a riff-heavy punchy 10-track debut rock album Wolivo. The record houses plenty of distorted guitar parts, pulsating drums, slick grooves, Saffudin’s scorching vocals and more. Saffudin says, “This album encapsulates an angry Kashmiri voicing his truth, depicting experiences of anger, dissent, spirituality, and reformation that showcase the volatility of living in Kashmir.” – DB 

6. Derek & The Cats – Derek & The Cats  

Bengaluru pianist and producer Derek Mathias’ collaborative project Derek & The Cats’ eponymous instrumental debut album features numerous musicians. The four-track record clocks in at just under 35 minutes and is layered with a plethora of horn sections, guitar solos and slick keyboard arrangements, as well as groovy bass and percussion parts. Mathias says, “This album throws back to the days of big-band music; groove is our guiding light and each musician has injected the album with their signature sound and style.” – DB 

5. Girls On Canvas – Frequency 

Mumbai-based ace guitarist and producer Randolph Correia aka Func (from electro-rockers Pentagram and pop electronic duo Shaa’ir and Func) dropped fresh new music this year under his vocals-oriented electronic moniker Girls On Canvas with the 10-track Frequency. Correia as always seems to find the right balance between tethering close to the edge with his music, yet not going overboard and knowing exactly when to pull back, as displayed marvelously on Frequency. The record includes some tasty production work, guitar lines and plenty of grooves to get you dancing, while the artist tinkers well with vocal samples that invigorate the music. – DB 

4. Raman Negi – Shakhsiyat  

A pandemic record might begin to sound dated given how good we are at forgetting (or repressing) the past two years. New Delhi’s Raman Negi offers much more depth to his experiences in a way that his debut solo album Shakhsiyat leaps past that thematic bracket. His weapon of choice is, no doubt, guitar riffs and plenty of it. “I wanted to make a funkier Hindi record that I personally think did not exist up until now,” he tells Rolling Stone India. The result is a powerful, openhearted album that draws from hip-hop, jazz, Sixties rock and Bollywood. It oozes personality just like the former frontman of The Local Train intended, in every guitar lick and vocal refrain. – AT 

3. Ankit Dayal – Tropical Snowglobe (Side A) 

Mumbai-based musician Ankit Dayal (from alt-rockers Spud in the Box) stepped out on his own this year with his full-length debut solo album titled Tropical Snowglobe (Side A). The record is a beautiful amalgamation of sounds. There are R&B-laced offerings and hypnotic sonic textures as well as Dayal’s signature vocal hooks, harmonies, dynamism and stellar delivery. Talking about the sound of the record, the artist says, “It is loud but polished, composed but chaotic, lo-fi but crystal crisp.” – DB  

2. Parekh & Singh – The Night Is Clear 

Dabblers in science thus far, Kolkata dream-pop duo Parekh & Singh took a leap of faith on The Night Is Clear by becoming more inward-looking than we’ve ever heard them be. From stories of self-doubt, philosophies on mortality to family and friendship, Nischay Parekh’s unchangeably mellifluous melodies are complemented by subtle and intentional sonic flourishes alike. “Bedouin” features string arrangements, while the pacey “Seven Days” sees Jivraj Singh play the tabla. Where they’ve looked up and wondered about stars before, the night sky is, as the title suggests, different now – clearer in a way that paints Parekh & Singh’s pop much more vividly. – AT

1. Bloodywood – Rakshak 

Folk-metallers Bloodywood have been known to get straight to stomping around on their singles and “Gaddaar” was no exception. It opens their mighty debut album Rakshak, which has now taken them all around the world. In the politically inclined opening track, vocalist Jayant Bhadula lets loose with his deathcore growl: “Mein salaam bhi karunga/ Mein pranaam bhi karunga,” while Raoul Kerr offers, “I see a state turning to faith/Faith turn into hate/Hate turn into votes/Votes turn into notes.” Likened to Slipknot, Linkin Park, Bring Me the Horizon and more, there’s an unmistakable grandiosity that’s also emotive, Karan Katiyar being the architect of riffs and soulful flute parts alike. They know their way around a good ol’ beatdown (“BSDK.exe,” “Dana-Dan”) but also speak of self-improvement (“Aaj,” “Zanjeero Se”) and bolster confidence (“Jee Veerey”) like few others in the game. It’s made so many seek comfort and yield inner strength, and rightly so. – AT 

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