My Review of the Mashrou' Leila Album (on Zookeeper)
Mashrou' Leila / Mashrou' Leila
|Ramzi Salti, Ph.D.|
|-All Tracks are FCC CLEAN EXCEPT *#4 ('Al Hajez)*|
After just one album, the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila (which started out as a music workshop at the American University of Beirut in 2008) have already reinvented the Arabic music scene. Their style, a unique blend of sharp Lebanese lyrics and Mediterranean pop music, sounds instantly familiar yet completely original. The topics of their songs defy conventionality, ranging from homoerotic desire, to inter-religious love affairs, to speaking out against political corruption. Their latest single (not included on this album) was inspired by the Gorillaz song 'Clint Eastwood' and released in Feb 2011 in support of the Egyptian uprising. All songs are in Arabic (Lebanese).
1. “Fasateen”: (Dresses)About a Lebanese guy in love with a girl not of his religion. Catchy tune, released in 2010, with amazing video clip.
2. “Obwa”: (Bomb) and the track sounds like a ticking that is set to music that feels volatile and flamable.
3. “Min el Taboor”: (Standing in Line), endlessly, monotone song to reflect the mundane action.
*4. “'Al Hajez”: (Checkpoint) recounts the experience of being stopped at various checkpoints in a Lebanon that was torn by civil war. Profanity used (in Arabic) to express the frustration. NOT FCC CLEAN!!
5. “Shim el Yasmine”: (Smell the Jasmine) A haunting melody by a guy lamenting his love for another male. First explicitly homoerotic song in Arabic music?
6. “Im-Bim-Billilah”: (Gibbersish) Like its title suggests, this song sounds jittery and disjointed--like a unedited rehearsal session by the band that as released as such.
7. “Latlit”: (Cheering) Clapping song about cheering when seeing something you like. Violin mixed in with lamentation and applause.
8. “Khaleeha Zikra”: (Memory) Indie pop, harsh, loud speakers, Arabic vocals deliberately strained. feels like a civil war.
9. “Raksit Leila”: (Leila's dance) was the first hit single by the band, instantly likeable song that sounds like gypsy music mixed with Oriental beats. Video clip released went viral on YouTube.
My picks: 1, 5, 9
|1.||Fasateen||5.||Shim El Yasmine|
|3.||Min El Taboor||7.||Latlit|
|4.||'al Hajez||8.||Khaleeha Zikra|