Best Tracks of 2015

Ali Suhail

Possibly one of the hardest-working musicians in Karachi, Ali Suhail gave us not one but two releases last year, “Desolve” and “Defragment“. And it’s not the only thing he’s been doing recently (see below).

Published one right after another in May, both EPs are worth giving them at least a few spins. But among the more experimental endeavours the second track from “Defragment” particularly stands out not just because of its Chinese/Japanese title: “停止”, meaning “Stop”. Just like the name it’s concise, direct, and memorable.

Still we hope the 27 year old artist won’t stop here and that 2016 brings a follow-up to his two previous full-length efforts, “Words From Boxes” and “Journal Entries”.

Ali Suhail on Bandcamp, SoundcloudFacebookTwitter.

Arooj Aftab

Arooj Aftab processes the Sufi tradition through an open-minded approach to sonic matter, reminiscent of jazz improvisation, and a contemporary production that does not shy away from incorporating subtle electronic undertones.

With this method, the Lahore-born, Brooklyn-based artist completely reworks classical Pakistani and North Indian forms, like thumri, khayal, and kafi. With those broad inspirations, she creates a fascinating mix of sounds and cultures.

The five compositions on Aftab’s debut album, “Bird Under Water“, dazzle with detailed arrangements and mesmerizing ambience. The music floats through the air with a particular kind of lightness and poise. Feel its elegant movement and let yourself sink in.

Arroj Aftab on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp.

E Sharp
“Kya Maine Socha”

Karachi-based quartet’s debut album, “Bahadur Yaar Jung”, finally came out in spring last year will its magnificent 21 tracks and clocking over 70 minutes.

It’s not easy to pick just one song from this multifaceted record, but the band helped us releasing a video for “Kya Maine Socha”, which is also their first official clip ever. Starting with just a single vocal line and acoustic guitar, the song grows emotionally with every bar, as does the beautiful vocal harmony.

A former cover band, E Sharp have learnt all the secrets of their long gone idols and now can make them work for themselves. And by the way, they’ve just started sharing new music.

E Sharp on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Faris Shafi
“Jawab Dey”

One of Islamabad’s most notable rappers, Faris Shafi has been making rap music every now and then for a few years now. His 2015 song “Jawab De” went viral online within 24 hours after it was released.

Produced by well known producer Talal Qureshi, Faris Shafi’s song is food for thought. “Jawab De” loosely translates to “Answer Me”, and it’s a quest for answers as to why the country is facing such grave problems.

“What’s the cause of all of this chaos? Must I ask these questions over and over again till my last breath,” asks Faris in the song. “Someone stop this madness, this slaughter, these bombs. This useless war.”

Faris Shafi on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.

Natasha On Cloud

After recently moving to Karachi from Islamabad, Natasha Ejaz has become an integral part of this city’s music scene. This beautiful track was the first song from her four-track EP called “Till The End of Time“.

Jazz has been an inspiration for her since she was a child, and this is pretty apparent in her music, as both the general atmosphere and the structure of her songs give a pop-jazz vibe.

The sweet melody of “Raqeeb” will have you singing along to the ‘para-pa’ parts, even if you don’t understand the language in the rest of the song. The word “Raqeeb” has multiple meanings but it can be loosely translated to jealous lover – or caretaker.

Natasha On Cloud on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook.

Poor Rich Boy
“Thinking Heart”

2015 was quite a year for the Lahore-based indie band. On the one hand, Poor Rich Boy’s original line-up broke up and Shehzad Noor started his solo career (more about it below).

On the other hand, the group finally had a chance to perform at SXSW being part of the first ever Pakistani representation at the festival, along with bands like Haroon, The Mekaal Hassan Band, Mai Dhai, Khumariyaan and Sain Tanveer Brothers.

Then there was Poor Rich Boy’s final release in the original line-up, a beautiful 6-track EP called “We Are Your Friends“. Its closing track and one of the highlights, “Thinking Heart” also received a video treatment in March and stayed with us for the rest of the year.

And finally some very good news: they’re back in the studio.

Poor Rich Boy on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud.

Shamoon Ismail

One year after her departure, Shamoon Ismail wrote his latest single, “Jawab”, in memory of his mother. A touching ballad on an emotional level, musically “Jawab” is an example of the “less is more” rule’s everlasting power.

With not much more than a steady beat and a single vocal line – there’s a reason Shamoon tagged it under “ambient” – the song still manages to keep your attention for 6 minutes and actually makes you surprised it ends so soon.

The Islamabad-based artist has been around for a while, but he still feels like a very new artist on the Pakistani scene. And someone who might still surprise with his future releases, hopefully with less dramatic motives.

Shamoon Ismail on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, www.


Among the first Pakistani groups we introduced on beehype was the group Poor Rich Boy and that’s where we first heard the voice of Shehzad Noor – and learned about his songwriting talent.

In 2015, he officially started his solo career with the release of “Sulphur Man”, an album that deservedly appeared in local end-of-year lists. But while everyone was still talking about that release, Shehzad gave us another release called “Panic Sleep“.

The 6-track EP appeared at the beginning of the new year, and it was preceded by “Merchant”, a haunting folk hymn that presents the Lahore-based artist as an attentive performer and arranger.

After a few bars you might find yourself being taken somewhere far away quite without your knowledge. But you’ll soon discover that’s where you always wanted to be taken.

Shorbanoor on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Sikandar Ka Mandar

One of Karachi’s biggest indie talents, Sikandar Ka Mandar have been combining successful touring with work on the follow-up of their self-titled album.

If their fantastic September single, “Baaghi”, is a good indication of the new material, there’s a big premiere coming up this year. it combines rock vigor with great vocal themes and, luckily, not English lyrics, and as a whole brings some fresh air into the timeworn genre.

Let us mention the song has been produced by Ali Suhail (look up) and Usama Siddiqui (see below), and then there’s a very particular video directed by the band’s frontman, Nadir Shahzad.

Sikandar Ka Mandar on Facebook, Soundcloud, Bandcamp.

Usama Siddiq
“My Only Crime”

This old-school track from UK-based Pakistani singer-songwriter Usama Siddiq was part of his three-song EP titled “Crossroads“. This grungy-blues sound is a refreshing contribution to Pakistan’s DIY music scene which mostly comprises of indie-rock and folk.

Siddiq, who is also part of a local prog-rock band called the D/A method, worked on this solo EP with bandmate Umair Dar who played guitar on one of the songs and produced all three songs.

Very Muddy-Waters-meets-Eddie-Vedder in its sound and atmosphere, “My Only Crime” is a great promise for Siddiq’s upcoming debut album, “Back to the Basics”, on of the new releases we’re looking forward to this year.

Usama Siddiq on Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube.

Zamad Baig
“Dil Ishq Ishq”

It happens rarely, but every now and then some of the Idol-type programmes around the world bring us a talent who completely deserves all the media hype he or she is getting.

Zamad Baig is a young Lahore-based singer and guitarist who won the first season of the Pakistan Idol, to a large extent thanks to audience’s support.

What made him stand out, was the right mix of individual singing gift and right inspirations, which include traditional music heroes like Reshma and the famous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. On of his very first original songs, “Dil Ishq Ishq”, has been also featured in the television drama “Dil Ishq”.

This track might be the main, or maybe even the only reason to turn on the TV. But fortunately, these days we can as well keep it off and just enjoy the music.

Zamad Baig on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

Zoe Viccaji
“Jaanay Do”

Karachi-based singer-songwriter Zoe Viccaji, whom we interviewed a while ago, has been involved in music since her childhood, and playing guitar since the age of fifteen.

But only two years ago she released her debut album, “Dareeche”. Released at the end of 2015, her new single “Jaanay Do” is quite a change from this previous material and Zoe’s very own take on classic disco/funk atmosphere.

The track was produced and co-written by Mubashir Admani, and we can only wonder if it’s a good indication of what Zoe upcoming new EP might sound like.

Zoe Viccaji on Soundcloud, FacebookTwitter.