The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Mashrou’ Leila: El Hal Romancy

Mashrou’ Leila: El Hal Romancy

If you missed
their two Cairo concerts last May, and haven’t got a copy of their eponymous
debut album, we highly recommend that you check out Mashrou’ Leila, whose second
album El Hal Romancy will be released
this July 29th. 

Mashrou’
Leila is a Lebanese alternative rock/folk band that has created quite a buzz on
the underground scene in recent years. The band became hit the limelight
after its successful two videos ‘Rakset Leila’ and ‘Fasateen’. Young, vibrant
and funky, this band puts on one hell of a live show; their charisma and
musical creativity make Mashrou’ Leila one of the most memorable and exciting
live performances out there.

The seven-person
ensemble describe themselves as less of a band and more of a project; the
literal translation for Mashrou’ Leila is ‘overnight project’, one that
consists of two guitars, one keyboard, bass and drums as well as a violin,
which is heavily present on all the songs and adds a melancholic element to the
band’s music.

Cairo 360 was
lucky enough to get an advance copy of the new album, and we absolutely love
it. El Hal Romancy consists of only
six tracks, which may disappoint fans but it will constantly be on repeat; you just can’t get enough of them. The songs are brilliant, whether it’s
vocalist Hamed Sinno’s haunting cries on ‘El Mouqadima’ or the seamless way
that song transitions into the bass-heavy intro of ‘Habibi’. From the witty
lyrics on gender confusion on ‘Imm El Jacket’ to the gentle heartbreak on ‘Inni
Mneeh’, this album is a tight compilation of songs infused with melancholy,
passion, satire and most of all, personality. The addition of a backing
orchestra arrangement further emphasizes the beautiful melodies that Mashrou’
Leila has become synonymous with.

The band’s sound is quintessentially
Lebanese, and connotes an atmosphere of youthfulness, resilience and liberal
expression:

‘Even when we don’t write about Beirut
directly, it’s still very much there in our sensibilities,’ explained
Sinno. Sung entirely in the Lebanese
dialect of Arabic, some songs may be difficult for the less Lebanese-proficient
listener, but it’s hard to miss the lyrics’ general meaning and theme.

Formed in 2008 as a music workshop at the
American University of Beirut, the band has toured the Middle East and Europe
and played at several international festivals, including the Cairo Jazz Festival
last May.

The
band recognises that El Hal Romancy
has a more refined and sophisticated quality compared to their debut effort.

‘Ever since we
started recording El Hal Romancy, we
knew that we had evolved a lot musically since the first album,’ said Sinno.

Cairo 360’s
advance copy of the album has been on constant replay, and we’re excited to
bring you our review of El Hal Romancy
on its release date, July 29th.

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