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Old 01-14-2010, 11:32 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Mashrou' Leila

Genre: experimental, Indie, rock, world.
Year: 2009


The biggest thing now, since Soap Kills. Maybe because everyone knows them as they are students in the most popular uni here, or maybe because they truly capture the spirit of the Lebanese youth. Their lyrics are a mix of everything a young adult living in this screwed up middle east hears and feels. From the wars, car bombs, to the social problems of a very uptight religious and sectarian land and the rising rate of the jobless that only find peace in immigrating to richer bigger countries. It's not wholly driven by the western influences, which makes it the most genuine music of this last decade, respecting the identity of the original middle eastern sound.


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Mashrouʼ Leila is Arabic for 'an overnight projectʼ lusting out a microphone, a violin, a bass, two guitars, drums and keyboards. It started out as a music workshop at the American University of Beirut in 2008, an open platform for students of architecture and design, somewhere to experiment with sounds and make things audible. In the various performances, Mashrouʼ Leila is a constant attempt to taste and produce, more than happy to harvest anyone from the audience as a guest in their encores. They have performed around Lebanon since 2008, playing in various venues in Beirut. The music in their debut album, released in December 2009 with B-root Productions is a reclamation of the aftertaste; sequel-ing a dose of Beirut. (Adapted from a text by Raafat Majzoub)
I only heard of them very recently, after many of my friends had seen them live and were never able to shut-up about it. So I first listened to them two weeks ago, in my friend's car, after he purchased the album at the just mentioned concert. It took me less than a minute to notice how unique they were. It was a mix of everything I've ever heard, but still something very new. A lot of inside jokes, and references in the lyrics, which makes it even more familiar, but still, it's the first time I listen to something that wasn't trying to imitate a "Lebanese sound", but just doing their thing in pure honesty. Living here is not about enduring the bombs and the misery, it's just about making fun of it, as it weirdly became something natural. There's no drama, there's no denial about the reality we're living in, there's only how we're living, with the eternal struggle between the Western liberal influence and the Eastern narrow-mindedness that is keeping us to the ground.
... but what the hell, we do the best of it.

The videos don't show much, but just enough to make you want to hear the real thing. Both videos were amateurishly taken by some cell-cam, but those are just samples. If you find it interesting, I got a link to their self-titled debut that was released in December 09.

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Old 01-14-2010, 08:26 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The third part of his career, moving on to just composing studio albums. After Joseph Sakr died, Ziad continued to compose for other artists he would hand pick. The latest was Salma, an unknown artist that only sang on this album. She was picked for her unusual "un-tuned" voice. Have a listen, from the album Salma monodose

So NumberNineDream was cool enough to send me this when I requested it. I really enjoyed this album a lot and, after sorta raving about it, I was more or less dared to review it in this thread as a "Foreign ear". ><
I still donno if I should do a review, as I'm not the expert here, but I'll discuss why I liked it at least.



To start off I'll just say, this is a lot of fun to listen to. Musically, some of it sounds like stuff I'm pretty familiar with...quite jazzy and swing sounding, with alot of piano and brass. There's quite a few instruments mixed in that I don't know though, as well as some random ones that took me by surprise. The fourth song for example, Gingele, starts with some loud whistles like you might here in a marching band. At one point you even here a loud bird call?! I'm not sure what that is at the :15 second mark either, but I like it!
If I had to pick one thing...the piano work is probably what stands out the most to me over the course of Salma Monodose. But everything here works well together though, and the entire album is almost all very upbeat. My head was nodding the entire time.

The vocals on here are very nice. The singers "un-tuned" voice is still very pretty I think, and pleasant sounding. Occasionally she is joined by a chorus of voices behind hers which is fun, as well as a sorta creepy-sounding man who jumps in randomly and kinda takes me by surprise when he does. The ninth song on here also has a very nice, love-sounding duet, with her and a man who is not-so-creepy sounding.
Of course I can't really understand anything that's actually being sung here, which isn't a horrible thing really. I can pretty much tell by the tone which songs are happy (most of them), sad (Black&Why), and about love (Ma Bitfid). Since I'm not able to understand, I can actually use my imagination and picture my own ideas of what they're about, which is fun.

As for favorites...I'd probably pick Gingele as mine. I actually picture this as a song from a musical, where she is walking down the street singing, in the middle of a parade. I love the chorus here, especially when the crowd of people starts singing along with her. Other favorites are Assaada Allahou Masa'akom (SO funky) and Ma Bitfid, which is a slow and soft love duet, with mostly just soft piano and bass accompaniment.

All in all, very cool album, and I think others would enjoy it. I honestly might think of buying it if the only copy I could find online wasn't $120.

Anyway, I'm likin' this thread a lot. Keep it up imo.

(^That is pretty much a review isn't it...jeez. 0_0)

Last edited by Dieselboy; 01-14-2010 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The "creepy-sounding man" is Ziad joining in, he never sings as his voice is all messed up by the cigarettes, but hearing him can always make us laugh (usually people here just laugh whenever he talks, as it's too hard to know if he's sarcastic or not).

Well not bad review here, it doesn't really need some expertise to talk about that album. I wasn't expecting you'll be liking it that much, it warms my heart. Btw, no one really buy a Ziad Rahbany album, everyone just have all his works on mp3s scattered around the house. I didn't know it would be that expensive to get it, I guess I took his albums for granted lol. Well if you ever swing by our side, there's his whole discography and Fairuz', as the two alone have four spots on the local top 10 for more than 2 decades.

And about Gingele, I think it's a cover of a a song originally written by the bossa-nova king, Antonio Carlos Jobim. This man's influence on Ziad is well noticeable all through the latter's career.
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Old 01-14-2010, 09:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NumberNineDream View Post
The "creepy-sounding man" is Ziad joining in, he never sings as his voice is all messed up by the cigarettes, but hearing him can always make us laugh (usually people here just laugh whenever he talks, as it's too hard to know if he's sarcastic or not).
Ah, I had a feeling that might be who the voice belonged to. Now I feel bad for calling it creepy though, if he actually has problems talking. Sounds pretty mean now...oops. :|

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Well not bad review here, it doesn't really need some expertise to talk about that album.
True. Still, glad I didn't embarrass myself somehow (Well beyond calling the composer creepy of course).
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Old 01-14-2010, 09:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Ah, I had a feeling that might be who the voice belonged to. Now I feel bad for calling it creepy though, if he actually has problems talking. Sounds pretty mean now...oops. :|
Nah he makes it creepy on purpose. Just his voice got a bit too lowered after he started smoking. It was obvious as he was just starting to act in his plays. So in the first play he had a kinda normal voice, the second, second play and his voice aged more than 20 years, but he uses it well.

A cool fact for you to enjoy
Until now, no one knows if his plays were recorded on video. There are rumours that maybe Ziad asked for the recorded plays to stay hidden. So from the middle 80s till now, all the Lebanese have these plays on tape, and many radios play them daily, thus everyone in this country has memorised every single word of all 8 of them.
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Old 01-15-2010, 02:10 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Well they are very good, as I really did enjoy them, but I can't quite find what's so Arabic about it. I really think though, you should post about it in the Jazz section.

But as Arabic is a language and they do sing in Arabic, and yes it is Jazz but music transcends language imo, that's why I posted here, anyway am glad you enjoyed it.
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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But as Arabic is a language and they do sing in Arabic, and yes it is Jazz but music transcends language imo, that's why I posted here, anyway am glad you enjoyed it.
Arabic has become more than a language, to become a common culture that 21 countries share. There is more than the language in the Arabic music, there are different scales and usually different instruments, and that is what I'm usually trying to talk about. And if I'm going to label Ethiopique as Arabic, I'd be just lying to myself to enrich Arabic music.

...and as you said, music transcends language, so having them talk in Arabic for few tracks, doesn't make their music Arabic.
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Old 01-17-2010, 02:12 PM   #18 (permalink)
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So here they are, the 3 videos, the best (imo) of each artist:

-I-

Artist: Ziad Rahbany
Album: Monodose
Track: no.9 - Ma bt fid (it's no good)
Year: 2002




-II-

Artist: Soap Kills
Album: Cheftak (I saw you)
Track: no.4 - Kazdoura (promenade)
Year: 2002




-III-

Artist: Mashrou' Leila
Album: Mashrou' Leila
Track: no.2 - 3ubwa (Bomb)
Year: 2009

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Last edited by NumberNineDream; 01-26-2010 at 02:20 AM.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:25 PM   #19 (permalink)
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^That third band is very cool too, nice addition. Some very psychedelic sounds there and the violin is great.

1:57 - 2:07 is the best though. I seriously love it when they do that.
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:38 AM   #20 (permalink)
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NOTIFICATION

I thought I'd just separate I from Arabic music, as going deeper and deeper into the culture, I realised how 70% of the Lebanese bands won't really stick much under the "Arabic Music" tag.
As Lebanon is in a very mixed point of the world, the artists sing in 4 different languages, and the music varies between all the genres possible. I'll surely get myself more familiar with the surrounding music scene, and I'll be posting about them in the second thread. As for now, I'll try to talk about all the local bands I've been digging lately.

I'll try my best to maintain a high degree of quality music, without throwing names to raise the numbers.

Edit: Gotta thank Bulldog for separating the threads
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