Kamran & Hooman - “20”

Avang Music Co.
2005 (1384)

The Iranian music history’s perhaps most hyped album is finally out, after months and months of delay and the growing impatience of the bros’ army of infatuatedly impatient teenage fans! First lets have a recap: In case you have missed the news, Kamran and Hooman have now parted their path from Shahbal Shabpareh and his Black Cats, followed by (an although seemingly civil but still) a “cold war” between the parties and different fractions within the LA-based industry and media! Kamran and Hooman (or Hooman and Kamran, as the fans of the younger brother choose to refer to them!) have prepared their independent album entitled “20” as both singers and composers, in an elaborate collaboration with Ramin Zamani as the main composer and producer (with whom they had worked in the past) and the young Iran-based lyricist Maryam Heydarzadeh who hardly needs an introduction! Other artists who have contributed musically and lyrically are SANDY’s Shahram Azar and a lyricist by the name Ashkan Rahimi. “20” features 10 tracks of which only 8 are songs, released on Avang Music Co.

Our TOP-STUDENTS arrive home after a trip to West-Indian islands and the Persian Gulf! Their souvenir is a least-said happy and euphoric melange of Afro-Caribbean delicacies spiced with a pinch of BANDARI, courtesy of Mr. Azar! Nothing new, infact a fusion Farshid Amin did almost two years ago in his “Begoo Barmigardi”! The title-track ”20” is a very colourful, not to mention ”different”, opening! For better or worse!

You might have noticed that SHAGGY had tagged along on the first track (probably one of the guys who, just like yours-truly, loves to annoy everyone around him with his SHAGGY-imitations!*LOL*) and he is still here to accompany the guys into ”Oon Baa Man” aka ”Senorita” to many fans! A bilingual and minimalistic RnB/Hip-Hop tune a la Black Cats with a DANCE HALL twist, which should more than satisfy the fans of this popular sound. The bros’ younger fans in particular! Listening to the entire track one cant help but wonder if this song has been inspired by another Michael Jackson-influenced artist (by now I think that it’s safe to suggest that Kamran and Hooman are MJ-fans!*LOL*) namely Justin Timberlake’s song with the exact same title and similar jargon!?

Now that the kids have had their fun its time for this old man to enjoy what he likes best and that is a good old solid HI-NRG fare with subtle 90’s MELODIC TRANCE touch and PARADE-TECHNO boost around the chorus! The ATB-influences are about half a decade too old and too late (listen To Sheila’s ”Cheshmoone Man”) to be incorporated, but I must admit that they add a certain charm that appeals to a EURO-freak like me! I absolutely love Maryam as an artist but must warn for a ”Please hurt me, even though I don’t deserve it!!!” orientation to ”Fadaaye Saret”! He he! Hey who am I kidding, we are those famous ”romantically masochistic Iranians” …aren’t we?! so bring it on BABY!*LOL*! On a side note I must ad that Maryam has finally broken this ”self-belittling” lyrical attitude in Chavoshi’s album and although the album has not been officially released in Iran, I thank her for the extremely refreshing twist in ”Nefrintarin Nefrinat”!

Preceded by Maryam’s recital, ”Mano Bebakhsh” is a song with a similar jargon as the previous track. Basically ”Sorry if I love you”! Musically is this BALLAD, just like Ramin’s ”Dokhtare Tooye Aayene” for Sepideh, derived from the good old Ghomayshi-sound a la ”Ki Ashkaato Paak Mikone”. Not a single teenager’s eye is left dry after hearing this love serenade, I can imagine!

Now to my second personal favourite on the album, a POWER POP song called ”Age Eshghe Man To Nisti”. A lush production with an Electro-Folklore touch and subtle LATIN-influences entwined! Warning for a high Goosebumps-factor, again courtesy of Shahram Azar! Not a single rough edge to this song, I love such compact gems that are so well-polished that they just roll into your ears without evoking the irritating urge to revision. Simply amazing! Lyrically most likely inspired by Daniel Bedingfield’s lyrical concept for ”If you’re not the one”.

”Ooni Ke Mikhastam” opens with a very short ACAPELLA and soon turns into a romantic Rock & Roll BALLAD a la 50’s with a hint of SOUL! If you liked Black Cats’ ”Naro” you will love this song! Are those teddy bears being thrown at the stage?! I must admit that its slightly disappointing that most ballads on this album are of a similar style! I personally wouldn’t mind to hear the bros’ in an RnB ballad a la ”Cry Me a River”! Overall I had expected much more RnB to be incorporated in this album. Songs more in style with Afshin’s ”Delam Havaato Karde”. Because Hooman’s vocal quality and RnB-wailing is just perfect for an Iranian RnB album!

The next song basically need no introduction! I don’t think that you can find a single music fan who has not heard this song by now! “Man Toro Mikhaam” is basically the “musical” predecessor to ”Age Eshghe Man To Nisti”. Although in a slightly slower pace, the Electro-Folklore details are still there but the LATIN-influences are replaced by a further emphasised Persian groove. Created to be a HIT, and a HIT it became! In its music-video there is a short additional clip where RnB and PERSIAN GROOVE are fused! An exquisite HYBRID that is nowhere to be found on this album, unfortunately!

Ramin Zamani declaims our way into the last track on the album, a POWER BALLAD called ”Baa Tashakor Az Shomaa”. The only song not featuring lyrics by Maryam, but ironically more in her style than her own contributions! At first I thought this was a clever move by the guys to thank their always supporting and devoted fans out there! An ENCORE or song they could always end their concerts with, a concept in style with ABBA’s ”Thank You For The Music”! But although everything else about this song was suitable for such a song, the ”sarcastically rejecting” love theme of the song does not really leave much place for a double meaning/interpretation! Nevertheless is this an incredibly well-produced ballad and a PERFECT finale to the bros’ album! The best Iranian ballad in a while!

The DVD-disc features only two music videos: ”Man Toro Mikhaam” and ”Oon Baa Man”. Strangely enough is the video of ”Mano Bebakhsh” NOT included, even though it was released long before these two clips! To the great disappointment of the fans.

“20” managed to risk it all by pushing the hyping strategy of repetitive delay to its virtual maximum limit, but in the nick of time when it was about to overdo and work against its own purpose the last life-line was pulled and voilaaaaa!! Before I emphasise and praise the album’s stronger features once again, it should be mentioned that I am rather disappointed with mainly two things; the overall aesthetic presentation of the album, lacking the “micro”- but still vital finesses essential for an elaborate franchise! And also the relatively short track-listing of the album, not to mention its DVD-bonus! I had expected a more “generous” package in style and class with Habib & Mohamad’s “Javuni”! Or at least 10 full-length songs from two full-fledged lead-vocalists! Of course any other average artist would have hit the jackpot with an 8-song package of this calibre, but somehow we (or at least I) had expected a bit more from the bros and their company! But despite this negatively surprising low quantity-factor on the album, the fact remains that it is ultimately the “quality” that makes an album and HIGH QUALITY is exactly what this album stands for! Ramin Zamani has truly come through for the duo and the result is simply amazing! A package packed with thought-through, commercially-manufactured, artistically-produced and down-to-the-single-detail polished tracks! Each song so colourful and CATCHY that it can easily stand alone as a HIT! Even though there is nothing really new presented on the album, the various styles employed have been dusted off, freshened up and served with a fresher twist of excellence! At the same time it should also be mentioned that the album might disappoint the younger fans of the bros! Although the album in general is very much in line with the Black Cats-sound, those who had been anticipating an overrepresentation of the bilingual and minimalistic Black Cats style even in “20” will hear it being replaced by a “slightly mature and lush” version that will probably appeal more to an older 20+ audience (there you go, another 20-refernce!*LOL*) than teenagers!

Kamran and Hooman are without a doubt the Iranian music history’s biggest “heartthrobs“, in the modern sense of the term! Many have tried before, but no constellation of the kind has managed to create a “Boy-Band” hysteria in our market before these brothers came along! Although owing much to Shahbal Shabpareh for their artistic emergence and devolvement, the bros have proved that they are more than capable to stand on their own feet artistically and commercially! With this semi-franchise result in hands one can suggest that this act’s persona and image are now more suitable and appropriate for their audience than they ever were in the Black Cats-constellation! “20” is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED debut by two young and talented VETERANS!!!

Pas nomreye “20” shod… 20!!!

Artistic Performance: +++
Artistic Ambition: ++
Commercial Potential: +++
Technical Quality: ++
Aesthetic Presentation: ++
Ethical Adherence: +++
[ +++ > --- ]

Review by: Pourya E.

Reviews described herein are mere opinions, and must be construed in that manner only! In other words they are not absolute!