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.