Thursday, August 8, 2013

Album Review: Hanni El Khatib -Head In the Dirt

Hanni El Khatib
Head In The Dirt
**** out of *****

The LA Based artists second album continues his fascination with stripped down garage rock but more in a vein of '00's artist like The Black Keys and White Stripes then obscure one hit wonders from years past. This distinction could come from the album's producer Dan Auerbach who continues to help artists reach a satisfying result of lo-fi rumble and pop catchiness.  

While the producer deserves a mention this is Khatib's album. The strutting opening title track kicks everything off in a confident fashion before "Family" blasts with punk power and stripped down greatness. That straight ahead catchy appeal is all over this disk. "Penny" is the most pop laden track with upbeat organ, plinking piano and sweet lyrics; for an artist who may not be widely known a track like this could vault him to fame. 

"Nobody Move" is simple, straight, ripping if not that much more then a riff and a phrase. This is a trait the weaker tracks like "Pay No Mind" have a habit of becoming; one note phrases that never elevate to much more then their initial thought. That said the intention was never to rewrite rock, this is basic stuff all around, songs rarely break 3 minutes, and Head In The Dirt is better off for it.

"Save Me" flashes a quick Bo Diddley beat while disk closer "House On Fire" mixes Hanni's bluesy singing style with a lone guitar to start before amping up the instrumentation and energy, smashing to a rewarding finish.  

Unlike say The Oblivians (who we reviewed earlier this week) you don't have to dig deep to see Hanni El Khatib's influence's, they are some of the biggest bands of the last decade. Having his friend Dan Auerbach produce was a genius move and while we have been semi critical of The Black Keys in the past, it is hard to argue with Auerbach's pretty fucking perfect track record as a producer. This one wins again and for fans of catchy simple rock Head In The Dirt is a must have.

Buy the Album here, catch him live here, and peep a few samples below and by the way he makes some really great videos:


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