Monday, February 27, 2017

Video: Derech Achim, "Im Eshkachech"

The Israeli scene's a bit too quiet to do a New Israeli Monday this instead here's a video about Israel!

This is Derech Achim, a folk duo from Johannesburg, South Africa comprised of brothers-in-law Reuven Garber and Jared Lazarus. The song, "Im Eshkachech", is the first single from their upcoming debut album Mayim Rabim, and was produced by Jake Odendaal of Maven Productions, while Daron Resnick created the video.

As an introductory single, this works pretty well. "Im Eshkachech" is probably a top candidate for one of the most overdone songs in the Jewish canon, but Derech Achim intentionally made their version more vibrant and upbeat to counteract the somber mourning of past renditions, and the Mumford and Sons-esque result is quite fun to listen to. If the duo can just make less obvious song choices in the future, their debut album could easily be one to look forward to.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Hasidic Tunes: Eli Marcus, Motty Steinmetz, Dudi Knopfler

This isn't regular enough for me to make it another weekly thing yet, but since a bunch of music dropped at once again and I'm too lazy to make three separate posts and these three sort of tie together...let's do this!

First up is Eli Marcus with "Melech Haolam", a cover of a Haim Israel song originally composed by Udi Damari, here re-arranged by Avrumi Berko. Marcus, of course, is the brother of Shmuel and Bentzy Marcus of 8th Day and a nephew of Avraham Fried. His latest album, Energy, came out last summer.

Next up, young Hasidic singer Motty Steinmetz has released his first official music video for "Haneshama Bekirbi", the lead single from his upcoming debut album. The song was composed by Ruli Ezrachi and produced by Yossi Rubin, while the clip was directed by Ariel Cohen and produced by Shalom Eisenbach and filmed in Israel.

I normally don't cover the "child prodigies" of Jewish music for various reasons, but Steinmetz is developed enough not to be annoying, and the song, a breezy kumzits track, plays to his strengths as a performer. So does the video, which is a nicely shot, laid-back day-in-the-life narrative (although - and I speak as one with personal ties to this community - if I can make it to 120 without seeing another frum singer awkwardly interacting with a handicapped child to play on my sympathies, I will die a happy man).

Finally, another peyos-wearing vocalist, Dudi Knopfler, has released a video for his single "Ki B'simcha" to kick of the month of Adar. The song is composed by Boruch Sholom (who had his own hit album recently with Neshama Dance), with lyrics by Shalom Mordche Roth based on Rebbe Nachman's Likutei Moharan, and produced by Shmulik Berger. The video was sponsored by Soreiku Vineyards in Brooklyn (and boy, can you tell...).

In previous videos, Knopfler was presented as a straightforward crooner somberly addressing the Almighty. Here, he seems to be going more for more of a life-of-the-party pop MC persona a la Bruno Mars, and it's not a bad fit; Knopfler certainly has the charisma and energy to pull it off, belting with gusto and punctuating his verses with shouted Yiddish ad-libs to get up and dance, even heralding a Mizrahi-style bridge that's there just because. The video also helps, with some impressive effects for a J-vid and a Purim party scene authentic enough to include wine spilling on a guy's white shirt in the midst of dancing.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Leonard Cohen, "Traveling Light" (Lyric Video)

Leonard Cohen was one of the harder losses of 2016, but fortunately he left on a high note: his final album, You Want It Darker, a grimly devout gem that doubles as a comprehensive Last Will and Testament. To commemorate it, album artist Sammy Slabbinck, guided by Cohen's son and producer Adam, created this lyric video for "Traveling Light", a mournful goodbye with an Eastern European bent to it. For the video, Slabbinck and Adam compiled previously unreleased footage of Cohen, including an opening bit on his porch where he discusses his failing health.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Video: Alex Clare, "You'll Be Fine" (Stripped Back)

Having already given the stripped back treatment to "Tell Me What You Need" and "Open My Eyes", British rocker Alex Clare returns to the rooftops of Tel Aviv for this version of "You'll Be Fine", released as a Billboard exclusive. Like the previous videos, Clare is once again accompanied by The Portnoy Brothers, bassist Chris Hargreaves, videographer Avi Noo, and soundman Ben Wallick.

"You'll Be Fine", of course, comes from Clare's fantastic new album Tail of Lions, recorded with Hargreaves. The track is one of the more openly spiritual on the album, quoting Rebbe Nachman and reassuring listeners of their ability to overcome obstacles.

Dudi Hershkop releases "Ein Kelokeinu"

Israeli Hasidic wedding singer Dudi Hershkop is making his recorded debut with a new single, an electro-pop version of "Ein Kelokeinu". The song was produced and arranged by Bentzi Stein and recorded by Yanky Cohen at Music Place Studios in Ramat HaSharon.

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Israel Monday: Netanel Israel, Golan Azulay, JEW2

Welcome back to the weekly post where we look at new Jewish music from the Holy Land.

First up is Netanel Israel with the video for his new wedding single "Birkat Kohanim", a cover of Itzik Orlev's version of the prayer. This rendition was arranged by Eli Assaraf and composed by Liat Ravner, while Netanel's old pal Sruli Broncher mixed it and edited the video.

Next is singer-songwriter Golan Azulay with a lyric video for the single "Dor Holekh V'Dor Ba" (Generations Come and Go), taken from his recent second album Yaldut Meusheret (Happy Childhood). Based on verses from Koheles, the song has Azulay telling his son that many generations before him have tried and failed to fix the world, and his may not finish the job, but that this is not license to stop trying. The song was arranged, produced, and recorded by Shmulik Daniel at Hook Studio in Tel Aviv.

And finally, we have electro trio JEW2 with their new single "Naavor Gam Et Zeh" (This Too Shall Pass), which advances the idea that if Jews can survive thousands of years of persecution, they can overcome modern conflicts too. The song was written and composed by Aviram Chocron and produced and arranged by Tal Yogev at Hamaklet Studios in Holon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Kosha Dillz Live at the 59th Grammys...sort of

Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz was at the recent 59th Grammy Awards...just not indoors. For the second time in three years, after being denied access to the actual ceremony, he took to the nearby sidewalk with a mic and drum machine and started freestyling at passerby. Last time, he performed on the sidewalk outside the actual Staples Center venue for the awards show; this year, however, he is ousted from that spot by security and so relocates to the one outside the Grammy Museum in downtown L.A. You can check out the video below or see the previous video here (warning: both contain some NSFW language and content).

New Israel Monday: Gabriel Tumbak, Yoni Genut, Elad Shaer

I'm posting this a little later than usual because I just got back from a snow hiking trip and am still recovering feeling in my everything. Nevertheless, the show must go on, so let's get into this.

First is Gabriel Tumbak with the new single "Kol Haneshama". Produced by Avi Newmark, the song was composed by Shmuel Marcus and arranged by Ian Freitor.

Next, singer-songwriter Yoni Genut has released his newest single "Hafachta Oti L'Abba" (You Turned Me Into A Dad), the fourth single from his debut album Daber Elai Be'adamit (Talk Real To Me), which released last month. In the song, Genut chronicles his complex emotions at having children late in life.

And finally, singer Elad Shaer has released his single "Koreh B'Shimcha" from an upcoming album. The song is a collaboration between Shaer and singer and musician Iti Amran, who wrote and composed the song after the two met while performing at a wedding. Tziki Zanti produced and arranged it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Video: Gadi Finegold, "Lo Yodea Klum" (Don't Know Anything)

Israeli musician Gadi Finegold just released this folk-rock ode to nostalgia, in which he reflects on the days of his youth with a wry "the more things change, the more they stay the same" attitude. Something of a DIY man, Finegold wrote, arranged, performed, and even produced and recorded the song at his own Pluto Studios in Tel Aviv. The video, meanwhile, is directed by Tamir Platzmann.

While much of his work has been behind the scenes with Pluto, Gadi Finegold has been gradually stepping in front of the mic for the last few years. "Lo Yodea Klum" is the seventh single and third video from his debut album, Lo Tipol Ruchi (My Spirit Won't Fall), which released in January of last year and features famed Israeli artist Eviatar Banai on the title track. And for you Anglophiles out there, here's Finegold performing an English song from a musical he wrote:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Video: Yerachmiel ft. Rafi Barkats, "Horeis (Destruction)"

Yerachmiel, accompanied by saxophonist Rafi Barkats, has released a video for his composition "Horeis (Destruction)". Taken from a verse in Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) where G-d vows to destroy his own creation if the Jews forsake Him, Yerachmiel wrote the song in response to the terrorism in his native Israel, particularly recent attacks in Amona.

Monday, February 6, 2017

NIMM: Haim Israel, Hanan Ben Ari, and Avigdor Gavish

Time for this week's New Israeli Music Monday, aka "I Guess This Is A Weekly Thing Now, Sure, Why Not, Saves Posting Time Whenever A Bunch Of These Guys Put Out Music At The Beginning Of The Week" (title shortened for length obviously).

We'll start it off with a returnee from last week: Haim Israel, here working with famed frum-pop composer Yossi Green and producers Eli Lishinsky and Yossi Tyberg, has released the ballad "V'az Yihyu".

Next up is a charming clip from rising talent Hanan Ben Ari performing his new song "Toda She'at Ohevet Oti" (Thank You For Loving Me), a soulful R&B love song to his wife, who appears with their child in the video. The lyrics were co-written with Israeli poet Roy Hasan, while production and arrangement was handled by Eyal Mazig, who also sings and plays bass on the track. The video was directed and edited by Yaakov Asaraf of Sulam Yaakov studios.

Finally we have a newer face on the scene with singer-songwriter Avigdor Gavish and his jazzy ode to "Shabbat". In addition to writing and performing the song, Gavish also co-arranged it with Yehu Yaron, who also produced the track, and the two provide the groove with Rhodes piano and bass, respectively. This is Gavish's third and final single leading up to his debut album Yom Chadash (New Day); previous singles were "Galut" and the title track.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Video: Benny Friedman, "Ivri Anochi - I'm A Jew and I'm Proud"

Benny Friedman has released a video for "Ivri Anochi - I'm A Jew and I'm Proud", the third single from his latest album Fill The World With Light (after "Kulam Sharim" and "B'sefer Chaim"). The song, which has a Mediterranean pop feel to it, was composed by Ari Goldwag, who also wrote the lyrics with Miriam Israeli and 8th Day's Shmuel Marcus, produced by Sruly Meyer, and arranged by PlayMasters, Ian Freitor, and Daniel Kapler.

The video, directed and produced by Meir Kalmanson of Meir Kay Productions, may cause PTSD in any New Yorker who's had to fend off well-meaning shluchim wielding tefillin, but otherwise conveys a solid and inspiring message of taking pride in one's Jewish identity.

Aharon Razel releases "Zeh Haesek Shelanu, Laasok Bdivrei Torah"

Israeli singer-songwriter Aharon Razel has released "Zeh Haesek Shelanu, Laasok Bdivrei Torah", the first single from his upcoming new album. Composed by Razel and produce by Yoeli Dickman, the song's lyrics are taken from the introduction to the sefer Chemdas Daniel and explain the Jew's obligation to learn Torah in business terms.

Based in Jerusalem, Razel is the brother of fellow musician Yonatan Razel and has released 11 albums since 1999.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bob Dylan to release new album "Triplicate"

Legendary folksinger and Nobel laureate Bob Dylan will shortly release his 38th studio album and first three-disc set, entitled Triplicate. The album, which comes out March 31, will feature 30 new recordings of American standards, including "Once Upon A Time", "Stormy Weather", and "As Time Goes By". The first single from the album, "I Could Have Told You", can be heard above.

Video: David Hababou, "Elokim"

French singer David Hababou has released a video for his song "Elokim". The video was directed by Clipheart, while the song's lyrics were written by Sruli Broncher.

Born in Paris, David Hababou comes from a musical family; his father Michel and older brother Mendel are both professional singers. David came to prominence in 2015 performing with younger brothers Dov and Chmouel as the Hababou Brothers. His debut album, Adon Olam, was released last summer.