“Hakawati,” the song that kicks of City Of Djinn’s self-titled second album, comes at you like a cavalry attack over rough ground. The drums stomp, a rhythm guitar pounds, and an electric buzuq casts an intricate lead the long way around, flanking you on either side before the massed vocals charge straight at you. The message is resistance, and the sound is big and stirring.
It’s a bit of a shock to find out that the Chicago-based band numbers only two men: Marwan Kamel and Micah Bezold. But that’s what volume, determination and a few overdubs can do for you. Even more shocking is that the record sounds pretty close to how they do in concert, where these guys keep the beat with kick drums while they bash out power chords and snake their way through winding, modal scales.