The Year in Alternative Pakistani Music: Top 20 Tracks of 2018
It’s been another positive year for Pakistani alternative music. Although there were way fewer albums released this year compared to last, 2018 gave us a wealth of interesting, subtly experimental singles that explored the edges of genre and pushed the envelope into exciting new territory. This year’s list wasn’t at all easy to pick, but we think we have a top 20 that encompasses excellent Pakistani hip-hop, electronica, pop, rock, psychedelia, and lots more. We hope you’ll be listening and keeping an ear out to these brilliant artists as we tumble into 2019.
There were so many fantastic songs released this year, so if we’ve missed anything, please do let us know in the comments.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER!
1. Resistance – Abdullah Siddiqui
Abdullah Siddiqui has emerged as one of the most exciting and talented young artists to break out of the electronic scene. While at first he seemed to struggle at finding his sound, it seems that he’s found a groove that works for him. Resistance is a beguiling song that shines with pop polish, but then shows its teeth and snarls at you. The bass churns underneath as Siddiqui contemplates ‘where the hell did I go wrong?’ His pitch-perfect voice clashes brilliantly with the rumbling production underneath. The message here is clear: this is not your average pop song.
2. Gandi Si Building – Mehdi Maloof
Whenever Mehdi Maloof drops a track, you better sit up and listen. He hardly ever releases music, but whenever he has, it’s been incredible. Do Hi Rastay Hain is already a classic; 1947 glimmers with hope and profound sadness. Gandi Si Building is another showcase of Maloof’s incredible songwriting abilities. It’s funny, thought-provoking, a little bit mad. If you asked Maloof, he’d probably say it really is just a song about a gandi si building that he lived in, not any big commentary about Pakistan, or society, or whatever. Nevertheless, whatever his intentions, Gandi Si Building was one of the first tracks to make it onto this list. The track fizzes with a jazzy composition that, when married to those lyrics, is irresistible. More music in 2019 please, Mr. Maloof.
3. Aag – Talal Qureshi feat. Naseebo Lal
I never thought I’d hear Naseebo Lal acting as a hype MC but this is 2018, Imran Khan is PM, Trump is in the White House, anything can happen. What’s not up for debate though, is that Talal Qureshi has made the certified Banger of the Year (TM) with Aag. As soon as you hear that ‘BEAT TE TALAL UH!’ you know you’re in for something wild. Qureshi’s production is suitably bombastic and over the top, and perfectly suits Naseebo Lal’s larger-than-life delivery here. It’s so. Much. Fun. Speakers on fire, guaranteed.
4. Ikisvi Sadi – Biryani Brothers
There have been a number of throwback sounds that have weaved their way into tracks this year. Nostalgic cheesy synths from the 80’s, huge gated drums, 90’s disco etc. On Ikisvi Sadi, Biryani Brothers, aka Natasha Noorani and Zahra Paracha have managed to craft something that feels like it was pieced together from the past, but is nonetheless totally at home in the present. Natasha Noorani’s ethereal vocal floats through the track, and Zahra Paracha’s production only ever improves. She sprinkles some beautiful horns in at the end before both singers duet with each other, a little bit of magic that’ll have you pressing repeat, repeat, repeat.
5. One – Janoobi Khargosh
On the subject of throwback sounds, Janoobi Khargosh is one of those musical outfits that just seems to exist outside of time. Waleed Ahmed, the architect behind the project, focuses here on simplicity of lyrics and simplicity of melody, then adding layer upon layer of sonic goodness until we get One. If you were to cut into this track, you’d be cutting for a while. Delicious.
Read on for the rest of the list.
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