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CD Review: Imaad Wasif

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Okay, Indie Kids, let’s play Imaad Wasif trivia. We’ll start with the easiest question: what extremely popular (well, in indieland) band is Wasif touring with? Yes, you with the horn rims and asymmetrical haircut. No, the one to your left… Correct! It would be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Now, name two of the three bands he’s been associated with before this solo release. Okay, you, the girl in the Sesame Street shirt who needs to eat a sandwich…Oh man, you totally nailed all three. He indeed was in Alaska!, Lowercase, and the New Folk Implosion. Now for extra credit, what does his name mean? No, no, I don’t actually know that either. But what I do know is that Wasif has created an unexpectedly gentle album on his new eponymous release.

Imaad Wasif is a lot like Beck’s Sea Change in the sense that it’s less about the lyrics, but more about a feeling. It’s not as much of a great (and underrated) accomplishment as Sea Change, whose opening chord change on “The Golden Age” automatically pulls the listener in, but this record could be considered a younger cousin to it.

Wasif’s vocal and guitar contributions are genuinely morose without being trendily overblown. Everything flows together to feel like a morning where you’ve already woken up salty-cheeked miserable and everything continues to sit off balance. This is not a “sip a cup of coffee and think about being in love” record.

Nor is this the work of a master poet or songwriter; Wasif does have the tendency to forsake melody for long strung lyrics. And while this can unsettle people (I personally am still a little angry at Wasif for using the phrase “serpentine passion”), it can also be strangely appealing. There’s something about the imperfections of Wasif’s songwriting that makes him seem real: he has none of the greatness which surrounds other melancholy songwriters – Elliott Smith, Big Star, Lou Reed (when Lou gets sad, his black clothes turn even blacker), the Buckleys — but there’s a common-man element to his ineptitudes which makes Wasif so interesting.

These songs feel as if they’re written by a close friend with a lot of artistic potential; all they need is a couple of years and a talented editor, and they could really be something grand. And though some may wish for immediate success, perhaps if Wasif does live up to his potential, he’ll be able to accomplish the next step of underground success: proving all of the backlashing naysayers wrong.

Reviewed by Megan Giddings

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