My CD Review: Mashrou' Leila - Raasuk "رقّصوك"
The much anticipated third CD by the Lebanese group Mashrou' Leila is an instant masterpiece that solidifies the band's standing as the Arab world's leading indie/alternative musical artists. This CD combines the distinct sound of the violin with different rhythms and instruments while showcasing the powerful vocals of lead singer Hamed Sinno. The lyrics in Arabic are as poetic as they are contemporary. Tracks melt into each other like inter-connected chapters within a literary epic.
1. Prologue (1:21) Instrumental piece featuring Swiss/French trumpeter Erik Truffaz that eloquently and elegantly sets up our musical journey through the tracks that will follow.
**2. Abdo (3:18) is a popular, folkloric, fictional name in Arabic that is equivalent to "Joe Shmoe" in American English. Here our 'aging counter-hero' is in love with a widow who won't return his affections, leading to Abdo's heartbreak--a story that is accentuated by the song's deliberately melodramatic violin strings and music that stays with the listener long after the song--and Abdo--are gone..
3. Ala Babu (4:37) [At His Door] Sultry tune, a plea by a rejected lover in which he is willing to demean himself for love.
4. Taxi (2:45) Upbeat tune that sounds like Polish or Russian music mixed with various genres and contrasted by powerful lyrics in which the taxi ride is equated with one's doomed life journey..
5. Skandar Maalouf (4:01) Vocals in this song sound like Mika if he were to sing in Arabic. Song showcases Sinno's vocal ability to carry a song in upper registers. Just who is Skander Maalouf? Speculations abound.
**6. Lil Watan (3:36) [For the Homeland] Strongest track on this CD, mid tempo, addressing patriotism, nationalistic slogans and conspiracy theories.
7. Bishuf (4:34) [He Sees] Slow, rhythmic beats that sound like a funeral procession. Lyrics about depression, consciousness, sadness and resignation. Haig Papazian's violin is haunting.
**8. Ma Tetrikni Heik (2:26) [Don't Leave Me Like This] The Lebanese version of Jacques Brel's ‘Ne me quitte pas' with organ music and Sinno's vocals crying out in pain and desperation. Sounds almost like a Church prayer or lamentation.
9. Raasuk (4:02) [They Made You Dance] Title track begins with a grave tone but picks up as song progresses. Like track #6, this song talks about notions of nationalism and choosing to 'dance' like a puppet.
10.Wa Nueid (5:06) [Ad Nauseam] Redundant clapping sounds define this track which emphasizes individual choices and capabilities. Less pessimistic than tracks 6 and 9.
11.Bahr (3:27) [Sea] Epic-like track showcases breathtaking trumpet playing by Erik Truffaz with lyrics that lament the death of a brother who has disappeared into the sea. A plea for the sea to return him.
** My faves (2, 6, 8)
Recent Reviews of this CD/Band:
Review in Arabic from Ma3azef.com: http://www.ma3azef.com/node/183
Review in English from Ahram.org: http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/80793.aspx
The Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2013/09/music-arab-world
Sample Tracks from 'Raasuk' CD:
'Ma Tetrikni Heik'
Sample Tracks from Mashrou' Leila's second CD 'El Hal Romancy':
'El Hal Romancy'
'Im El Jacket'
Sample Tracks from Mashrou' Leila's self-titled first CD:
Mashrou' Leila Video Clips:
Mashrou' Leila Live in Concert:
TV reports/interviews about Mashrou' Leila:
TV Report in English:
TV Interview in Arabic:
TV appearance on Bassem Youssef's Elbernameg - البرنامج TV Show:
Exclusive Pictures of Mashrou' Leila Performing in Beirut (2011)
My interview with Mashrou' Leila band member Omaya Malaeb (2011):
My interview with Mashrou' Leila band member Hamed Sinno (2011):
More Info about Mashrou' Leila:
Official Website: http://mashrou3leila.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/mashrou3leila
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Mashrou3Leila