Just three days after Kerala-based rock band Avial’s debut album was released, it had already sold almost 1,500 copies and was sold out at various music stores in Bombay. Avial’s USP is, of course, Malayali alternative rock, which is not something that many people have been exposed to before. The mixture of folk and indie rock is quite pleasing, and why not — the members of Avial are experienced musicians after all, having played in various prominent bands before Avial. The high production values on the album along with the reasonable price tag (Rs 175 only) make it a good package overall.
The album pays tribute to bands such as Incubus, Pearl Jam and Led Zeppelin but, the lyrics in Malayalam offer a nice twist. The band is the first Malayali rock band to release an album and the album has been six years in the making. Phat Phish records have given them a good platform to do so. It’s a bold step to release an album, especially a rock album, in a regional language. Avial could easily be compared to Junoon, who are Urdu rock pioneers and legends in the Indian subcontinent (remember “Sayonee”?). Can Avial accomplish what Junoon did? In my opinion, they have already had a good start. Selling 1,500 (not counting sales from MusicYogi.com or other music shops around the country) CDs within half a week of its release is a substantial achievement.
The music is fueled by Rex Vijayan’s strong guitar tone, Naresh Kamath’s punchy bass lines, Mithun Puthanveetil’s strong drumming and Tony John’s scratching and effects with Anandraj Paul soaring over all of that with vocals in Malayalam. “Nada Nada” (“Walk Walk” in English) kicks off the wonderful album. Along with the album opener, “Njan Aara” is another favourite of mine from the album. Another good track from the album is “Aadu Pambe”, which has a nice folksy overtone.
In all honesty, I didn’t understand a single word from the whole album, as I don’t know any Malayalam. But who cares? The music is amazingly catchy and can be listened to over and over again without it getting monotonous. Avial is going go a long way; I bet they’re already wildly popular with the Malayalam-speaking crowd. For me, buying this album has been a rather good decision, one that will keep me happy for years to come.