Best Tracks of 2018
selected by Mosiki

Abdullah Siddiqui

Abdullah Siddiqui has emerged as one of the most exciting and talented young artists to break out of the electronic scene. While at first he seemed to struggle at finding his sound, it seems that he’s found a groove that works for him. Resistance is a beguiling song that shines with pop polish, but then shows its teeth and snarls at you. The bass churns underneath as Siddiqui contemplates ‘where the hell did I go wrong?’ His pitch-perfect voice clashes brilliantly with the rumbling production underneath. The message here is clear: this is not your average pop song.

Abdullah Siddiqui on Facebook, Instagram.

Adil Omar (+ Elliphant, Shaman Durek, SNKM) “Revelations”

One of the standout tracks from Adil Omar’s album ‘Transcendence’, Revelations is a testament to Omar’s talents as a producer, and his ear for infectious melodies. The animalistic ‘HOO HAA’s that introduce the track, the stunning chorus, the chunky synths, delicate keys, Omar’s confident raps, all culminate to form a track that’s not only fun and dance-able, but musically complex enough to warrant multiple listens. This is one for the party playlists.

Adil Omar on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Biryani Brothers
“Ikisvi Sadi”

There have been a number of throwback sounds that have weaved their way into tracks this year. Nostalgic cheesy synths from the 80’s, huge gated drums, 90’s disco etc. On Ikisvi Sadi, Biryani Brothers, aka Natasha Noorani and Zahra Paracha have managed to craft something that feels like it was pieced together from the past, but is nonetheless totally at home in the present. Natasha Noorani’s ethereal vocal floats through the track, and Zahra Paracha’s production only ever improves. She sprinkles some beautiful horns in at the end before both singers duet with each other, a little bit of magic that’ll have you pressing repeat, repeat, repeat.

Biryani Brothers on Facebook, Twitter.


While hip hop is still maturing in Pakistan with artists experimenting heavily with trap music, a collective of ‘rogue dakus’, as they call themselves, are making some of the strangest, trippiest hip hop I’ve ever heard. This is not accessible stuff at all, but that makes it all the more exciting. The collective, made up of illmandar (who released a utterly brilliant track last year called Gilgiti Hills), Li’l chutney, and Innashah, plunder their samples from such a diverse pool of influences that it makes your head spin. There’s a looped sample of Dasht-e-Tanhai in here, pitch-shifted so it sounds terrifying and paranoid. The entire track is like something out of a bad trip, with musical elements popping up, scaring you, then disappearing again. This hip-hop collective is for sure one to look out for in 2019.

DAKUS on Soundcloud.

Garam Anday
“Maa Behen Ka Danda”

Anger has emancipatory potential. Just getting really pissed off, snapping and being totally unwilling to adhere to the status quo is freeing. Maa Behen Ka Danda by Karachi outfit Garam Anday is the embodiment of this anger-as-catharsis idea. Their guitars sound punk, rough and raw around the edges, the chorus is bellowed out like a call to arms.

Garam Anday on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Imam Hamdani
“Bhaaga Re”

The last we heard from Imam Hamdani was when he was one third of the indie-pop band Teeen, that released one of my favourite EPs. Bhaaga Re continues in the tradition of Teeen: blissfully chilled out, lush compositions, stunning guitar work. There’s a whistle sound that interjects every now and then, like a whistle being put through an auto-tune – it’s a nice touch. In a switch of roles, Hamdani here takes control of the mic while Sara Haider provides the background vocals. His voice is soft and fragile, almost like it might get swept off in a heavy breeze but it fits wonderfully here, giving the track a softness and a feeling of nostalgia.

Imam Hamdani on Soundcloud, Instagram.

Janoobi Khargosh

On the subject of throwback sounds, Janoobi Khargosh is one of those musical outfits that just seems to exist outside of time. Waleed Ahmed, the architect behind the project, focuses here on simplicity of lyrics and simplicity of melody, then adding layer upon layer of sonic goodness until we get One. If you were to cut into this track, you’d be cutting for a while. Delicious.

Janoobi Khargosh on Facebook, Instagram.


We’ve talked a bit in this list about rock feeling out of date, and about how artists have tried to update it, either with adding electronic flourishes or psychedelic elements. But with Toofan, Karakoram fully lean into the genre, unabashedly embracing a traditional rock sound. The guitars are loud and powerful, the drums are crashing, and Sherry Khattak’s vocals are, like the title, an impressive storm. It’s a impeccably solid song, and the one thing is clear: rock isn’t going anywhere.

Karakoram on Facebook, Instagram.


It’s never easy for a band after winning a national competition like Pepsi Battle of the Bands. Coming out of the corporate cocoon, they have to begin crafting their own identity, merging who they were before the competition with the newfound popularity they’ve gained after it. Kashmir has managed to do this admirably, and maybe that’s because they have impressive range as a band. They can go slow, ambient, and introspective on something like Khwab, and then put out a glittering pop number like Pareshaniyan. Produced by Xulfi, there’s a perfect amount of bouncy summer vibes in here. The drum beat is uplifting, the guitars sound like they bathed in sunshine before recording. Bilal Ali’s vocal stretches across his range, the falsetto sounding particularly great here. Pareshaniyan is one of the most uplifting and pretty songs of the year. If 2018 treated you badly, this is the pick-me-up you need.

Kashmir on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Laqeer Ke Faqeer and SomeWhatSuper
“Mithu Donda”

Husband-wife duo Mariam Shams and Shams Gondal prove themselves to be gifted songwriters with their debut single Mithu Donda, crafting a narrative around two young children from different ends of the socio-economic spectrum. SomeWhatSuper provide their production chops, merging together their talents at creating stadium-filling electronic sound with rock guitars. These days rock in Pakistan can feel like it’s out of date and stale, but both Laqeer Ke Faqeer and SomeWhatSuper manage to avoid this pitfall, making Mithu Donda a rock anthem that feels right at home in 2018.

Laqeer Ke Faqeer on Facebook.

Mehdi Maloof
“Gandi Si Building”

Whenever Mehdi Maloof drops a track, you better sit up and listen. He hardly ever releases music, but whenever he has, it’s been incredible. Do Hi Rastay Hain is already a classic; 1947 glimmers with hope and profound sadness. Gandi Si Buildingis another showcase of Maloof’s incredible songwriting abilities. It’s funny, thought-provoking, a little bit mad.

If you asked Maloof, he’d probably say it really is just a song about a gandi si building that he lived in, not any big commentary about Pakistan, or society, or whatever. Nevertheless, whatever his intentions, Gandi Si Building was one of the first tracks to make it onto this list. The track fizzes with a jazzy composition that, when married to those lyrics, is irresistible. More music in 2019 please, Mr. Maloof.

Mehdi Maloof on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Poor Rich Boy
“Almost Tuesday”

If you’re a fan of Sufjan Stevens, you’ll love this. Poor Rich Boy songs always carry the feeling of impeccable craft, that even when the songs get loose in their composition, it’s all purposefully done. On Almost Tuesday, they sound as melancholic as ever but some electronic elements creep in here too, a keyboard staccato in the background, underlined with electric guitars.

What starts off as an expected Poor Rich Boy folk song turns into something darker, more introspective and weird. ‘It’s almost Tuesday’, sings lead vocalist Umer Khan, but you also get the feeling he’s been waiting for that Tuesday all his life.

Poor Rich Boy on Facebook, Twitter.

“To Ja!”

This almost 8 minute long epic from Karachi band Rushk is such a blast to listen to. The band is unabashedly experimental here, shifting tones and genres with gleeful abandon, enjoying the freedom that an 8-minute track provides. It’s a huge canvas, and the band paints a gigantic soundscape. There are anthems where grungy guitars crash into one another, and delicate moments where Nazia Zuberi is able to thread the needle with her voice. It’s a brilliant showcase of musical ability and freedom in composition.

Rushk on Facebook.


Saakin’s rendition of Shams Tabrizi’s Saqi-E-Bawafa is one of the standout singles from this year, merging together a jazzier production style while maintaining the spiritual power of the piece. The band know when to be delicate, and when to let loose, resulting in a track that takes you on a special journey. Not to be missed.

Saakin on Facebook, Instagram.

Sail Into Night

This one is for shoegaze fans. Pakistani duo Nabil Qizilbash and Zara Mahmood, aka Sail Into Night, create a beautiful sonic texture on their latest single Glass. The repetitive guitar riff stretches out over the song, like a road running out into the horizon, while ambient guitars buzz nearby in a haze of sound. The vocals take a back seat here as they meditate about lost connections: ‘I’ve been waiting all night long / when you come back home…’ If you let it wash over you, Glass is a deeply affecting track, emanating that sunset glow of regret and expectation, all at the same time.

Sail Into Night on Facebook, Instagram.

Shamoon Ismail

It’s been an interesting year for Shamoon Ismail. 2018 has seen the Islamabad artist at his most creatively expressive, shifting colours like a chameleon. Basanti was a sultry Punjabi R&B slowjam, Sapne was a mainstream pop ballad. Then the whole thing with Bilal Khan happened. But on Marijuana, Ismail shows just how talented he is at different genres. The song is wonderfully simple, his vocals sincere and soft, the composition is nothing flashy. But it all coheres into a great and infinitely repeatable pop song, an ode to hash. We were a bit worried that this was just recency bias (the song only released 10 days ago on December 6th) but this has been on constant rotation since, and will be for a long time.

Shamoon Ismail on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


With Snails, Lahore-based singer songwriter Shorbanoor goes down an R&B route. While before he was more used to bellowing out lyrics, here he picks up a delicate falsetto.

The track really comes into its own as it progresses: the composition gets looser, jazzier, and Noor repeats the double-meaning lyric ‘I don’t know why I don’t care’. He complains that he doesn’t ‘feel it the same way like I used to’, but if he keeps making music like this, maybe that’s a good thing.

Shorbanoor on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Talal Qureshi feat. Naseebo Lal

I never thought I’d hear Naseebo Lal acting as a hype MC but this is 2018, Imran Khan is PM, Trump is in the White House, anything can happen. What’s not up for debate though, is that Talal Qureshi has made the certified Banger of the Year (TM) with Aag. As soon as you hear that ‘BEAT TE TALAL UH!’ you know you’re in for something wild. Qureshi’s production is suitably bombastic and over the top, and perfectly suits Naseebo Lal’s larger-than-life delivery here. It’s so. Much. Fun. Speakers on fire, guaranteed.

Talal Qureshi on FacebookInstagramTwitter.

The Sketches feat. Natasha Humera Ejaz “Bol”

The Sketches did a phenomenal job on the soundtrack for this year’s Pakistani film ‘Cake‘, and Bol, featuring Natasha Humera Ejaz, was one of the standouts. There are so many nice little flourishes here: that infectious bassline that bounces around, the strummed strings that almost act like percussion, and Ejaz’s impeccable vocal just elevates the track even further.

Bol brilliantly fuses a modern sound with the traditional without ever feeling forced, or even like it’s trying at all. It’s effortless stuff from The Sketches. When the whistle comes in, you know they’re enjoying it just as much as we are. Stream it here.

The Sketches on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Ziyad feat. Lady Midnight
“Behind uU”

This track might only be 2 minutes long, but it has sunk itself into my brain and refuses to leave. It’s a showcase of Karachi-based Ziyad’s talents as a producer. The way the track immediately sets up an atmosphere with those odd meandering keys, before slipping into a chaotic percussive segment. Behind Uu constantly catches you off guard, weaving one way before unexpectedly steering the other. Lady Midnight’s vocals are perfectly mysterious, layering on top of each other in a way that feels uncanny and off-balance. The way the drums lurch in at 1.26 gets me every time. If you like it, we urge you to check out the full album.

Ziyad on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.