Tag Archives: alternative rock

Dreams In Static Drops New Album “Part of the Machine”

DJ duo Dreams In Static (comprised of Erez “Diwon” Safar and Levi “Dugans” Martinez) have just released their sophomore album Part of the Machine through Diwon’s Bancs Media label. The album features vocals from Brooklyn-based soul singer Akie Bermiss, as well as LA-based gospel singer Ashley Rachelle and her Baptist church choir. You can check out the video for the title track and the full album on Bandcamp below.

Dreams in Static originated as a side project for Safar, who is also the founder of Jewish hip hop label Shemspeed. They released their debut album, Serene Poetic, in 2012.

The Bar Papas Release New Single…From Decade-Old Album

Jerusalem-based rock band The Bar Papas are on the verge of releasing their debut album, Nesiya Tova (Good Journey), with the title track having just been released yesterday. This might sound somewhat surprising, given that both the band and the album have almost 20 years of history behind them.

The reason for this delay has less to do with laziness than with a Job-like string of misfortunes. You can read the long version on the band’s website here, but the short version is that founding members Amihai Zipoor and Shimshon Meir Frankel met at Yeshivat Darche Noam in 1998 and started jamming together. Despite building a local following on the strength of an amateur cassette recording and a self-titled studio demo, the early 2000s saw the group endure a revolving lineup, a venue closing down during the Second Intifada, and even a brief hiatus in 2005.

Even this new album, which began life in 2007 with the help of a city grant, has faced all manner of mishaps in coming to fruition: a glitch wiped out two days of material; the original producer backed out and had to be replaced, only for the replacement to unexpectedly relocate to another city; and constant money shortages made studio time and musicians hard to come by. This is to say nothing of  incidents such as a labor strike, building renovations, canceled sessions, and even a guitar track that went missing at the last minute. It wasn’t until three years ago that the album was completed and given its wry name, with exhaustion and real life causing the band to hold off releasing it until this year.

So after all this time, is this new-old album worth checking out? That remains to be seen, but the songs released thus far show a lot of promise. Aside from some echoes of the Carlebach-influenced jam folk scene that spawned acts like Moshav Band and Reva L’Sheva, the Bar Papas primarily trade in retro-’60s pop rock and psychedelia that sounds like a mix between Simon & Garfunkel and Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys. This is most prominently heard on song like “Ezri” and “Karev Yom“, while the title track shows sinister shades of ’90s alternative. These are the ingredients for a fun and distinctive sound, so here’s hoping that, in spite of all its setbacks, the album will successfully use them.

(H/T Blog in Dm)

 

Album Review: Alex Clare, “Tail of Lions” (repost)

(I’m currently on some longer posts for JMU, but in the meantime I thought I’d repost one of my old pieces from Yidwise (my other JM blog) to tide everyone over, and this review of Alex Clare’s most recent album is one I’m particularly proud of. It was originally posted on  January 27 of this year, shortly after the album’s American release. Enjoy!)

British singer-songwriter Alex Clare is no stranger to career ups and downs. His first album, 51ol3qyso4l-_ss500The Lateness of the Hour, was a critical and commercial disappointment in the UK. That, combined with Clare – an Orthodox baal t’shuvah – turning down a tour with Adele that fell on Shabbos and High Holidays, caused his label, Island Records, to drop him. Then the album’s single “Too Close” ended up in ads for Internet Explorer 9 and subsequently went double-platinum, convincing the label to quickly re-sign him and give the album a much more successful U.S. release. Then his follow-up, 2014’s Three Hearts, was again disappointingly received (due to lack of label support, according to Clare), charting much lower and earning more mixed reviews.

Understandably, Clare, now a husband and father, felt the need for a change of pace. He left the label for good and moved to Jerusalem in 2015, where he immersed himself in Hasidic teachings. Then he returned to London the following summer, connected with friend Chris Hargreaves of the UK band Submotion Orchestra, and the two set sail on the River Lea in a narrowboat, where they spent several weeks writing and recording songs. The result is Clare’s third effort, Tail of Lions – a Pirkei Avos reference that advocates being a follower of greats rather than a leader of scoundrels. Clare, however, might be ready to do some pretty great leading if this album is any indication.

A common criticism of Clare’s earlier albums was that they overemphasized one element (throbbing dubstep on Hour, glossy folk-pop on Hearts) at the expense of Clare’s own musical identity. By contrast, Tail comfortably incorporates those styles and several others – the spacey trip-hop of “Get Real”, the rousing funk-rock of “Gotta Get Up” and “Surviving Ain’t Living”, the angry arena rock of “Basic” and Open My Eyes” – all while still giving him plenty of sonic room to breathe – and boy, does he. Unfettered by label demands or public expectations, Clare’s performance here is dripping with rawness – not only in his near-ragged voice (undoubtedly an acquired taste for some), but in the emotion he draws out of nearly every track, bringing fury and angst to the rockers and quiet sadness to the ballads with equally chilling impact. If Clare ever was just another British soul singer yelling over techno beats a la John Newman, he thoroughly shatters that image here.

On the lyrical side of things, Clare has obviously outgrown the sordid breakup songs he used to be known for (and which, he has implied, were mostly the label’s idea anyway), so it’s no surprise that this album goes for somewhat deeper subject matter. His faith is a clear and present influence; beyond the album title, “Love Can Heal” quotes Solomon with “There ain’t nothing new under the sun,” while “You’ll Be Fine”, glib title aside, restores crucial context to oft-abused quotes from Rebbe Nachman and the Maharash. Yet rather than settle for blissed-out positivity like many a BT recording artist, Clare is all too willing to show his humanity. “Tell Me What You Need” and “Tired From The Fire” show the ups and downs of a relationship. “Surviving Ain’t Living” and “Gotta Get Up” strike down apathy and conformity. “Basic” defends a troubled man to those who have written him off. And perhaps most boldly, “Open My Eyes” expresses Clare’s frustration over the political chaos in America and the UK in the past year with a level of insight that should appeal to voters of any persuasion. The album’s thematic mission statement seems to be Edmund Burke’s “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

This all might sound like heavy stuff, but part of Clare’s genius is keeping everything pretty accessible; only two songs are longer than four minutes, and nearly all of them have a strong hook to get embedded in your brain and easily relatable emotions, ensuring that all of the album’s deep themes go down easy. With his ability to incorporate so many styles and themes while still maintaining a consistent focus, Alex Clare is a revelation for both Jewish music and music in general. If any musician deserves to be a trendsetter, he most certainly does.

New Single: Botzer Project, “Pardes Rimonim”

Israeli alternative artist The Botzer Project (Eliezer Botzer) has released a new single “Pardes Rimonim” (Orchard of Pomegranates). Produced, arranged, and co-composed by Ori Avni, the song is dedicated to Botzer’s daughter, with the chorus telling her “Your goodness will prevail over all the broken pieces / And slowly you will walk into the orchard of pomegranates“. He is currently working on his third album with Avni as producer.

You can check it out on YouTube and Bandcamp below.

Matisyahu Releases Nostalgic Video For “Back to the Old”

Ex-Hasidic alt-reggae star Matisyahu recently debuted an official video for his single “Back to the Old“. The video, directed, shot, and edited by Shlomo Weprin of Shlomotions, had its exclusive premiere on Conan O’Brien’s “Team Coco” website as part of its Fresh Noises section.

“Back to the Old” is featured on Matisyahu’s new album Undercurrent, which is scheduled to drop May 19. It’s available for pre-order here. He can next be seen live at the California Roots Festival on May 26 in Monterey, CA.