Thursday, March 30, 2017

Video: The Living Wells, "The Flow"

Alt-rap duo The Living Wells have released a video for "The Flow", the latest single from their mixtape Folk Rap. The high-energy video was filmed in Israel by director Drew Feldman. The song, which interpolates Nico and Vinz' "Am I Wrong", has Living Wells frontman Moshe Friedman chronicling his personal and spiritual evolution and the people he's met and lost along the way.

Folk Rap is available to stream on YouTube as well as download free from The Living Wells' official website.

Hillel Gross releases debut single "Horeini"

Brooklyn-based vocalist Hillel Gross has released his debut single "Horeini". Composed by Gross and produced and arranged by Naftali Schnitzler (Beri Weber, Lipa Schmeltzer), the ballad features a mixture of Hebrew pesukim and original Yiddish lyrics that, according to the video description, relate to "our strong connection to Hashem".

Gross is reportedly working on a full-length album with Schnitzler producing.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ben Snof releases new single "Harega Shelanu" (Our Moment)

Israeli soul singer Ben Snof has released his newest single "Harega Shelanu" (Our Moment). The song, an original-lyrics wedding ballad that highlights Snof's impressive vocal range, is produced and arranged by his longtime collaborator Yogev Samina, while Kineret Samina wrote and composed the track.

Born in Tzfat, Snof began singing at age 7 as a soloist in the Pirchei Tzfat choir. He was brought up secular but became religious after releasing his first album in 1999 and retired from music for a time. He returned ten years later and has since released two more albums (2009's Hineh Hu Bo and 2010's The Journey) as well as several successful singles.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Mordechai Ben David releases single "Boee Veshalom" for granddaughter's wedding

Veteran Hasidic crooner Mordechai Ben David recently released his new single, "Boee Veshalom", in honor of his granddaughter's wedding (the daughter of his son Yeedle Werdyger, also a big Hasidic star). The song was composed and arranged by established frum-pop songwriters Eli Klein and Yitzy Berry.

(Note: The song has not been given an official release on any easily shareable platform, so I just uploaded it to my personal Soundcloud, as you can see below.)

(Hat tip to Yossi Zweig at The Jewish Insights)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Aharon Razel releases new single "Ad Emtza Makom Lashem" (Until I Find a Place for G-d)

Aharon Razel has released his new song "Ad Emtza Makom Lashem" (Until I Find a Place for G-d), the second single (after last month's "Zeh Haesek") promoting his upcoming album.

Razel co-wrote the song with his wife, Efrat, based on verses from Tehillim 132. He also produced and arranged it with Avi Tal and recorded it at Midikol Studios in Jerusalem.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dedi Graucher returns with new single "Bou Nesameach"

Popular Israeli Hasidic singer Dedi Graucher has released his newest single, "Bou Nesameach" (Let Us Rejoice), a techno/rock number produced and arranged by Yoeli Dickman and composed by Graucher's son Aviel. The Hebrew lyrics, original with some pesukim interspersed, call for unity among all Jews (even specifically addressing Dati and Masorti at one point).

Despite Graucher's popularity in the frum world, this track is actually something of a comeback for the singer; outside of appearances at the annual HASC concerts, he hasn't released any solo material since 2004. Whether this single will lead to a new album has not been confirmed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Video: 8th Day, "Torah"

Chabad rockers 8th Day have released a video for "Torah", the new reggae-rock single off their latest album Slow Down, which dropped earlier this month.The video was shot and edited by Mendel Katz.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Video: ohr, "Brother"

Singer-songwriter ohr (Jake Polansky) has just released a video for "Brother", the Avicii-influenced second single off his debut Side by Side EP. The video is credited to L.E. Doug Staiman, the former Groggers frontman who has also done videos for The Avoda and NOEY.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Video: Alliel ft. Moshe of The Living Wells, "Am Yisrael Chai"

The past week has seen a sudden explosion of Jewish hip-hop, with new releases from Hebro, Nosson Zand, Nissim, and Lev King D. But knowing the trends of Jewish music, the one likely to be most popular - and not undeservedly so - is this video for "Am Yisrael Chai", a collab between French R&B singer Alliel and rapper Moshe Friedman of alt-rap duo The Living Wells.

Based on Madcon and Ray Dalton's "Don't Worry", "Am Yisrael Chai" parlays that song's funk-enhanced optimism into a compelling Jewish Perseverance narrative ("We've seen the greatest kingdoms / Eventually they fall / Who knew the smallest nation / Would live to pass them all?"). Alliel is appropriately soulful and fun on the track, Friedman delivers a clever and forceful guest verse, and the visually inventive video, created by director Tal Zagreba and VFX artist Noam Toledano, references everything from classical artwork to Mortal Kombat (not even making that up).

In terms of background, Alliel has had a few other singles but is probably best known from last summer's megahit "WeR1", where he shared track space with Gad Elbaz, Nissim and DeScribe among others. Elsewhere, The Living Wells are part of that recent Jewish rapsplosion, having released their new mixtape Folk Rap on Friday. They are highly recommended by this author, particularly their single "The Process".

Happy Purim from Yidwise

Here's wishing a freilichen Purim to all the loyal and encouraging Yidwise followers. Have fun, be happy, and please drink responsibly. Or don't, you little rebel! But seriously though, don't get too crazy.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Zusha releases new single "Modeh"

Hasidic folk-soul trio Zusha recently released their new single "Modeh", a trippy R&B setting of the early-morning prayer Modeh Ani. The track was recorded, mixed, and produced by Jon Seale of Mason Jar Music.

Zusha can next be seen hosting the Zusha Purim Fest with rapper and Matisyahu protege Zeke Finn at the Bowery Ballroom this Saturday night (tickets here). Followers of Yidwise will recall that their debut full-length Kavana made my Five Great Jewish Albums From 2016 list.

Lev Tahor, "LTV" (review by TheAsh)

Album: LTV

Released: Feb 22, 2017

Style: Pop/Soul/Folk

Lev Tahor, a boy band/pop group generally recognized as one of the more innovative groups in Jewish music, recently released their fifth album, LTV, their first in 12 years. Lev Tahor, consisting of Gadi Fuchs, Ari Cukier, and lead singer Eli Schwebel, has previously released two a capella albums and two regular ones, and counts in its repertoire the hit songs "Im Lavan Garti" and "Moshe", both off their fourth album, which attained bestseller status in the Orthodox Jewish community. Additionally, Schwebel, who is often credited with giving them their distinctive sound, released in late 2014 a solo album entitled Hearts Mind, which included the wildly popular single "Yagga". On LTV, the group's voices have matured quite a bit, and on many tracks they seem to leave their old musical style behind in favor of more contemporary pop-style songs than the hartzig harmonies on earlier albums. In fact, one gets the impression that this is really two albums in one: Lev Tahor 5 (the 'older style' tracks like "Avdecha" and "Birchas Hachodesh") and Eli Schwebel 2 (the 'pop style' tracks like "Gam Zu" and "Simchas Beis Hashoeva"). 

LTV includes seven new songs and five songs which are either covers ("Hallelu", "Mr. Tanner"), rereleases ("Dror Yikra"), or remixes  ("Yaggapella", "Don't Stop Giving Love"). The two real stand-outs among the originals are "Meheira" and "Gam Zu". "Meheira", my personal favorite on the album, first seems like your stereotypical Jewish slow song (with a piano low part, string-section high part, and even the words of "Meheira" - how much more stereotypical can you get?), but Lev Tahor's beautiful harmonies and excellent rendition renders the song an instant classic (yes, cliche, but when a version of "Meheira" is that amazing, it deserves the cliche). The song features Lev Tahor's voices at their very finest - Schwebel in particular is masterful here - and it would not surprise me if this song was recorded at the time of their fourth album. "Gam Zu", the other big hit of the album, is completely the opposite of "Meheira". While "Meheira" is your stereotypical Jewish song, strings and all, "Gam Zu" is rebellious and edgy and has original English lyrics. With a tune that wouldn't sound out of place on the Billboard Top 40, "Gam Zu" expresses the Jewish sentiment that no matter what - you guessed it - gam zu letova. Although you would not have heard a song like this on older LT albums, after the phenomenal success of Eli Schwebel's debut album (which featured all-English pop/electric rock songs) the group branched out their musical style and gave Eli some creative breathing room, and "Gam Zu" reflects that.

But while the original songs are great, Lev Tahor really catches fire when doing their own rendition of other people's songs, as demonstrated in the past with "Time To Say Good Shabbos" (an Abie Rotenberg/Journeys cover from LT4) and "Deaf Man In The Shteeble" (a David Geddes-by-way-of-Country Yossi cover from LT3). LT5's covers start with "Hallelu", a reworking of "Holiday Road" from the classic comedy National Lampoon's Vacation. While it's admittedly less annoying than the original, it's definitely not one of my favorite songs, and probably not the best cover choice. However, Lev Tahor hits one out of the park with their masterful version of Harry Chapin's classic "Mr. Tanner", which far outdoes the original. In fact, I feel this song is Lev Tahor's best-performed English song of all their albums, and that's saying something. But "Don't Stop Giving Love" shows that Lev Tahor can cover their own songs (or at least their lead singer's) just as well as they can cover others'. Originally on Hearts Mind as a slow rock ballad, the LTV version, created by DJ Dilemmachine, delivers a pop remix that far outshines the original. The other Hearts Mind song here is "Yagga", redone in an a capella version as "Yaggapella". Although mixed by a capella genius Ed Boyer (Pentatonix, Pitch Perfect), I feel Lev Tahor should have gone with themselves on this one. They have already two classic a capella albums under their belt showing that their voices and unique harmonies alone  far surpass the all-too-common 'fake-drum' a capella technique. Other groups may need fake drums as a crutch, but Lev Tahor has shown they can stand on their own, and here it simply detracts from their great harmonization and turns a great song into a merely good one. 

Two songs on LTV feature other artists, "Dror Yikra" and "Simchas Beis Hashoeva.
"Dror Yikra" is a great Sefardi-style song that features Yehuda Gilden and Rivie Schwebel (Eli's father and a former Journeys member). You may have heard before - it was originally released on Harei Yehuda, an album of compositions by Gilden, in 2007. Kudos to Lev Tahor to including it, though, as most have never heard it. (If only they'd included "Av Harachamim" from The Shmorg as well.) However, "Simchas Beis Hashoeva", which features Lipa Schmeltzer, is by far the weakest song on the album. The song, although featuring the most interesting Hebrew words on the album, has a reggae-style beat that just doesn't sound good and a highly questionable intro alluding to a DJ concert in the Beis Hamikdash. I know Lipa has a penchant for pushing boundaries, but I didn't expect it from Lev Tahor. This song, or at least the intro to it, just doesn't belong on this otherwise great album. 

In conclusion, although LTV is different than their other albums musically, it's still a great buy. If you enjoy Eli Schwebel's debut album or generally like more electric pop songs, you'll get maximum enjoyment of this album, but even if you don't, it includes enough of their older-style material to keep you satisfied.

TheAsh is the owner of a massive Jewish music collection, and publishes the "That's Frum!?" Jewish music blog.