Savage Times showcase Hanni el Khatib’s flexibility

Every now and again I’ll give a listen to an album and wonder “how have I not heard of this before?” I’ll think to myself that it must’ve been the product of some sort of highly-focused effort to keep an artist, whose music seems to fit every criteria I’ve established for me to be “into” a band, out of my direct or peripheral vision for so long.

Whether it was my personal prejudices against almost any record that has the words “blues-rock” associated with it, or just simply that I wasn’t looking hard enough, I’m ashamed to admit that until last week, I hadn’t heard of Hanni El Khatib.

On his new compilation album Savage Times, Khatib brings together the “best-of” cuts from five EPs that he released over the course of 2016. The EPs that make up the record consist of stylistic experimentations that range from fuzzy garage rock, to songs in the style of 70’s synth-punk/no-wave, to some cuts that explore disco territory as well. If there was any doubt about Khatib’s flexibility as a songwriter, there are mountains of proof leveled against it in these 19 tracks. What’s better, these songs aren’t simply an exercise in recording aesthetics—Khatib knows how to write hooks. Even the tracks with a more familiar blues-rock sound are loaded with memorable lead lines or an undeniably catchy chorus.

Overall, Savage Times has enough variety to keep the listener engaged throughout, and Katib’s fundamental understanding of what makes a memorable track carries over from track to track, no matter how large the jump in styles might seem.

Savage Times comes out this Friday, February 17 and the track “Gonna Die Alone” can be heard on 90.3 The Rock, Volunteer Radio.

More info is at

Favorite Tracks: “Gonna Die Alone,” “Born Brown,” “Come Down” and “Till Your Rose Comes Home.”