Taz is back! Who is Taz you ask? How about Stereo Nation? Recognize him now? I thought you would! Taz is back along with his band Stereo Nation with their newest album, “Jawani on the Rocks” on the Tips Music label. Get ready to get down and dirty with the funkadelic Bhangraton rhythms of Taz’s band Stereo Nation.
One of the hit songs from the current blockbuster movie, “RACE” is “Mujh Pe to Jadoo” and it’s not sung by Sonu Niigaam or K.K. but rather British pop sensation Taz. The song sounds just like a typical Stereo Nation song, with Taz’s smooth vocals flowing over a funky beat in a duet with Sunidhi Chauhan. Pritam was wise to adapt his musical style to that of Taz as the song has rocketed to the top of the charts. Astute Bolly-fans will also recognize his voice from the smash hit, “It’s Magic” from “Koi Mil Gaya” and “Daaroo Vich Pyar” from “Tum Bin”. Fans of Indi-Pop will recognize him for the hit Stereo Nation album, “Jambo” and his solo album “Nasha”.
So, will you find a deep and thought provoking album that will leave you pondering the mysteries of the universe as you listen to “Jawani on the Rocks”? No, but you will get a feeling of getting down with da riddim mon! So break out those baggy jeans that defy gravity and lots of bling bling as you turn the volume up loud and jam to the band that is Stereo Nation!
The album literally explodes with the Bhangra Reggaeton fusion track, “Jawani (Jay Dhabi’s Bhangraton Mix)”. The Reggaeton beat is relentless and I dare anyone to stand still while listening to this song. Taz’s vocals are the highlight of this track with background support by rapper Don Minicano. If you are looking for a lush orchestral arrangement, you won’t find it with this track as about the primary instrument is the driving programmed percussion. Listen to the beat and pull your dance partner close to celebrate your jawani.
The second track, “Meri Nazron Mein (Everything)” has another killer and catchy melody. Taz is a bit over shadowed by Leseya-Lee as he gets the catchiest line, “Girl you got the ‘tings’ I need…. I need your body…body…body”. Aha, so deep are the lyrics, that you will finally realize that it is women that make the world go round…and round…. and round. The percussion again takes center stage as the song is meant for some hardcore dancing…but there’s a welcome keyboard snake charmer flute that is looped throughout the song. Go deep into your inner soul as you dance in a mindless frenzy while you blast this track.
The third track, “Mujh Pe To Jadoo” is one that all of you are probably quite familiar with as it’s Taz’s hit track from the soundtrack to the current Bollywood blockbuster, “RACE”. It is at once identifiable as a Stereo Nation track, with an all too familiar melodic structure to the song. What takes it above the familiar and into memorable are the performances of that hip ‘n’ cool grooving and moving female playback singer Sunidhi Chauhan and the too cool for words classic though not classical rapper Apache Indian. Taz along with the other two singers have the uncanny effect of mesmerizing the listener purely on vocal talent. Interestingly enough the one track on the album not composed by Taz (instead composed by Bollywood music director Pritam) is also the least original on the album. Still, the song’s vocals and catchy lyrics are enough to make you fall under its magical spell and you’ll be hitting repeat till your baggy jeans fall off.
Welcome to the grand Planet Bollywood trip hop dance club, as we dance the night away to the fourth killer track, “Hilgaya (Pyar Da Peg Piladeh)”, which turns out to be a duet featuring Taz and Shibani Kashyap (host of talent contest Bathroom Singer). How can you not groove to a song that starts out with a sample from A.R. Rahman’s classic song, “Taal Se Taal Mila”from the film “Taal”. From there we are treated to a truly catchy dance number that is one part “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees and two parts Bollywood masala song that equates a woman’s lustful love to drinking a peg of whiskey. You can’t help but reach for that peg and yearn for some lust with this track.
The DJ spins another record with the fifth track, “Pyar Ka Jadoo” which features singers Mis’signature and Notar. This trance-hop song has Taz repeating the lyrics, “Chal Kiya Pyar Jadoo” in an almost trancelike fashion, but the real star of this track is the rapping by Mis’signature and Notar, who bring “da” house down! The rapping is raw and crude, and interestingly offsets Taz’s cleaner style. If you are into hardcore hip-hop then you’ll be dancing up a storm with all your “dawgs”.
Next up we have, “Hypnotic” featuring Rob Base and Thara. There’s a looped drum machine percussion that provides a strong base for this track. It’s one of those songs that upon first hearing doesn’t seem to be that impressive, especially considering the “wow” factor of the previous tracks, but give this one a chance and it will grow on you. It’s certainly a hypnotic song and the beat seems designed for you to grab your partner and grind the night away.
Track seven kicks it up old school style with a cover of the classic that is played for all ex-playahs at their weddings, “Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai” from the film “Aadmi Sadak Ka”. Honestly, this cover should have and could have been more energetic, but it never quite takes off. Taz’s vocals don’t seem well suited for the song, and his voice sounds a little strained in the opening. From there we get the standard percussion and an attempt at joyous singing. This track would have been well served to have less subdued vocals. Come on Taz, don’t leave everyone at the altar…. you can definitely do better than this.
The eighth song, “Bolo Paa Mitran” featuring Sharbjit Kaur, brings back my old school daze and has the energy that the previous track lacked. Taz’s vocals are clear and energetic, as he sings on a scale that he seems to be more comfortable with. The dhol percussion with harmonium really adds to the excitement of the track. Any fan of pre-synth Bhangra songs, will love this track. Simple, straightforward, pure Bhangra is something you can’t go wrong with. Much kudos to Taz for not adding any Hinglish or Punjablish lyrics or rapping, instead we get a playful dialogue jugalbandi. Trade your incredibly obnoxiously baggy jeans for a salwar and kurta and get down traditional style!
Whew, after breaking a sweat with the previous track, the listener is left wondering, what next? Where most albums end with eight songs, Taz doesn’t follow the crowd, and instead gives us a few more original songs.
The ninth track, “Hogaya Sharabi” gets to the point! How can you have a party without a lot of sharab? For that matter, how can you have a party album without a song about drinking that sharab and becoming a crazy dancing sharabi? Well, Stereo Nation brings it on as the women get off the dance floor in disgust and the sharabi men start jumping towards the stars, or falling down and making a mess…. take your pick. This is the kind of Bhangra song that is played during the penultimate hour of the party and Taz kicks it up with this one. Have some sharab you wild sharabi, and blast this track!
Tenth in line, is the track, “Tere Hogaye Hum”. The listener will find that Taz has surprisingly moved from high energy Bhangra to a more laid back lounge vibe. It’s a nice straightforward love song with some mellow music that mixes dhol percussion with violin and guitar interludes. This is the song that brings the ladies back into the arms of their sharabi guys. Taz’s fragile and emotional voice fits the mood perfectly and will raise the romance level of the room. This one is Stereo Nation at their romantic best. Be a gentleman, play this song, and treat the ladies right.
The eleventh song, “Rapture of Love” is just in time for that sweet slow dance with your loved one, or recent sharab influenced love on the dance floor. The soft tablatronic beat along with the counterpoint of background vocals makes for some nice RnB harmony. Taz’s vocals are in top form and fit perfectly. Dim the lights, turn that smoke machine on and if you are a guy be thankful as you dance ever so closely with that sexy lady, that your jeans are really, really baggy.
How do you end this very entertaining album? Well if you’re Taz you compose a tabla-trance track to chill out to, “Aaja (Giddhe Vich Aja). The music and Taz’s vocals will put the listener in a pleasant trance and it’s nice to hear a track composed in the electro genre that many British South Asian artists enjoy dabbling in. Some of the musical structure reminds me of songs by the Afro Celt Foundation, and that’s a good thing. After an exhausting party, there’s no better way to chillax than grabbing a drink or your partner and listening to this track.
The next five tracks are the obligatory remixes, but strangely enough there are four remixes of “Jawani” (by DJ Swami, DJ Akbar Sami, Desi Tronix and Delinquent Concsence) and one of “Meri Nazron Mein” (by DJ Akbar Sami). The two remixes that are worth blasting are Sami’s Caribbean mix of “Jawani” and the excellent “We will…we will rock you” vibe of the “Jawani Kenz Dark Mix” by Delinquent Concsence. It would have been nice if Stereo Nation (Taz) had included more variety in the remixes, instead of four of the same track.
So was the five-year wait worth it? Abso-freaking-lutely! Taz has out done himself on the new Stereo Nation album, “Jawani on the Rocks”. It’s a party album with more depth and variety than most hip hop-bhangra– indi-pop albums out there and is certainly paisa vasool. Sure, you won’t ponder the depths of your deepest emotions or wonder about your existential place in the world, but you will feel like having a good time as you dance and romance the night away, all with the help of a little sharab to bring out the sharabi in you. Don’t miss out on this album that is sure to be a crossover hit for Taz. Give it a spin, or two, or three or more and enjoy the blissed out tricked out freakylicious tunes of Taz’s Stereo Nation.
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