Cairokee matures with third album
BY MOHAMMED YAHIA
Cairo: Egyptian music outfit Cairokee has come a long way from their underground roots. What was once a young band playing out small gigs for a limited pool of fans at Sawy Culture Wheel can now fill big venues packed with thousands singing along to their music.
The band’s third album, “Wana Ma’a Nafsy A’ed” (While I’m sitting Here By Myself), released last month, marks a growth in the band’s sound. Since their last record, the everyday life in Egypt has becoming far more complicated, with a lot of confusion and lack of clarity seeping across all sectors, and a sense of frustration growing among the young people who went out to Tahrir on January 25, 2011.
The new album sees the band growing comfortable in their own skins, carving a place for their genre of music alongside mainstream music. They embrace everything taking place across their everyday world to produce an album that at times is louder and wilder while at others mellower and more laid back. The band has matured both lyrically and musically, putting out what is their best album yet.
Amir Eid, the band’s lead singer and lyricist, captures the raw emotions of a young man experiencing the so called Arab Spring. He has opted to go for a romantic approach to the lyrics, with trees, rain, the sky and nature featuring strongly in almost every track. The album oozes with the confusion experienced during this turbulent time in history. The emotions in the 12 tracks range from anger to optimism; from hope to desperation. To call the album an emotional rollercoaster would definitely be an understatement.
The first song, “El Malek” (The King), is a perfect start to the album, with strong lyrics that set the mood for what is to come. Eid’s voice blends into the music to create an atmosphere of despair and loss.
The album offers numbers that are rockier than the band’s past two outings, with the song “Laken Ehsasy Mesh Kefaya” (But My Feelings Aren’t Enough) ending with a two-minute roaring guitar solo by Sherif Hawary, the band’s lead guitarist, that is unlike anything heard in an Arabic mainstream album before.
Some of the tunes, such as the energetic and uplifting “Kol Youm Momken Yekoon Bedaya” (Everyday Can Be A New Start) might sound too similar to some of the band’s previous efforts, but most of the new record sees them exploring new musical terrains and reinventing themselves.
Protest lyrics found in songs like “Souty” (My Voice) where Eid bellows in anger to thundering guitars “My dignity and pride are concepts long lost to me/My opinion and rights are forbidden since a long time ago. They mislead me to silence me/And when they need me they buy my voice” will resonate with revolutionaries not just in Egypt, but across the Arab world.
The album also has its share of slower love songs. “Law Kan E’ndy Guitar” (If I Had a Guitar) is a sweet ballad surely to become a favorite among fans.
While mostly strong throughout, the album falters a little in the middle. “Bas’aal Aleaky” (I Ask About You) is a melancholic love song that does not, however, reach the artistic level of the other tracks and will be, for most people, the album’s filler. The last track, “Mestany” (Waiting) is a fitting ending to the emotional journey the album takes the listeners on, ending on a powerful, yet quiet note —
just like how it started.
CairoKee’s “Wana Ma’a Nafsy A’ed” is available in music stores across Egypt. –The Egypt Monocle