Thursday, December 29, 2016

Prodezra releases "Smile

Atlanta rapper Prodezra has released "Smile", his third and final single of the month (after "Good Looking Out" and "Egyptian Cotton"). The song finds Prodezra taking a glass-half-full approach to life's hardships over a remixed R&B sample.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Video: Mendel Roth, "Mincha"

Israeli Hasidic singer R' Mendel Roth has released the song "Mincha", a simple song with a surprisingly ambitious video.

The project was apparently inspired by a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov that even a Jew who spends all day working to make a living will, upon noticing the approach of midday, immediately feel compelled to daven Mincha, even without the ideal conditions. According to Gruntig, Roth conceived of the song while grocery shopping in Boro Park and even shared it with fellow singer Shloime Gertner, who named his most recent album after it.

For such a deep concept, the song on its own isn't much; the lyrics are merely repeated exhortations to go daven Mincha, Roth's voice is pleasant but not particularly distinctive, and the beat (produced by Eli Shprei and arranged by Chesky Breuer and Mendy Hershkowitz) is fairly standard frum-pop fare. But the song was released together with the video, and the video is, quite frankly, amazing. Filmed in the Ukraine by Roth, director Alex Osmolovsky, and over fifty extras, it plays out like a big-budget Hollywood remake of Fiddler on the Roof. After an opening nod to the Mannequin Challenge (probably the only Internet fad an older person can partake in without seeming tacky), the video's 18th-century shtetl setting plays host to several mini-stories taken from countless Hasidic tales (the wealthy merchant, the poor woodcutter, the gang of thieves), all realized with impressive attention to detail and a fast pace that justifies the song's bombastic production.

Roth, a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov through the Shomrei Emunim rebbe, is known in Hasidic circles as a kumzitz host and lecturer with a stated intent to "spread Chassidus with pleasantness and charm, in a way that speaks to the younger generation." While he has yet to release an album, he has had several videos out this year, including "Tehoim El Tehoim", "Bein Hazmanim", and a kumzitz video entitled "Mendel with Friends".

Dovid Lowy releases "Ma'oz Tzur Jingle"

Singer/guitarist Dovid Lowy is wishing a Happy Hanukkah to fans with "Maoz Tzur Jingle", a breezy folk-pop rendition of the classic song.

Lowy's most recent album, Inspire, was released in August and is available at Mostly Music, iTunes, and Amazon.

Video: Yerachmiel and Ruach Hakodesh, "Burn The Best" (live studio)

The Israeli wedding band Ruach Hakodesh, fronted by Yerachmiel "Rocky" Ziegler, has released a live studio version of "Burn The Best", a new original reggae tune for Hanukkah composed by Ziegler.

The Ruach Hakodesh roster reads like a Who's Who in Jewish alternative music; at various times, the lineup has included former members of Hamakor, Moshav Band, Soulfarm, Yaakov Chesed, Yood, Pey Dalid, and Aharit Hayamim, as well as notable solo artists like Lazer Lloyd and Josh "Mr. Shabbos" Alpert. Ziegler, for his part, has four albums under his belt, including one with Aharon Razel, and fronts several bands. The musicians in this session include Aharit's Rafi Barkats on saxophone and Achiya Cohen on piano.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Video: Ariella Zeitlin, "Incandescence"

Violinist and YouTuber Ariella Zeitlin has released a new composition and music video for Hanukkah entitled "Incandescence". The piece has a cinematic feel, as Zeitlin's playing builds from tense plucking to wailing over a heavy rock backing.

Originally from Baltimore, Zeitlin began studying violin at age 7, heavily influenced by her grandfather, Julliard-trained violinist Zvi Zeitlin. Moving to Herzliya, Israel when she was 17, she received an MA from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Since 2014, she has uploaded violin lessons, covers, and original pieces like this one to her YouTube channel.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Shauli releases new single "B'shir"

Singer-songwriter Shauli (Shauli Atias) has released his latest single, "B'shir", an acoustic folk ballad taken from the Shabbos hymn Tzur Mishelo.

Born in Israel, Atias moved to Los Angeles as a child and began playing guitar at age 17. He debuted on the JM scene in late 2009 with the EP Simcha Belibi and has since kept going with singles like "Vehi She'amda" and "Don't Let Us Go", as well as a number of covers on his YouTube channel. Having recently moved to New York, he is currently working on a full-length album.

His music is available on iTunes, CD Baby, and Mostly Music.

Yohan Michael releases "Od Ishama"

French Hasidic singer Yohan Michael has released a new single, "Od Ishama". Composed by Shmuel Atlan with lyrics by Raphael Strock, the upbeat dance-pop tune is based on a popular Jewish wedding song.

Born in Marseilles, Michael attended yeshiva in Israel and was a baal tefillah in Canada, where he also worked as a wedding DJ. He met producer Moshe Laufer in 2015, and the two collaborated on Michael's debut single "Achake Lo". His second single, "Am Israel Chai", was released in July.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gershon Veroba to release new album "Ani Yisrael"

Gershon Veroba will release his newest album, Ani Yisrael, tomorrow. The album will be distributed in the U.S. by Nigun Music and will feature guest appearances by Gad Elbaz, Ari Goldwag, Micha Gamerman, and Elikam Buta.

Video: Shtar, "Ma'oz Tzur"

Shtar has released their latest Chanukah single, "Ma'oz Tzur". Incorporating the opening line from the famous Chanukah hymn into its chorus, the song's English lyrics ask for Divine guidance in coming to terms our inherent human frailty.

Video: Matisyahu, "Shade From the Sun"

Matisyahu has released a video for "Shade From the Sun", the first single from his recent EP Release the Bound.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogers Park announce third annual Chanukah tour

Rogers Park have announced their third annual "Chanukah Jelly Donut Tour". Running throughout the last week of December, the tour stops will include Tuscon, the Virgin Islands, and several locations in Florida, including a Miami Heat game.

Video: Hanan Ben Ari, "Lo Levad"

Hanan Ben Ari has released a video for "Lo Levad", the lead single from his upcoming second album, in what is also his first ever actual music video.

Directed by Asaf Asulin, the video abstractly conveys the song's themes of loneliness and despair, following a featureless black figure too depressed to even leave his house - until the song reminds him that he is "not alone".

Yonatan Razel releases "Hatov"

Yonatan Razel has premiered "Hatov", the third single from his upcoming third album. The song, which takes its lyrics from Modim in Shemoneh Esrei, is based on a composition by the late R' Ben Zion Shenker, to whom the song is dedicated.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Eli Herzlich releases "Kesher Shel Kayomo"

Chasidic wedding singer Eli Herzlich has released "Kesher Shel Kayomo" (Lasting Connection), the debut single from his upcoming second album, Herzlich 2. Taken from the prayer recited by the bride's mother at a wedding, the song is composed and arranged by Eli Klein and Yitzy Berry (Beri Weber, Benny Friedman) and produced by Yisrael Lubin, who also produced Herzlich's debut album as well as the upcoming one.

The Belgian-born Israeli Herzlich debuted in 2014 with the album Chosson Domeh L'Melech (A Groom is Like a King), which spawned singles like the title track and "BeChochmo Yiboneh Bayis" (Wisely Build a House).

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Prodezra releases "Good Looking Out"

Georgia-based rapper Prodezra has released his latest single, "Good Looking Out".

Prodezra (aka Reuben Formey) currently has two albums and an EP under his belt, as well as collaborations with Nosson Zand and Y-Love. Earlier this year, he was included in The Forward's "Soundtrack of Our Spirit 2016", a reader-selected playlist of "the best new voices in Jewish music". His third album, Face to Face, was funded via a successful Jewcer campaign and is set to be released in the near future.

Video: The Maccabeats take on a Broadway hit with "Hasmonean"

Everyone's favorite Jewish a cappella group is back with another holiday-themed parody video, and this one is somehow both a pleasant surprise and something we really should've seen coming. 

With "Hasmonean", the Maccabeats takes on several cuts from the Internet's current favorite Broadway musical Hamilton, drawing parallels between the play's Revolutionary War narrative and the Jewish struggle against the Greeks. Group member Noey Jacobson gamely handles Lin-Manuel Miranda's complex rap rhythms with "Call Him Judah Maccabee" and "Our G-d", while the red-haired one (hey, I can't know all their names) has an obvious blast imitating Jonathan Groff on "You'll Be Greek", complete with swishing cloak, wildly waving scepter, and enthusastic trilling of R's. The play's more emotional side is not forgotten, however, as the video closes out with "The Story For Eight Nights".

The group's most recent release, last year's A Maccabeats Hanukkah EP, is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Music video: Shmil, "Ani Maamin"

Parisian frum-pop singer Shmil (Shmouel Touaty) has released a video for his version of "Ani Maamin", arranged by Shmuel Atlan and produced by JBeats Productions. Touaty debuted earlier this year with another single, "Vous Les Anges" (You Angels). Both songs appear on his recent debut album, of which the second is the title track.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

New single: Yonatan Razel, "Achshav Ani Af"

Yonatan Razel has released a new single, "Achshav Ani Af" (Now I Fly), the second single from his upcoming third album. The song was co-produced by Razel with Alon Yoffe and Eviatar Banai.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hanan Ben-Ari premieres "Lo Levad"

Israeli funk/R&B artist Hanan Ben-Ari has released his latest single, "Lo Levad" (Not Alone), the debut single from his upcoming second album. Written with Roy Hasan and produced by Eyal Mazig, the slow-build ballad showcases Ben-Ari's powerful vocals and thoughtful songwriting as he offers hope to those going through hard times.

The nephew of former MK Michael Ben-Ari, Hanan has had quite the rapid rise to fame. Since his debut album, Izun (Balance) released in January, he has had several hit singles on Israeli radio, including "Tutim" (which was named "song of the year" by Galgalatz), while the album itself was certified gold in Israel after selling 15,000 copies in three months.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Music video: Shir Soul, "Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah

Brooklyn-based a capella group Shir Soul have released their music video for "Hanukkah Oh Hannukah", a medley taken from their recent album Holiday Shir. While the video is based on Pentatonix's "Daft Punk" medley, the track itself combines three traditional Hanukkah songs (the titular one included) with a Hanukkah-themed rewrite of P!nk's "Just Like Fire".

Music video: The Solomon Brothers, "Life"

The Solomon Brothers have released a new music video for "Life", the opening track and latest single from their 2016 debut album Song of Life. Filmed in South Africa, the video follows a young man on a nature hike that represents the "journey of life" described in the song.