Auj’s debut album, Sifr, is a triumph. The band is a classic, classic-rock band – charging drums, thumping bass, gratuitous guitar distortion, and talismanic vocals. This is a very, very tight band. The album has studio recordings of a number of great originals the band performed on Pepsi’s Battle of the Bands, as well as originals that extend the same energy and quality. The overall sound reminds me a bit of Led Zeppelin, the Foo Fighters, less-sufi Junoon, and Noori from their Peeli Patti phase. In a way, this sound is a throwback. This could be considered a fault. But the band is so good, and this vocalist has such pipes, that it is hard to write off as backwards and just move on. It deserves a listen.
After the band’s victory on Pepsi’s Battle of the Bands in 2019, the wait for their album has been long. Perhaps this was an effect of Covid, but there is reason to believe that there may also be some systematic issues with the way bands operate post Pepsi’s television show. This disappointment mutes the impact of the music and hurts the ability to build a fanbase that both Pepsi and the bands deeply desire.
In fact, the release of this album as an album, and not as a set of singles with accompanying videos indicates why rock as a genre is stuck in the past. An album this good should get more airtime, and that requires a more effective marketing plan for today’s scene. Instead it is released a few days before being crowded out by the larger marketing budgets of Coke Studio, Bisconni Music and the PSL. Even Pepsi seems absent from their own ambassadors.