Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More Bangerz

Mostly from Jarvis Cocker's recently revived show this time (though I think it was a one-off).

First up, Dean Blunt, who seems like a bit of a mysterious chap.  Can't find a dedicated website, facebook, or anything for him, just artist pages at various music sites.  So a bit of a mystery for now, but I like this track and hope there's more goodness to discover by him.

Next, this bit of funky awesomeness by David Axelrod.  Jarv had this nicely mixed with a Kate Bush track, but it stands up just fine by itself too.

This I've been hearing all over Radio 6.  It's another Kate Tempest track, this time a collab.  I went a bit off her after I last posted about her, but then I read a bit more about her and learned she'd won a poetry prize, so she started to seem a bit more real to me.

The bloke she's collab'ed with, Loyle Carner, is pretty good on his own too -- very good actually:

OK, last up a new Oddisee track that he tweeted about.  It's quality, check it out.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


The Christmas period is usually a good one on BBC radio, and this year is no exception.  There are great specials and wrap-up shows to be heard.  I haven't really been tuning in enough but when I have I've heard some great tunes.  I was discussing the amazingness of the BBC yesterday with one of my patients at work -- it's a bunch of non-commercial stations that don't really do government propaganda and we found ourselves asking... Why does it exist?  What do they get out of it?  They don't make any money, or profit I should say, so I suppose it's there just as a cultural good for the country (and for the world).  It's such a strange concept when viewed from America, where everything is basically profit-driven.  It's hard to imagine or remember that there's another way of doing things...

So, first up a couple of tracks I just heard on Gideon Coe's dance-themed show tonight.  Just nice songs really, nothing much to add, just listen and you'll get it.  Though I will say that I'm quite impressed by the number of great tracks I've heard that Malcolm McLaren's been involved with.

This next track I heard on Mark Riley's show tonight.  He's not one of my favourite 6 music DJ's, as he usually plays things on the weirder end of the spectrum and I'm not sure how my patients feel about some of his choices.  This track is dangerously twee but the jangly guitars save it for me.  Makes me think of summer, and sunshine, and grassy fields.

There's more to come, don't worry.  I'll leave you with some links to other media I consumed today -- I read this article about the current dance music scene in the UK, and I checked out this video about Jackmaster -- both good, and I'll be putting up more inspired by those two links later on.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Short post.  Ex Hex are a local band who I keep coming across in a bigger way -- they're on Radio 6, they're on the Guardian's best of 2014 list.  I checked out their website and wasn't super-impressed by the tunes on there, but this song that keeps coming on the radio has grown on me.  The thing is, I want to like them, because they're local.  Maybe I'll give them another try.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

For the heads. For the feets.

I'm at home today, not feeling well, so I'm going to keep this pretty short, at least on the words being typed front.  Lately, for reasons I won't go into right now, I've started thinking of this blog as a bit of a party playlist, at least in regards to my posts.  I had that in mind when I made the first few selections that follow; then then, today, at home, I heard some other songs that I think are worthy of a post too.  That's alright though, I think any party benefits from an eclectic selection, as long as the picks are good.

First up, Years & Years, who I first saw on the Jools Holland.  They've been tipped as the sound of 2015 by the BBC, but I'm not sure what they're basing that on since their Soundcloud page has about three tracks on it.

Next up a song by Kele Okereke of Bloc Party.  I never really got round to listening to a lot of Bloc Party stuff but I heard this on the radio and liked it; got some 90's elements to it, as does the Years & Years track, which I don't mind.

Here's an actual 90's track that I think will enliven any party:

Broncho are from Oklahoma.  Sounds about right.

Ooh, and this with the video up on a screen will be brilliant!

I was reminded of this song after seeing this article at the Guardian.  And they say people on the tube don't talk to each other?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Riyaaz Qawwali

A few weeks ago, a few days after I returned to New York, I took the train to Columbia University and went to a student event organized by a Pakistani students' association. It was a qawwali concert featuring the group Riyaaz Qawwali, a young group from Texas.

They were lively and great and the packed audience was really into it. Before we knew it, hands were waving money around their heads and about halfway in people started dancing, and by the end, it was full-on. It was my first time at a qawwali concert. This isn't something I would've enjoyed a few years ago but as I've gone on in my journey in Islam I've really come to appreciate Sufi music and artforms. I appreciate the intention to reach closer to God through music. Some would call it innovation or bid'ah, but I believe there's more than one way to get closer to God.

Riyaaz Qawwali has members who are descended from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India, and they also do Hindu and Sikh songs too, so I'm guessing they are of various religions, which doesn't make them a typical qawwali group to my limited knowledge. In any case they put on a great show and the crowd loved it. A couple of Pakistani friends later told me that usually, uncles start dancing right away, while this crowd took some time to warm up, and also that the group mainly focused on choruses and didn't sing more of the poetic lyrics. Still, they were pretty good for a young group whose members grew up in America. I'd love to go to India or Pakistan and hear qawwali live. I've been told though that those spaces are usually segregated which annoys me - but that was another good thing about the Columbia University concert, for men and women were enjoying the music together.

I bought their CD at the gig and haven't gotten a chance to listen to it yet, but here's a couple of youtube videos that you can enjoy in the meantime.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Surfing on sine waves... or floating on soundclouds

Been hearing a lot of good stuff via Soundcloud recently so what better than to share it via this blog.  I'll keep 'em brief.

I came across Aurora Halal via a random visit to Resident Advisor.  I thought she was more of a party organiser and video artist, but then I came across her SC page and found myself getting into the techno tracks she's got up:

Lee Bannon I came across via the Vice journalist Clive Martin on Twitter -- I'm always intrigued when someone mentions jungle so I followed through from his link to Vogue (!) and liked what I heard -- good jungle sounds without much of a retro twist.  The track below is his latest effort and has shades of Aphex to it, at least before the main beat kicks in:

I'm liking his spooky Neneh Cherry remix too:

The Guardian has a preview of Cooly G's new album up, and I've managed to hack it and post it below!  No idea how long it'll work though.  I wasn't prepared to like this cos I heard a mix by Cooly G recently that I didn't like very much, but I'm liking this album.  I like the genre I'm starting to think of as digital-soul -- like Aaliyah but made by a wide range of artists today; I'd put the Neneh Cherry remix above into this category too.  The Guardian compares the new Cooly G stuff to FKA Twigs; I have to say I prefer Cooly G:

Lastly, Gorgon City, who I heard on Later with Jools Holland yesterday.  Poppy-dancey-housey music that seems to be well respected from what I can glean from their SC page (sets from Rinse FM and NTS radio are up there).  I heard them and thought "GTI music".  What's GTI music?  GTI music is music that'll sound good coming out of the speakers in my imaginary new VW Golf GTI.  All of these artists could probably go into that category, but these guys the most.  Quite like the chunky bassline they're putting in their tracks, but could it get too gimmicky after a while?  There's an album sampler up below; check out 'Ready for Your Love' and 'Real':

Thursday, September 18, 2014

White Hot Funk

I've written about the band Metronomy on this blog a couple of times before (here and here).  They're one of these bands that seem to improve with time as the ideas flow and their creativity and skill increases.  The second album was better reviewed than the first, and their third is the best reviewed so far.  I think it's rather good (it's called Love Letters by the way) and so when I heard they were coming to the 930 Club I knew it would be well worth checking them out.

Things started off at a bit of a low, as the sound was way too loud for my ears.  It seemed like the club's sound people noted that too though, and after the first couple of songs either my ears adjusted or the sound was lowered; either way, it was better, and clearer.  The place was about 60% full, which doesn't sound too great, but all it really meant was that the balcony was quite empty as most people filled the main floor to dance.  Yes, dance, cos Metronomy are pretty funky and they put on a good show too!  From matching white suits to a few synchronized moves here and there, they seem like a band who know they're in the entertainment business and don't mind embracing that too much, even if it may be in a somewhat ironic way.  I like that -- definitely prefer it to po-faced bands who want to pretend they're normal people who just happen to be in front of a paying crowd playing music.  It reminded me a bit of seeing Peter, Bjorn, and John at 930 a few years ago -- a really happy and joyous show that went on til it seemed they'd played their entire catalogue!  This wasn't as up there as that, possibly because of the smaller crowd, but the people who attended were definitely enjoying themselves and seemed to know Metronomy's songs well.  It was a diverse crowd too, especially for an act who could probably still be categorised as UK indie pretty easily.  Overall it was a good show -- highlights included three keyboards, the afore-mentioned white suits, on-stage dancing and funkiness, a singing female drummer, and the fact that main Metronomy man Joseph Mount reminds me a bit of Nick Frost.  I don't mean that in a bad way.  Bassist Olugbenga Adelekan (pictured above) really stood out to me too -- the basslines are really prominent in most Metronomy songs, but add to that his lively demeanour, cool look, and classic funky bass-player moves (how do they move their heads like that without getting a pain in the neck??).  He would've stolen the show if it weren't for the fact that almost all the other four members of the band were working it too.  I just found out that he also works solo, under his first name, so will definitely be checking out more of him.  I learned that dancing in Birkenstocks is bit tricky.  Oh, and the stage set-up -- they actually put some effort into that too.  Check out the live video below, it's pretty much what I saw last night, just on a different stage.  The Upsetter is one of my favourite tracks from Love Letters:

Couple of other quick things:  First off, it's weird how different the area around the 930 Club is now!  I haven't been to a show there in a while and the change is pretty astounding.  It used seem that 930 was the one place to go to in a pretty grotty (and dangerous-seeming) area of warehouses and surface parking lots.  But now all that's gone and it's being surrounded by new apartments/condos!  Literally!  There's one being built next door and one right across the street.  I'm not saying it's good or bad, but it'll definitely change the atmosphere around the club once the changes are complete.  I guess, for me, part of the appeal of going to a concert is also going to a part of town that I wouldn't normally go to.  That's probably because almost all of my concert experiences have been in slightly shitty areas!  Downtown Detroit and Pontiac in the late 90's, then DC in the early and mid-00's...  So in my mind, concerts are associated with the illicit thrill of being in a "bad" area. I suppose it doesn't have to be that way though.

Second, one of my earlier Metronomy posts is also about the rapper Oddisee.  There was a nice write-up about him, the trio he's a part of, Diamond District, and their new record, in last week's DC City Paper. It's a good long read so check it out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fer du dancing

Two completely unrelated tracks today -- one is one of my all time favourite dance tunes, another a new track by SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend.

First up, Dirty Cash by The Adventures of Stevie V -- straight outta 1990.  A class, class tune that randomly comes back into my  head every now and then.  This time I decided to blog it, as I've a feeling it's a bit of a forgotten gem, and since TAOSV were British, perhaps it never really got that big here in the USA.

SBTRKT is one of those dance artists whose name I'm always seeing around but I never really checked him out until I heard this on the radio recently.  It's quite a funky track, and if you go to SBTRKT's soundcloud page you can hear a lot more of his new stuff -- sadly the other tracks didn't appeal to me as much as this one does.  Great artwork too.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Hello!  1988 is on my mind today.  I had a good moment today, a moment that is harder and harder to come across in these days of music streaming, youstube, and the fact that basically every track that ever existed is available on the web.  Surprises are hard to come by, and only seem to happen when a track from the past that I've completely forgotten about randomly re-emerges and brings a smile to my face.  That happened today with the following track, which I probably last heard when it was originally out the in the late Eighties.  It's nice to be taken back every now and then.

But that's not the only track up today!  Oh no, Caribou's got a new one out so I'm going to put that here too. It's a cool track that switches things up halfway through, when a nice Inner City vibe comes in -- 1988 again!  Or thereabouts.  I think it'll sound great live.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Higher than a

Hmm.  FKA Twigs.  Eh?  FKA Twigs.  I'm in two minds to be honest.  I like elements, and usually I'm a sucker for hyped electronic-y anything.  Twigs is being hyped as the reincarnation of Aaliyah crossed with Sade, the current face of 2010s British r'n'b.  And I do really like the single 'Two Weeks'.  And she's coming to the 930 Club and the show, amazingly, isn't sold out yet (I think it just went on sale Friday and hasn't been advertised yet) -- shows by artists as hyped up as this one usually sell out immediately.  So I'm wondering if I should buy tickets to see her live, but I'm just not sure.  So far, the rest of the album doesn't live up to how good I think 'Two Weeks' is, but some of the live tracks online are still pretty good. I don't really get out much, so it would be something to do, and it's pretty cheap at $20.  It'd also be nice to feel like I'm on the cutting edge of something.  And it doesn't seem like she'd be as much of a let-down live as James Blake was (to be fair, it wasn't so much that he wasn't good live, it was more that I realised I didn't really like his stuff very much).  Well, the soonest I can get up to the box office to get tickets is probably Tuesday, so I guess that's when I'll decide -- and that's assuming there are tickets left.  I'll put the 'Two Weeks' video below -- the rest of the post will seem a bit stale in comparison.  And, umm, feel free to just listen to the music and ignore the video, it's a bit much really.

My other tunes are completely different.  First up a song from a throwbacky Brooklyn band who call themselves Lucius.  It's a pleasant tune, but, to my ears, it pales when compared to something as forward-sounding as 'Two Weeks'.  That's a bit unfair though, cos taken on it's own I still think it's a good song (music starts at 45 seconds):

Next one up is a bit more interesting.  It sounds like it's also from a throwback band, something akin to The Kills, or The Dead Weather, a bit dark and dirty.  But it's actually by a Dutch band and it came out in the late 60's -- so it's an original!  I don't know too much about Shocking Blue, but this track is surprising to me in that it sounds so modern, lyrically.  And it's heavy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another one that got away

I was listening to the radio yesterday when I came across BADBADNOTGOOD, a trio out of Toronto, Canada, who are new to me.  Their neo-trip-hop sound was immediately intriguing and reminded me a bit of early DJ Shadow.  The difference is that while DJ Shadow is/was all about samples, these guys are playing their tunes themselves.  While the track I heard (see below) may not be to everyone's taste, it was enough to get me interested; I liked the mix of sounds and genres, has a bit of a film soundtrack quality to it.  I recommend checking out their Soundcloud page as there's plenty of good stuff there.  They'd probably be pretty great live but, unfortunately, they already played here in DC at U Street Music Hall back in June, before I'd ever heard of them.  I hate it when that happens.

Gold Panda's got a new track he's giving away.  It also has a jazzy, filmy vibe to it.  I'm not a massive of the track to be honest, but I'm going to put it up anyway, for old times' sake.  Oh, and it's downloadable for free.

Lastly, another track I recently heard on the radio, this time by Simian Mobile Disco.  They seem to get a lot of respect, so I saw them live in DC not too long ago, but I hated the show and left early.  I probably wouldn't see them live again, unless their way of putting a show together has completely changed, but I do like this track, it has a nice analogue sound to it:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What I did while I was looking after my kid (1)

I'm at home these days on paternal leave hanging out with my youngest kid.  He's two months old so doesn't really do much except eat, sleep, and occasionally make eye contact with me.  Feeding him can take over an hour on a bad day, all of which means I'm spending a lot of time just indoors with not much to do.  So I've decided to be productive and go through old episodes of 'Later... with Jools Holland' that I've recorded.  And I've decided to add to that productivity by blogging about what I'm seeing.  Basically any stand out performances will get blogged, or at least that's the idea -- we'll see if I can keep up with it.

I'm going start with Grizzly Bear, who were on in 2009.  They are an interesting looking band aren't they?  I think I saw this performance before but didn't care for it as much as I did the second time around.  I really like their harmonising and their overall sound; it's just different enough to be interesting but not annoying.  And they look cool.

Next up, the Dead Weather, also from 2009.  These guys are just interesting.  It's like they achieved exactly what they set out to do -- scuzzy rock that sounds vaguely like something from the past but in actuality probably never existed.  It's like Jack White imagined a band and a sound and then it perfectly came to fruition.  Quite amazing really, that a vision can be realised so fully.  I love the organ in this song, and I like also like how Jack White's at the back of the set-up, even though he's one of the singers -- it does seem like his voice is dropping in as some kind of sample.  Great dancing too.  One thing I've wondered about Jack White -- how does he get his skin that colour??  Is it a condition?  Make-up?  Or is just the blue lighting?  Oh yeah, another thing I like about this performance is that they really seem to go all out.  I feel like often on Jools Holland musicians play in an embarrassed or self-conscious way -- probably cos they're being watched by all the other musicians.  But not these guys.

This link's got a short interview from the same show.

Lastly, some more great dancing, this time from Dave Gahan.  It may just be me, but when I see a band like Depeche Mode, bands from the 80's who've been through all the drugs and controversy, I do feel like there's a defiance there that comes from having got through it and still being around.  It's the same with Boy George.  It's good, I'm glad they're here and doing ok.  Dave Gahan still looks cool.  Another great thing about this performance is seeing how the band produces it's sound.  I've not seen them live, or really seen them perform in any capacity, so seeing the different elements work together is pretty interesting -- for instance, seeing that Gahan and Martin Gore lay their voices over each other to produce a sound that is so familiar to me, but one I'd not really noticed the particulars of until I saw them doing it here.  For a more explicit example, check out their performance of 'Personal Jesus' (though doing so may take away from the seemingly magical alchemy of the pop song).  I really liked this performance:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Struggles with doodoo + Three New Tracks!

I've been enjoying Laetitia Sadier's solo work since her last album, 'Silencio', so I'm quite happy to report that she's got a new album, 'Something Shines' coming out in September.  The first single is posted below -- happily, it's sound isn't too much of a departure from what was on Silencio.  Here's hoping she hits DC on tour again!

Jessie Ware's also about to come back with a new record, and her first single has been playing too.  Not entirely sure when the album comes out, but the album and first single are both called 'Tough Love'.

Lastly, I've been hearing this next track on 6 Music and have been digging it.  It's by Robert Plant. Don't judge me.  He also has a new album coming out!  I guess new singles and new albums go hand in hand... not really news, is it?
Robert Plant Little Maggie from Friedrich Schwabel on Vimeo.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Old and new

Minimal time so a minimal post.  Caribou's put up an extended version of his excellent track 'Can't Do Without You'.

I like the new Jenny Lewis stuff.  I also like her old stuff, in case you're wondering. Thank God for Soundcloud, and it's ability to shelter us from terrible videos featuring Anne Hathaway.  Sadly, this is one of those times where I've looked up an artist right after they've toured DC -- doh.

Heard a bunch of old songs recently that I quite liked.  First up, Eddie and the Hot Rods.  Finding out that they're from Southend was like finding out that Bonnie Tyler is Welsh.

Next, this 70's crooner who turns out to be Bruce Springsteen!

Last, Television.  Who are just Television.

Friday, June 13, 2014

New, Newer

Martyn's new one is streaming.  Little write-up in the DC Citypaper here, and the stream is officially at Thump (as well as below, until it's not).

Liking it so far, especially after reading the write-up.

The Manic's already have a follow-up to Rewind the Film ready -- it's out next month, but the newest single has been on the radio.  The new album, Futurology, will be a more rigorous one than the last -- Ooh er missus.  Check out the single -- sounds like they're singing about Richey, but they claim otherwise.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pardon the interruption

Many things, minimal info (sorry), but all just tunes I've heard and liked.

Caribou will be back soon, and has put a new track up as a taster.  I'm liking it, and I'm looking forward to probably live shows.

I just checked the website and Caribou will play the Black Cat on my birthday!  Hurrah!

Here's a track by Sohn.  Liked something else by him recently, one to watch.

A rapping British farm-girl.  You don't see that everyday!  Kate Tempest:

It's funny how so many British rappers rap in the same accent.

Finally, something with some German in it: Sabina.  Not Sabrina, Sabina:

Actually one more thing.  Stromae is coming to DC in September.  It was announced yesterday and it's already sold out!  Who knew Belgian pop music was so popular in la DC?  I bet it's all European World Bankers and what not.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Fahad, the sibling who most regularly posts on this family music blog, has a new baby :-) Many congratulations to Fahad and Bhabi, he is quite busy and will be for a while, so it might take some time for him to post again on The Ashraf Obsession.

Moving on, this post is about Samir Alikhanizadeh, aka Happa, a teenage producer from the UK. I believe his name stands for "half a persian prince and". I wish I could remember how I first heard of Happa. I heard his track "Bring it Back" a few months ago and was blown away that a 15 year-old kid made it. Have a listen, its quite layered and clever:

Resident Advisor just put up a short film about little Happa. He talks about his upbringing, how he got into music, what it's like to be an underage DJ, and his battle with Crohn's disease. Check it out:

For more on Happa click on these:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easy now!

Right, I've got my cappuccino, got my chocolate croissant, got 15 minutes -- time to blog!  More songs I heard on the radio today, and they're nice and relaxed, so you can chillll Winston.  I'm feeling good cos I cooked last night, I worked out this morning, there's only three more hours of work to go, and then I can do something fun this evening!  Like perhaps buy some music?!  Stranger things have happened... If that does happen I'll be sure to blog my purchases.

First up, 'Dress Up' by School of Language -- a chap who is one half of UK act Field Music.  When this first came on the Radcliffe and Maconie show today I thought it was a very very early hip-hop track; then I thought it was a current track trying to sound really old, which is very annoying; later on I realised that Radcliffe was playing samples over the beginning of the track, which is in fact new and not hip-hop.  Here you go:

Next, 'A Simple Truth' by Wild Beasts, a track off their latest album 'Present Tense'.  I was a bit worried about Wild Beasts, as I really liked their last two albums but I'd heard they'd gone electronic on their latest -- all I could think was "what a cliched thing to do, an indie band going electronic".  Honestly, I thought I was done with them, especially when I heard some news about them criticising musicians who don't sing in their own accents (C'mon!  Who gives a monkeys??  In this day and age!)!  But this track has made me think again:

I don't know anything about this next artist, and I don't have time right now to look him up -- sorry.  Hopefully you don't mind doing your own research. He's a new one though, and his debut album is about to come out -- that much I know, and it'll be pretty obvious how soon.  Oh yeah, he goes by the name of Nick Mulvey:

One thing I do know now, he used to be in Portico Quartet, a Gilles Peterson fave who I also like, so that's good.

That's it for now.  I heard today that Laetitia Sadier is coming out with a new album later this year -- hopefully I'll have more about that as soon as there are some useful links up.  Ciao for now!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I heard it on the radio

Just a great block of radio programming today by Steve Lamacq, who played three songs that are new to me and one that I'd not really concentrated on.  All are worth talking about so read on, reader, read on.

First up, a new track from Damon Albarn.  I've always been a fan of his voice and have been quite amazed by the sheer scale of his musical output.  He's been in the business for well over twenty years, has worked with loads of different musicians on many different projects, to the point that now Blur just seem like one project out of many.  Despite that, the album that comes out at the end of this month, Everyday Robots, is his first solo one, and I have to say I've liked what I've heard so far.  This song is a good example of how Albarn is able to be musically quite diverse -- the only giveaway that it's a track by him is his voice, otherwise musically it's not obviously a Damon Albarn song, cos he doesn't necessarily have a signature sound (..., well that is admittedly debatable, but I'm not going to go into it now).  Check it!  And if you follow the link above to his website you can see the quite trippy video to the song Everyday Robots.

Brian Eno and Karl Hyde (of Underworld) are going to release a collaborative album next month called Someday World.  Kind of an exciting partnership, maybe, or it could be complete rubbish, but I do like the song I heard today.  I don't really hear the Eno part of it, but I like that it's quite poppy and happy, and not the kind of thing I'd expect from Karl Hyde, who usually seems to be a bit darker and weirder in his work.  I like his singing, reminds me a bit of the guy from Doves (who's also just released a solo album):

Next tune is by a band I don't know too much about, the Hosts.  Sadly they only have a facebook page and there's not much info on there that I can see.  I do like this song though; I usually don't like music that is too much of a throwback or pastiche, but I enjoyed this, I think because of it's enthusiasm.  Seems like Richard Hawley has been involved in producing them (not surprising if you listen and compare to this track of his), and their debut album came out in February of this year.

Lastly, an enjoyable Pavement track.  Gotta say, there's something about hearing these songs on the radio, while doing whatever else, that cannot be recreated by searching for and listening to them individually on the web.  I really like radio, including the DJ banter -- sometimes the DJ banter is better than the music!  I'm so glad that the internet means I can stay connected to good radio.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yasmine Hamdan 'Ya Nass'

Back in the early days of The Ashraf Obsession I wrote about Soap Kills, an underground electronic Lebanese band from the 90s'. The singer, Yasmine Hamdan, has released her first solo album, Ya Nass. Fahad sent along the link from NPR a few weeks ago, and I kept streaming the album non-stop.

It's entirely in Arabic, and Hamdan likes to play with different Arabic dialects. I barely understand any Arabic but I can at least tell when she's singing in different dialects, and its pretty neat. The songs themselves flow very well together and the instrumentation is very unique and engaging.

I can't really describe the album much more than that due to my limited skills, so just have a listen to a couple of songs off the album. And also here's another NPR link, this one of a live performance.

Once my CD arrives I can't wait to play this album again and again! I'd like to get some Soap Kills stuff too, but Fahad says "there is no soap kills to be bought on the internet!".

The mark of a good pop song.

This song makes me happy and sad at the same time, and has me longing for simpler times.  I like the jangly sound of it, the 90's indie-rock echoes.  Honeyblood are a newish duo from Glasgow; I heard them on Radio 6 yesterday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lucky Jim

Well, anyone who's pretty nerdy about their electronic music will have already heard this, but I'm going to put it up for all the normal people.  A new Jamie XX track and it's not half bad.  At first I felt like a lot of the layers sat a bit uneasily with each other but now that I've heard it a few times I think it all seems to fit together quite nicely.  A nice, woozy tune this one.  It's easy to hate on someone as successful as Jamie XX, and I do think his moniker is a bit crap, but the tunes are all OK really.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Floating on NPR


Happy that spring is finally here in DC but I've been laid-low by a combination of hay fever and some sort of illness.  Hard to tell one from the other, but I do know that my head feels verrrryyy heavy, and everything aches.  Not nice, but NPR's got a couple of first listens up that I'm enjoying in my sickly state.  First up, an album by West Coast producer Teebs.  Found this to be really mellow music while I sat in my office and tried to will the pain away (and also read the paper).  Click here to see if it's still on NPR.

Next, a new East Coast rap group that I'm listening to right now.  It'll take a more in-depth listen for me to really decide how I feel about this but the fact that King Krule is on the album is a plus point.  Check out Ratking here.  They're on XL Recordings.  That makes sense.

While I'm at it, I may as well drop in something about a new mix up at Fact by Damon Albarn.  First mix I've ever heard by him and I must say I found it rather pleasant.  Not sure about the Tupac track but other than that, nice.  Can't embed so go here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Look what I found!

That's right, some Dauwd for your listening pleasure.  I'm sure I wrote about him before, but I couldn't find anything when I searched.  Oh well, came across this today a bit randomly and it is excellent!  I love the main  keyboard line.  Dauwd's definitely grown as an artist in the year or so since I first heard his music -- this track just sounds more mature, more put together, than his earlier material.  I'm glad  he's still around and doing well, and I'd love to hear an album if this is any indication of where it could go.  Dauwd was born in the US, grew up in Wales, and his real name is Dauwd al-Hilali.  Oh, and he's put out at least one EP on Michigan dance label, Ghostly.  Peak your interest?

Also, here's a video on a pretty obscure UK dance scene.  It's short but  interesting.  When  I say obscure,  I mean to most of our readership -- UK Garage reached the heights of the top 40, and inspired the Streets!  That's when I heard about it, but it had a much longer history before that.  UKG followed what is basically the rise-and-fall template of just about every dance music type, from early acid to dubstep, so watch the video to get an idea of how a scene comes to be, peaks, and  then fades away (before the inevitable nostalgia).  There'll be a larger TV series starting next month in the UK -- it's already on my to-download list.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Boy George Ahoy!

Here's a book Boy George may have once owned.  Or written.

In other words, a small Boy George update.  Not even that really, but a link to an interview I've just read over at Details mag.  This interview reminded me why I like Boy George, and why I enjoyed his autobiography -- it's cos he's funny!  I've you've not read his book, Take It Like a Man, it's well worth a read, especially if you have a passing interest in the late 70's/early 80's UK.  I'm talking squats!  No, not this kind.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring is in the Air?

It doesn't feel like it around here, it's bloody freezing!  But perhaps this ditty will put you in a springy mood, as it did me.  It's by Francois and the Atlas Mountains, an Anglo-French outfit based in Bristol, UK, and it's off their upcoming fourth album.  C'est tres bon!  Sadly my French is limited to those three words, so I've no idea what the song is about.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Straight outta Norwich

Just heard this thanks to the Guardian.  Recently I've been a bit jaded about throwback-sounding dance music, but I quite like the samples used in this track by Context, a Norwich-born rapper who I know next to nothing about -- but if you like the tune you can easily do your own research.  There's a very Mike Skinner-y remix by Mike Skinner out there too.

Also heard some nice dancey stuff from Appleblim, thanks to XLR8R, which I've been meaning to put up. Doesn't have the chunky feel of the Context track but I appreciate the smoothness myself.  You can hear a full stream of the new EP below:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

going in deep

For quite a while now the '90's sound' has been back. You can hear it all over in the house and techno tunes that have been coming out for a few years now. And now apparently deep house is back as well.

Here's the thing though. Some of us, like me, never stopped listening to that stuff. I've always listened to deep house and 90's house. I mean, always. My brain loves that time period. So even though its 2014 I've been listening to that stuff since middle school, so for me, and I assume many others, that sound never went away. Thus its kind of funny to see people say that those sounds are 'back' coz in my opinion, they never actually went away.

And now that more people think those sounds are cool again, maybe they realized those sounds were damn good all along. Which is why I never stopped listening to tunes from those eras, because they are great. And to be honest, I don't think those sounds, that 'deep house' sound or that '90's sound' ever went away actually. Maybe its just that people are realizing how crap the other stuff is that they've been listening to (ahem Skrillex, D Guetta, C Harris, Deadmau5, etc...) and now they're getting back to the good stuff.  :-P Is America about to wake up from its "EDM" obsession and throw down a much-delayed a deep house revolution?

Here's a mix by my friend Jay that's got a lot of those recent deep tunes, with some classics thrown in.

And here's a tune by Georgie Porgie whom I've blogged about before. I think this one really showcases that 90's feel. It almost sounds like it could've come out 10+ years ago. To me "Thinking of You" just goes to show that these sounds never really went away. There's always been producers hammering these tunes out, now they're just more popular again and aren't as underground anymore, perhaps.

Anyway I could be wrong on all of this of course. This is just my 2pence. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

achtung baby

I think U2's best album is Achtung Baby. Then again that's really the only album of theirs that I have save for a "best of" disc. I love the twangy and distorted guitars, the hurried drums, and here I think Bono's at his best, being sincere in "One" while being flippant and playful in many other songs like "Even Better Than the Real Thing". I love that the band challenged and reinvented themselves and weren't afraid to try something new. And "the fly", of course.

I only started to listen to and appreciate this album about twenty years after its release in 1991. And that only because I picked it up as a used CD back in 2009. I was already familiar with the major hit from the album "Mysterious Ways" as I remember watching the music video as a little kid. I think my fave song though is "Acrobat", especially for its line "I must be, an acrobat, to talk like this, and act like that."

What a wonderful metaphor, for a hypocrite. That line is one of my fave metaphors and showed me how a metaphor can actually reveal truth, much more than a regular flat statement - dressing something up as a metaphor adds a whole lot more dimension. One could say "oh yes, I'm a hypocrite" but to describe as one's self as an acrobat, ie someone who's constantly twisting and turning or going through hurdles, really makes it hit home of how much of a hypocrite Bono thought of himself to be.

Anyway, here's one of the reasons why I still buy CDs - they're like a mini time travel machine. I can open up the sleeve and see in the notes addresses to Amnesty International, Greenpeace, etc. I can see photos of the band during that time. And these guys gave us a good sleeve, with lyrics and lots of photographs. You can't get any of that with a bunch of mp3s, and you'd forget you have these songs since they're just digital files. With CDs, I can see what music I have right in front of me, and I'm a lot more likely to listen to whole albums rather than just random tunes.

While I'm not a huge fan of U2, apart from this album and some other songs of theirs, I do appreciate that the band has been around for so long and that its always been the same 4 blokes. Good for them.

sidenote - after I watched Melancholia a couple years ago I thought "Until the End of the World" should've been on that film's soundtrack. Woulda been perfect!

Here's a cool video of the band performing one of the songs from the album, near Detroit, and this was broadcast live during the VMA's, or nowadays, we'd say, livestreamed. Pretty nifty for back then.

More things I have heard and liked.

This new song by Maximo Park has a pleasing indie-guitar sound:

This song by Breton is rather catchy, but I hate the video and the singer's manner of singing is a bit annoying too.  Still, it pleases me when I hear it on the radio; I especially like the housey piano and the steel drum sounds:

Friday, January 17, 2014


So, Cate Le Bon was in town this week, playing at DC9 for a mere $10.  I thought, "yes, I'll check that out, I like the tunes of hers I've heard".  Apparently, though,  I wasn't the only one, as when I got there with another tAO contributor (hint: it was a male, with his wife) the show was sold out!  Sold out!  The lessons here are a) never underestimate the popularity of Welsh singer-songwriters and b) go ahead and spend the extra dollars on buying a concert ticket over the web, cos you just never know.  And if it's not a ticketmaster show then the fees won't be much more than a return Metro ride anyway -- probably less in fact!  Sigh.  Some examples of Le Bon's craft follow (quite literally in the case of the first video).  Followed by another Wave Pictures song which I just heard and liked.

I was over missing that show but that live video has bummed me out again.  Le sigh.