Cairokee: Matloub Za’eem
Much Music Arabyeah!
Bassem Abou Arab
Having formed in 2003 and spent the greater
part of the last eight years on the underground circuit, Egyptian band Cairokee
have finally released their debut album, Matloub Za’eem (Leader Wanted). The Arabic rock band is unique in its style
and approach to the genre. Unlike so many other groups who try and fuse several
styles in search of originality or a gimmick, Cairokee focuses on rock, although
they aren’t afraid to throw in an Egyptian twist every now and again. Though
this album features only eight songs, fans of Cairokee should be familiar with the
group’s extensive catalogue of songs, recordings and videos.
The album opens with the sombre ‘Ye’ady El
Seif’ (the Summer Passes); a strangely slow and reserved mood-setter to a rock
album. It’s followed by ‘Sout El Horeya’ (Voice of Freedom); a hugely
popular song that became an anthem of sorts of the January 25th
revolution for its powerful, poignant and relatable lyrics. Though Cairokee
lead singer Amir Eid had originally collaborated on the song with Wust El Balad’s
Hani Adel, this version only features the former, which is a shame.
The title track of the album follows, and
continues with the theme of the revolution. ‘Matloub Za’eem’ (Leader Needed) opens
with the infamous Omar Suleiman resignation speech, which leads into a mock job
advert to fill the position of the president, all against the backdrop of soft
guitar riffs. Though simple, the lyrics are clever and the use of a military
march tune to accompany the melody sets this apart as one of the best songs of
Fourth song ‘Helmi Ana’ (My Dream) will be
familiar to fans, having become popular on YouTube two years ago. This slightly
altered version shows the depth of Amir Eid as a writer. The melody takes a slightly more oriental
twist with ‘Masrawy’(Egyptian), without losing its core rock sound. The song celebrates and champions the spirit of
Egyptian history and culture.
‘El Wad Betaa’ El Mazika’ (the Music Guy) is
a playful tongue-in-cheek song about the musical experiences of a young man in
the first-person narrative. The instrumentalism floats into more of a blues style,
as does the lyrics’ storytelling.
‘Gharib Fi Belad Ghariba’ (Stranger in a
Strange Country) is a solid song, but it sounds uncannily like 1983 power ballad
‘Making Love out of Nothing at All’ by soft-rock duo Air Supply. It might well
be a coincidence, but for this reviewer, it slightly devalues what is a good
Cairokee have definitely saved the best
till last, as closing track ‘Efrid Genahak’ (Spread Your Wings)
is perfectly arranged and sung. It shows a skill and expertise that is more
fitting to seasoned musicians, and not a band’s debut effort.
The best thing about Matloub Za’eem is that it shows a musical growth and diversity to
the group. The underground rockers have presented a gracefully conceived and arranged
collection of songs without losing their edge and their passion, while paving
the way for other musicians of their kind.
In a gesture of thanks to their fans and in celebration of the revolution, Cairokee have made their album available for free downloading via this site.