Tag Archives: indie pop

Video: Zusha, “King”

Ahead of the upcoming A Colorful World, Hasidic folk trio Zusha have released the album’s lead single and only their second video with “King” (aka “Melech”).

The artistically done video, directed by Jacob Blumberg and Bianca Giaever and starring Ma’ayan Chaya Sidof (daughter of filmmaker and Hevria columnist Yocheved Sidof), is said by the band to reflect “a young girl’s determination to discover her unique light”, as they note that “now [the month of Elul] more than ever is our most auspicious time to return to who we are.” The song’s sole lyric, a Hebrew verse meaning “We have no king but You“, comes from Avinu Malkeinu and is a recurring phrase in the High Holiday services.

As a song, “King” shows Zusha further evolving their sound from its acoustic jazz roots, incorporating subtle electronic elements and a darker, more introspective vibe, calling to mind indie-pop darlings like Lorde, Aurora, and even a softer Twenty One Pilots. Bonus points for the impossibly lush and beautiful outro.

A Colorful World drops September 4th. You can pre-order it on Amazon 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.

Mini-Review: Eviatar Banai, “Leshonot Shel Esh” (Flames)

Eviatar Banai has never been the type to stay in one spot musically. A member of one of Israel’s most prolific showbiz families, he spent the late ’90s transitioning between piano-driven chamber pop and moody experimental electronica, all the while exuding era-appropriate angst, alienation, and self-loathing – think Ben Folds meets Radiohead with a dash of Sting. But when he joined his cousin, folk rocker Ehud Banai, in becoming Orthodox in the early 2000s, not only did his lyrics start to take on a more spiritual sheen, but his subsequent two albums evolved his sound into a more conventional alternative rock setup. This approach brought him back into the Israeli mainstream, but had some of his old fans wondering if a devoutly religious family man could ever match the intensity of the angry young indie rocker he had once been.

Fortunately, over the past decade, Banai has managed to find compromise, both spiritually and musically. His last album, 2013’s Yafa Kalevana (Pretty as the Moon), brought him into a dreamy indie pop realm and revived his trademark instinct to question absolutely everything, even his own religious commitment. Leshonot Shel Esh (Flames), which just released this week, takes that framework and doubles down on it.

With production handled by Tamir Muskat of Balkan Beat Box, there are some truly sublime songs here. Opener “Or BaTzel” (Light in the Shadow) is indie folk just aching with bittersweet longing. The title track is a tense build to a mizrahi firebomb of a chorus. “Chotzim Et HaRechov” (Crossing the Street) has some of Banai’s most chillingly good vocals on record. “Achshav” (Now) and “Omes Yeter” (Overload) do an excellent job of blending somberness with urgency. And “Tamid Lifnei HaGeshem” (Always Before the Rain) is just plain beautiful.


Not everything lands, of course: “Pergola” (It’s An English Word, Look It Up) is fun and clever in its mockery of Banai’s public image but a bit too self-aware to really click; “Adam Nizrak” (Man Was Thrown) suffers from serious verse/chorus disconnect; “Ata” (You), another Banai duet with glam rocker Aviv Geffen, has a nice melody but is almost caveman-like in its lyrical simplicity. Really, much of the tail end of the album seems out of place, as if the songs were meant for a different album and just happened to end up here.

But overall, Banai gets more right than wrong here, and what he gets right is so beautifully well-crafted as to completely overshadow the missteps.

Leshonot Shel Esh is available to stream on Bandcamp (below) and Spotify, and can be purchased on Amazon and iTunes. You can also follow Eviatar Banai on his website and on Facebook.