Heyyyy… it’s been a while, internet. How’ve you been?
Now let’s get down to business.
This one came out late-December. It is the first release from the band, which consists of Mohammad Hodeib and Ashley Chokeir on vocals, Saad Malaeb on guitar, Mahmoud Ramdan on bass, and Hussam Elias on drums, a 6-track demo.
I have only seen the band live once, and they were pretty good. Not “WOWOWOWOW” good, but definitely above average, which is why I had some good expectations for this. But somehow it fell short of completely meeting them.
Overall, I liked the lyrics penned by Mohammad Hodeib. They’re sarcastic and make good use of figurative language, not all of them though, like the song “Rawa2”, which narrates a story pretty straightforward. I’d like to make a side-note here: Has anyone noticed the overwhelming number of alternative Arabic-language artists whose lyrics fit the descriptions: “Sarcastic”, “Ironic”, “Surreal”, or “Critical”? Hell, Michelle Keserwany’s whole body of work is based on this. Don’t get me wrong, those are my favorite kinds of lyrics, but it’s almost like that’s the standard now. Like if you write in Arabic, but not cynically and vaguely, you’re just another no-substance pop star. I’m sure “Rawa2” has all the kinds of symbolism and implications that other songs have, but it doesn’t sound like it’s trying desperately to get them across to us, and I respect that.
The vocalists Hodeib and Choukeir should also be commended. Hodeib sings with emotion, like an actor, changing tones, yelling, etc… Choukeir also displays variations in tone, not as much as Hodeib, but it’s not necessary since her voice has an endearing quality to it.
Now the music, I have some issues here. The band’s style is rock with touches of blues, jazz, and reggae. The rock aspect is a double-sided sword. At times it’s fresh and punk-like (like in “Sakra Dayme'”), other times it sounds like it was played by a classic rock cover band. I’m not sure how to explain, but there is a corner of rock music that I don’t like going to, and they took me to it. Not that it’s wrong or anything, I’m just not into classic blues-rock. Sue me. As for the reggae aspect, they stayed true to the genre to some extent with the use of effects (delay, reverb) and the drumming (you know, side-stick). Speaking of the drums, they could have been better, regardless of genre.
I’m not really talking about the drummer, who I wouldn’t say sucks, but is certainly not the best; I’m talking about recording. The drums sound dry. They sound like each hit is a prerecorded sample. They’re just separate from all the other sounds. It sounds worse when they’re slow too. I don’t know… I really don’t know. Maybe it’s the volume? Maybe they needed some slight effects? I’m not a sound engineer…
Anywho, good lyrics and vocal presentation, but I have a love-hate relationship with the music, and the recording could have been better. It’s a demo in the end, a sample created for evaluation and general feedback; you’re not going to get the final polished result the first time, so those were my two-cents. Thank you very much.