Being able to write a good pop song is difficult. Adding in elements of punk and blues with that is an even more mind blowing experience. Hanni El Khatib gracefully played his way on in to the music industry in 2011 with “Will the Guns Come Out.”
Khatib worked as a creative director for skateboarding company HUF, and has done many commercials as well. He knows how to sell something and he is definitely selling his music to us. The love and passion are there, along with the looks that make you feel really fucking cool.
You can feel elements of Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys pulsing through his music. Khatib and Dan met at a bar in Paris, couple of drinks later they were partnering up to work on Khatib’s latest album. It wouldn’t be an album by any Black Keys member if there were not any obnoxiously loud guitars. His newest album “Head in the Dirt” released on April 30, 2013 sounds as if Devendra Banhart, Jack White and Alex Turner created a little musical creature in a petri dish.
Head in the Dirt
This is the first song I heard off the album, and I immediately felt like I was listening to some weird unreleased Black Keys song. The influence of Dan is especially heavy in this song, from the vocal stylings to the way that the song feels a bit scattered even. My favorite part of this song is the guitar and drums in the beginning. They’re so harsh and in your face and give you this all around feeling of “fuck you, I’m gonna knock someone out tonight.” the instrumentals make you feel empowered exactly the way most punk music does. You feel like in those few minutes you can take on anyone and anything.
This tune could easily pass for a Devendra Banhart song, aside from the fact that El Khatib is not a Spanish sex god. It’s a cute little love song that can make any girl all giddy inside. It’s gleeful all around and the instruments are easily approachable and playful. It’s the softer of songs on this album and not terribly dangerous for a “rock” album. The strums of the bass in the beginning make me feel like a girl living in 50’s getting ready for a night at the local diner with my man. Although, the song lacks abrasiveness it’s still a fantastic tune to put on and keep the good times rollin’.
There’s a really weird and cryptic vibe that emanates from Khatib’s voice and instruments. The first thing I did when I heard this song was start doing a weird wave/worm with just my head. It’s groovy and kind of makes you want to just sit back look into the night sky and see what weird things you can see. It’s hard to tell if this is a song of love or if this is a song of him expressing saving someone from the horrible injustices of life. “Shake me like a dog in a pit-bull smile, hopefully she’ll let you go, if not I promise I will get you out.” Khatib has an interesting way with words. He is not overly dramatic, but gives you enough to want to hear the whole story.
Fuck it, You Win
Khatib parallels the very familiar and a bit whiny-screechy voice of Jack White with this tune. It’s a fantastic song because it channels that old bluesy rock style, with really loud percussion and grungy guitars. It makes you feel like getting out your nicest leather jacket you got at some shitty thrift store, slapping some pins on there and go out to the city and wreak some havoc. For me this song seems like the perfect anthem for young kids not giving a fuck and living their life rebelling against their uptight parents.
Khatib is singing of the city he is from, San Francisco. He seems resentful of it at first. Bashing it saying things like, “Our city’s made of garbage, our city’s made of fakes, our city’s made of monsters who just take, take, take.” Someone may ask how the hell could you hate San Francisco?! he makes up for it don’t worry. “She’s my garbage city.” starting with a very innocent and easy guitar he is essentially singing a love song about this place that made him the person he is today. The last minute Khatib gets rid of that acoustic guitar he is serenading us with in the beginning and brings in the loud obnoxious electric guitar with screechy sounds penetrating your ears and making you want to just flip the table you’re sitting at.