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Guest Feature: Jafar Sandouk aka Howlin' Circus
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I want to take some time up here to express heartfelt condolences and prayers to the people who were killed in the tragic fire during a wedding in Qaraqosh, Iraq.
And I also want to express solidarity with the Armenian community and call out the harmful and violent injustice happening in Nagorno-Karabakh.
It’s a heavy week for many people in what has felt like a heavy month. I hope everyone who needs to is able to take time for themselves to protect their energy. And I hope those who have the energy are able to be supportive in ways that the Iraqi and Armenian communities, respectively, feel would be helpful.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Jafar Sandouk aka Howlin’ Circus!
A rock’n’roll heartbeat for these divisive times, Howlin’ Circus is the Middle Eastern-inspired psychedelic rock project of Jafar Sandouk, who is currently based in Toronto, Canada.
Sandouk's "gritty, powerful, and defiant" (Indie88) sound fearlessly blurs the boundaries of genre, weaving a mesmerizing tapestry that unveils the devastating personal impact of Islamophobia and white supremacy in the post-9/11 era. Yet, the Howlin' Circus project goes beyond mere social commentary; it delves deep into the heart of humanity, exploring the world’s sharp decline in empathy.
The new album, Creature, released October 27, is an ode to the roles we have to play to survive in a world designed for a privileged few. Sandouk says: “The story of a creature is often a narrative shaped by others, written to dehumanize us. This record is about defining your own story and celebrating it.” You can watch the music video for the latest single, “Innocence”, over here.
Jafar is creating some really cool music, finding creative ways to express his artistry and emotions. So you know he came through with some incredible song selections this week:
1. What song do you have on repeat right now?
“Woman to Woman” by Joe Cocker. As I go back and listen to 90s hip hop as we're all inclined to do, I've been a bit more curious about where the samples originate, and I've just had this on repeat for the past few weeks because "California Love" is such a tune. It gives you the same vibe but with Joe Cocker's ridiculous voice.
I also can't get enough of “Aquamarine” by Danger Mouse, Black Thought and Michael Kiwanuka. My music is very much in the rock-psychedelic realm but this rap song, the whole sonic vibe has really influenced me in the making of my new record. It has that 70s analogue warmth, and that realness that's hard to bottle up even if you record everyone live off the floor.
2. Tell me a song that makes you cry.
“Open Invitation” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. It's a secret track from their album, Howl (bonus songs and the like don't really exist anymore with streaming, sadly), and I remember seeing them end their set with this song at Brixton Academy after they just spent 2 and a half hours playing mostly heavy guitar songs. It's a simple organ tune, delicate, and beautiful with some wonderful harmonies. It feels like some kind of gospel, and I especially love the line: "And we may never be here again", because, well, it's true. So give it a listen, have a cry, and then go out and enjoy the sweetness of now.
3. What song reminds you of your childhood?
“Cigarettes & Alcohol” by Oasis. Why, as a 10 year old, did the lyrics, "Is it worth the aggravation to find yourself a job when there's nothing worth working for?" hit so hard? It probably explains all of my decisions since haha! A seminal moment for a young Iraqi boy growing up in NW London. I was never going to become a doctor or engineer after this song hit my ears. Sorry mama.
4. Name a song you sing in the shower or in the car.
“Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer. We cover it at live shows. It's a banger.
5. Tell me a song everyone should listen to.
So many, but I'll give you one old and one new: “Wind” by Kim Jung Mi. I heard it in a Korean film and fell in love with it and I've been trying to locate the album on vinyl, which is called "Now", so if there is anyone out there who can find it for me, hit me up. And most recently, “Kicking Up A Fuss” by BC Camplight. It's weird, dark, and funky. It has this line: "I don't wanna be somebody else, but I don't want to be myself". We all get those days.
Big shout out to Jafar for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Jafar’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to give Howlin’ Circus a follow on Instagram and Twitter and check out their music! The new Howlin’ Circus album "Creature" is out October 27. You can pre-order it on vinyl now at howlincircus.com or you can pre-save it here!
What I’m Listening To
Click/tap here for Spotify
Click/tap here for Anghami (*some songs in the playlist are not available on Anghami)
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Mayel Ya Ghzayel - Najah Salam
Mnamel - El Waili & Donia Wael
Asef - Massar Egbari
W Maak - Nedaa Shrara
Chwerreb - Joujma
Sha2lebty Routiny - Sharmoofers
Qui es-tu? - Nour
Dababa - Showkey
Daydream - Hasna & ASKLOU
Serag Mohema - Batistuta
Khalek Fe Nafsak - Ortega
PAINFUL PARADISE - Mishaal Tamer
SEVEN - Rana
Ra2i2a - Felukah
Beniya - Leil
Ma Bttwakany - Dareen featuring Ouzzy
Hyati - Duke
Parler de nous - Imen Es
Kadyrov - NORDO
Influenza - Freek
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
UN PREVIEW - Bad Bunny
Se Apagó - Santa Fe Klan
PATÁN - Kim Loaiza featuring Pailita
como yo - Estevie
Paranoia - J Noa
2NDO CHANCE - Becky G featuring Ivan Cornejo
DUBAI - BIA featuring Tion Wayne
ASI ES LA VIDA - Enrique Iglesias featuring Maria Becerra
Mi Condena - Chimbala featuring Wisin, Arcángel, and Chris Lebron
No Te Veo - Mariah Angeliq
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Better Place - *NSYNC
Gbedu - Vector
Got Me Started - Troye Sivan
good cry - Amindi
Feelings - Jorja Smith featuring J Hus
Green Light - Kylie Minogue
Big One - Flyana Boss
Slumber - Little Dragon featuring April + VISTA
Mosquito - PinkPanthress
FMF - Diamond Pistols featuring GoldLink and Audrey Mika
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon’s latest, slowest wildfire victims: Tortoises - Madeline Edwards, L’Orient Today
“Not all animals can run away from fires.”
(Im)Possibilities of Healing Within the Mental Health System - Fátima Fouad el-Samman, The Public Source
*Content warning: This long read begins by concisely touching on the distressing life conditions and methods of suicide experienced by individuals over the past few months in Lebanon. Reader discretion is advised, as the content discussed may be triggering or disturbing to some readers.
Cooking Up a New Legal Media Environment in Lebanon Proves a Complicated Recipe - Chrystine Mhanna and Benjamin Lotto, Raseef22
Journalists, government officials, and media watchdogs have struggled to agree on standards, regulations, and punishments as Lebanon attempts to reform its media environment.
Taxi woes: Licensed and unlicensed drivers compete for rides amid economic crisis - Richard Salame and Malek Jadah, L’Orient Today
The lack of job opportunities in Lebanon is pitting red- and white-plate taxi drivers against one other. The former seek regulation; the latter don’t seem too worried.
Tensions rise as Lebanon's Armenian community protest outside Azerbaijan's embassy - Olivia Le Poidevin and Mario Doueiry, L’Orient Today
A spokesperson for the protesters said he's scared of a "new Armenian genocide" in Nagorno-Karabakh.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Palestinian Americans are now tourists in their own land - Sari Bashi, The Hill
“The U.S. has all this leverage. It should use that leverage to pressure Israeli authorities to respect the right of Palestinians like my children’s grandmother to travel freely between Gaza and the West Bank, and to enter Israel not as tourists, but as refugees returning home.”
The lost generation? Jordan fails to deliver on child drug addiction treatment - Ouhoud Mohsen, Raseef22
“Perhaps if I had been treated by juvenile detention centers or my family had helped me with anything other than beating and throwing me out of the house for the sake of their reputation, I would not have reached this point. There is no turning back.”
As Hundreds Were Celebrating a Wedding, It Turned Into an Inferno - Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times
As the bride and groom danced, witnesses said, flares were set off at the venue in northern Iraq, starting a fire that spread with astonishing speed and killed more than 100 people.
Sudan's displaced millions struggle to survive as economy seizes up - El Tayeb Siddig, Nafisa Eltahir, and Khalid Abdelaziz, Reuters
More than 5.25 million of Sudan's 49 million people have been uprooted since the fighting erupted, according to U.N. figures. Over 1 million of those have crossed into neighbouring countries, but more than 4.1 million have stayed in Sudan, where they have come under increasing financial pressure.
Rebuilding the forgotten Amazigh villages of Morocco's Atlas Mountains - Basma El Atti, The New Arab
After the earthquake, how will Morocco rebuild villages in the Atlas Mountains? It is a question authorities have yet to answer, as they tackle issues of Amazigh identity, heritage, and the long-standing neglect of a forgotten region.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Reneé Rapp is remaking young female stardom. But can she enjoy it? - Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times
YouTube. TikTok. ‘Mean Girls’ on Broadway. ‘Sex Lives of College Girls’ on Max. Now, her new album ‘Snow Angel.’ How Reneé Rapp became a Gen Z multihyphenate.
Sech Is Having More Fun Than Ever - Julyssa Lopez, Rolling Stone
The Panamanian star wasn't chasing hits on his EP 'El Bloke Hills,' but he found them anyway.
The icon’s 2023 tour has not only been the most ambitious of her career, but a unique representation of dance music history and Black art that imagines a more inclusive pop future.
That Mexican OT looks like a cowboy. But he sounds like a rap star. - Chris Richards, The Washington Post
Texas hip-hop phenom That Mexican OT is on a roll with his exuberant new album, “Lonestar Luchador.”
Tokischa Talks About Racism in the Industry & Juan Luis Guerra’s Distaste for Dembow - Lucas Villa, Remezcla
In an interview with the Spanish publication El País, Tokischa was asked about the progress of Afro-Latine artists in a music industry that thrives off their culture and trends.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The evolution of Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson - Jerry Bembry, Andscape
She is already one of the best players in WNBA history, even as she’s just realizing her place in the game.
He live-streamed his attacks on Indian Muslims. YouTube gave him an award. - Gerry Shih and Pranshu Verma, The Washington Post
Hindu vigilantes have long tried to stop the cow trade, often carried out by Muslims, but have become more extreme and flamboyant thanks to American social media platforms that reward them with large online followings.
Women of the Sea: Afro-descendants honor their heritage in Mexico - Koral Carballo, NPR
Through portraits and interviews with activists and artists, Koral Carballo sought out an answer to the question of what it means to be an Afro-Mexican woman today.
Group-Chat Culture Is Out of Control - Faith Hill, The Atlantic
The most social social media these days is … texting. And it’s gotten overwhelming.
‘It was a trauma’: Now that the strike has ended, showrunners wonder how they begin moving forward - Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times
Several TV showrunners speak to The Times about the end of the writers’ strike and how sadness and frustration over the negotiations temper their joy.