The UAE music scene is flourishing. Check out these tracks today
If you consider yourself too old – or are considered by the law to be too young – to spend your evenings at one of the city’s live rock nights or supporting the burgeoning club scene, there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy music from local artists.
Many of the UAE’s favourite home-grown talents are now releasing high-profile albums, while Dubai-based distributor Daxar unveils numerous special compilations every year, usually featuring both local and international DJs and producers. Here, we’ve picked a few of our favourite recent releases. Get listening…
Sandwash: ‘Master Blaster Hole’
Darlings of the local press, pop-punk-rock four-piece Sandwash present double drum pedals, serious riffs and slick production on new album Master Blaster Hole, giving us faith in the home-grown Dubai rock scene. It’s clear they’ve been at it for a while (nearly seven years, to be precise) and, as a result, have a few publishing tricks up their sleeves, bagging a Mountain Dew TV commercial along the way. Nevertheless, they’re still unsigned. We’re not quite sure why no one has snapped up these decent musicians, who roll from Pennywise effects pedals to Nirvana melancholy and aching Ian Brown-esque vocals. Then again, selling head-popping, mosh-worthy, crisp rock is going to be an uphill struggle in house-happy Dubai, and somehow this makes us like them more. Available now at Virgin Megastore.
Daxar Winter Session 2011
The latest dance compilation release from Dubai’s independent distributor Daxar features a collection of big club tracks from the past few months, including recent visitors Dan Balan and Riva Starr, who played Chi and Trilogy respectively towards the end of 2010. Starr’s ‘I Was Drunk’ is one of the album’s highlights, along with Montreal House Mafia’s ‘Tarantella (Badabingbadaboom Remix)’, which fuses accordions and acoustics with a club-ready electronic beat. Established to deliver music from both major and independent labels to listeners in the Middle East, Daxar has won respect for its chill-out, lounge, house and electronic compilations, not to mention its support of unsigned local talent. Available now at Virgin Megastore.
Jay Wud: ‘New Blood’
Released late last year and entirely self-produced, to say Lebanese-born Jay Wud’s debut album is impressive would be an understatement. Even if you don’t appreciate the tight riffs, or you find the lyrics a little on the revealing side (on the single ‘Drowning in Euphoria’, the lyric ‘Watch you burn your modesty, your innocence and your courtesy’ is probably one of the tamest), there’s no denying his talent. From his command of the guitar to the raspy vocals which, despite his relatively mature 28 years, are rich with echoes of teenage angst, Wud has made no secret of the fact his early experiences in his native home have influenced his work – most striking in ‘Fuzzy Colors’, which is potent with very real frustration. Perhaps it’s the honesty that helps make this one of the best albums of the past few months, and definitely worth your dirhams. Available now at Virgin Megastore.
Juliana Down: ‘Empires’
After years spent playing the odd show here and there, Dubai-based quintet Juliana Down scored a huge chunk of credibility when they warmed up the crowd for none other than Guns N’ Roses at Yas Arena last month. As you’d expect of a band keeping such high-profile company, their sound has matured since their last batch of fairly generic material, with latest single ‘Empires’ (hear it free at www.soundcloud.com), sporting the snappy basslines and catchy riffs characteristic of a band finally carving themselves a niche. If you don’t believe us, just switch on the radio – the single has been getting plenty of airplay over the past few weeks. The album of the same name is due within the next month – expect it to be packed with plenty more shout-along pop-rock anthems tinged with shades of Linkin Park and Placebo. Single available to download from iTunes, album coming soon.