Blakc: Choking on a Dream
I’ve been following the fortunes of Blakc for a good few years now, since the time I first saw them play at my college’s amateur rock competition, back in 2007. Many things have changed over those three years, including the loss of Shawn Pereira’s hair, the gain of my graduate degree (hopefully), and, more recently, the release of their first studio album, ‘Choking on a Dream’.
The first thing that struck me about Blakc (whose name, incidentally, was accidentally misspelt back in the day) were the vocals of the aforementioned Shawn Pereira. Somewhere in between Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain, love it or hate it, you’ve got to admire the unique sound that he gives the band, and the rest of the music isn’t bad at all.
‘Choking on a Dream’ is pretty much your run-of-the-mill Indian alternative rock album: the music is simple, the song structure isn’t overly complicated, and it is generally worth a listen; this album more so than most.
The album gets going with the grungy “Rift”, which is a bit on the heavier side, followed by the rather funky “Alone”. According to the unwritten Code of the Alternative Rock Album, there simply must be at least one slow, acoustic track on the album, and this clause is fulfilled in the form of the acoustic version of “Sold”, which I personally prefer to its heavier counterpart at the end of the album.
“Devil’s Sympathy” is your regular power-ballad-of-sorts, with the general theme being “it’s better to leave than be left behind”, while “Ambush” is more or less your stereotypical break-up song.
Getting to the really good stuff now. “Newspaperboy” and “Field of Thought” were the first two songs I ever saw Blakc play, and I fell in love with them at that very moment. “Newspaperboy” is a short, funky, two-and-a-half-minute song with a catchy riff, and great vocals, that has, for some reason, always reminded me of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy”. “Field of Thought”, on the other hand, is a much longer song, which, by my interpretation, deals with anger and impulsion getting you into more shit than you already are in; and it showcases the entire range of Shawn’s vocals. I must point out, at this point, that the backing vocals throughout the album are excellent, with a sort of falsetto that works brilliantly. Finally, there’s “Somewhere in the Night”, which is another beautiful song, albeit similar in structure to “Field of Thought”.
Roop, on bass, is quite brilliant all through the album, and he accounts, in no small way, for how good the band sound. The drumming by Tao is rock solid, and Reinhardt and Anish on guitars do a very good job — nothing over the top. The overall production of the album in terms of sound is top notch. The same can’t be said about the minor details in terms of glaring errors in the attached lyrics booklet, but I’m not complaining.
All in all, ‘Choking on a Dream’ is an album that, most importantly, has quality music, with a whole load of catchy songs that will have you singing along in no time. If you’re a fan of alternative rock at all, you really want to be picking this up, because there aren’t too many bands out there that sound like Blakc.