Thursday, February 26, 2009

Six13's Yesh Chadash Review

One of my favorite musicians in JM, Mike Boxer, is back with Six13's latest album. Although I'm pretty much done with reviews I made an exception simply because they are more original than everyone else - you can't be in Acapella otherwise. And I love original stuff and most of all Acapella, so I'm excited about this one.

The album's title Yesh Hadash is most certainly a play with the Kohelet verse: "There's nothing new (Ein Hadash) under the sun" like saying "Six13 is back, and with some new and refreshing music". Let's hope that holds true!

Ki Leolam Hasdo is very catchy and pop-ish. I like the way the lyrics and the song blend - it's not easy to sing these lyrics but I think this worked well. The song builds up well, with a nice bridge in 1:52 (it sounds like another of Six13's song but I can't remember which) and some improvisation in 2:46, where they keep changing the lyrics and that's great - everyone else in JM would just keep singing the same basic lyrics. ****

Mah Tovu is another tune that goes very well with the lyrics, despite the fact that the lyrics are not very original. But although it's true that every JM singer already has a Ma Tovu in their repertoire, this one is different than the rest, so you will not pass it. The arrangement is really amazing, just makes the song flow seamlessly. I also loved the closing of the song. This was definitely the right choice for the second song. ****

Mi Kamocha is in the serious side, and although the first part seems to be just average the high part is amazing and groovy. So far in this album all the bridges are perfect - great job in 2:37, again singing on the lyrics ("Tzur Yisrael") instead of repeating the same lyrics all the time. And before I forget - wacky closing. *****

The next song is very upbeat and puts you in the right mood for the lyrics - Modeh Ani, which we say every morning. I didn't like the second part of the song simply because it uses to much repetition, but overall this song is the best so far - the vocals are superb (check 2:04 and 3:23 and 3:30) and the harmonies are just what I love in Acapella. To put all this together is a great feat. ****

After the cool intermission idea ("ladies and gentleman, once again, Six13") we get to the crazy part of this album - Neilah. The Shwekey-lovers will not be able to appreciate this but I love to see a group just having fun and singing what comes their heart. You can see here Six13's array of shticks and tricks and although all the songs are non-Jewish hits this is woth listening to. Yes, "Too late to circumcise" is a stretch and I hope you will not walk around singing this, but man, so much fun! ****

Like in Ma Tovu, Im Eshocheich is a complicated choice of lyrics but despite that I appreciated the moody style of this song. It's not singable, but it's a nice experiment. And the bass guy in the end is unreal - in Six13 Encore I thought this guy's voice was digitally altered but it's real. The best bass voice in JM, easily. If you didn't notice it, do me a favor, go to 4:04 and hear it again. Don't pass it like that. ****

Shiru Lamelech is perhaps some 5 years too late so from the start I wonder if it was smart to try to Six13-ize it. Everything is amazing but this song already got all the attention it could've gotten, even tough this gotta be the funnest rendition so far. It puts Lev Tahor's version (1st album) to shame, but again, it's too late. ***

I didn't "clicked" with Bni and Ata Echad, which in my opinion are less good than what we had until know. *

Ledor Vador is a song originally featured in Josh Nelson's debut album, an album I didn't review but full of good music (special mention to his first song there, amazing). If you are interested, check Teruah's glowing review. I heard this song before, so I didn't get blown away. ***

Final Thoughts: Although this is not an album intended to the Yeshivish crowd, it seems to me that this album got less buzz than it deserves. While JM as a whole is getting me bored Six13 is ever-interesting and original. All the songs have a purpose and a concept, that is, they are not just another song, it's a new story every time, so anyone who just loves good music will automatically love this album. I hope Mr. Boxer continues to venture into the more Yeshivish JM since he has a lot to teach. As I said once, a professional in a sea of amateurs and Spinner will go far if he sticks with Boxer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Return of The Phoenix - Michoel Streicher's New Album

For those of you who never heard about Streicher, he was very popular in the early 90's and has a few classics that are still heard here and there in more Chassidish gatherings.

His most famous song is Koach Hatorah (now you understand the email featured in the poster) and Streicher was famous for his good range and powerful voice. However, he was never one of the show-biz guys, probably didn't even have an agent - he was just one of the typical JM's-early-90's success stories.

But from day to night he vanished and it was years since I last heard of him. Gruntig actually uncovered a recent vid of him ("Long Lost Streicher is Finally Found"), but his voice seems to have passed its prime there. So it was with great surprise that I saw this poster just today. This is Streicher second album with a son - the first was with his older son Dovid.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chazzan Schulhof

We had Chazzan Schulhof this past Shabbos in the Great Synagogue. A former student of the revered Koussovitzki, Schulhof was great and you can hear him a bit in this youtube clip. You can also see more about him in his website.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Blog

I started a new blog about Safrut and I will be spending much less time in this JM blog from now on. As I said in the new blog, much has changed in this past years of blogging. I started blogging a few years ago about Jewish Music, in a time where Jewish Music was a major interest for me. There weren't many blogs about it and I knew I had interesting things to share, so I started YK's Jewish Music Forum.

After these years, my interest has shifted towards different things, although I still like JM. Most importantly, I decided to fulfill a childhood dream and started a Sofer Stam program with a well-known sofer in Jerusalem, just few months ago. Suddenly, Safrut became a major field of interest and I'm spending a large part of my time doing extensive research about it. And I want to keep a database of all the amazing things I'm finding, so I want to do it in a blog-style.

I know the switch from Jewish Music to Safrut is unusual, but at the end of the day I only posted about JM for fun and now I suddenly find myself in a situation where I have more fun posting about non-JM things. It was a wild ride to post about JM for so long and the industry has changed a lot, for the good. Better albums, productions and singers, and today you have many quality JM blogs in the web. So you are well served and I will still be here, albeit more in the side lines.


Sunday, February 1, 2009