Release Date: January 2008
No Of Tracks: 14
The stage is set. For what you ask? The stage is set for Aman Hayer to finally deliver a album worthy of being classed as a ‘album’. Some of you are probably sitting there a little confused, rightly so. Let me clear up a little myth, the album Groundshaker contained more fillers than it contained listenable songs. We all remember Tharthi Hildi and Dil Nai Lagda, even Seete. But does anyone remember Ik kut, Tere Naa Ne, Jaan, Heer Ranjha, Bol Pyaare, Punjab? Groundshaker was popular, but by no means was it a great album, distinctively average even.
To date Aman Hayer has brought us some of the biggest songs of recent years, Tharthi Hildi, Kalli Kitte Mil, Mitran Di Chatri, Gabhru Shakeen, Dil Nai Lagda, undoublty if these were all on one album then we will have nothing to complain about, however Aman Hayer and the whole Genie Records crew in general have had a bad habit of bringing out albums that start off pretty well and then tail off at the end, with Groundshaker being no exception. 2Much Glassy, The Usual Yardies, Genie Us being the other albums that have all included more fillers than actual worthwhile tracks.
Now that I’ve cleared that up I’ll get onto one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of recent times (every album seems to be eagerly anticipated these days?); Groundshaker 2. Aman Hayer returns 3 years later with a help of a few high profile names! Most notably is the inclusion of Jazzy B who rarely sings for anyone but himself, so this is a pretty big coup for Aman Hayer. Judging by the atrocious Kaun Nachdi can you blame Jazzy? Also included is the superb Master Saleem, Angrez Ali (Tharthi Hildi), Nirmal Sidhu, Apache Indian & a whole whost of others who provide vocals. More interestingly is that Aman Hayer himself has began to sing! Following on from his mentor Sukshinder Shinda, Hayer has now decided to try his hand at singing.
A hefty 14 track album, expectations are high, after being in the scene for almost 10 years, Bhangra fans anticipate a album worthy of being classed alongside other modern masterpieces. Or are we all asking too much?
‘Sift Punjbian De’ is a little intro that was first put out as a advert on 2 Much Glassy, and we all have been wondering whats going to come next. Nirmal Sidhu sounds awe inspiring on this intro. It sets up a great little intro to what will probably be the best song off the album (going by previous albums)
Nirmal Sidhu rightly returns on ‘Sher Punjabi’ and is also joined by G Money, who I will get onto later. Aman Hayers trademark production stamp has always been the keyboards, and this is highly evident on Tharthi Hildi. Since then a number of songs and probably cheap imitations (Jaan Punjabi, Aish) have copied the same melody to go on to create their own ‘hits’. So instead of sticking with this tried and somewhat tested formula, Aman Hayer has totally flipped the script. Sher Punjabi begins with a raw powerful electric guitar powered by Paul Sampson who also played the guitar on the recent releases by Gupsy Aujla & Zeus. I really think the downfall of this song will be the on going comparisons with Tharthi Hildi, wich I think is a little unfortunate as this is a very good track! Lyrically it’s a little repetitive, you know how it is, ‘were Punjabis, were bigger badder than the rest’. Although the overall lyrical content has a fairly positive messege! The vocals by Nirmal Sidhu are raw and powerful and suit this song perfectly.
Now onto G Money, this poor guy has got a lot of stick in the past for his role on a few songs, but I
have to stick up for him here, he does a pretty good job! (I bet you didn’t see that coming). He is more of a hype man on tracks rather than having any real flow or lyrics which is probably good enough if he is restricted to these little cameos, I dread the thought of a G Money solo album. Sher Punjabi in its own right is a top track, but it probably will always be given the title ‘not as good as tharthi hildi’. All credit to Aman Hayer for stepping outside his comfort zone and trying something different. The last thing we would have wanted was a Captain India Da scenario, I’m sure it would have been easy to think of a song called ceiling hildi or something silly! Its another Aman Hayer dancefloor anthem.
The Bollywood themed ‘Ik Vaari Haan’ is up next and features the vocals of Indian female vocalist Jayshree and the fantastic Master Saleem. Much like how Dil Nai Lagda was to Groundshaker, Ik Vaari Haan is to GS2, retaining the same Spanish guitar elements throughout. Although a little more upbeat than Dil Nai Lagda, this is a really made well song by Aman. The production is kept fairly simple, with all the work being done by the brilliant vocals of Jayshree and more so Master Saleem who absolutely makes this song his own! (Please don’t rinse his vocals DJ’s). The little pieces of Violin add a touch of class to this song, just making it that much better. Great track.
The crown prince of Bhangra Jazzy B is on hand here for ‘Chargai’. The song also features DJ Kendall who drops a few lines. Without me going through the motions too much, the crux is that this song is a disappointment. Jazzy B sounds fine, giving his usual high class performance. Production from Aman Hayer is solid enough, and even DJ Kendall goes ok with the song. So whats wrong? The song is pretty boring. Lyrically its as inventive as Yaar Glassy by Bhinda Aujla, you’d expect a little more depth from Jazzy B and Aman Hayer wouldn’t you? Or not, Jazzy is a massive figure in India, a market Groundshaker really never managed to crack. Maybe this is the type of simplistic pop Bhangra song that will finally help Aman Hayer crack India, I’m only speculating of course. Who knows, I could be wrong, this song could become bigger than Mundian Tu Bach ke…doubt it though. It’s a decent song, but am I the only one thinking ‘is this it?!’
‘Puch Bhabiye’ is next and has been sung by Romey Gill, Aman Hayer first played this song on the Ameet Chana BBC Asian network show a year back, and back then I thought it was distinctly average, although not wanting to judge a track fully before I’ve heard it I thought I would give it a proper listen. And, its still rather average.
‘Vekhi Lagdi’ sees Aman Hayer giving his singing debut alongside the original Don Raja; Apache Indian and female rapper Hard Kaur. The first time I heard this song I was taken aback by the vocals, is this really Aman Hayer? You really don’t expect this voice to come from Aman Hayer. He does a better job than most ‘vocalists’ would do. A definite thumbs up from me! This song has a great vibe to it, and dare I say I prefer it to the Jazzy B track, obviously he isn’t a better vocalist then Jazzy B, but the whole flow and vibe of the track is much better. Apache Indian does a good job keeping the song going with some pretty catchy lyrics, as with Hardkaur who tones down her usual rough rapping approach, giving a more subtle performance. Although his vocals are good, I don’t think they would be able to last a whole album. Please Mr Hayer, don’t go down that route. Nevertheless this is a very impressive singing debut from Aman Hayer, culminating in a top tune!
The star of Tharthi Hildi returns for his first song, Angrez Ali. ‘Je Naal Nachunga’ is one of the songs I was looking forward to most. Once again people expecting another Tharthi hildi are way off, this a totally different type of song, but one which is made fairly well. Production isn’t nothing spectacular and contains the same ingredients which you would associate with Aman Hayer, a solid track.
Dev Dhillon is one of the better new UK vocalists who have been coming through recently and he is on hand to sing ‘Chak Dow Ge’, if I was to simplify this song it basically means ‘ don’t mess with us or we will hurt you’, so your usual chest beating red blooded Punjabi track! But don’t let that take away from what’s actually a good song, its something different to what Aman Hayer has done in the past, the intro is similar to the one off Soorma by Jazzy B. The beat is hard hitting with a thumping bass-line, its really one of those songs you either really like or really hate. For me it’s the former rather than the latter. Dev Dhillon is a vocalist who is definetly one to look out for in the future, great voice.
Kaka Mohanwalia featured on 2 Much Glassy with the song ‘Oh Kuri’ which was his singing debut; he follows that up with ‘Dil Labna Ne’. Being a relatively new vocalist its good to see Kaka M on a different style of song then Oh Kurri, which was more pop than anything really desi. Dil Labna Ne is a desi number, which has been well produced by Aman Hayer, but much nothing really to set itself apart from the rest. The highlight of the track? The ever improving vocals of Kaka Mohanwalia.
Angrez Ali returns on ‘Naar Operi’ which is a real desi number, something which you would instantly associate with Aman Hayer. Angrez Ali’s vocals are on another level, however it’s a shame that the production is the same old Aman Hayer which I thought he had left behind with Tharthi Hildi. The same use of the keys makes this song repetitive and lacking anything really unique about it. Once again the vocals and lyrics are impressive, the production not quite.If you like your songs desi then you will love this
We last saw Yudhveer Manak on Aman Hayers production on 2 Much Glassy on the track Nachna Piya which was pretty average. ‘Ne Kudiye’ seems to follow that average trend once again, not offering anything really. The potential in this song was definitely there.
One of my favourite vocalists is Manjeet Papu, he is really underrated, he features on the twelfth track ‘Laal Phulkari Vali’ which is a pleasant chilled out track. His vocals are pretty unique, and Aman Hayer does justice to his vocals by doing a fairly good job on the production. Its kept simple, but at the same time it does contain all the usual elements you would associate with Aman Hayer. One of the better songs on the album, and proving some of resistence in the decline of quality songs in the latter part of this album.
Whenever im greeted with a remix by a artist, I usually give a cynical response (see the DJ Vix & Captain Bhangra 2 reviews), so not wanting to buck the trend I’d say Gabhru Shakeen (Desi Mix) is a:
The final track on the album is a slow number titled ‘Sadi Jind Jaan’ and has been sung by a fella called Jas Dhami, who I cant say I know too much about, its always good to see new talent coming through though. Its been sung really well, and the use of the vaaja played by Aman Hayer really makes the song what it is. A pleasant end to the album I’d say.
I asked the question at the beginning of the review if Aman Hayer would finally deliver a album worthy of the title of being called a complete album, if I said yes I would be lying. Aman Hayer has certainly progressed in his sound and his depth in music, the use of unwarranted mcing has drastically declined, which is always a positive thing. Seeing as though this is called Groundshaker 2 we have to treat it as a sequal. Will any of these songs be bigger than Tharthi Hildi or Dil Nai Lagda? Probably not. However do the other songs on this album beat those on Groundshaker? I’d say yes. This album is a little in between, I was hoping Aman Hayer would go on and develop his sound and show real progression and originality and he did so on Sher Punjabi, but everything else came straight out of the Aman Hayer guidebook on how to make a standard Bhangra song, which isn’t a bad thing entirely but some originality was needed. It’s as though he thought he had used up all his originality on Sher Punjabi and then couldn’t be asked to think of some new ideas for everything else. Of course there are solid tracks in ik vaari haan, vekhi lagdi, chak de gow and maybe chargai, but this being his 4th major release, is solid really good enough?
Is this what we expect from one of the biggest names in Bhangra? Granted this album has come out 3 years after the original, so by no means is it a quick scheme to cash in on Aman Hayers success, once hailed a young exciting talent, we still lay in wait for a complete album..
One thing I’ve said throughout the review is that this is ‘typical Aman Hayer’ and I accept every artist has his own unique style which he/she will use on tracks, and that’s acceptable, but it feels as though apart from Sher Punjabi Aman Hayer has struggled to get out of his own comfort zone in making songs. Theres been very little experimentation, no originality.
Groundshaker 2 unfortunately falls into the trap of every other Genie Records release, a good start but suffering a slow decline, from track 6 nothing stands out, nothing is original. It’s a 14 track album, so the value for money element is there. To put this album into perspective; one of the best tracks is a 1minute long intro.