The (r)Evolving Kominas

A belated Christmas present for all y’all for this #MusicMonday – our oft written about friends The Kominas have released an (almost) self-titled album called “Kominas.” If you thought the previous albums were too punk/too political/too “taqwacore” for you – then it is time to give the band a second chance – this album might just be for you. With a more Desi-rock sound, gritty riffs, lo-fi vocals and lyrics taking a back seat, the band’s path has turned and taken on a new sound. Gone are the sing-along playfully raunchy hooks, this album is all about the bass line and dirty drum beats.

The band members of The Kominas have shifted to not only to now include the duo from Sunny Ali and the Kid, but also in instrumental roles – three of the four bandmates take a turn on the mic for this album. With multiple talents acting as the driving force between music and lyrics, the album is eclectic and completely different sounding from anything previously released by The Kominas. People have been saying that their sound has “matured” but instead, I feel the new album better reflects the skills and sounds of the new band members trying collaborate and create a new cohesive sound (Basim Usmani is the only original band member that remains from 2005).

Don’t just take my word for it. Follow the link here to the megaupload site to download the album. And if you are too chicken to download the album before listening to a song – here’s the demo to Ren, a song off of the new album.

Frankly put, it sounds like our punks have evolved – they just may be growing up.

The Donkeys Rock

It always surprises me when I find a band that is really good that should have been on my radar a long time ago. The Donkeys are on their third album release, Born with Stripes. The song below, Don’t Know Who We Are, is a single off of this album and my selection for today’s #MusicMonday.

But like California, the real-life Donkeys (best friends from Southern California, Timothy DeNardo, Jessie Gulati, Anthony Lukens and Sam Sprague) are much more… real. If their backstory contains those top-down cars and suntanned utopian surf tableaus, it also contains the malaise and the escape fantasies familiar to all suburban kids of the 80s and 90s. Miraculously, the music manages to comfortably communicate both moods at once. [deadoceans]

Turns out the making of this album was side tracked just a little bit when guitarist Jessie went to India for sitar lessons. The influence can now be heard on sitar influenced tracks “West Coast Raga” and “East Coast Raga” peppered throughout the album.  Check out The Donkeys on facebook and at their site. And let me know what you think!

Scared for Her Life and Other Stories of Hate [UPDATED]

UPDATED Dec 21, 2011: Looks like Aisha Khan was found and that some of you skeptical commentators were right all along. We will keep you posted as the story develops.

According to Overland Park police, officers made contact with her Wednesday afternoon. She was not abducted or held against her will. Police said there is no criminal investigation. [nbc]

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Are you in Kansas? Pay attention to this photo. Her name is Aisha Khan and she’s missing.

I can’t shake the chills her story gives me. She’s petite, 19 yrs old, newly wed and a college student. Her sister dropped Aisha off at 10am on her college campus so that she could prep for her noon final. But she never made it to her final.

Aisha Khan … has been missing since Friday morning. That is when her older sister said she left frantic text messages with her about a drunken man on the Edwards Campus she described as “creepy.” Faiza Khan said she dropped Aisha off at the campus around 10 a.m. Friday ahead of a noon final. The text messages started arriving within an hour.

 

“There’s a creepy guy that just came up to me, and he was harassing me,” Faiza said her younger sister told her in a message. She told local media outlets that Aisha “was just freaking out at that time. She didn’t know what to do. I guess she pushed him and she slapped him.” [cjonline]

 

I can’t count how many times I’ve been creeped out by harassing men – it often feels that as a woman in the American public we have to brace ourselves for street harassment. But Aisha is a girl in hijab – I can only imagine that her harasser must have said something really islamophobic and sexist to have deserved a slap. Finally, there’s the voicemail message she left her sister.

“Oh my gosh it was so scary,” Aisha said in her voice message. “My heart is like pounding. I’ve never got this scared in my life. Pick up your phones. I am freaked out right now.”

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‘Skewed Demographic’ Highlights Bone Marrow Disparity

The online art exhibit Skewed Demographic brings together artists to address the racial disparity in the bone marrow registry. Each piece in the online gallery is being auctioned off with proceeds going towards processing bone marrow testing kits.

Photographers Shirin Adhami and Sunita Prasad curated the show in honor of Photojojo founder Amit Gupta and other South Asian leukemia patients. Adhami first met Amit Gupta when both were undergraduates at Amherst College a decade ago. When Gupta first announced his diagnosis and his need for a bone marrow donor, Adhami was one of his many friends who rallied to action.

“Personally, I was working on doing drives and I was thinking of doing a more symbolic gesture,” said Adhami during a recent phone interview. “How could I reach an audience that maybe couldn’t donate marrow? How could it be more than a request for money?”

Adhami decided to put the call out to her contacts to see if they would be willing to donate their work to the cause. “The idea is photo-based, but the artists are not necessarily all photographers. The inspiration is really from Amit’s photo interest,” she said. “There were times that I have not even realized I was using one of his inventions until much later. He has really affected the photo world with Photojojo.”

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The One Stop Jihadi Superstore

With all this controversy around the One Stop Jihadi Superstore aka Lowes, (as Aasif Mandvi oh so eloquently put it in this Daily Show bit) and their caving to a Christian fringe extremist organization (as Phillygrrl blogged about here), it was only a matter of time before the ads that were pulled off air for the TLC show All American-Muslim took the viral airwaves. Exclusively for Sepia Mutiny mutineers, we were able dig up one of these lost commercials starring former Outsourced stars Rizwan Manji & Parvesh Cheena.

As the token Muslim mutineer, I will attest, my folks also have holiday lights up at their house, I buy candy canes and we even mail out holiday cards. This parody ain’t so far from the truth. Happy holidays, from our mutiny to yours!!

P.S – Continue to boycott, sign petitions and write letters to Lowes – it’s been a week and they still haven’t come up with an acceptable response. And while you are at, boycott the website Kayak.com too for their backhanded apology for pulling their ads off the show. But do support Russel Simmons and all his business ventures for buying ad space when no other corporations were willing to.

Why This?

I’m not one to follow pop hit music trends in India – but this one is getting a little bit too big to avoid. I briefly peeped the song a few weeks ago, didn’t think much of it. But people can’t stop tweeting about it. Now, Tigerstyle did a Bhangra remix of it, there’s a dubstep remix of it, acoustic covers of it, and my favorite, the soothing soulful R&B remix. There are now over 20 million hits to the YouTube video for this song! Am I missing something? Why this song so popular?

Why This Kolaveri Di (Why This Murderous Rage, Girl?) is an Indian song from the soundtrack of the upcoming Tamil film 3, which is due to be released in 2012… The song was officially released on 16 November 2011, and it instantly became viral on social networking sites for its quirky “Tanglish” (portmanteau word of Tamil and English) lyrics.Soon, the song became the most searched YouTube video in India. Within a few weeks, YouTube honored the track with a Gold Award for getting the most number of hits. [wiki]

 

My favorite to all this is how slapped together the song is – they were looking for a playful love song and wrote this in about twenty minutes. And bhas, sensation!

“When I was writing down the lyrics, I kept in mind all the English words that are used in the Tamil vocabulary. Words like I, you, me, how, why, cow.. I just framed them into sentences and thats how I came up with the song,” said Dhanush, who also penned down the lyrics of the song. [TOI]

 

So here you go – Why This Kolaveri Di to get stuck in your head for today’s #MusicMonday. With enough remixes to last you the month. I’m going to get started on the Banglish remix of this song ASAP.

Lowes Protects All Americans from Dumb Reality Shows

Dear Lowes,

I am writing to thank you for pulling advertising from TLC’s All-American Muslim. On behalf of myself and all other dumb-reality-television-hating folks, I want to express my gratitude for your efforts to make American reality television as transparent as possible. As a longtime Lowes consumer, I am proud to know that my hardware store cares enough about the community to influence the content of its television shows. You’re making history by taking home improvement to a whole new level.

I fervently hope you are the first in a long line of businesses to protest the Kim Kardashianesque shows that constitute American programming. (I mean honestly, if All-American Muslim mother-daughter Lila and Suehaila get into any more wedding-planning shenanigans about Shadia’s nuptials, I’m gonna scream.) For far too long, ‘reality television’ has been attempting to force-feed us citizens a brand of dumbed-down reality that simply doesn’t exist.  I admire you for taking a stand and saying, ‘No more fakery! No more family drama! No more idiotic reality shows!’

When I learned that the Florida Family Association sent out an email alert on December 6th that stated, “All-American Muslim is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values,” I never imagined you, my hardware store would cave in be influenced by the voices of a small number of ordinary Americans.   Continue reading

Traveling with the Dewarists

The hunt for the perfect song never ends and I remember last time I was traveling South Asia, I was trying to connect with local musicians in every city I went. On today’s search for #MusicMonday, I found a online series that wasn’t just traveling and highlighting songs of India, it was documenting that beautiful moment when collaborations are made. The Dewarists is eight episodes in and I’m pretty surprised this is the first I’m hearing about it.

In this latest episode, we take a beautiful trip to Goa where Humble to Poet, Midival Punditz and the host of the series Monica Dogra create a song together, No I.D. Required. If you want to go directly to the song, it’s at 32:15, though the whole show is beautifully shot and I would recommend watching it fully through. I knew that Humble was traveling India, but I had no idea that he was pairing up with legends like Midival Punditz while there. It’s so out-of-the-box to put a hip-hop poet with a legendary electronic/dance duo, but I think it totally worked.

The series pairs Imogen Heap with Vishal-Shekar to sing a Tagore poetic classic in Rajasthan; classical singer Shubha Mudgal with folk rock band Swarathma in Mysore; and  Karsh Kale travels with guitar virtuoso Baiju Dharmajan in Kerala. Funded by StarWorld, this documentary web series is a brilliant idea and I’m excited to see what comes out of this project. Best of all, it’s all viewable on YouTube!

A conversation with Unladylike’s Radhika Vaz

In her one-woman show Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety, comedian Radhika Vaz tackles subjects like “proper” female behavior, modern relationships, and the ubiquity of bikini waxes. Having recently returned from touring India, Vaz will be performing Unladylike at the The Producers Club in New York City on Friday, December 9 (more details below). I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about the show.

What inspired you to write Unladylike?

I had been doing improv for a really long time and then I started writing monologues. I always wanted to do a one-hour show on my own for a few reasons. I was auditioning for parts and wasn’t getting anything. You know, I am practically 40. I am Indian with an Indian accent, I’m not even an Indian with an American accent, so I wasn’t fitting into any of the roles. Writing the show was what really pushed me out there.

Stories about your husband and family often appear in your work. Have any of your relatives ever told you that something was off-limits?

No, they haven’t. I definitely do believe that I have to at least show them the piece before I post it to my blog. Most of my pieces start out on the blog, I usually post it before it is performed.

I remember I posted something once and my husband was like, “You really should have shown me this before you posted.” If it is something related something like alcohol abuse or anything embarrassing, I show it to them. When writing about my friends I change names a lot.

Do you consider Unladylike to be a feminist show?

I hope it is. I am certainly not the first person to talk about these things, but I definitely hope that people look at it that way. To elaborate a little bit, I definitely think that I speak a lot about the wide disparity in the way that men and women are viewed.

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