Monday, October 31, 2016

Video - Rogers Park, "Harninu"

As promised last week, Rogers Park have released their first all-Yiddish song and video, "Harninu".

Directed by the duo with filming assistance from Atara Wolf, the video opts for a rustic farm setting as the band perform their rendition of a Chabad melody, furnished with lyrics that speak of trusting in the Divine that things will go well (subtitled for the Lipa-impaired), in their usual upbeat folk style.

The band's debut album, The Maggid, is currently available on all the usual platforms.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Kobi Oved covers Streisand's "Avinu Malkeinu"

Israeli musician Kobi Oved recently performed a cover of Barbra Streisand's version of "Avinu Malkeinu". The performance occurred last Wednesday at a memorial for the late Israeli politician Shimon Peres, held at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Streisand herself performed the song at Peres' 90th birthday in 2013.

Oved is currently working on his debut album with producer Lior Cohen, which will include the single "Vaetchanan". He can be found on Facebook and YouTube.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Rogers Park announce all-Yiddish music video

Chicago-based Chabad folk rock duo Rogers Park have announced via Twitter and Facebook that they will be releasing their first music video entirely in Yiddish next week.

Formed in the eponymous Chicago neighborhood by childhood friends Yosef Peysin and Mordy Kurtz, Rogers Park debuted in 2014 with their video for "Sukkah's Falling", a Sukkos-themed parody of the Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face". Since then, they've found success with their videos for "Shared Hearts", "Golden Crown", and "The Maggid" (the title track from their debut album, which released in January), and have even collaborated with violinist Ruby Harris, formerly of Diaspora Yeshiva Band.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Music Video - Shtar, "Gone Again"

Jerusalem-based rap/rock band Shtar have officially released their video for "Gone Again" to YouTube, having previously debuted it on their Facebook page. 

The song is actually a reworking of a track from their 2012 EP Boss. While maintaining the original's lyrics about ending a dying relationship, this version changes the instrumentation to focus on organic drums and guitar, resulting in a heavier rock feel than the original track's more subdued R&B vibe.

Shtar was formed in 2006 by rapper Ori Murray, originally from Seattle, and guitarist Brad Rubinstein, formerly of the short-lived British trip-hop band Lisp, after they met at the Aish HaTorah yeshiva in Jerusalem. They have since received critical acclaim for their debut album Infinity, and last year competed on the Israeli reality singing competition HaKokhav Haba with a cover of Linkin Park's "In The End" (they came in ninth).

Music Video - Simche Friedman, "Bekarov (Yitgadal)"

Israeli Chabad singer Simche Friedman has released a video for his latest single, "Bekarov (Yitgadal)".

Produced by Yoni Eliav and composed by Daniel Zamir (who appears in the video), with additional electronics work by Tal Matmor, Amit Harel, and Ron Tichon  the song is a catchy dance-pop piece that surrounds the famous opening lines of Kaddish with lyrics about taking time out from the world's insanity to connect with Hashem. The video, directed by Aharon Orian, is of the video-shoot-where-everything-goes-wrong genre, with Friedman contending with a malfunctioning microphone, a faulty smoke machine, and various people running through the shot, until he takes time out to calm down by davening.

Based in Lod, Friedman first made waves in late 2014, appearing on the third volume of singer Moshe Laufer's Chabad with Moshe Laufer series and collaborating with Eliav and singer Mendy Jerufi on a "Shluchim Medley" in honor of a Chabad shluchim conference that was going on at the time. In the intervening years, he found success with the Chanukkah ballad "Chasoif" (taken from the compilation album Ha’Meorrerim 2), the single "Kol Dodi" with musician Elor Velner, and other collaborations. Thus, "Bekarov" is technically his first solo single.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Avremi Roth ft. Yashlatz, "Torat Hashem Temima"

Chazzan Avremi Roth and the high school students of Yashlatz yeshiva in Jerusalem have released a new single "Torat Hashem Temima", composed by R' Yosef Tzvi Breyer and produced by Ofir Sobol.

The song, based on a selection from Tehilim, smoothly moves between acoustic kumzits-style strumming and more up-tempo brass-laden Orthodox pop, and makes good use of the interplay between Roth's and the kids' voices.

Chasidica, "Highbreed"

Not a lot of new music out this week, so I thought I would showcase this cool video from earlier in the year I just discovered, "Highbreed" by Chasidica.

Chasidica is an Israeli Hasidic alt-metal band that was formed in 2007 by brothers Sagi and Idan Givol, the former of whom played for a metal band in Australia before becoming religious. On "Highbreed", the band does a good job of balancing softer grooves with bursts of alt-rock grit, with Sagi Givol really displaying his vocal range.

Chasidica can be found at their website and on Facebook and YouTube.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Akiva Gelb ft. Shir V'shevach Boys Choir, "Shabbos Medley"

Hasidic singer Akiva Gelb, accompanied by the Shir V'Shevach Boys Choir, has released a medley of songs taken from the Shabbos prayers. Composed by Gelb and produced by Gershy Moskowits, the charming Carlebach-esque acoustic rendition is given a nicely atmospheric video shot at night by the ocean. (True East-Coasters can probably pick out where exactly this is - I'm from LA, the only water we see is bottled.)

Gelb is a relatively new figure in the Orthodox pop scene. He debuted last year with the single "V'ezkeh", and in March he released his debut album, Dance 365, which features the Freilach Band.

The Shondes release video for "Everything Good"

New York-based rock band The Shondes have released a video for "Everything Good", from their latest album Brighton (which will be reviewed here on Yidwise in the coming weeks).

The song acts as a perfect introduction to the album, showcasing the skills of lead singer Louisa Rachel Solomon and violinist Elijah Oberman, a power-chord-heavy rhythm section, and lyrics that are almost aggressively positive and optimistic. The video's boardwalk setting perfectly complements the relaxed-yet-soaring vibe of the song.

Brighton is currently available on all the usual platforms. As stated, a Yidwise review is forthcoming.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Eitan Freilich releases "Halayla"

Eitan Freilich has just released "Halayla", the second single from his debut album Am Yisrael Chai.

Composed by Ari Goldwag and arranged by Ian Freitor, the song is an upbeat electro-pop number with lyrics taken from Sheva Brachos, encouraging listeners to join together in celebration "tonight". It's the Jewish wedding version of a Pitbull song, basically.

Am Yisrael Chai is currently available on all the usual platforms.

Shloime Gertner, "Shelo Asani Goy"

British frum-pop superstar Shloime Gertner has premiered "Shelo Asani Goy", the first single from his latest album Mincha, which was released earlier this month.

Produced by Gershy Moskowits and composed by Moshe "Mona" Rosenblum, the up-tempo jazz/rock number borrows its lyrics from the Shacharis prayers, particularly the Morning Blessing in which we thank Hashem for being made Jews.

Mincha is currently available on iTunes, Mostly Music, and NigunMusic.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Alex Clare releases lyric video for "Tell Me What You Need"

British singer-songwriter Alex Clare has released a lyric video for "Tell Me What You Need", the debut single from his upcoming album Tail of Lions. Brooding and intense with lyrics lamenting an uncommunicative loved one, the song should more than satisfy fans of Clare's blend of alt-rock, soul, and electronica.

Raised secular, Clare became a BT around 2007, having discovered Orthodoxy through Chabad while studying in Jerusalem. Since then, he has talked openly about his adherence to halacha on tour. He found chart success in 2011 with his debut album, The Lateness of the Hour, and its lead single "Too Close", which reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. While Clare has remained musically active in the intervening years, "Tell Me What You Need" marks his first solo release since his 2014 album Three Hearts.

Tail of Lions will be released on November 11 through ETC Recordings.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Music Video - Raphael Ben, "Derech BaChaim" (Way Of Life)

Singer Raphael Ben has released a music video for his latest single, "Derech BaChaim" ("Way of Life" in English).

Produced by Ari Gotthelf and composed by Shmuel Atlan, the song is a house-style dance number with flamenco and Mizrahi influences. (Ben is a French native with Spanish Sephardi heritage.) While the production work can get a bit intrusive, with some blaring synths and auto-tuned "ahs", there is a strong enough chord structure to support it, and the use of flamenco guitar helps keep the melody from being overshadowed. Lyrically, the song has Ben giving advice to a young child on dealing with life's hardships (adorably portrayed in the video as the child taking boxing lessons at a gym).

Ben began his career in 2013, covering artists as diverse as Shalsheles and Jo Amar on his YouTube channel. He has recorded two singles with singer/guitarist Dovid Listhaus, and received considerable buzz earlier for his wedding ballad "Peninim".

Moshav to give Sukkos concert at Emek

Veteran folk-rockers Moshav will be giving a special concert at my other alma mater, Emek Hebrew Academy, during the coming Chol HaMoed Sukkos. 

The concert will be part of the Sherman Oaks-based school's annual Sukkot Carnival, this year dubbed the Rockin' Sukkot Carnival & Concert. The event, scheduled for Thursday, October 20th, will be open to the community and will feature plenty of fun activities for all ages.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Shalsheles, "Avinu Malkeinu"

The frum-pop vocal group Shalsheles have released a lyric video for their rendition of "Avinu Malkeinu", which also serves as the lead single for their as-yet-untitled upcoming album. Composed by group member Yitzchok Rosenthal and arranged by Donny Gross, the song also features the group's kid counterpart, Shalsheles Junior.

I have fond memories of Shalsheles, particularly their first three albums, as they were some of the first frum music I ever listened to. I'm less fond of Shalsheles Junior, but unlike some other kid groups, they've never been obnoxious or overplayed enough for me to dislike them, and they're used effectively here. The song overall probably won't replace some of the more famous "Avinu Malkeinu" renditions anytime soon, but it has some solid production and vocal work that go well with the famous prayer.

Shimon Craimer, "Forever More"

Singer/pianist Shimon Craimer has released his first music video for the single "Forever More".

Piano ballads in general can be quite insufferable, never mind those written in English by composers more accustomed to reworking pesukim. Here, however, Craimer (who also wrote and produced the song) manages to validate the format by conveying a vulnerability rarely seen in frum-pop, as he asks for guidance in navigating our frequently chaotic world, supported by a Coldplay-esque piano-and-violin combo.

While this is his first music video, Craimer has been around since 2004, when he collaborated with composer Yossi Green on a joint album entitled Craimer. Since then, he has released a solo album, Nashir Beyachad, and Kolot HaChuppah, which borrows melodies from secular pop hits like "More Than Words" and "The Prayer". It is unknown if "Forever More" will be included on a future album.

Avraham Fried, "Ata V'Chartanu"

Frum-pop superstar Avraham Fried headlines the recently released single "Ata V'Chartanu", composed by R' Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz from a passage in the Festival Amidah.

This single is taken from Rechnitz's upcoming album, Shir 2, a collection of his compositions as performed by name artists like MBD, Benny Friedman, Baruch Levine, and, of course, Fried. The album, as its title indicates, is a sequel to a similar project Rechnitz released back in 2014.

Musically, the song is fairly standard frum-pop fare, but Fried is a talented enough vocalist to bring a some life to what could otherwise be another dull klezmer-pop beat, and his signature energetic vocals are what make the song.

Shir 2 has not been given an official release date. Avraham Fried's own latest album, Bring the House Down, is currently available on all the usual platforms.

Levi Robin, "Days of Our Youth"

Chabad indie folk artist Levi Robin recently released his latest single, the nostalgic ballad "Days of Our Youth".

The single is of the slow-build school of ballads. Starting with a simple Guthrie-esque folk melody, the song gradually advances into a plaintive string section underneath Robin's haunting falsetto harmonies.

Robin, originally from Huntington Beach, debuted with a self-titled EP back in 2013, which got him a spot on Matisyahu's acoustic tour. Since then, he has performed with the likes of Moshe Hecht and Gad Elbaz and is currently working on a full-length with producers Stu Brooks and Joel Hamilton, both longtime Matisyahu affiliates.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Music Video - Hebro, "Gam Ki Elech"

Jewish rapper/singer Raphael Fulcher aka Hebro (yeah, yeah) has released his debut single "Gam Ki Elech", a hip-hop reworking of Psalm 23. 

Fulcher previously drew from that prayer on a remix of Aryeh Kunstler's "Gam". Here, he gets to sing his own hook, and even uses the Psalm's text to make some backdoor references "Gangsta's Paradise" and Pulp Fiction.

Jew2 ft. Roy Edri, "Machnisei Rachamim"

Israeli techno trio Jew2 and singer-songwriter Roy Edri have released a lyric video for their new single, "Machnisei Rachamim".

The R&B-inflected number, taken from Selichos, is a bit of a departure for Jew2, whose output is generally more "Gagnam Style" than "Hotline Bling". Similarly, Edri, a folk/rock singer, shows up towards the end for a rap verse (although he did previously appear on a SHI 360 song).