Tag Archives: funk

Sneak Peak at The New Moon All Stars Party Band

A new clip provides a musical sneak peak at The New Moon All Stars Party Band, a recently-formed all-female ensemble that includes Bulletproof Stockings members Dalia Shusterman and Dana Pestun among its ranks. The clip, taken by Pestun during a practice session, is sadly minus vocals (reportedly due to kol isha concerns), but the music is plenty intriguing.

Plugged by Shusterman on a recent episode of HevriaCast, the group reportedly plays a blend of New Orleans jazz, Brazilian bossa nova, French cabaret, American funk, and even traditional Hasidic nigunim. A recent Facebook post cites influences including Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, and Edith Piaf. Shusterman herself was an active jazz drummer in New Orleans for a time, as discussed on the podcast.

Later this week, the band will be kicking off the Jewish month of Elul with a “New Moon Cabaret” at Wolf & Lamb Steakhouse in Brooklyn. Support bands have not been announced, but the show will reportedly include stand-up comedy from Soon By You‘s Jessica Schechter and art by Elanit Kayne. Details as they develop can be found here.

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Mikhal Releases Video for “Clouds”

Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Mikhal (Mikhal Weiner) has released a colorful stop-motion video for her song “Clouds“, off her debut album, Daughter of the Sea, which released in May. You can check out the video below.

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, Weiner is a classically-trained composer, having studied at both Rimon College in Israel and Berklee College in Boston, and her classical pieces have been performed by the likes of Ehud Ettun, the Esterhazy Quartet, and the ALEA III Chamber Orchestra. Her album blends her classical background with folk, funk, pop, grunge, and spoken word, influenced by artists like Ani DiFranco, Joni Mitchell, Aaron Copland and Bjork, with lyrics ranging from abstract poetry to scathing social commentary.

Daughter of the Sea can be purchased on Mikhal’s website, as well as on iTunes and Amazon, and is available to stream on Soundcloud and Spotify.

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.

Chillent Release “Universe in Miniature” single

Pittsburgh klezmer jam funk band Chillent have released their single “Universe in Miniature“, as mixed by musician Brian Fitzy, to Bandcamp. You can check it out below.

Formed in late 2015, Chillent describe their sound on their website as “Jewish Soul Stew” and list Phish, Maceo Parker, and Andy Statman among their influences. The original mix of “Universe in Miniature” will be included on their debut album, Jewish Soul Stew, set for release after Shavuos.