Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Video: Rogers Park, "Ki Hinei Kachomer"

Chicago folksters Rogers Park make an unexpectedly strong impression with their new video for "Ki Hinei Kachomer", the first single from their upcoming album of niggunim and Yiddish songs (currently being crowdfunded on Indiegogo).

Based on an old Chabad nigun for the Yom Kippur prayer, the surprisingly moving and creative project has an equally surprising amount of talent behind it: Matt Dougherty (Against the Current, Pop Evil) produced, renowned cellist Laura Melnicoff is featured, and group members Mordy Kurtz and Yosef Peysin directed the clip with the help of filmmaker Atara Wolf.

Y-Studs release "Evolution of Jewish Music"

In an apparent response to both Pentatonix and the Benny Friedman/Meir Kay collab from a few months ago, a cappella group Y-Studs have released their own "Evolution of Jewish Music" clip. The medley was arranged by Ben Bram, recorded by Mordy Weinstein, and mixed and mastered by Ed Boyer, while the clip was directed by Shlomo Weprin of Shlomotions

Rather than focusing on individual songs and artists like the Friedman/Kay version, the Y-Studs instead stray closer to the Pentatonix version by offering a sampling of different eras, beginning in the 9th century and working their way to the 2010s.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Maccabeats release video for "This Is The New Year"

A capella stars The Maccabeats have released their latest music video, a Rosh Hashana-themed creation entitled "This Is The New Year". Arranged by Rob Dietz, the single is a cover of the eponymous song by A Great Big World, the NYC indie pop band best known for their 2013 hit "Say Something".

Nussy Fuchs ft. Nachman Fuchs, "Rebbe"

Hasidic artist Nussy Fuchs, accompanied by his older brother Nachman Fuchs, has released a new single entitled "Rebbe". Composed by Nussy and arranged by Yanky Cohen, the track is a pleasantly atmospheric kumzits song adorned with Moog synthesizer and unexpectedly heavy guitars courtesy of Nachman Halevitz.

Avraham Fried and nephews to unite in Israel

JM veteran Avraham Fried will be joined by his nephews - who happen to include equally popular vocalists Benny Friedman, Simche Friedman, Eli Marcus, and 8th Day's Shmuel and Bentzi Marcus - at an upcoming concert.

Per Arutz Sheva, the long-awaited concert will be on October 9, during Chol Hamoed Sukkos, at the Binyanei Hauma Convention Center in Jerusalem. A7 also did a video interview with Fried about the event, which you can watch below. More info about the concert can be found here.


Elisha Birnbaum debuts with single "Akavot"

Singer-songwriter Elisha Birnbaum, who has made his name touring with the likes of Yonatan Razel and Hanan Ben-Ari, has finally made his debut with the single "Akavot" (Tracks). The song, an alt-rock power ballad that draws on the classic "Footprints in the Sand" parable, was produced by Eyal Mazig, who also arranged it with Birnbaum. A debut album is reportedly in the works.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Michoel Pruzansky to release fifth album Shootin' For The Moon (UPDATED W/ SAMPLER)

Recording artist Michoel Pruzansky will be releasing his fifth album, entitled Shootin' For The Moon, on Friday, September 15. The album will be distributed by Nigun Music.

The album, produced by Pruzansky with Yochanan Shapiro and Ilan Schnitzer, will feature compositions and arrangements by Shapiro, Eli Gerstner, Naftali Schnitzler, Eli Klein & Yitzy Berry, Elie Schwab, Yitzy Waldner, Doni Gross, Ian Freitor, and Shai Barak.

Pruzansky, a former Miami Boys Choir member, has been performing solo since 2001. His last album was 2014's Pruz Control.





Yitzchak Meir ft. Shai Tsabari, "Matzati Chen"

Hasidic singer Yitzchak Meir, accompanied by alt-Mizrahi artist Shai Tsabari, has released a new single entitled "Matzati Chen" (I Found Grace). The track, an emotional ballad dedicated to a friend who died in a car accident, was composed by Meir from text in Shemos, a plea from Moshe to the Almighty. It was arranged by Ohad Darshan and Aren Klein and, in a unique touch, features an Indian bansuri flute played by multi-instrumentalist Nir Motzeri.

Nachum Segal, Mordechai Shapiro to broadcast live from Houston

Veteran Jewish radio DJ Nachum Segal, accompanied by frum-pop star Mordechai Shapiro and YouTuber Meir Kay, will be broadcasting from sites around the storm-devastated city of Houston.

Per the JTA, the broadcast, scheduled for Wednesday, will include firsthand reports on the devastation caused by the recent Hurricane Harvey, as well as recovery efforts by the area's Jewish residents. Segal said in an official statement:
"Our brothers and sisters in Houston have gone through a terrible ordeal with so much of the community they built sitting in ruins.The goal of our trip is to highlight the community, what they’ve gone through and what lays ahead of them, sharing their stories and showing them the support from their brethren around the world...Our hope is that by being there and dedicating our shows to their stories, that listeners from all across the world will get involved with the recovery efforts."
 Segal also noted that the Orthodox Union has partnered with the show to enable listeners to donate to relief efforts for Houston's Jewish community.

A thirty-plus-year veteran of radio, Segal is currently president of the Nachum Segal Network and host of its flagship show "JM in the AM", which showcases a wide variety of Jewish music. This is far from his first disaster relief project for the city; he held a similar broadcast after Houston's Memorial Day flood in 2015.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Video: Ariel Zilber, "Refainu Hashem"

Israeli singer-songwriter Ariel Zilber has released a studio clip for his new single "Refaeinu Hashem". The track was composed by Zilber and produced by Dan "Piloni" Kark, with backing from the International Yedidim Choir.



Yonatan Razel releases new single "Aseh L'maan"

Haredi folksinger Yonatan Razel has released the new single "Aseh L'maan", off his most recent album Poteach Lev. The song, based on a selection from the Selichos prayers, was composed by Razel, who also co-produced and co-arranged with Tal Porer.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Yonina release single "Halev" off new album

Israeli folk-pop duo Yonina have released a lyric video for their new single "Halev" (The Heart), produced by Benua Nachaisi and Tal Ronen

The track, a heartwarming piano ballad, comes from the husband-and-wife pair's latest album, Emet Pshuta (Simple Truth), which dropped yesterday.

You can find the album on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Matt Dubb makes solo debut with "Sababa"

Matt Dubb (aka Mutti Weiss), a DJ and producer best known for his work with Lipa Schmeltzer, is now stepping in front of the mic with his video for "Sababa" (All Good), the first taste from an upcoming solo album. Dubb co-produced the track with Ruli Ezrachi and co-wrote it with Yitzy Waldner, while Miriam Israeli provided the Hebrew lyrics. The video, filmed in New York, was directed by Nathan Kay.

Yoeli Klein, Suchi Goldstein, Malchus deliver "Danken"

Hasidic crooners Yoeli Klein, Suchi Goldstein, and the Malchus Choir have brought life to the new dance track "Danken" (Thank You). The track was composed by the previously-unknown Elazar Eszterson and produced and arranged by Yanky Cohen.

Roi Fainman releases new single "Makom Hadash"

Israeli vocalist Roi Fainman has released his sophomore single "Makom Hadash" (New Place), the follow-up to his debut "Orot" (Lights) earlier this year. Produced and co-composed by Galor Tait, this song is a likeable soft rock power ballad complemented by an effective guitar/piano combo and Fainman's understated vocals.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chanale releases new album "I Am The Land"

Chabad singer-songwriter Chanale (Chanale Fellig-Harrel) has just released her sixth album I Am The Land. Recorded shortly before she and her family made aliyah from Florida to Israel, the album serves as an eleven-song, English-language tribute to the Holy Land and its ideals. Producer and artist Sruly Meyer did the artwork, while other musical contributions were made by musician Sholom Lieberman, lyricist Tzippy Cohen-Pearlstein, pianist Aaron Niasoff, and mixers Derrick Estefan and Steve Gordon.

Chanale has been performing since 1999 and has toured in China, South America, and Australia, among others. I Am The Land is her first release since 2011's Taking Over My Heart.

You can find the album on iTunes, or on CDBaby for those in Canada.



Eli Herzlich releases new single "Melech Yochid"

Israeli Hasidic vocalist Eli Herzlich has released his new single "Melech Yochid". The song, a somber ballad with lyrics taken from the erev Shabbos prayers, was composed by Eli Laufer back in 2003 for Camp Bnei Torah. More recently, Laufer's father and frequent collaborator Moshe Laufer produced and arranged the track, Moishy Roth handled vocal arrangements, and Yisrael Lubin executive produced it. Eli Herzlich is reportedly working on his sophomore album with Lubin as producer.

Moshe Feld debuts with "Karev Yom" via lyric video

Israeli newcomer Moshe Feld has just released his debut single "Karev Yom" (Bring Close the Day) in the form of a lyric video. The song is reportedly from Feld's upcoming debut album.

Feld composed the song himself from the words of the Haggadah, while Ron Karsebaum produced the track and co-arranged it with Feld. Bonus points are awarded for a simple yet effective melody and for Feld singing the song naturally without attempting the tiresome vocal acrobatics of many of his peers. Also, the lyric video, produced by Tirtza Fishman, is stylized and very cool.

Amram Adar releases new single "Ein Od Milvado"

Rising Sefardi crooner Amram Adar has released the third single from his upcoming second album, a soulful ballad entitled "Ein Od Milvado" (No One But Him). The track was composed and lyricized in Hebrew by Itzik Shamli, while the solid production work was handled by Tamir Tzur. The album, as yet untitled, is scheduled for just before Rosh Hashana.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eitan Freilich releases "Lehodos Lecha" video

UK frum-pop star Eitan Freilich has released a video for his hit summer single "Lehodos Lecha".

The clip, directed by Dov Smith, follows a meta-narrative wherein Freilich seeks ideas for the video from British Jewish stand-up and the video's real-life scripter Ashley Blaker (think the British Mendy Pellin), only for the lunch meeting to be repeatedly derailed and ultimately lead to a comedic anticlimax. Despite that and the strange lack of Freilich singing onscreen (aside from a few "oh-ohs"), the song is still enjoyable, and Blaker gets in a few amusing faces.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hasidic wedding band pays tribute to Skillet

In the latest installment of their "Freilach Fanfares" video series, the Monroe, NY-based Freilach Band showcased a wedding clip wherein they give a musical nod to Grammy-nominated nu metal group Skillet. The wedding intro piece, arranged by Avremi G and conducted by Tzvi Blumenfeld, contains a recreation of the opening riff to Skillet's 2010 hit "Awake and Alive". The nod was reportedly requested by the family and re-written specially for the event.

Mordechai Shapiro releases "Machar" clip

Frum-pop star and former Miami Boy Mordechai Shapiro has released his latest single and video, "Machar" (Tomorrow). The track was composed by Shapiro and produced by Yitzy Waldner, with lyrics by Miriam Israeli and arrangements by PlayMasters Studio.

"Machar" has much in common with Shapiro's previous hit, last year's "Schar Mitzvah": The video being filmed at Camp Morasha; Shimmy Socol co-writing and co-directing the video; a storyline about a camper feeling out of place; even the R&B feel of the track. That said, there are some significant differences between the two. "Machar" has a tropical house intro, complete with Matisyahu-style vocalizing (although that genre is less prominent in the rest song), and the message is less a theoretical musing about mitzvos and more a practical (if somewhat cliched) offer of hope in troubling times. And similar or not, "Machar" still features capable vocals from Shapiro and an enjoyable song from the team behind him.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Itzik Dadya releases new single "Avinu"

Israeli artist Itzik Dadya has released "Avinu", the latest dance-pop single from his upcoming album. Like many of his recent singles, Dadya wrote, composed, and produced the track under the auspices of David Fadida's FDD Productions, while Ron Tichon mixed and mastered it.

New single: Yossi Green ft. Shlomo Simcha, "Ten Li Bracha"

Composer Yossi Green and vocalist Shlomo Simcha have released a new single entitled "Ten Li Bracha". The orchestral ballad, arranged by Doni Gross, is a bonus track from Green's upcoming album Shades of Green: Layl Shishi, which will include 20 more of his compositions.

Zanvil Weinberger and Malchus Choir release new single "Hoshiu"

Israeli Hasidic artists Zanvil Weinberger and the Malchus Choir, the latter led by Pinchas Bichler, have released a new single entitled "Hoshiu". The electronic dance track was composed by R' Yaakov Lebowitz from a traditinal Vizhnitz nigun, produced and arranged by Bichler, electronically arranged by Bentzi Stein, and mixed by Chaim Moses.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pinny Einhorn releases oddball video for "V'emunatcha"

Israeli Hasidic kumzits star Pinny Einhorn has released a fun, if exceedingly weird, video for his new single "V'emunatcha". The track was written by Einhorn, with an English bridge written by none other than Lipa Schmeltzer, produced and arranged by Shimi Sklar, while the Yedidim International Choir provided backing vocals.

The clip, created by Hyper Productions in Bnei Brak, starts with the simple concept of thanking Hashem even in dark situations and expands it to surreal proportions. Einhorn and friends, while on a camping trip, get arrested and imprisoned for driving (very) unsafely, break out of jail through music video magic, only for Einhorn to fall and break his leg in the street immediately afterward, requiring a Hatzolah ambulance to strap him to a stretcher, which then leads to him limping onstage on crutches at a concert, only to jauntily throw them aside upon reaching the microphone. If that sentence seems run-on and disjointed, it is only slightly less so than the actual video, but Einhorn's boundless energy and gameness for mugging and comic physical punishment goes a long way toward anchoring the madness.

Elad Shaer releases new single "Osher Ad"

Israeli vocalist Elad Shaer has released a lyric video for his new single "Osher Ad". The EDM party track was written by Yaakov Menashe, arranged and produced by first-time collaborator David Bittan, and mixed and edited by Yaniv Blass. It will be featured on an upcoming album by Shaer.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lev Tahor releases first ever video for "Hallelu"

Lev Tahor have released their first ever music video for their song "Hallelu". The song, the lead single from their most recent album LTV, borrows from Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" while incorporating an original bridge that features the Sephardic Boys Choir. The video, meanwhile, was directed, produced by, and co-stars Meir Kay, and it gets a lot of mileage from his trademark infectious enthusiasm, although it's slightly disappointing that, in LT's first official video, group members Ari Cukier and Gadi Fuchs are barely featured until the very end.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ishay Ribo releases new single "Hine Yamim Baim"

Ishay Ribo has released his latest song "Hine Yamim Baim" (Behold the Coming Days), the first single off his upcoming third album. The track, a soft rock song about the coming of Moshiach, was written by Ribo, who also produced it with Maor Shoshan.

Hodaya Benisho releases video for "Yom Echad"

Hodaya Benisho, a relative newcomer to the Haredi singer-songwriter scene in Israel, has released her second single and music video, "Yom Echad" (One Day). The song was produced and arranged by Yishai Fitzion, while Benisho herself directed the video with photography and editing by Talia Taub. It is part of her debut album, which is currently in development.

While not quite as catchy as her previous single "Yeled", Benisho nevertheless retains the same warm and expressive vocals and encouraging lyrics here, while also experimenting with a darker, more intense sound reminiscent of a late-'90s radio alternative ballad.

Ohad surprises with new single "Nismach Im Hachatan"

Ohad Moskowitz is back with a new single, "Nismach Im Hachatan". Presented by David Fadida, the track was written and composed by Yitzy Berry, who also produced, arranged, and mixed it with his longtime partner Eli Klein.The single is from Ohad's upcoming sixth album, his first since 2015's Segula, which is set for release sometime before the Yomim Noraim.

So this was a pleasant surprise for me, because I am not by any means an Ohad fan. Part of this comes from two years of a high-school carpool whose limited yet incessant rotation included HASC DVDs and Ohad III, but I've also found his singing too loud and exaggerated and more than a little obnoxious, and the music has never been distinctive enough to back it up. Here, however, he, Berry, and Klein manage to turn out a fun and creative version of "Asher Bara" that borrows heavily from '50s doo-wop, complete with a catchy "la la la" chorus and saxophone solo, in a style very reminiscent of his previous hit "Stop", which drew from '70s funk and soul. Clearly, Ohad needs to be doing more retro songs.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Shulem Lemmer previews debut album "Shulem"

Hasidic cantor and recording artist Shulem Lemmer has released an official preview for his upcoming debut album, Shulem. Produced by Yochi Briskman, the album is set to feature compositions by Yossi Green and Pinky Weber and arrangements by Moshe Laufer and Yanky Briskman. No official release date has been announced.

Lemmer, brother of acclaimed cantor Yaakov "Yanky" Lemmer, has been performing since his days as a child soloist and was formerly a lead soloist with the Shira Choir. During that time, he gained viral success with covers of Max Janowski's "Avinu Malkeinu" and Moishe Oysher's "Chad Gadya".

Itzik Orlev releases video "Bo Nadlik T'Esh"

Netanya-based Israeli vocalist Itzik Orlev has released his new single and video, "Bo Nadlik T'Esh" (Let's Light The Fire). The track, a summery Latin-infused EDM jam, was written and composed by Yaakov Menashe and produced and arranged Doron Elimelech. The video, directed and edited Adam Deutsch, was filmed in Tel Aviv's Florentin neighborhood with choreography by Tal Handelsman.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Avraham Fried releases new single "Maslul Mechadash"

Avraham Fried has released "Maslul Mechadash" (New Road), the lead single from his upcoming album Kama Tov Shenifgashnu (How Good That We Met, and subtitled "The Israeli Album"). The song, a rousing power ballad about reclaiming uncomplicated faith in Hashem, sports lyrics from Israeli poet and songwriter Hamutal Ben Ze'ev and was produced, arranged, and composed by Yuval Stoppel. The album hits stores tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Eli Friedman releases new single "Markevot Paroh"

Israeli Hasidic singer Eli Friedman has released his latest single, "Markevot Paroh" (The Chariots of Pharaoh), an upbeat pop song with lyrics taken from Shirat Hayam.
Friedman composed the track, while Eli Klein and Yitzy Berry handled the arrangement.

The press blurb describes the song as a "wonderful combination of hip-hop and rap", but really its more of a light reggaeton, so don't go in expecting Friedman to drop a sick verse. That said, the song is fun and danceable with a bit of a darker edge (the minor key melody and lyrics of drowning Pharaoh's army), although with the subject matter this might have been better timed for a Pesach release.

Friedman has been in the JM world as a singer and composer for almost two decades, with five albums of his own and a sixth, co-produced by longtime collaborator Jeff Horvitch, tentatively set for the High Holiday season. He most recently had a hit last summer with "Shma Yisrael".

Avi Perets releases "Kmo Aish" sampler

Israeli vocalist Avi Perets has released a sampler for his upcoming debut album Kmo Aish (Like Fire). The album, produced by Avi Newmark, comes out August 14th.

Parts of the sampler seem to indicate the standard generic Mizrahi-pop and wedding ballads, yet several songs seem to have a grasp of momentum, scale, and satisfying melody that a lot of mainstream JM lacks. We'll see if the record lives up to its bold title, but there is promise here.

The album is currently available for pre-order at newmarkmusicgroup.com.

Nemouel debuts "V'Haya Hashem" lyric video


French-Israeli Chabadnik Nemouel has released a lyric video for his latest single, "V'Haya Hashem". 

The track, an upbeat dance-pop song about Hashem's timelessness, is an Israel Lubin project, produced and arranged by Dani Avidani (with Nemouel himself arranging the vocals) with Yaakov Menashe handling lyrics and composition.

Nemouel made a splash earlier this year with his rock-tinged single "Elokai". He is reportedly at work on a debut album.


Meilech Kohn releases "Ein Yeder" preview

Hasidic up-and-comer Meilech Kohn has just released a sampler for his upcoming debut album Yeder Einer, which comes out this Thursday. The album is a production of Gershy Schwarcz.

The sampler gives the impression of a very strange album. While some tracks seem to follow the standard Hasidic template of orchestral ballads and rave techno, others are harder to classify, with unexpected bursts of dissonant rock and even a straight-up Louis Armstrong impression at points, not to mention Kohn's already-odd singing voice. If nothing else, the record sounds weird enough to at least be interesting, which is no small feat in the current JM climate.

The album will be available through Nigun Music, Mostly Music, and all digital download sites. Kohn will also be holding an album release concert at West Nyack Levity Comedy Club the night before the store date, with support from Yeedle Werdyger and the Freilach Band.

 

Boruch Sholom releases new single "Ki Alecha Eineinu"


Singer and composer Boruch Sholom Blesofsky has released his new single "Ki Alecha Eineinu", a Latin-sounding slow jam co-composed by none other than Mordechai Ben David. The song also features music by Sholom Lieberman and was mixed by Ruli Ezrachi.

Blesofsky debuted in 2015 with the album Bishvili, which featured collabs with Yeedle Werdyger and Lipa Schmeltzer, and returned earlier this year with Neshama Dance. In between, he has composed and arranged for Hasidic headliners like MBD, Dudi Knopfler, Beri Weber, and Benny Friedman.





Sunday, July 30, 2017

Levi Cohen to release debut "Nekudah Tovah"

Newcomer Levi Cohen will soon be releasing his debut album Nekudah Tovah, which comes out this Wednesday, August 2nd. 


The album, which is said to boast "a unique combo of inspiring lyrics and energetic happy tunes", is the latest from producer Naftali Schnitzler (Beri Weber, Shimmy Engel). Featured composers include Schnitzler, Pinky Weber, Hershy Weinberger, Yitzy Waldner, and Sruly Green, while arrangements were done by the likes of Moshe Laufer, Udi Damari, Eli Lax, Ian Freitor, and newcomer Rafael Sofer.

The album will be distributed by Nigun Music and available for download on all platforms.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Five More A Capella Songs You May Have Missed (by Ash)

(Originally posted by Ash on That's Frum!?)

During sefira, I wrote a post "The Top 12 Acapella Songs You Never Heard". The response to the post was huge. The article received over 600 views, a shoutout on Yossi Zweig's Z Report, and was reposted on Yidwise. I also received many passionate responses from my readers (almost all saying "well why didn't you include this song" or some variant thereof). So here comes part two: five more songs I missed in the first article that deserved to be included.

1) Meir Green - "Nekudah Shel Ohr"

I first heard this song on the Z Report this past sefira and I fell in love with it. The lyrics are inspirational, the tune is great, and amazingly for an Israeli vocal single, the a capella arrangements are superb. Although most Israeli acapella songs usually sound like 'charah', this one has great harmonies and computerized effects that let me enjoy it again and again.



2) Y-Studs - "Don't Let Me Down" 

This song doesn't really belong on this list, because there's a good chance you heard it before. But its such a good song I felt it's worth including, even if I did have to retitle the list to you may have missed. The Y-studs had been considered YU's second-tier to the Maccabeats; merely kid brothers to the real game in town (whew mixed metaphor alert!). But with their single/music video "Don't Let Me Down", a cover of the Chainsmokers song of the same name, the Y-Studs showed that not only can they hold a candle to their senior counterparts, they can actually surpass them in their own way. "Don't Let Me Down" is where we see the Y-Studs finally stopping to compete and instead focus on their own unique style - with excellent results.



3) Yehuda Glantz - "Eshet Chayil"

When my good friend AY told me to check out Yehuda Glantz's a capella tracks I was surprised. "Yehuda Glantz has a capella tracks?" I asked him. He replied that, yes indeed, he did and pointed me to "Eshet Chayil". You see, Yehuda Glantz is one of my favorite Jewish artists, as he's an original soul who feels no pressure to cave into contemporary styles and instead focuses on music he himself likes - with amazing results. This often results in him foreshadowing a trend many years before anyone else. Such is the case with his  capella tracks. Back in 1996, way before it became trendy to make an a capella track and way way before it became trendy to actually make it sound good, Glantz had already released two a capella tracks that sound like they could have been released this year. "Eshet Chayil", off the album Rak Litzok El Hashem, is one of them. (The other being "Yasis".)




4) Udi Damari - "Tzok Eitan"

If you've read my other articles, you know I hate Israeli a capella singles. But Udi Damari, who produced Gil Nagar's single "Ata Elokai" (see my previous list) and the fairly decent "Ivri Anochi", also released a vocal version of his own song "Tzok Eitan", and had I heard it before my previous article, it would've made the cut. In fact, its so good, the first time I heard it I thought I misclicked on the music version instead! This song, which reminds the Arabs that Hashem has our back, is especially appropriate considering the current situation in Israel.




5) Kol Achai - "Naar Hayiti"

Before there was a capella, there was Kol Achai. Way back in the early history of Jewish music, before Six13, before Beatachon, even before MBD, Kol Achai was already making acapella songs. A reader felt that it's tantamount to sacrilege to make an acapella list lacking Kol Achai, and I had to agree. "Naar Hayiti" is off their album Halleu.





BONUS: Dudi Fuchs & Neranenu Choir - "Da Ki Yesh Sudeh"

Those who follow Jewish music know that there is currently a deluge of chassidic choirs featuring 'yeled hapeleh's. But this song, a cover of Levy Falkowitz's "Da Ki Yesh Sadeh", caught my ear.




Monday, July 10, 2017

Benny Friedman and Meir Kay chart "Evolution of Jewish Music"

Possibly inspired by the Pentatonix "Evolution of Music" video, Benny Friedman and YouTube producer Meir Kay have created their own tribute to the long history of Jewish popular music, extending from the 1920s to now. Besides for Kay and Friedman, the project also utilizes the talents of director Mendy Leonorvitz of On Time Studios, co-producer Sruly Meyer, composer Avrumi Berko, and Danny Flam's New York Brass, among others.

What's really impressive about the video is the range of songs implemented. Not only do they acknowledge historically important forefathers like Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt and the late R' Benzion Shenker, but they also don't shy away from the more unconventional hits one might expect them to overlook. (Even Black Hattitude gets a nod - yeah, give yourself some time to remember that one.) And while not all of the impressions are spot-on (Moshav Band, Blue Fringe, and Matisyahu are especially iffy), anyone who's had to sit through a HASC concert will certainly find joy in the good-natured takedowns of some of the event's more eccentric performers (renditions of Shwekey's "Rachem" and Miami Boys Choir's "Lo Yisa Goy" are particularly spot-on and satisfying).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Moshe Nerya Korsia releases new single "Tatzil Oti"

Israeli singer/songwriter Moshe Nerya Korsia has released his new single "Tatzil Oti" (You Save Me). The track, written by Korsia and produced and arranged by Reuven Chiyun, is the fourth single from his upcoming debut album.

Gil Israelov releases new single "Shar Shirech"

Jerusalem-based Hasidic singer Gil Israelov recently released his new single "Shar Shirech" (Sings Your Songs), an orchestral ballad devoted to his home city. Israelov wrote the lyrics while Motti Rotler composed the track; the two have previously recorded as part of the Yedidim Choir.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Amram Adar releases new clip "Rabi Nachman"

Miami-based recording artist Amram Adar, currently working on the follow-up to his 2013 debut Baruch Hashem, has released a new video for his single "Rabi Nachman". And as you might suspect from that title, the track, written by Itzik Shamli and produced by Tamir Zur, is an electro-pop dance song.

The video, filmed in Miami Beach with director Yaron Nativ, depicts a man finding solace in the message of the titular Rav after being fired from his job, as well as what seems to be a West Side Story-esque dance fight between Breslov Hasidim and Miami gang members. The press blurb quotes Adar as saying the clip "contains a tremendous message to all, that only happily can we survive in this crazy world of 2017".


Yossi Lebowitz to debut with "Kchoichvei Hashomayim" (+ Hot Take)

Frum-pop newcomer Yossi Lebowitz recently released a sampler for his debut album, Kchoichvei Hashomayim (Stars of Heaven), which will be distributed digitally and through MRM Music sometime in the next week. It will reportedly feature arrangements from the likes of Yisroel Lamm, Ian Freitor, Eli Gerstner, and others.

And now for a Hot Take: The press blurb hypes the album as "something unheard of in JM, a ROCK album," and to its credit, both this sampler and the album's lead single "Keil Nkomois" do seem to back that up, even sounding a bit power metal at times, which I dig. On the downside, it also appears to be suffering from the same flaws as many a JM album, that being an overabundance of schmaltzy ballads disrupting the flow and a lyrically weak English song ("Peace!", which seems to have a bored high-schooler's understanding of the Middle East conflict.)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Shira Choir ft. Avrum Mordche Schwartz sing Zusha songs

The Shira Choir, accompanied by vocalist Avrum Mordche Schwartz, keyboardist Shmily Shapiro, and clarinetist Jonatan Joseph, have released a clip of them performing a medley of songs from the band Zusha. Included in the medley are Zusha songs "Dov Ber", "Mashiach", and a third one I can't quite identify.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Yehuda Shama releases new single "Shlach Lachmecha"

Israeli singer-songwriter Yehuda Shama has released his latest single, the Avicii-esque "Shlach Lachmecha" (Cast Your Bread). Written and composed by Shama, the track was produced and arranged by Reuven Chiyun.

Shama has released several previous singles since 2014. You can check them out on his YouTube channel here.

Eitan Freilich releases new single "Lehodos Lecho"

London-based rising star Eitan Freilich has released a new single entitled "Lehodos Lecho". The track was produced by Sruly Meyer, composed by Yitzy Waldner, and arranged by Mendy Hershkowitz and Chesky Breuer of Sonic-Duo Productions.

"Lehodos Lecho" is something of a departure from Freilich's previous singles, many of which were ballads or light dance tracks. Instead, it borrows from the bouncy piano-centric soul-pop of artists like Sara Bareilles and Andy Grammer, complete with "doo-doo-doos", while comfortably incorporating the more conventional rock guitars and brass section, making for a fun and energetic track.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Yisroel Laub releases "Koily"

Singer/producer Yisroel Laub, best known for collaborating with Nissim on the latter's most recent album, has released a new single of his own entitled "Koily". Laub composed and produced the worldbeat-tinged song at his own Little Box Records studio in central Jerusalem, while Yitzy Berry mixed it.

Dovid Lowy drops lyric video for "Nigun Moshiach"

Singer Dovid Lowy has released a lyric video for "Nigun Moshiach", the latest single off his sophomore album, last year's Inspire. The  dance-pop anthem was composed by Lowy, arranged by Lukas Untersteiner and Ruby Antolin, and features English lyrics by Chaya Nehaus that speak of longing for Moshiach. The song cleverly incorporates the titular metaphor ("the nigun we're all waiting for") as Lowy sings his own rousing nigun over a well-constructed build and drop.

Aharon Razel releases new single "Holech Tamim"

Aharon Razel has released "Holech Tamim" (Walking With Hashem), the latest single off his new album Until I Find A Place. The song, a soft ballad, was composed by Razel with pesukim from Tehilim 15, which describes the type of holy person who will enter Hashem's kingdom. It was produced and mixed by Maor Shoshan.

Until I Find a Place was released on June 9 and is available on iTunes and Spotify, among other outlets.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Video: Yonina, "Adam Shel Chalomot"

Husband-and-wife duo Yonina (Yoni and Nina Tokayer), long known for performing YouTube covers in their living room, have been branching out to original music for some time now, and are currently on the cusp of a full-length album. The latest taste from that album is the pair's just-released single "Adam Shel Chalomot" (Dreamer). 

The song, composed by Yoni and co-produced by Tal Ronen and Synergia guitarist Banua Nahaisi, is a Mizrahi-tinged folk rock tune that sounds like it could have come from an early Moshav Band record. The lyrics, written by Moshe Klugheft, seek to inspire listeners by telling them there is no shame in being a "person of dreams" and looking to the future.

Sruli Broncher ft. Nerya Angel, "Yoter Tov!"

Israeli EDM chasid Sruli Broncher has teamed with singer and DJ Nerya Angel for their new single, an upbeat summer dance track entitled "Yoter Tov!" (Better). Written and composed by Broncher, the song's optimistic lyrics encourage listeners to look for "the lights at the end of the tunnel" even when things are difficult.

Video: Eli Begun, "Haolam Hu Tov"

Singer Eli Begun has released a video for his new guitar-heavy single "Haolam Hu Tov". The video was directed by the song's producer and Begun's brother, Chananya Begun, who often collaborates with him. Eli Begun composed the song himself, while the original Hebrew lyrics were written by Sari Israeli and arrangements were handled by Ian Freitor.

This is Begun's third single, following last year's "We Must Go On" and "Shabbos Hayom". He comes from a musical family; besides his brother, he is also the son of Miami Boys Choir founder Yerachmiel Begun.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hanan Ben Ari releases new single and video "Wikipedia"

Israeli soul/hip hop star Hanan Ben Ari has released a video for his new single "Wikipedia". The song is co-written by him and Keren Peles, while Eyal Mazig handled production.

On "Wikipedia", Ben Ari presents a more somber version of the social commentary on previous single "Tutim", using the titular website and other social media as a metaphor for how Israelis often reduce each other to broad stereotypes ("Every leftist is a traitor, every Arab is a suicide bomber / Every Haredi is a robber and all the settlers murdered Rabin"), leading to the chorus' plea "Don't put me in a cage / Don't summarize me on Wikipedia". He even makes the theme personal by once again advising listeners not to make assumptions about him just because he's religious.




MBD to release new album "Tzaakah"

Veteran Hasidic vocalist Mordechai Ben David will be releasing a new album entitled Tzaakah this Sunday. 

The album, his 35th overall and his first in six years, was produced by his son Yeedle Werdyger, a successful performer in his own right, and will feature thirteen tracks arranged by the likes of Eli Klein and Yitzy Berry, Mona Rosenblum, Eli Lishinsky, and Yoeli Dickman, among others. 

You can listen to a sample of it below.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Aharon Razel ft. Mordechai Ben David, "Ana Avda"

Aharon Razel and Mordechai Ben-David recently released the duet "Ana Avda" as the third single from the former's upcoming album, which has been officially titled Ad Emtza Makom (Until I Find A Place). Composed by Razel, the track was produced and arranged by Yuval Stoppel (Avraham Fried) and features backing from the Yedidim Choir.

Besides MBD, Razel's album will also feature guest appearances from Ishay Ribo and his brother Yonatan Razel.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New single: Yonatan Razel, "Poteach Lev"

Yonatan Razel has released his new single "Poteach Lev" (Open Heart), the title track from his upcoming third album, which comes out May 25th. Razel produced and arranged the track with Alon Yufah.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Aharon Razel crowdfunding new album

Aharon Razel is currently crowdfunding the release of his upcoming new album on the Israeli platform Headstart. You can check it out and contribute here.

The album, which as of yet seems to be untitled (although the page bears the title "It's Our Niggun"), is tentatively scheduled for late spring and will feature arrangements/production from Razel regular Avi Tal, Maor Shoshan (Ishay Ribo), Gil Smetana (Ehud Banai), Yuval Stoppel (Avraham Fried), and Yoeli Dickman. Among these are already-released singles "Zeh Haesek Shelanu" and "Ad Emtza Makom Lashem".

At this writing, the campaign has reached 43% of its 120,000 ILS goal, with 15 days to go.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mendi Jerufi releases "V'Shamru" sefira single

Israeli Chabad artist Mendi Jerufi has released an acapella version of Avraham Fried's "V'Shamru" for Sefira. Vocal arrangements were handled by Menachem Munis.

Jerufi has released five albums, most recently 2015's Hayom Hu Yavo.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Twelve Jewish Acapella Songs You've Never Heard (by TheAsh)

Guest Post by TheAsh of That's Frum!?

It's sefira, and Jews everywhere are turning to acapella to get their music fix. But before you go insane watching "Candlelight" for the millionth time, here are twelve Jewish acapella songs you might not have heard before. Note: I limited each artist to one song each to provide greater variety, and tried to focus on songs that varied in musical style and have not been covered by a lot of groups (e.g, Yehuda!'s "Umacha", which seems to be a Jewish acapella right of passage for some reason).

1) Shir Appeal - Delilah: This song by Tuft University's twenty-year-old co-ed Jewish acapella group Shir Appeal hits all the right notes and is arguably the best acapella song I ever heard. Thankfully not the expected Tom Jones or the Plain White T's cover, but of the rather lesser-known song from Florence + The Machine, Shir Appeal imbues the song with both Jewish meaning and excellent harmonies. I particularly enjoyed the harmony on the first hook ( "A different kind of danger") where the superb arrangements really stand out. "Delilah" is Jewish acapella at its best. (Kol Isha Warning for those concerned.) The song was originally released as a single and then on Shir Appeal's recent album Perspectives (which I also heartily recommend).


Also Worth A Listen (hereafter abbreviated as AWAL):
Shir Appeal's "Jonah", off their album Linguistics, another excellent cover of a Biblically-inspire secular song (this one by the band Guster) rendered Jewishly.



2) The Maccabeats - The Sound Of Silence: The Maccabeats burst into national fame with their hit single Candlelight (though their debut album was released earlier), and it's hard to call any of their songs not well-known. However, this years single 'The Sound of Silence', besides for being an excellent song, so passed under the radar that it deserves a major shoutout. Oh Maccabeats, why didn't you promote what IMHO is your best song?? It's incredibly hard to cover the Simon and Garfunkel song right, even with musical instruments, but the Maccabeats manage just fine with an all-vocal arrangement.


AWAL: The Maccabeats' "When You Believe" off their second album Out Of The Box, which in my view was highly underrated.



3) Six13 - D'ror Yikra: Although now Six13 is largely known for their fun pop parodies, they were once better-known for their original songs. "D'ror Yikra", off the group's aptly titled sophomore album Encore, is a great Middle Eastern-style song that features a great melody and a percussion intro that can only be described as 'bubbly'. "D'ror Yikra" highlights Six13's creativity at their best.


AWAL: "Yigdal", off the group's first album. It possibly features the best vocal drums in all of Jewish acapella.



4) Shabbosdige Oitzrois - Kah Echsof: The first chassidic style acappella song (that is, a song lacking percussion-style vocal effects and merely features pure harmonies), this is the famed L'chaim Tish "Kah Echsof" without instrumentals. This song is also very hard to find, as it was released on the group's only album Shabbosdige Oitzrois, which is now largely unavailable. Bug your chassidic friend till he gives you a copy, because this song is a must-listen and is chassidic acapella at its best.


AWAL: Every other track on this super-rare album. Also, "V'hee Rachamecha", off the Zemiros Group's debut album featuring Eli Beer, is another excellent song done in a similar style.



5) Y-Love & Yuri Lane - Shake It: "Shake It" was released on the really creative acapella album Count It: Sefira by then still-chassidic and still-closeted Y-Love, and is a fun song that celebrates Sukkos. Unlike most Jewish acapella songs that feature drum-like computerized percussion, this song is unique in featuring real beatboxing, by famed beatboxer Yuri Lane. This song also brings back great memories (at least for me): The whole three weeks it was on repeat in my bunkhouse when I was ninth grade in camp.


AWAL: "Bar Yochai" on the same album. Amazingly, Count It: Sefira isn't the only Jewish rap acapella album out there; Ari Lesser also has an album entitled Three Weeks.




6) The Shabbatones - Ahava Ktana. The second song on this list with female vocalists. "Ahava Ktana" is an excellent cover of the Shiri Maimon song, and really gets you pumping. The Shabbatones are Penn Universtiy's co-ed acapella Group, and "Ahava Ktana" was featured on their album Friday Night Lights. It was also the first track on Mike Boxer's collection BOJAC (Best Of Jewish A Capella) Vol 2, so clearly
I'm not the only one who thinks this song is great. (Again, Kol Isha, for those concerned.)

AWAL: The Shabbatones' excellent Subliminal cover "Tikva", also on Friday Night Lights and BOJAC Vol 2.



7) A.K.A. Pella - V'havienu. Unlike the other groups in this list, A.K.A. Pella are more of a 'let's imitiate musical instruments' group than a pure acapella group. However the vocal 'electric guitar' intro on this song is so good, it deserves an entry on this list. V'havienu is off their second album (aptly titled A.K.A. Pella 2), and was also featured on Acapella Treasury: Yom Tov.


AWAL: A.K.A. Pella's "Eitz Chayim", the first track off their Adaptation album set to the tune of "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi.



8) Gil Nagar - Ata Elokai. Every Sefira, there seems to be a widespread practice for Israeli artists to release awful acapella covers. I mean, truly awful. (Two egregious examples are Gilad Potalski's "Hofachta", which is terribly off-tune, and Ohad Moskowitz's "Birchas Habonim" - what is that drum sound? Cheek popping??). That's why I was so pumped to hear Gil Nagar's "Ata Elokai", which shows that at least some Israelis can get acapella right. The song is also an excellent tune.


AWAL: I thought Avishai Rosen's "Malachim" acapella cover was also decent for the genre.



9) Nissim Black - Falling Star. Nissim, whose third Jewish album Lemala took the JM world by storm earlier this year, told me in a personal interview that this is one of his less-known songs of which he's proud. And he has every right to be - o
riginally released under the group name MA"SH and sung alongside brother-in-law Yosef Brown and singer Gabriel Mintz, it's the only Jewish song that I'm aware of with a doo-wop, African-American barbershop-quartet style arrangement. The original musical version is also great, but I prefer the acapella version.

AWAL: Nissim's only other acapella song, "Lo Avater", where he's featured alongside Six13 on their just-released seventh album Blessings.



10) Kol Ish - Yehi Ch'vod: Kol Ish is known for their edgy music videos - both musical and acapella. "Just Had Chometz", their musical parody of The Lonely Islands' "I Just Had Sex" which is sometimes even more shocking than the original, got over 100,000 views on YouTube. Their hilarious acapella cover of Lorde's Royal, "Mohel", also went viral. But before these videos, Kol Ish was a relatively aidele - but still excellent - acapella group, with the album Before Eve under their belt. "Yehi Ch'vod", the final track on that otherwise somewhat underwhelming album, merits inclusion here, because, besides for just being a great song, it features some of the best vocal distortion effects I've heard in Jewish acapella, making Kol Ish sound like heavy rockers instead of nice Jewish boys.


AWAL: Kol Ish's covers (both of them) of Yaakov Shwekey's "Meheira". Besides for the version on Before Eve, they also do one with A.K.A. Pella on their album Platinum.




11) 8th Day - Ayeh Mekom. "Ayeh Mekom", 8th day's only acapella song, and one of the group's lesser known songs, was on their debut album "Tracht Gut" and also was featured on "A Capella Treasury: Shabbos", the Friedman Family's "My Zaidy's Zemiros", and the Chabad Telethon. It also shows how, just using two guys voices, you can make an excellent song with no music, complex harmonies, or effects. (Unlike many acapella songs which have tons of guys voices, overdone harmonies, and cheesy effects, and sound terrible.) This is the catchiest song on the list: listen to it once and it will not get out of your head. Don't say I didn't warn you.


AWAL: Although 8th Day have no other acapella songs, they do appear alongside Six13 and Yitzy Spinner on Six13's track V'zakeini/ V'hee she'amda on Zmanim, and alongside Avraham Fried on the aforementioned acappella album My Zaidy's Zemiros. Check out "Ma Yedidus".



12) Gershon Veroba - "Little David (The Fight in the Man)": Last but definitely not least, this is hands-down the best acapella-with-vocal-drums-but-with-no-computerization song there is. A cover of the Moshe Yess/Megama classic, and also a song Gershon performed many times way back with his band Takana, "Litte David" is bursting with energy and fun. And 
I strongly suggest that you should schedule a heart exam if your heart doesn't leap with pleasure when you hear the hook with the lyrics "Tell me a story and then I'll go to bed". This song was released as a free download back in 2009 as a Jewish Insights exclusive.

AWAL: Yerachmiel has a different great acapella Moshe Yess cover, "God Is My Strength".



 
Honorable Mentions:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sefira Update: Ari Goldwag, Micha Gamerman, Kippalive

As the days of Sefira continue, here are some of the more high-profile Jewish acapella clips this week.

First up, Israeli vocal troupe Kippalive has released their video "Best Day BeYachad", a mashup of "Best Day Of My Life" by American Authors and "Shir La'Ahava (Yachad)" by Ayelet Tzioni and Gili Liber. The video is intended as a tribute to the group's home country, with an opening quote of Theodor Herzl, sweeping location shots of the land, and even a release in the week between Yom HaShoah and Yom Hazikaron.  
(Warning: Questionable use of auto-tune.)



Next up is Ari Goldwag, pulling from his just-released album Acapella Soul 4 with this video for "Ve'ahavta", a cover of Hasidic singer Meilech Kohn's minor Purim hit from last year. The Lag BaOmer-themed video was produced by Goldwag and shot with Yirmiyahu Vann of Vann Visuals.
(Warning: Questionable use of "old man" makeup.)



And finally, speaking of Ari Goldwag, he and rising Brazilian artist Micha Gamerman collaborated on an acapella version of the latter's hit single "Rak Simcha".
(Warning: Questionable use of creepy smiley face mask that only a horror movie villain would wear.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sefira A Capella season kicks off

Pesach is over, sefirah is in full swing, and the JM world has wasted no time in getting the requisite annual a capella market going. Our friend TheAsh (of the That's Frum!? blog) will have a piece here shortly listing the best Jewish a capella songs you've never heard, but first let's look at the ones that dropped in the last 24 hours. We have:

  • Nemouel (Nemouel Harroch) with this self-arranged a capella version of "Elokai", his hit single from earlier this year.



  • The Israeli Malchus Choir with their "Galician March". The piece, with vocals arranged by Pinchas Bichler, is from the choir's upcoming a capella album Ashreichem Yisrael, which was distributed early to readers of the Eida Chareidis magazine Kehala Kadisha.



  • Elad Shaer with a vocal version of his single "Koreh BeShimcha", here arranged and produced by Yaniv Blass.



  • And finally, composer Udi Damari (best known for his work with Haim Israel and others) and his vocal (and all Hebrew) arrangement of Benny Friedman's big hit single "Ivri Anochi".