You heard it here first, or possibly not, but still, HDEO is backing “Kabul Dreams” to hit the big time. In a country where music was banned, where the Taliban still hold sway in many parts, the alternativley bubbly and angsty brit-pop sound being pumped out by Siddique, Mujtaba and Sulaymon is a balm to the ears.
The fab three grew up away form Afghanistan, as refugees in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Iran. When they returned with their families to their homeland they met up, started jamming together and naturally enough started singing in English, as bands from TaTu to Falco are wont to do.
Not only was English the lingua franca of pop, it also united the three lads, one of whom speaks Pashto, aother Uzbek and the last Dari.
I don’t know about you, but being in Ireland over the holidays meant the X-Factor was morbidly unavoidable. Seeing the talentless preening pampered prettyboys trot out drivelling inanities like “I dunno like I was just like pumped up for it like, to go for my dream and give it loads like” makes the work of Kabul Dreams all the more laudable.
Compare and contrast Joe McEldingleberry from Xfactor: “I don’t think I’d have a full facelift, but errrr… it’d depend on what it was. I think on my own terms I’d like to get a brace and get my teeth sorted out”…
…with Sulamon Qardash “We love our country and we want to change our young generation, we want to make something new”.
Or perhaps McEldingleberry: “I’d like to think I’d grow a bit taller but as they say, good things come in small packages”…
…with Qardash: “Playing rock music is a risk but we want to play in Afghanistan”. In fact they’ve only risked playing in cafés to expats, aid workers and government officals, and have had to cancel gigs at short notice due to insecurity and threats.
Kabul Dreams don’t just do covers. They weave Afghan rhythms into rock and roll for a sound that’s a bit like KulaShaker meets Oasis meets the Rembrants with a bit of Cream and even a bit of Van Morrison. The little bits I’ve heard are definitely happy pop with a good dollop of teenage angst.
I suppose I was predisposed to liking a band like this. There’s an echo of my beloved Stiff Little Fingers in there too. The Stiffs stayed on through the war, the Dreams have come back to help heal wounds.
“The reason we formed this band was to give a message to the Afghan youth, a message they can live together,” says Qardash. “One Afghan. That’s it.”
Have a listen on YouTube (and if you are impressed or curious you can join their Facebook page too). Think about that tortured, holy, brutal land. Think of the ravished cities, the women dying in childbirth, the millions of shattered, shortened lives, the senseless sensless waste. Kabul Dreams are worth having.