Best Albums of 2015
selected by Ali Eshqi

Aida Shahghasemi <BR>“Wind Between the Horse’s Ears”

Aida Shahghasemi
“Wind Between the Horse’s Ears”

Minneapolis-based Iranian singer, daf player (Iranian-Kurdish frame drum) and fashion artist Aida Shahghasemi moved to the USA 15 years ago at age of 13. But she’s kept her connection with Iranian culture, music and poetry.

Aida has been playing daf since the age of 13, and in 2003 she started singing seriously. She worked with Marketa Irglova as a daf player and offering backing vocals on Marketa’s records, and she also contributed to Glen Hansard’s debut album.

“Wind Between the Horse’s Ears” (نسیمی میان گوش‌های اسب) is her own debut full-length released last year, full of emotions, beauty and her heritage.

♪♫ Listen: “Ode to a Sorrowful Spring

Aida Shahghasemi on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Ali Porkar <BR>“Ağız Yemişi”

Ali Porkar
“Ağız Yemişi”

“Ağız Yemişi” (آغیز یئمیشی), which could be translated as “Mouth Food”, is the first rock album in Azeri-Turkish language published in Iran by the rock guitarist and singer Ali Porkar.

Influenced by Anatolian rock of Turkey, he successfully combines Azeri folk maqams with rock music.

Most of the lyrics from this new album are from Shahriar, the greatest Iranian-Azeri contemporary poet, including his most famous poem, “Heydar Baba”.

♪♫ Listen: “Yar Qasedi”

Ali Porkar on Facebook, Instagram, www.

Alireza Ashrafpour <BR>“Golku”

Alireza Ashrafpour

On his new album, “Golku” (گل‌کو), the guitar player Alireza Ashrafpour tries to reach his own sound by discovering Persian moods and filtering them with his experiences in different styles.

He uses lyrics of famous Iranian poets, classical and contemporary. In this album, talented musician and guitar player Pouya Mahmoudi has contributed as guest player and arranger.

♪♫ Listen: studio improvisation + album sampler

Alireza Ashrafpour on YouTube.

Bomrani <BR>“Makhraj Moshtarak”

“Makhraj Moshtarak”

Bomrani’s country and blues style has been developed to more energetic and lively styles in their 4th album, “Makhraj Moshtarak” (مخرج مشترک), or “Common Vent”.

Adding more cheerful instruments like clarinet, trombone, accordion, mandolin, banjo, jaw harp and harmonica and using funnier frameworks like bluegrass, waltz, reggae, ska, Balkan sound and rock ‘n roll, has helped to create a humorous and childish mood.

They also use funny, sometimes even sarcastic lyrics, that complete the entire atmosphere. For example lyrics of two songs are by Shel Silverstein, poet of bearded children; what exactly Bomrani produces: music for adult children.

♪♫ Listen: “Circus

Bomrani on Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube.

Chaartaar <BR>“Jaddeh Miraghsad

“Jaddeh Miraghsad

Chaartaar’s 2nd album was published at the end of the last summer, almost two years after their well-acclaimed debut, “Baaraan Toee” (“You Are the Rain”).

The folk electronica quartet’s new effort titled “Jaddeh Miraghsad” (جاده می‌رقصد), or “The Road Dances”, has received positive feedback from both their fans and critics. After it was released, they started touring and performing in various cities.

Like many new musicians, they blend Iranian traditional singing style with Western music, but unlike many of them they use electronic beats and new age sounds instead of rock or jazz company, and that attracts many young people.

♪♫ Listen: “Accidental Presence

Chaartar on Facebook, Instagram, www.

Christophe Rezai <BR>“What’s the Time in Your World?”

Christophe Rezai
“What’s the Time in Your World?”

Original soundtrack of “What’s the Time in Your World” (“در دنیای تو ساعت چند است؟”), a love story that happens in green Northern Iran, is composed by Tehran-based French-Iranian musician, Christophe Rezai, who has a role in the movie as well.

Considering the romantic and poetic vibe of the movie, he has borrowed familiar romantic folk tunes from different parts of the world, mostly Russian and Latin American melodies.

Christophe Rezai has transformed these inspirations into chanson-like songs that fit the scenes of the acclaimed movie very well. Watch and listen.

♪♫ Listen: “Qui c’est?” + movie trailer

Christophe Rezai on Facebook.

Daarkoob <BR>“Nokoob”


Daarkoob (meaning Woodpecker) is a collective side project of Homayoun Nasiri, a professional multi-percussionist who works constantly as a studio and live musician with numerous bands and artists in almost all styles. The other members of the band are all musicians busy with their own projects.

Daarkoob formed in 2007 with the idea of “blending rhythms of different regions of Iran and other parts of the world with other instruments, considering the musical and rhythmic quality of each region, in order to create a new form and style”.

“Nokoob” (نوکوب) is their third album. The singer appearing in the song “Toroshroo” from this album is Ali Zand Vakili, a traditional Iranian singer, and he’s accompanied by Reza Koolaghani from Damahi and Hamidreza Torkashvand.

♪♫ Listen: “Toroshroo

Daarkoob on Facebook, Instagram, www.

Damahi <BR>“Damahi”


Damahi is a band of musicians from Tehran and southern city of Bandar Abbas by the Persian Gulf. Their self-titled world fusion debut is a blend of southern rhythms and melodies of Hormozgan province on the coast of Persian Gulf, groovy bass lines and jazzy electric piano smoothed with gloomy oud melodies and words in Bandari dialect.

Damahi translate southern folk songs to the contemporary form, which is familiar and new at the same time. For example, “Mahalleye Khamooshan” (محله خاموشان), or “Neighborhood of Sleepers” is based on a folk song by Nasrok, an old wandering lyricist from more than half century ago who was putting people’s life into folk songs.

This well-arranged song gets its soul from oud riffs and melodies played by Ebrahim Alavi and the deep and warm voice of Reza Koolaghani. If you like it, you’ll love the whole album.

♪♫ Listen: “Mahalleye Khamooshan

Damahi on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

Homayoun Shajarian & Sohrab PourNazeri <BR>“The Lords of Secrets”

Homayoun Shajarian & Sohrab PourNazeri
“The Lords of Secrets”

Collaboration of the famous traditional singer Homayoun Shajarian with Sohrab PourNazeri and his group brought one of last year’s most acclaimed albums, “The Lords of Secrets” (خداوندگار اسرار).

As the second generation of traditional musicians (both sons of great masters), they tried to bring up something new by putting together traditional and folk music, using different type of percussions and giving more depth by adding bass lines.

♪♫ Listen: “One Life and Hundred Sighs

Homayoun Shajarian on Facebook, www.

Jajo <BR>“Sambal”


Jajo is a new and almost unknown singer from the city of Mashhad in north-east Iran, who recently came to the scene with his first album, “Sambal” (سَمبَل).

He sings classical poems mixing them with rock, blues and swing music, which is a trend that has been getting quite popular in Iran during the last decade.

The song Roozgar is a “fusion of Khorasani and blues music” that at the end dissolves into Pink Panther Theme. Also the theme of the song To Nisti, is borrowed from Bob Dylan’s Man Gave Name to All the Animals.

♪♫ Listen: “Roozegar

Jajo on www.

Mahsa Vahdat <BR>“Traces of an Old Vineyard”

Mahsa Vahdat
“Traces of an Old Vineyard”

For over 20 years, Mahsa Vahdat has been exploring the tradition of Iran while collaborating with musicians from around the world.

For her new album, “Traces of an Old Vineyard”, she invited Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen to accompany her interpretations of Iranian poetry.

“Even though we belong to different musicial traditions, we easily find each other. When I play with Tord or rehearse with him, I enjoy every second, it lifts me and my musical expression,” she told us in an interview.

♪♫ Listen: “Vanishing Lines

Mahsa Vahdat on Facebook, www.

Minus1 <BR>“Science of Rain”

“Science of Rain”

Alternative rock band from city of Mashhad formed in 2007, Minus1 have been influenced by Radiohead, Tool and Muse.

They describe themselves as “an alternative rock with Oriental themes mainly driven from traditional and folk music of Iran.” Their third album, “Science of Rain” (علم باران), came out at the end of 2015

♪♫ Listen: album preview

Minu1 on Facebook, www.

Moonhead <BR>“Event Horizon”

“Event Horizon”

Moonhead is a post-rock band from the city of Rasht in northern Iran, formed in 2011 with psychedelic electronic approach to music influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Bjork and Kwoon.

They are a collective band with core members working with several guest musicians. “Moonhead is a place to come together,” they say. Moonhead’s first album, “Event Horizon” (افق رویداد) was published on very last days of 2015.

♪♫ Listen: “Sip of Pain

Moonhead on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

Pallett <BR>“Tehran, Smile!”

“Tehran, Smile!”

Pallett’s second album, “Tehran, Smile!” (شهر من بخند!), came out after three years of waiting and made the band’s fans happy.

Like the previous record, “Mr. Violet”, Persian singing style of Omid Nemati is accompanied by a World orchestra with a rock-jazzy touch.

One more special thing about this album is that it’s centered around the city of Tehran as its main character.

♪♫ Listen: “The Roof of Tehran

Pallett on Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube, www.

Quartet Diminished  <BR> “Station One”

Quartet Diminished
“Station One”

“Station One” (ایستگاه یک) is definitely one of the most innovative albums published in 2015 in Iran. It’s a result of contribution of four musicians with jazz, rock and classical backgrounds.

They discover new sounds by using all potential of their instruments without being stocked in a specific style, although inspired by contemporary European jazz, 70s art rock, avant-garde and ritual folk.

In this album they stepped out of the clichés of a jazz quartet. In “Yelemsi” soprano sax and drum resemble sorna and dohol (Middle-Eastern wind instrument and drum) while piano and guitar follow them with their classical and psychedelic approach. All of this brings a distinct, consolidated sound.

♪♫ Listen: “Yelemsi

Quartet Diminished on Facebook, YouTube, www.

Rusted Doors <BR>“Tale of a Departure”

Rusted Doors
“Tale of a Departure”

Iranian post-rock band Rusted Doors’ first studio album, “Tale of a Departure” (روایت یک مرگ), came out just recently in December.

In this 8-track instrumental album (with just one vocal track), beside post-rock they explore other styles of rock and electronic music.

For example, in the song “Memories of a Ghost” Iranian motifs have been played by setar, Iranian 4-string long-neck lute.

♪♫ Listen: “Memories of a Ghost

Rusted Doors on Soundcloud, Facebook.

Siavash Amini <BR>“Subsiding”

Siavash Amini

Siavash Amini, a talented Tehran-based electronic musician, published his sixth full-length album on November.

On “Subsiding”, he goes deeper and deeper into ambient and drone music with his special obsession in building up textures of noises.

At the same time, the poetic side of his work is, as always, undeniable. Influenced by Western contemporary classical music and metal he projects his thoughts and visions with noise and sound.

♪♫ Listen: “Subsiding

Siavash Amini on Soundcloud, Facebook.

Terio Merio <BR>“Ahanghaye Musa”

Terio Merio
“Ahanghaye Musa”

Terio Merio is a Shiraz-based contemporary trio (guitar, violin, bass and vocal) with a truly poetic approach to music.

Their first album, “Ahanghaye Musa” (آهنگ‌های موسا), meaning “Ballads of Musa”, is based on Reza Zahed’s book of poems called “Books of Musa Mar’ashi”.

Actually they’ve made music for the poems. Jazzy electric guitar, melancholic violin melodies and reciting with a deep and cold voice – have made the whole sound quite mesmerizing.

♪♫ Listen: “South Of The River

Terio Merio on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.