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East-Meets-West Jam Sessions Spark Brilliant New Album

What do you get when you cross Arabic “Faya’a”, Armenian folk, Pink Floyd, Led Zepellin and Radiohead, and back it with an Eastern beat? “Got No Eden”, the debut album from Apo and the Apostles, a rising phenomenon of Ramallah’s thriving music scene.

Proudly born in Bethlehem, the band combines the diverse cultural influences of its members—Palestinian, Assyrian, Armenian, Canadian and Australian—into an upbeat sound driven by synergy and uninhibited happiness. “We love the energy you get from engaging with your audience,” Apo says eagerly. “We want people to sing, shout, dance, and let their hair down.

Even during the composition of each song, he adds, “we spark off each other”. And while he and Karim are the main songwriters, each song is finalized collectively through “shouting, laughter, insults, failures, breakthroughs, cigarettes and the occasional whiff of teargas from the refugee camp next door.

The songs are about everyday life, but in that material the band sees a profound chance for positive change. “Music can break down stereotypes,” Apo explains. “The Middle East has an amazing capacity to somehow fit diverse people together in a way that is very vibrant and exciting. But the media only focuses on the conflict. We want to show this place as it really is, as we see it.”

Drawing “unashamedly” on the band’s pop elements, “Got No Eden” aims directly for youth from Jordan to Denmark, Egypt to Holland, east and west, who “want to connect globally,” Apo says. “There is a real vibe on the street: a real mood for change.” If this new album has its way, that change is bound to be for the better.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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