Benny Friedman’s Kulanu Nelech Album Review

Benny Friedman’s latest album, Kulanu, is out on Spotify, and as a paying subscriber I enjoyed listening to this album quite a bit, to the extent that I felt like writing a review for the first time in some years. JM is evolving and improving very much in the past years and this album is a leap forward so I wanted to write about it. Excuse me for not giving proper credits - there’s no way for me to see full credits in Spotify.Tashiru - Benny’s superb vocals are immediately in display, having improved significantly over the years. This song is really well done - the beat, the lyrics, great arrangement, the choir (very smooth and not too punchy) all give room for Benny to shine, and he is able to keep the song interesting throughout. I specially like the ending of each block with “Ani shar” - a great connector and the interlude at 2:30 adds a lot of feel to this great opener, a song that keeps evolving *****Kulanu - starts with strong drums, introducing a theme of march to this song. Th…

Chazan Benjamin Muller - High Holidays

I got some awesome new High Holydays videos of Benjamin Muller, one of the very best voices I´ve heard in my life. Check it out:

Shma Koleinu - great interpretation and high notes

Kol Nidrei - for nusach lovers

Lipa, the new Shlomo Carlebach

In the aftermath of Lipa's truly remarkable latest album a new picture of Lipa is clearly emerging. Lipa has evolved to be not only a singer but a transformative figure in the JM scene; not only a guy trying to fit in, but an artist conveying a new, fresh message. And this message, of the new Lipa, is present in pretty much all the songs of his album - non-conformism, innovation and positivism. He is often labeled the "Jewish Lady Gaga", but I prefer to compare him to a much more interesting and important person - to Reb Shlomo Carlebach.

Shlomo Carlebach was another transformative figure in Jewish Music. He was more than just music; Carlebach was about connecting to every Jew, irrespective of affiliation, through his simple and catchy niggunim and stories. His impact was truly remarkable and unparalleled, unlike any other Jewish Music artist. 

As popular as they are/were, MBD, Avraham Fried, Shwekey and the like didn't really aim to transform anything. They were great…

Review of Lipa's Be Positive

This is it! The album I have been waiting to hear for years  is here, above and beyond everything else that has been out there - Lipa's Be Positive. 

This album has been advertised as the first trance-style JM album but that's an overstatement. Yishai Lapidot, who was one of JM's most talented and popular composers some 10 years ago, explored this genre with Oif Simches, a group that was quite successful precisely because of their use of trance music. Lipa at times reminds me of him, in his improvisations and also in the use of Yiddish slangs here and there. 
But Be Positive's production quality sets a higher standard for JM albums - the arrangements are bold and rythmic, there are some interesting rap and Chazzonus add-ons that enhance the songs and there is a general laid back, artistic athmosphere in the making of this album. 
My main frustration with Jewish music was the lack of innovative lyrics and conformism. Lipa fixes these two problems heads on - the lyrics a…

Lipa's Ben Feige

Lipa's new video is out, and along with it all the usual excitement and also some controversy. Lipa is hardly the first Jewish singer exploring Trance music - even MBD used electronic music in many of his later songs but Lipa is openly championing the use of different sounds in JM. And he is right.

Ben Feige is a very catchy song but I didn't think the arrangement was so groundbreaking. In fact, I find it falls short and fails to bring the best out of this song. But it's surely a great song and probably an easy hit song.

If I can give constructive criticism for Lipa, I think it's time he takes dancing lessons. He loves to make music videos and he loves to dance, but if he really wants to bring these videos to an unexplored territory, he needs to take dancing seriously, because he is quite weak at it. And there's nothing unJewish about dancing. I'm sure choreographers can create an appropriate setup for a Jewish song and make these videos a real hit.

My Review of Yaakov Shwekey's Kolot

Here’s my late review of Shwekey’s Kolot album. I’ve covered Shwekey for a long time, and I thought it would make sense to follow up with his album. 
Am Israel is a hit song that Shwekey bet on for this album, and it worked. Very energetic song, faux-Israeli style song that keeps going strong until the end. The arrangement, chorus and all else fit it and allow Shwekey to carry this song very well. *****
Kolot is another clear risk taking song, a departure from Shwekey’s past tendency of sticking with Yeshivish songs. This song is actually a real Israeli-style song and adding Shlomi Shabbat, a legend from non Hassidic Israeli music industry, brings this song to whole different level. Somehow, the interplay between Shwekey and Shabat works - who would think so? The lyrics are very original and what strikes me is how comfortable Shwekey is in this unusual song, showing he can be eclectic too. The opening is gorgeous, with nice choir lines and string, and it’s way above what we are used t…

Eli Marcus Dovid Hamelech Review

Eli Marcus debut album has been well advertised everywhere and I’m glad to have had a chance to listen to it in Spotify. It’s interesting how virtually all new JM albums get to Spotify rather quickly; that’s amazing.
Sheyibone it’s difficult to define. Not very energetic, too many trumpets and throws us back some 20 years. We also have Yossi Green’s classic chorus, so I wonder if this is intentionally a retro song. I don’t get it. **
I love how direct Refoeinu starts - right into the song, and this is a special song. Groovy and modern, Benny Friedman-style, it’s a simple and successful song because it showcases Eli Marcus’ vocals and also his music style. ****
Dovid Hamelech should have been the opening song of the album. It’s full of energy, and has perfect chorus and arrangements (I specially like how the tempo changes) . I guess Eli wanted Yossi Green’s chorus featured in the first songs, but sometimes you have to do what you gotta do. This is a winner, Sheyibone is not. *****