5 regional tracks and EPs to get your music fix

Mashrou' Leila. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 October 2020

5 regional tracks and EPs to get your music fix

  • Creative successes from across the Arab world, from a Lebanese singer’s latest track to a Saudi band’s debut EP

‘Beirut Remixed’

‘Beirut Remixed’ cover. Supplied

Beirut-based label Thawra records describes its latest release as “an epochal celebration of music, community, friendship and the city where it all happened.” It’s a collection of tracks from five of the biggest names in the Lebanese independent music scene, remixed by three producers — JADE, Jad Taleb and ETYEN. The featured artists are indie-rock outfit Who Killed Bruce Lee; alt-pop band Adonis; electronic alt-rock duo Lumi; ambient duo The Bunny Tylers; and, of course, the biggest alternative Arabic act to emerge from Lebanon, Mashrou’ Leila. “We are thrilled and honored to present … an ode to the city of Beirut and the golden age of the post-war indie and electronic music scene,” the label added. “In the aftermath of the tragedy that hit Beirut on August 4 of this year, killing hundreds and affecting thousands of our brothers and sisters, we dedicate this album to the Lebanese people, and take this moment to remember and cherish the vibrant musical underground of our beloved Beirut — a community that rose against all odds, and provided a safe haven for creatives and free thinkers while bringing joy, music and dance to many throughout the years,” the press release concludes.

Tania Saleh - ‘Ya Reit’ (I Wish)

The Lebanese singer-songwriter’s latest single is a simple folk-tinged tune, with Saleh’s vocals floating over Ziad El-Helou’s guitar lines as she meditates on building a treehouse. “I will build it on another planet/With no sand and no gold/Enough for all the beautiful people/That I love for no reason/I wish…” Saleh sings in Arabic. The song is accompanied by a video Saleh — who is also an accomplished artist — created herself. “I have always dreamed of having the time to do this kind of animation work, but with my day job, my music and my kids, I never could find that time,” she told Arab News. “Now there is plenty of time on my hands. I’m trying to use this long confinement wisely rather than just stay on my phone. In light of what’s happening in Lebanon now, we all have a constant urge to just run away, but all we can do is continue living in our respective bubbles, with our chosen people.”

Good Company - ‘Good Company’ EP

‘Good Company’ EP cover. Supplied

The low-profile Riyadh-based instrumental trio released their debut EP (on Bahrain-based label Museland Records) late August. The four tracks (which include the earworm single “Sunday,” with vocals from Beast) fuse “elements of dream-pop, lo-fi, and jazz fusion to create fun, synthy jams,” according to Museland head Ali Al- Saeed.

Shaun Warner, Mais Harb & Eslam Jawaad - ‘El Wind’

Dubai-based producer Shaun Warner’s latest release is an interesting hybrid of Arabic and English, Oriental and Western sounds that features haunting vocals from Syrian singer Mais Harb and UK based Lebanese-Syrian rapper Eslam Jawaad. “The track is about nostalgia. Mais said it’s about remembering a simpler time for her,” Warner told Arab News. “I’ve always loved the idea of a bilingual track and when I hear Mais sing, I don’t need to understand the words to know I really like it. Once Mais laid her vocals we felt it needed a male to respond to what she was singing, and Eslam was a no-brainer. Even though it’s crossing genres and languages we hope it’s an easy listen and people can dig it.”

Rima Yussef - ‘Bowseflak’

The Lebanese singer-songwriter’s new track incorporates elements of dubstep in its upbeat chorus, according to her label, Universal, despite starting out with the feel of a romantic ballad. The accompanying video “takes you through two different moods, expressed by Rima and her on-screen lover.”

Keke Palmer shows off Lebanese design in new music video

Updated 26 October 2020

Keke Palmer shows off Lebanese design in new music video

DUBAI: American singer and actress Keke Palmer released her latest single “Dreamcatcher,” turning to Lebanese couturier Georges Hobeika to design her eye-catching look.

The 27-year-old, who gave us hits such as “I Don’t Belong to You” and “Man in the Mirror,” wore a gold, asymmetric gown plucked from the Baskinta-born designer’s Spring 2020 couture collection. The dazzling creation boasted a high slit and iridescent sequins and beading throughout. A delicate knot detail further accentuated the hitmaker’s waist. 

Hobeika’s Spring 2020 couture collection, which was presented at The Théâtre National de Chaillot Couture in Paris during Haute Couture Week in January, drew inspiration from the idyllic shores of Sardinia, Italy. 

The look was put together by Palmer’s longtime stylist, Mikiel Benyamin, the US-Egyptian stylist whose celebrity client list includes Bella Thorne and Saweetie, among others. The Egypt-born creative, who got his fashion start with a number of styling internships, went on to make a name for himself after putting together the memorable looks for Cardi B’s hit “Bodak Yellow” video.

Hobeika, on the other hand, recently made headlines after US hip hop star Nicki Minaj announced her pregnancy with a series of images, one of which sees the star wearing a floor-length veil custom-made by the Lebanese designer. 


Keke’s new single Dream Catcher.... SHE stuns in @georgeshobeika @jenniferfisherjewelry & @alevimilano

A post shared by MIKIEL BENYAMIN (@maikeeb_kills) on

Singer Hailee Steinfeld also recently turned to Hobeika to unveil her latest single via Zoom on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” For the virtual performance, she opted for a black, strapless mini dress with an asymmetric hemline and a cascading tulle train.

Indeed, celebrities constantly turn to Hobeika to dress them in his creations for some of their most important events. Case in point: Singer-turned-actress Jennifer Lopez who chose an elegant off-the-shoulder black gown for the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards and before that, a cream-colored, backless gown encrusted with gems at the 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Meanwhile, it’s not the first time that the “Scream Queens” star has donned a design by an Arab designer. The US actress rocked up to the 2019 MTV VMAs in Los Angeles wearing a sunny yellow column gown by Kuwaiti couturier Yousef Al-Jasmi. She accessorized the glamorous look with a rhinestone encrusted 1980s cell phone.