What in the World Are We Thinking: A weekly column by Behrouz Bahmani

WHO is Shadmehr Aghili?!!

By Behrouz Bahmani
March 14, 2003
The Iranian

A couple of weeks ago, as I was looking for any excuse to bury my head away from the madness of the world, kicking myself for not going to the Googoosh concert- I had free 3rd row tickets too can you believe that! What an idiot! Anyhow, I put a call into my trusted source of music Arash Z to see what was happening in the world of new music.

In case any of you have been too enthralled with the upcoming made for TV war and your navels, there has been a quiet revolution happening in modern Iranian music. Groups like O-Hum have been shaking the very foundation of popular Iranian music with weird blends between Hafez as lyrics, and what can only be described as retro 90's grunge rock, but the drug is free-based ghara-ghorout and lavashak.

Arash knows what kind of music I like and he never lets me down. An accomplished piano player and electronic loop meister, he has what I would call a keen ear for a good song when he hears one. Well, he heard one. Actually he heard 14. And he turned me on to them.

OK, so apparently there's this new kid from Iran called Shadmehr Aghili. He's a Pop star built from the ground up by the Iranian revolution. Apparently he's some Tom Cruise-ish movie star, if such a thing is possible under the beards of the you-know-whos. But hey, I'm still watching Seinfeld re-runs. What do I know about the modern Iranian cinematic trends? For all I know they've remade Gone with the Wind, and instead of using the drapes for dresses, they used them to make chadors. "Frankly Razieh, I don't...."

So Arash hooks me up to the weblog from Iran on this young stud, and I start to get curious. Apparently he wants to be a Pop star, and he wants to sing and dance like it's 1999. From what I have been able to gather he's supposed to have come out recently and of course some stupid cousin probably told him to go to LA or worse, Toronto, or as I call it Tehranto. And surprise surprise he's now got "visa problems". But that's besides the point.

And what is the point, you may ask? Well the point is very simple. He's good. No, I mean really good. I mean better than that. I haven't heard stuff this fresh since Siavash. Now true, it's only pop music, and it's not that deep classical Iranian daf and tonbak stuff all you purists like, but at least this stuff makes you smile for a change. It's snappy, and it's new. And that's good.

Some of the techno versions [7], [8] are as good as anything from Europe, voice-box 'o' hamechi. The guitar playing is very jazzy and very tight, and the vocals are just nice. One of the girls on the backing vocals [6] can have her own album right now as far as I am concerned, she's that awesome. In all there are 14 songs that have somehow made it out onto the internet and into my grubby hands, and yes, calm down for a second, I have them all here for you. Just let me finish, deh!

So where is he? I don't know? I cannot locate this newcomer to welcome him. If any of you know, let him know, and let me know so I can make a better introduction. One rumor is this one, I love this one, his disappearance is a publicity stunt by one of the many dumb LA promoters that are "handling" Aghili. One can only hope that Shadmehr makes it out alive. Not out of Iran, but out of LA! Another rumor is that he has sold the rights to his debut album for just $1,000. Another rumor is that he's sold the same album to 3 people!

Would have, should have, could have? Are there ways Aghili can make it through the gauntlet of the INS and the LA music machine to become our next beloved popstar? Oh yes! Oh so totally yes! Well, actually I'm not so sure now that I think about it. But one can hope and it gives us something besides the war to talk about, and that's what life is all about. Talking about pop stars.

Most shops are currently selling only one of Shadmehr's CD's "Khiali Neest", but it only has 7 songs on it. You should buy both albums for a great low price from my good friends at eWorldrecords. But if you don't believe me, fine, listen to all 14. There are some pops and scratches, but that's what happens when you get things that "fell off the truck".

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Thanks Arash! See you next week!

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