Video of my good friend Micha, a very talented singer who just released his debut album. Recorded in Rio de janeiro, this is a spinoff of the Gummy Bear song but it's an easy wedding song hit. Also nice to see Ohad in a music video, he rarely goes for it.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Friday, December 21, 2012
Even today, the Lowell Milken Archive, a leading force in American Jewish Music features Rosenblatt as one of the early dominant elements of American Judaism. Many of his most famous pieces, including Ram Venisa and Yevorech, are to this day extremely popular and often times heard in many synagogues around the world.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Leiner has already a hit song - Kol Berama - and he now released a second song with the same concept. I rarely comment on individual songs, since I like to review a complete work like a CD, but both Kol Berama and this song showcase Leiner's style and good composition skills. Both songs stand out, while in the other hand the next thing to do is to get a top producer and work on a proper album. Mimamakim is not very well produced but it shows the potential of this song - add some good choir arrangements, a better instrumentation and holding back from excessive screaming he will soon be in the right track to fame. He has a great voice, great composing skills and an unusual range.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
But the more important question is not whether this album is better, worse or as good as the first - the question is if the music is good. So here we go.
Yesh Tikva - Benny released not long ago the single Mi Shemaamin Lo Mefached and this song follows the same concept. It’s in Hebrew, folksy and I specially like the subtleness of the bridge in 2:22. It’s a cute song; the ending was poor. ****
Haboicher - I would rather choose this song as the album’s opener. Energetic, original and in line with Benny’s style. It’s always nice to see Spinner doing the vocals - I’m a big fan of him - and Benny nailed it with the modulation note in 2:07 and with the subsequent improvisational skills. *****
Beshem - A powerful, subtle composition, this song is what I label “alternative JM” style. I’m happy to see Benny going for it and also letting the composer sing, which adds to the song’s authenticity. Rigler’s arrangement is perfect - actually, all is perfect until the modulation, when Benny goes for the higher octaves. I think that was the wrong decision - I would keep the mellow, low key feel of this song until the end. That’s a common problem in Jewish Music - the lack of restraint (think Eli Gerstner) and the urge to rock every song to its limit. Lipa’s Achron Choviv (Meimka DeLipa) is a rare example of a song done with the proper restraint, when Lipa did let the song shine without too much screaming. Benny overdid it here but the song is excellent. ****
Maale has a unique first part and a lot of room for improvisation; its not a blockbuster but a very pleasant and well-rounded song. I thought Benny’s vocals were fantastic here, specially in the composition’s first part. Kunstler’s acoustic guitar-centric arrangement really helped set the mood of this song. ****
Shalom Aleichem - interesting intro, with two traditional Friday-night tunes. I like this song a lot, the only throwback is the fact that MBD came out with a solid Shalom Aleichem not long ago so it’s a little difficult to give these lyrics another chance. But if you do, you will enjoy the song’s great vocals, energy and arrangement. ****
Mamleches is a very simple catchy slow song - but I do feel like the composition reaches no real momentum; it seems to go in circles, if you know what I mean. I think that it would’ve been smart to a add a bridge niggun to create a more solid structure. As it is, the song is missing something. Musically speaking the song is well arranged, and the choir is sublime.. ****
Ivdu - a good mid tempo song, the first part is not really original however it blends well with the second part, which I’m almost 100% sure it was the part of the song composed by Benny (whoever knows the facts please speak up!), as it really sounds like his groove (the song was co-composed with Y. Eliav, who probably did the 1st part). I felt Benny could have done a better job in the vocals and I would specially point out that would be smart to switch to Mizrachi pronunciation somewhere in the middle of the song in order to change the No No play to Na Na. As it is, the No No shtick gets overused. ***
Dor Acharon is a song I don't get. I did understand what Benny was going for in the other songs, and although they are not really blockbusters it’s clear he was trying to recreate the unique sound he successfully created in his debut album. However this is a Hillel Palai-ish midtempo song like the ones that were sung in each and every album for a few years after Yeedle’s hit song Ato Bonim- it was “in” then but now is not. So it’s like going back on time, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the composition is very weak - I see no connection between the words and tune, and the “dor acharon” repetition doesn’t makes sense to me. Add that to very simplistic vocal arrangement and harmonies, plus the long 5 minute count and you have the full picture: this is a pointless song and should’ve never been here. *
Vahaviosim is the album’s grooviest song, a beautiful piece by Waldner, who in my opinion is today JM’s best composer after YG. This type of song showcases Benny’s strengths and is to me on par with what we heard in his first album. Freitor’s arrangement is superb, one of the best I’ve heard lately, and the vocal arrangement concept is interesting but could have been a little more subtle, and this lack of subtleness is costly in the song’s end, which is terrible. Except for the ending, this is a 5 star song. Very well done! *****
Dawn of Mashiach is a risk taking song. Very demanding for Benny, he really does his very best to bring this song to life. Although it’s not my style, the song is good and well-rounded, with special mention to Spinner’s genius vocal arrangement in 3:46 and Benny’s Matisyahu-ish freestyling - great idea. But the song drags and is too long, 5:40. *****
Berachamim is a song that was released as a free single some year and a half ago. I’m a big fan of Ari Goldwag’s slow compositions, going back to Ethan Leifer’s album which featured two of Ari’s masterpieces and Ari’s own albums - I pretty much bought all of his musical works just for his slow songs. Berchamin is a blockbuster song, from beginning to end, and Ari was smart to do it together with Benny, who brought star power vocals and transformed this song into a classic. Ari’s vocals are not bad, but with Benny this song went to the sky. I can't give enough compliments to the song's overall production, arrangements and vocals. *****
Bottom Line: Although not a home run like his debut album, Benny’s second CD is very good and with great production value. Until very recently I always had Benny and Lipa as the two strongest innovators in JM, two singers who push the envelope and try to deliver new material and originallity. Lipa is clearly ahead, at the top of his game and not afraid of doing every single idea that comes to his mind (see my review of his latest album). But Benny is also up there too and this album was worth my money.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
To my great surprise, more and more JM albums continue to find their way into Spotify and Lipa’s latest Leap of Faith is up there now, so I have no excuse not to write a review now. The big downside is not having access to the album artwork, which means I can’t really know all the details about the composers, arrangers and all.
Chatzotrois - Not really groundbreaking, this song is pretty much a conventional and sounds a little familiar, probably because of the trumpet-filled arrangements a la Yisroel Lamm. The song does get more interesting after 3:00 thanks to Lipa’s great improvisational skills but the song itself is average and much too long. ***
L’Olam - this is probably the first JM song to use Portuguese and Dutch in its lyrics - tudo bom? tudo bem? - meaning all good? all well? (yes I speak Portuguese). This is one of Lipa’s signature lighthearted songs and although I have not much to speak about in terms of musicality, I do appreciate the risk taking and his efforts to make this structure-less song work. Reminiscent of Shlomo Simcha’s multi-language song (forgot the name) with even more languages.****
Yigdal - Beautiful Yeshivish song, just enough interesting to stand out and be memorable. The first and second parts mesh well, and the choir arrangements are subtle, smart and add a lot here. The actual arrangement is rather boring and could be more interesting - again it sometimes brings us back to Moshe Laufer-ism but all in all this is a solid slow song. However the song could stop at 5:00, sparing us the last minute of boring piano solo. ****
Kvodo - Best song so far, from beginning to the end this song is complex both in the vocals and arrangement. The choir is perfect, again subtle and smart as it should be, enabling Lipa to interpret this song marvelously. This is Lipa at his best and the lyrics choice is ngood too. *****
Vayehi quickly topples Kvodo as the best song so far, a song that is musically groundbreaking with a lot of dissonant notes and a package of perfect arrangement, choir and interpretation by Lipa. He is somehow equally comfortable singing a slow Yeshivish, a funky feel good song and an unusual composition like this one - great versatility. This song reminds me of Yossi Green’s chant song in his last album Hipsh (review here). Special mention to the falsetto at 3:40 and on, which closes the song well. *****
Hang up the Phone should be viewed in Youtube, where the video has a staggering 150,000 views so far.
For this song Lipa has been called the Jewish Lady Gaga in the web, among other comparisons, and nothing describes this song better than Jewish Pop, something we rarely see out there. This song normally would get many Cherem’s but after the Big Event fiasco, Lipa seems to be vaccinated and ready to explore his musical instinct. For the whole package and for the Chassidish twist at 2:40 this is a 5 star song. *****
Vedabkeinu stands in stark contrast with the previous song with its distinctive Chassidish feel. Almost like saying “don’t kill me for Hang up the Phone, here is a normal song”. Bottom line, not really anything special here. **
Yeled Katan - unusual to see a Chassidish guy like Lipa singing a Hebrew song a la Yishai Lapidot. Lipa is all over the place! 4:10 is a really good moment of Lipa, a great vocal shtick but this song seems to mimic Aleh Katan of A. Fried, without the same success.
Leap of Faith - great song name, this falls into the typical Lipa Yiddish song, a genre that is not really my cup of tea. **
Rochel - boring slow song, with a theme that was explored so many times by the likes of Shwekey (journeys), Shloimy Gertner (rochel), London Boys Choir and others. **
Mizrach - another song which should be viewed in Youtube (here). Great concept, very catchy song and a well crafted video. Bingo. Special mention to the Michael Jackson-ish “Ah” sung between Mizrach/Maarev etc..*****
Shul - Didn’t really get the point of this song *
Clearly Lipa’s music continues to develop his skills and grow musically. He is popular, cool and his music is distinctive and innovative. And even more important, he doesn’t seems to be afraid of the skeptists and the Kanoim who find modern music an abomination. He is a risk-taker and if you know me I always say this is the single most important attribute in a performer. This album is as good or better than Meimka DeLipa, with very solid 11 songs and virtually no “fillers”, those pointless songs most singers fill theirs albums with to get to the holy 10 song mark. Even though I heard it for free in Spotify I will buy a copy soon. Why? Because I want to own this album. It’s really good.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Without any doubt, Lipa today is what's really cooking in Jewish Music. He is cool, original and fearless and as seen in this video, that's a powerful combination. Lipa broke out from the Yiddish-speaking niche a long time ago and today he goes out of this way to appeal to everyone everywhere, with a much bigger reach than the previous heavyweights, namely, MBD Dedi Shwekey and A Fried.
Yishai Lapidot used to always be the crazy guy in the block and still remains very popular specially in Israel but Lipa is more exotic and possibly crazier, with a potential to literary be the biggest thing in JM in the past decade - and it looks like he is not far from that now.
I will be reviewing his latest album sometime soon so stay tuned.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
I will be the first one to admit I was late getting to Lipa's boat, but every year that passes it becomes clear how big of an impact he's having in Jewish Music and how that has propelled him to become the #1 singer today.
While his music is too pop for my taste and, for the most part, not really singable, he's undeniably extremely original and not afraid of breaking new ground in music. This video is a great example, with a clear Lady Gaga feel to it but still original, somewhat heismish, and stylistically cool.
That's very rare in JM; actually, almost non existent. MBD, A. Fried and Shwekey always stayed away from this commercialism which is so present in Lipa's career, but people seem to appreciate it and follow Lipa's every next move. While Shwekey has become boring, Lipa has managed to bring a fresh air of creativity and coolness to our ears (and eyes). Litvish boringness vs. Chassidic heimishkeit. Granted, both Shwekey and Lipa have a very strong following but Lipa is clearly more original and more musical, often times composing very unique songs and also performing the way he did in this video. It's the first time I've seen this kind of dancing in JM and it comes in a good time - kudos.
I never did a review of Meimka DeLipa, but that's an album that I'm listening a lot lately. While I still think his Yiddish songs are too niche-focused and take away from his appeal, I fully appreciate his boldness and musical talent, which is evident in this album. He's not afraid of using unusual, dissonant, scales and he is very into building a story for every song. Almost every song has a beginning, middle and end - remarkable. My favorite is the rock song Mizmor Letoda, a true masterpiece he composed by himself.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Now available in the US for a few months already, the much hyped Spotify music platform offers what is the very best Jewish Music subscription out there now.
Spotify has a freemium model - you can actually listen everything for free but for 10usd a month you have mobile access and no ads. I opted in without knowing that there was such a large selection of JM in it - really surprising.
You can find there A. Fried, Ohad, MBD, Gad Elbaz, Chaim Israel, Shlsheles, Chevra, Carlebach and even some lesser known singers like Gershon Veroba, Menachem Phillip and many more.
Notable exceptions I noted were Yaakov Shwekey and Lipa but I'm that will not be for long.
All in all, the ease of use of Spotify plus all the JM content is irresistible - you can use it in your PC, iPad, iPhone and Android.
For many years it seemed like Jewish Music would eventually have to succumb to the iTunes model, although the JM producers did their best to prevent that. But now it's clear to me that the real game changer is Spotify, with its cool social-sharing featuers where you can share your playlists with your facebook friends.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Hashiveini has unnoriginal lyrics and the compositon is very weak, so MBD needed some magic to make this song fly. Mission not accomplished and this song is an unnecessary "filler" in MBD's farewell album *
Nichsefo is the typical Moshe laufer song - Midtempo, easy to sing and not particularily original. But it's fun and interestingly, not arranged by laufer. I guess they wanted to maintain the folk feel that we have throughout the album, something laufer would probably not do if he were to be the arranger. ***
Kisufim is a yiddish song composed by mbd himself with Lipa lyrics. The tune is actually ok but it has no climax, leaving us with the feeling that something is missing. I guess it's more about the words....***
Simchas toireh - see Chabad niggun comment above. By now it's pretty clear MBD is going to a strange direction here. Nothing wrong with the niggun but it's just flatly boring and not only this adds nothing to the album, it actually takes a lot away from it. And the arrangement here is below the quality of the rest of the album. *
Ani maamin. Worst possible choice of lyrics, unnecessary child soloist and nothing new.
Yibone. Actually a great classic i did not mind to hear again. But what's the point of squeezing two distinct songs in one track?
Impecably arranged by M. Hershkovitz, Ashreini is another song composed by MBD and it features among the best in the album. I wish we would have more of those.
Bottom line, do I like this album? I prefer to put it like this - I don't dislike it. The arrangements are simple and groovy, with a common theme: strings, more strings and a great choir. As a result, Kisufim does have a very unique sound but the problem is not the production. I think MBD played too safe and tried to say goodbye with a Kumzits album that is not as good as the Kumzits album. The album lacks innovation and courage, two things that that every album should have and that could have made this album a masterpiece. That's why I didn't like this album too much. Efshar letaken was much better.
With that said, my big kudos for MBD for giving us so many great moments throughout his remarkable Jewish music career.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Even tough I'm pretty much retiring from this blog, it keeps getting very good traffic without any effort from my part.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I've been wondering if I should review Ohad 3 or not... The album is out already for quite some time - perhaps I should review something else.
Meanwhile, I've come across two videos:
I've heard Shwekey's brother a few times but he seems more rounded this time; he evidently took voice coaching classes and he sounds better now. The song is quite weak, forgetable although the lyrics are sung in a different way than the usual Mi Adir. He starts with the last part and if not for this lyrics change I wouldn't even bother to watch it - I don't listen to Mi Von Siach/Mi Adir songs anymore. Got sick of them.
Which brings me to another Music Video, this time by Yossi Green.
The contrast is evident - the lyrics. Yossi Green can spend months until he finds the right lyrics for a song, and he ultimatedly did find a great set of lyrics for this song. The lyrics alone propel this song to another level and YG knows how to play with the lyrics and interpret them. But I'm afraid he is alone; most of the songs I hear are still old lyrics battered again and again. Mi Adir/Mi Von Siach and Halach Hagoel are perhaps the most overused lyrics, and even Ohad 3 unfortunatedly had a Mi Von Siach - a waste of time in an otherwise interesting album.
The tune is interesting, changing the tempo very smoothly between the second and third part of the song, and the vocals are very good - first time I hear these fellows. YG has mastered the composition process like no other JM composer in the past decades, a real blessing for JM fans.
And unlike Yosef Chai's video, this video is novel - it is a real story. Somebody comissioned YG to compose a song for his Bar Mitzva son and the video illustrates the process. That's new, original and fresh.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
By MICHAEL FREUND 18/09/2011 Apple's online music store does not have a separate category for Jewish and hassidic melodies. Apple Inc.’s popular online digital media outlet iTunes classifies many of the most well-known Jewish performers and their albums as “Christian & Gospel” material and does not have a separate category for Jewish melodies, The Jerusalem Post has found. Albums by Avraham Fried, an Orthodox Jew, with titles such as Yiddish Gems Volumes 1 & 2, My Fellow Jew and The Baal Shem Tov’s Song all appear under the “Christian & Gospel” category. Other songs of his appear under the heading “World.” Similarly, Mordechai Ben- David’s collections Just One Shabbos and Yerushalayim Our Home, as well as songs such as “Yom Tov Medley,” are all listed as “Christian.” And the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s album Shaarei Shabbat – Songs and Blessings for your Jewish home” which includes the song “Am Yisrael Chai” (“the People of Israel live”), is included in the Christian category. Music for Jewish children and cantorial works by Joseph Malovany of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue are also not exempt from Apple’s unusual classification system, which deems them to be Christian. Contacted by the Post, Fried expressed astonishment. “Why would they put Jewish and Hassidic music under the ‘Christian and Gospel’ category? It makes no sense,” he said. “I don’t understand where they are coming from and what the point is of doing this,” Fried said. “I would hate to think this is an attempt to bury Jewish music under a Christian or Gospel label.” Repeated requests for comment to Apple’s corporate headquarters in California and its UK branch went unanswered. Fried said Apple should change its policy and create a Jewish grouping. “It is time to have Jewish and Hassidic music stand on its own,” he declared. “It should have its own category and be called by its right name – Jewish music.” Apple’s iTunes is said to be the largest online music and video vendor in the world. In February 2010, the company announced that more than 10 billion songs had been purchased and downloaded from the site since its inception in 2003.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
If there's one genre of album I never buy, that is what I call "Chazora Albums". Falling in this category is a plethora of wedding albums, remix albums, project next albums that are easy and cheap to produce. I don't buy those because there's nothing new there - it's basically a double charge for songs you have paid for already.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Interviews with judges and contestants
So... A Jewish Star is over and a day later we know who won - Piamenta Jr - with a very energetic performance. Did he deserve it? Looking at all the performances, this was the only listenable piece. The rest was subpar, very very weak and mostly off tuned.
What is clear is that well produced auditions masked the real voices of the auditioners. They are all at best average voices, and that's already a compliment. Next time the auditions should be voice only. Let's be real.
In a more positive note, this edition showed that anyone, ANYONE, could have been standing there. Yes, you also. Maybe that will encourage more people to submit videos.
The lack of interactiveness hurt this a lot, since only the people who attended te show were actually part of it. The unfortunate souls who couldn't make it had no connection to it until today. Didn't anybody think of making a live feed over the web?
In any case, shkoiach to Piamenta Jr who did feel confortable in stage much like Binyamin Moshe last year. We already have a pattern of Israelis doing well in the contest and that's no surpirse - Israeli Jewish Music is far more interesting the mainstream today. Israeli seem to have more chutzpa to do their thing without being afraid of standing out. That's great for music.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
A Jewish Star will soon move to the next stage, and VIN released a list of the more popular contestants.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
"When asked what qualities he looks for when he auditions choir members, Gerstner said: “Good voice, stage presence and the most important factor – aidelkeit.”
“A child who performs must be a Baal Midos. It won’t work any other way. People don’t want to see a boy with an ego. The ego comes through in the voice.”
So a good voice is not all?
“Exactly. We turn down so many kids who try out for YBC who have amazing voices but lack in Aidelkeit. Take Avrohom Fried, for example, he has an amazing stage presence without the ego. And look where he is…”"