You’ve GOT to Hear This: Hanni El Khatib – “Pay No Mind”

Hanni El KhatibYou’d be forgiven for mistaking this track for an early Black Keys’ demo; not least for the uncanny vocal resemblance, but stylistically, they’re in the same ballpark. It’s rough around the edges, yet so smooth where it needs to be. In that case, it won’t be a shock to find out that this track was produced by The Black Keys’ frontman, Dan Auerbach, who lent his skills for creating lo-fi, blues-rock masterpieces to Hanni El Khatib’s second LP, “Head In The Dirt”.

With no lengthy intro required, distorted vocals hit you straight off like a battering ram, backed-up by the pounding Ramones-esque drums. There’s just enough melody to keep this track on the safe-side of punk, with more than enough grit and vigour to set the aggressive tone. Before you’ve even had chance to take-in the relentlessly breathless verse, the chorus comes around in just over 20 seconds, handing you an even more raucous slice of garage-rock. By the time the first chorus ends, the staccato stabs of fuzzed-up guitars enter the fray once more to bring the track to a full circle. Just as you’re wondering where the track can go without compromising the urgency, it enters a half-time breakdown where it seems to hit you twice as hard and sounds twice as heavy. It’s like a rollercoaster that seems to go on forever; one that leaves you feeling dizzy and sick, but one that you want to ride again and again.

In recent years, the words “singer-songwriter” have become synonymous with the Ed Sheeran’s, Jack Johnson’s and Newton Faulkner’s of the world, yet wouldn’t it be nice to see this overriding opinion flipped on it’s head by the grittier tones of the likes of Jake Bugg, Miles Kane and Hanni El Khatib? If he keeps producing tunes like this, I know one of those names will be turning some heads.

Dan Oakey |

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