Briefing: I don't know much about Joel, aside from his signature fiery comments in this and other blogs. He has a guest post about Yishai Lapidot's latest album here and we once had a fun top-ten challenge against each other, but Joel is not a blogger; he is a JM fan who asked to share his picks, and to those of you who think the bloggers are not choosing well, Joel will surely go in another direction.
Best Album: Omar Dovid (Dovid Gabay)
Best Song: Don Don (Gabay)
Best Debut Singer: Yitzy Spinner
Best Arrangement: Birchos Avicha (Razel)
Worst Song: Return Again (Yeedle)
Best Producer (?): Avi Newmark
"For the record my name is Joel. If you want to know my last name I'll tell you i just dont want it coming up on google. I am an out of towner, and I don't know anyone in the business other than Dov from Blue Fringe. I'm not really sure what makes me qualified to rate any album, but I could say that about every other expert here as well.
The choices are Green's 8th Note, Yeedle's Lev Echad, Gabay's Omar Dovid and Lipa's A Poshiter Yid. A standout album has premier vocals, compositions, and arrangements. Green's album features his vocals too much bringing down the quality of the performance. He is like the old man in shul who loves to daven....but can't. Yeedle's album is solid in all three areas, but doesn't stand out. Lipa's album is awesome, and he is clearly the number one performer in Jewish music. The only slight problem I had with it was his slow slongs were really filler and he doesn't really do english songs well. That leaves Omar Dovid which in my humble opinion is the gold standard for all albums in Jewish music. It has expanded the scope of mainstream Jewish Music production. Gabay's vocals are at the top of the heap along with Avraham Fried. The compositions of Elimelech Blumstein and others, were original and breathtaking. The arrangements of Yonatan Razel, Yisroel Lamm ( who knew he could pull this off ), Leib Yaakov Rigler and others were really off the charts. The production under Avi Newmark created the opus that all other albums should be compared.
The options are: Omar Dovid (Gabay), Anovim (Yossi Green) , Mekimi (Yeedle), Yener (Lipa Schmeltzer), Birchos Avicha (Gabay), Hameshorer (Shuli Rand)
The Choices are all solid, Omar Dovid and Birchos Avicha are two of the best slow songs I have heard in a while. Anovim is an overrated reused song from MBD's Priority One Show. Green, like I said before, does a duet with MBD killing the vocals. He should have given himself a stanza here and there like Shmuel Brazil did on his recent albums, not taken 60% of the vocals for himself. I am going to choose my favorite song from Omar Dovid which is Don Don. A piercing rock tune, Don Don hits the mark. The arrangement is top notch subtly adding the organ and solo violin. Its a rock song, but not overdone Gerstner style.
The options are Sefor (Tyberg - 8th Note), Birchos Avicha (Razel- Omar Dovid), Mi Sheshiken (Spinner - Remix), Poshiter Yid (Hershkowitz - P. Yid), Hevei Shakud (Amar - Am Echad), Return Again (Razel - Lev Echad), Lecho Dodi (S. Fird - Bayis Nemon), Yofyafisa (Tichon - Shalsheles IV), Don Don (Newmark - Omar Dovid)
These again are all solid again, but I am going to choose Birchos Avicha (Gabay) arranged by Yonatan Razel. All the praise I gave Gabay's album pertains to this song. The composition is original and the arragement is wide ranged and deep. I cant think of many songs that uses sixteen violinists, four violaists and four celloists. Razel proves bigger is better. This song takes it up a notch.
I made this category up but the only two I think deserve recognition are Yossi Tyberg and Avi Newmark. With these two people forget quickly about Sheya Mendlowitz and Suki and Ding. Yossi T and Newmark and taking JM to new heights. I guess you can call them the Rick Rubin and Brain Eno of JM.
I didn't like any of YK's choices, and I thought Neeroh by Stein was a solid song. Why all the Dovid Stein haters? Yes, his arrangements are below average, and sound exactly like Chevra 3, but I think he is only guilty of hiring a bad producer. His album, I found to be a decent listen. My choice for worst song is Return Again by Yeedle but really by Reb Shlomo. The reason I chose the song is not because it was bad, but because of overkill. I checked my Itunes library and It seems that The Moshav Band, Omek Hadavar and Yehuda Green just recently covered the song. Im sure others have as well. The song is even the title track on The Moshav Band and Yehuda Green's album. As we know from Niggun Neshama and every Nickelback song overplay can ruin a song. If you are going to cover a song dont do one that everyone else has done as well.
It seems like Amar has many fans on this site, but I was not impressed. I think his songs were average, and the Axel Foley ripoff was in poor taste. His voice is also mediocre. The other guys don't merit a mention. The man among boys in this category is Yitzy Spinner. He's almost a veteran in the JM scene from his Miami Boys Choir days. How can you not be impressed by a chap who not just sings, but also composes all his songs, plays many of the instruments, and arranges his own tracks. His Avi Newmark produced effort is outstanding.
Thanks YK for the opportunity, and thank you for reading.