An excellent playlist of drummer beats
Editor’s Note: This weekend, unleash your inner percussionist with these groove slapping tracks curated by Aarifah Rebello. The selection ranges from the pop punk phonetics of Paramore to classics from Jet, Mutemath and Death Cab for Cutie. Also included: off-time signatures and double kick beats from the masters Foo Fighters and Alter Bridge and new-age RnB from Anderson .Paak.
Written by: Arunima Joshua, Advisory editor
As a storyteller and performer, Aarifah Rebello may strum a trusty acoustic guitar or experiment with a live-looper, but she’s most at home behind a drum kit. Rebello’s stellar career has included being mentored and produced by AR Rahman and Clinton Cerejo for her single ‘Hey Good Evening’. She was also the drummer on American-Indian artist Madame Gandhi’s India tour. You can see her in action in this Deepika Padukone ad for Levis. Splainer asked Rebello to share the tracks that got her into drumming—and always gets her in the mood to pick up her pair of sticks. Feel free to air-drum along:)
‘Running Out Of Time’ by Paramore: From their latest album This is Why (2023), this track instantaneously sets the heat with its kinetic guitar-picking opening. Frontwoman Hayley William’s vocals are dispensed in percussive beats for a rhythmic chemistry that is “just genius,” remarks Rebello.
‘No One Knows’ by Queens of the Stone Age: “I remember discovering this song a long time ago, not realising Dave (Grohl—of The Foo Fighters, Nirvana) was on drums,” says Rebello. She asks us to listen up for the drumming’s bounce and disco / swing influence.
‘Rope’ by Foo Fighters: Aarifah Rebello is sucker for off-time grooves and this alt-rock offering with late drummer Taylor Hawkins on the kit, also tributes legendary Canadian percussionist Neil Peart (Rush). This one’s really for the nerds out there, with a thrashing solo to boot!
‘Metalingus’ by Alter Bridge: This band introduced Rebello to a double kick (a drumming technique involving the use of both feet, instead of just one). During the bridge, frontman Myles Kennedy sings “let me breathe” and Kennedy breathes along with the open hi-hat. “It is SUCH a moment. I imitated that effect in my song ‘Anyway’ (2023) as we get into the second verse,” Rebello elaborates.
‘YYZ’ by Rush: Rebello attributes Neil Peart’s (drummer and primary lyricist of the band) drumming as pivotal to expanding her knowledge of the craft. This one is groove-led and most likely the speediest selection on the playlist.
‘Culture Clash’ by The Aristocrats: The rock supergroup are often referred to as “musician’s musicians” and I remember Rebello’s brief interaction with the band during their live set at Sitara Studios, Mumbai in 2016. It was endearing and they called her ‘Aalifah’ instead of Aarifah, as drummer Marco Minneman handed her over his drumstick (a sole, treasured one, yes). This melodic jam has the funkiest groove and will really make you wish you could catch The Aristocrats live sometime.
‘E Major Blues’ by Blackstratblues: Nothing transcends blues bliss as guitarist extraordinaire Warren Mendonsa’s project Blackstratblues. If you can focus on not being teleported to another world, tune into the “phenomenal conversation of dynamics, control and great tone—consistently,” as put by Rebello. “This is a true testament to muscle memory and solid intuition for a drummer,” she adds.
‘I Will Possess Your Heart’ by Death Cab For Cutie: Ah, millennial nostalgia doesn’t get better than this. While the band rose to popularity after their inclusion in the Twilight films soundtrack, this song was already an indie cult favourite. On the track’s drum technique Rebello says, “Playing this is a lesson in restraint. You have the core of the groove down and then the subtle additions open up the song, again and again.”
‘Typical’ by Mutemath: Rebello calls Mutemath’s drummer Darren King “a king” for learning how to play this entire song in reverse for their music video. What sealed the deal for Rebello was watching them be beasts live at the Harley Rock Riders festival in India (2015). Mutemath is known as one of the zaniest and most effective live acts for intimate venues, and that frenetic energy is palpable on this track.
‘Do What You Want’ by OK Go: Rebello has added this on to the playlist “purely for serotonin reasons.” No one has more fun than OK Go, especially with their Grammy winning, quirky music videos—sprightly drums and all. Their unique brand of intelligent pop-rock is so feel-good you just want to ‘do what you want’.
‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ by Jet: As the playlist progresses from technical wins to pure adrenaline, this is one to get you moving. Rebello played this extensively during her teens. “It’s damn fun to play,” she adds. We concur.
‘Your Prime’ by Anderson .Paak: From one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2016 (Malibu), the hard-hitting and smooth drums of this trap-influenced groove encapsulate fantastically the evolution of African-American music over time.
‘Lost Myself’ by Jordan Rakei: Rebello attempts to play the drums for this one while singing at the same time as a delightful challenge. The jazz influence and electronic production with live drum samples make this a meditative listen.
‘Fault Line’ by Tennyson: “Drummer Tess Pretty (frontman Luke Pretty’s sister who joins the artist on drums for live performances) pretty much blew my mind redefining everything I knew about rhythm and drums. I would actually recommend listening to Like What - their entire EP,” is Rebello’s take. The warped, stretched, glitchy and jazz-leaning percussion open up a whole new world to your ear, only making one sad that our playlist has come to an end.
Now that you’ve received a crash course in listening out for groove and rhythm, let us know your favourite tracks with the sickest drum parts!
Don’t forget to check out our previous playlists—including rock songs through the ages, a capella music, best club remixes, a heavy metal playlist, awesome movie soundtracks, and fun songs for road trips.