Piranha Pond is a Los Angeles/Mumbai based rock band that primarily comprises of Shikhar Gupta (India) and Pierce Humke (US). They have just released their self-titled debut album, recorded at the Musicians Institute, Los Angeles between April and September 2014.
Recorded over 6 months of practically on a zero budget; everything was done in-house from inception to distribution. They booked their own studio time, and learned many skills on the way, also making their own hand-drawn artwork. Shikhar has now moved to Mumbai but together with Pierce they still have plans to record another album very soon, having already written a bunch of songs.
Psychedelia is no longer a strange niche genre. It seems nearly every indie band these days dabbles in some form of mind-altering music, whether it’s the catchy 60’s-influenced kind, shoegaze, or pure inner-space music. Piranha Pond definitely specialize in that first category, but unlike most bands that borrow from psych-rock’s past, the influences on Piranha Pond ‘s self-titled album are all jumbled together in a way that makes the old sound entirely new.
Indie rock meets 60’s and 70’s rock with a gently twisted blues core, bubbling in a psychedelic pop cauldron of melody and harmony-drenched retro-weirdness. There is a strange and slightly sleazy sense of bluesy garage art-rock here too, often obscured by layers of sweet, beautiful trippy folk. There’s a creeping notion that a lot is happening under the surface here.
The production is uniformly excellent and embellishes the tracks without becoming the main event. These are 6 strong songs, and would be, even without any added studio magic. But, at the same time, the production cannot be ignored. The interplay of guitars and keyboards, the tight bass and drum sound, the vocal layering and judicious use of reverb and echo effects etc., are all so right. It’s as if everyone involved picked the perfect instrument or sound and placed it in the perfect place. It’s impossible to imagine the songs being much better or any other way.
The pick of the bunch for me being, “Asteroid Blues”, “Space Quest” and “In The Sea”, which carry the group’s attitude and energy in style. All-round, the band sound’s exceptionally tight and professional, and the music flows with a naturally sincere warmth that reminds you of why it matters. Nothing strange or unusual here—just good solid songwriting and great playing from the heart, and sometimes that’s more than enough!
One key area where Piranha Pond distinguish themselves from most current psych-music is the lyrics, which can be both clever and beautiful. Every lyric is well thought-out and sincere, not just throwaway lines that get buried in the mix.
Nothing could have prepared me for the just-plain-gorgeous music here. While Piranha Pond aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel, they’re definitely sprucing it up, and those looking to get lost in melodic, blissful ‘orchestral-type’ rock arrangements and great storytelling would be hard-pressed to do better than this debut album.
All music and lyrics by Shikhar Gupta
Pierce Humke – Vocals, Backing vocals, Artwork
Shikhar Gupta – Guitars, Synth (Space Quest), Backing Vocals (EA), Artwork
Tyler Rankin – Bass, Keys, Piano
Blair Shotts – Drums, Percussion
Devin ‘Big Shoes’ Jones – Backing Vocals (EA)
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Shikhar Gupta at Musicians Institute.