Yasmine Hamdan: Lebanese singer-songwriter brings a Western approach towards Arabic pop
Yasmine Hamdan is a Lebanese singer-songwriter who approaches Arabic pop with a Western electronic, pop, and folk mindset, someone who has been immersed in enough styles to blend them all into something unexpected, something familiar, and something quite stunning.
“With her debut solo album Ya Nass (2013), Hamdan introduced her personal, modern take on Arabic pop. In Al Jamilat (‘The Beautiful Ones’), she pursues her musical exploration, while taking a look at the mutations at work within the Arab world. While Yasmine’s vocals are definitely connected to traditions of Arabic music (to which she takes an unconventional and fresh approach), the structures and arrangements of the songs are very remote from its codes, and take in elements from contemporary Western electronic, pop and folk music.”
sandmoon is a Beirut indie pop/folk group led by singer, pianist, and ukulele player Sandra Arslanian. Singing in English and having specific ties to Belgium and Armenia, Arslanian takes inspiration from various music genres around the world and sings in a strong, proud voice backed by minimal instrumentation. She reminds me of Cat Power and “The Man Who Sold The World” Bowie, with a mystic sort of groove that stays with you long after the songs are over.
The group’s third release, the five-track EP #InTheEnd, is out now. Listen to the EP now on Spotify.
Beirut’s Mayssa Jallad and Elie Abdelnour play indie Folk-Pop that wouldn’t sound out of place in Brooklyn. If you’re sick of Brooklyn indie Folk-Pop (like I am), have no fear; Abdelnour’s jazz guitar and the tiny electronic touches keep “Cake” from being just another delightful and forgettable B-side to the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack. Bonus points to Safar for being trilingual and having an actual sense of melody.
Aynama-Rtama is the self-produced debut album from Alif, an avant-garde five-piece from Beirut that offers a taste of Arab independent music. The lyrics are from a poem by the late Iraqi-Assyrian poet and writer Sargon Boulus. Check out the band, read some good poetry, and enjoy the sound of modern Middle East music.