Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Micha Gamerman releases "Bezochrenu Et Zion"

Brazilian-based frum-pop singer Micha Gamerman has released a new music video, "Bezochrenu Et Zion", directed by Mendy Pellin of Jewbellish.The song is taken from Gamerman's sophomore album, Micha Avdecha, which released in July of 2015.

There was clearly a lot of work put into this song and video...so it's a shame that, to be blunt, neither are very good. The song, besides being yet another wistful ballad interpretation of "Im Eshkakhekh" (a category including even one of Gamerman's own previous singles), also suffers from its lackluster beat, a generic mix of piano, strings, and programmed drums without much in the way of variation or even a pulse. The "chorus" in particular is so understated that it's barely even recognizable as one on first listen, and while Gamerman's vocals here are perfectly fine, they're not strong or compelling enough to bring any additional life to the track.

And if the song suffers from dullness, the video has almost the exact opposite problem. Contained within the framing device of a forgetful best man at a wedding daydreaming is a parade of weird and occasionally disturbing imagery with no discernible point; the video's description says it is about "remembering who we are as a people, where we came from, and that we are waiting for the final redemption," but the connection between that and interpretive dancers, frolicking children, an Arab terrorist whose knife turns to cotton candy, a throbbing CGI heart, a dead body, and a tallis-clad rabbi standing next to a tiger - all on a beach, mind you - is a little hard to follow. As if that weren't enough, the otherwise somber video ends with Gamerman suddenly breaking into another of his old songs, "Simcha Guedola Halaila", a brass-heavy Latin pop number that sounds like "La Bamba" turned up to eleven.

None of this, obviously, reflects on the talent involved. Gamerman is a perfectly decent vocalist in general, and Mendy Pellin has worked on much better videos (several for Yaakov Shwekey, among others) in addition to being a pretty good comedian. Here's hoping that their future projects will be a bit more cohesive.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Benny Friedman to release new album "Fill the World With Light"

Hasidic crooner Benny Friedman has released a preview for his upcoming fourth album, Fill the World With Light

Coming two years after his previous effort, 2014's Kol Haneshama Sheli, the album was produced and designed by Sruly Meyer and will feature compositions from Hasidic pop heavyweights like Ari Goldwag, R' Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, and Yossi Green, as well as lyrics by Miriam Israeli and 8th Day's Shmuel Marcus.

The disc will release later this week and is available to pre-order on Mostly Music.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ishay Ribo, "Yitzhak & Rivka"

Israeli singer-songwriter Ishay Ribo has released his new single, "Yitzhak & Rivka", the latest from his sophomore album Pachad Gvahim (Fear of Heights), which released in March. The track is an acoustic folk ballad that tells the story of the titular Biblical couple, particularly the servant Eliezer's discovery of Rivka and her generous nature, with Ribo voicing the belief that every coupling is divinely ordained from the womb.

Video: Nissim ft. Yisroel Laub, "A Million Years"

Rapper Nissim hasn't exactly been slacking off since relocating to Israel earlier this year, but his latest, "A Million Years" featuring producer/singer Yisroel Laub, is nevertheless his first headlining music video (not a guest verse or lyric video) since becoming a citizen of the Holy Land. While other of his recent singles have been dance songs or holiday-themed, "A Million Years" is a more somber track, with Nissim chronicling his rocky relationship with the Almighty while Laub sings of undying loyalty to same ("I won't let go, even in a million years").

This is also a preview from the upcoming Lemala (Above), Nissim's first album since his 2013 self-titled effort, which will be produced by Laub for Little Box Records and will feature collaborations with him, Gad Elbaz, and DeScribe. The album was originally announced for Summer 2016, but Jewish Insights still describes it as "upcoming", so presumably it will be released some time in the coming year.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Avraham Fried, "Shuva Hashem" (from Tzamah 3)

Avraham Fried has released a new single, "Shuva Hashem". The song is from the upcoming album Tzamah 3, the latest from an Israeli project looking to bring Chabad nigunim to the masses. The album will also be promoted with a Yud Tes Kislev (December 19) farbrengen and concert at Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem; details can be found at 19kislev.co.il.

Hasidic composer R' Ben Zion Shenker dies at 91

R' Shenker (right) at a farbrengen in 2010.
Per VIN - Noted Hasidic composer, chazzan, and music historian R' Ben Zion Shenker is the latest beloved musician claimed by the year 2016, having passed away Sunday morning at age 91.

Born in 1925 to Polish immigrants in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, R' Shenker is believed to have composed around 500 original songs, including the tunes for "Eishes Chayil" and "Mizmor L'David" that you've absolutely heard if you've ever been at an Ashkenaz Shabbos table. He is also known for recording and transcribing over 100 nigunim of the Modzitz hasidic dynasty, with whom he had an extensive relationship. His last album, Shiru Lashem Shir Chadash, a joint project with klezmer legend Andy Statman, was released just last month.

Some of his work can be heard below:

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Yoni Eliav, "Funk Medley 2016"

Bandleader Yoni Eliav and his crew have come out with their second "Funk Medley" (the first was in 2014) combining vocals from frum-pop heavyweights singing the biggest hits over a funk backbeat. The 2016 version features Shloime Daskal, The Zemiros Group, Yoni Z, Micha Gamerman, and Beri Weber, with the medley referencing Simche Friedman's "Bekarov (Yitgadal)" and a "Smooth Criminal"-flavored rendition of Boruch Sholom's "Lo Yemalet".

Friday, November 18, 2016

Matisyahu returns with Release the Bound EP

Matisyahu has just debuted his new EP, Release the Bound, his first album since 2014. The EP, which features collaborations with electronic artist The Polish Ambassador and Colombian pop duo Salt Cathedral, is said to continue the lyrical themes of 2014's Akeda with its exploration of the Biblical story of Avraham's almost-sacrifice of his son Yitzchak. It was released through distributor Thirty Tigers and is available on iTunes. An as-yet-untitled full-length Matisyahu album is scheduled for 2017.


Roy Yadid and Yehuda Saa'do, "Mishehu Dofek Badelet"

Israeli singer-songwriters Roy Yadid and Yehuda Saa'do have released the single "Mishehu Dofek Badelet" (Someone Knocks at the Door). The song, written by Aviad Paniv and composed and produced by Tomer Matanah, is a Mediterranean pop tune assuring the listener of hope for redemption.

Avraham Samet, "Ahavti"

Israeli wedding singer Avraham Samet has released his latest single, "Ahavti". The electro-dance song was written and composed by Samet with arrangements by Shmuel Levinson. The singer previously had success with the singles "Tatte" and "Tantz Chosson".

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eitan Freilich, "Etz Chayim"

British singer Eitan Freilich has a new single in the form of "Etz Chayim", a power ballad composed by Yitzy Waldner and arranged by Ian Freitor. The song comes from his debut album, Am Yisrael Chai, which released in March.

Lyric Video - The Solomon Brothers, "Song of Life"

Folk rock trio The Solomon Brothers have released a lyric video for their latest single, "Song of Life", the title track from their debut album that dropped earlier this year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Maccabeats @ Camp HASC - What I Am

Premier Jewish a cappella group The Maccabeats have released their latest video, "What I Am", filmed at and in support of Camp HASC, a summer camp for Jewish special-needs children. Breaking with their typical fashion, this one is not based on a Top 40 (admittedly there haven't been many good ones this year), but is instead a cover of a song of the same name that rapper will.i.am performed on Sesame Street in 2010.

Lipa Schmeltzer on how to compose music

Lipa Schmeltzer, the rare Orthodox pop singer who composes his own music, gives some insight into his creative process and a few tips for aspiring songwriters. The video is from the singer's vlog channel Shaynee v'Chamishee (Hebrew shorthand for "Monday and Thursday"), where he twice weekly posts Torah thoughts and answers to fan questions.

Eprhyme ft. Jon Madof, "Heavy Shtetl" (Hevria Session)

Neo-Hasidic rapper Eprhyme and genre-bending guitarist Jon Madof collaborated on a live version of the former's "Heavy Shtetl" for the website Hevria.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kobi Oved's Jacob & the Angels release Leonard Cohen tribute

Kobi Oved, through his side project Jacob & the Angels, has released a tribute to the recently-deceased Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen, pairing the melody of Cohen's most famous song, "Hallelujah", with lyrics from Psalm 150, the final chapter of Tehillim.

Video: Ari Lesser, "Shabbat UK"

Rapper/poet Ari Lesser has released his latest composition "Shabbat UK", which, true to its title, is an ode to the joys of Shabbos recorded in London.

Lesser, a rapper and spoken word poet from Cleveland, is perhaps best known for his anti-BDS songs like "Boycott Israel", and has been featured on songs by Gad Elbaz and Lipa Schmeltzer, among others. He also has a YouTube channel where he posts a capella raps like this based on Jewish holidays, bible stories, sports, and other quirky subjects.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Alex Clare, "Tell Me What You Need" (Stripped Back)

Alex Clare has released a "stripped back" video version of his newest single, "Tell Me What You Need".

Clare's latest album, Tail of Lions, comes out this Friday.

A capella group Kippalive release "Havdallah"

Israel-based a capella group Kippalive has come out with "Havdala", based on the famous prayers that end Shabbos every week, complete with nods to "Kiss from a Rose" and the Harry Potter theme.