Tag Archives: New York

Newcomer YM Covers Leonard Cohen, Preps Debut Album

YM (Yitzchok Meir Malek), an under-the-radar American-Israeli folksinger, has been making his mark this past week with several new releases and announcements.

First is his recently-released cover of the late Leonard Cohen‘s classic “Who By Fire“, timed for both the High Holidays and the recent string of natural disasters. The cover distinguishes itself by YM’s overlaid vocals, blending a Cohenesque low end with a Dylanesque high end, and by a featured performance from oudist Elyasaf Bashari.

He has also released a music video for his bouncy love ballad “Love Is Like A Bird“, produced by Daniel Goldstein and directed by Shlomo Weprin.

Both songs, as it happens, are heralds of the singer-songwriter’s upcoming debut album, Dear God, which is currently being crowdfunded on the Israeli site Headstart. The album’s planned title track is another cover, this one of “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)” by the supergroup Monsters of Folk. You can sample the album below and contribute here.

Originally from New York before moving to Jerusalem, YM was mentored by Grammy-winning guitarist C Lanzbom and cites among his influences Cohen, Dylan, Marley, Sinatra, and Carlebach. He has described his sound as “alternative rock meets R&B with a touch of pop” and “a classy and suave flirtation of jazzy flows and bluesy bass, peppered with the occasional ballad and campus quad acoustic.

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Moshiach Oi! Double the Na Nach on Rock Rabeinu (Michael Croland)

[Michael Croland was kind enough to share yet another guest post with JMU. My own thoughts on this album will be posted in the near future.]

Moshiach Oi! have narrowed their focus over the past nine years.

When I first found out about Moshiach Oi! in 2008, guitarist Menashe Yaakov Wagner described Moshiach Oi! as “perhaps the world’s first hardcore vegan straight-edge Orthodox Jewish punk band.” By the time I met and interviewed them a few months later, the label was more succinct: “Torah hardcore.” In 2009, their debut album dealt with a multitude of topics from an Orthodox perspective, including celebrating Shabbos, learning Torah, and wanting the Moshiach (messiah). In 2011, their sophomore album addressed varying topics such as Torah, idolatry, and Abraham. Reflecting front man Yishai Romanoff’s religious leanings, there was one recurring topic that stood out in five of the album’s songs: Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a rabbi born in the 18th century.

With their newly released third album, Rock Rabeinu, Moshiach Oi! put the Rebbe Nachman theme front and center. “There is probably at least twice as much Na Nach on this album!” Romanoff told Jewish Music Underground earlier this month. “Maybe Michael Croland will be up for the task of counting how many times we say ‘Na Nach’ on the album.”

As much as I cracked up at that comment (it’s likely because of my quantitative analysis of Moshiach Oi! songs in the preface of my book, Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, and an article I wrote for Jewcy), I am not up for the task.

“Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman,” also known as the New Song or the Song of Redemption, can be heard in many songs on Rock Rabeinu. The title track discusses how rock (a pun on rock music and the Hebrew word for “only”) Rabeinu (Rebbe Nachman) matters. In “Rabeinu’s Army,” Romanoff sings that he’s “a soldier in Rabeinu’s Army.” “Country Petek” and “Smoke the Petek” deal with the petek, a note that Rebbe Nachman posthumously sent to one of his students, and the latter, quite amusingly, discusses “getting high” off of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings. “Ain Yeush” and “No Despair” deal with Rebbe Nachman’s teaching of not having despair.

The song “Rabeinu Rebbe Nachman” best summarized why this focus is so important to Romanoff. The lyrics explain that Rebbe Nachman sent a letter with the Song of Redemption and that it’s “the key to set us all free.” Singing “Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman” is the “key to the redemption of all humanity,” which is why they “spread it all around.”

Moshiach Oi! made a concept album about Rebbe Nachman. Singing “Na Nach” in different catchy melodies and cadences was certainly one way to do so, but with songs like “Smoke the Petek,” they had varied approaches. It’s still rockin’ music that’s meant to praise Hashem and bring Moshiach, but it goes about those goals in a more targeted manner.

Michael Croland is the author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, which was published last year by Praeger (an imprint of ABC-CLIO). Check out the book to learn more about Moshiach Oi! and other Jewish punk artists!

Zeke Finn releases new single “Under the Willow”

artworks-000237311962-w181g6-t500x500Hasidic alt-rapper Zeke Finn has released a new single entitled “Under the Willow“. The song was co-written and recorded with Finn’s longtime friend, singer-songwriter Avi Snow, while Finn’s father Mike Finn created the artwork.

“Under the Willow” is a dark, ethereal folk/soul ballad that, while not devoid of structure, eschews the typical verse/chorus format to create a drifting, dreamlike feel. The lyrics, which could be interpreted as a poetic telling of the Moses story (“Stay poised when your swimming upstream / Seems to me that you can be / The one who sets us free“), seem to revolve around ideas of being destined for greatness while trying to survive in an antagonistic world. There’s also a feeling of gritty persistence, as Finn repeats the refrain “Hold my breath, bite my tongue / Taste my blood, the work is never done“.

You can hear it on Soundcloud and Spotify below.

The Camping Trip 2017 To Feature All the Cool Bands (Updated 8/3)

The Camping Trip, an annual outdoor music festival held in Jefferson, NY, will be happening the weekend of August 4-6, and the announced lineup for this year is chock full of huge names in Jewish alternative, both established and up-and-coming.

The list includes Jewish rock pioneers Moshav and Soulfarm; rappers Matisyahu, Kosha Dillz, and Hebro; and Hasidic folksters Zusha and Levi Robin. Elsewhere on the marquee are Simple Man, Chillent, PERL (ex-Bulletproof Stockings), Yisroel Arye Gootblatt of Brooklyn Jazz Warriors, singer-songwriter Emily Zimmer, and Jeremy Gaisin’s Midnite Remedy, with even still more unrevealed slots set for later in the festival.

You can find out more about The Camping Trip and how to purchase tickets here.

(h/t Ash at That’s Frum!?)

UPDATE 7/26: A new promo for the event (below) has officially added a whole bunch of new names to the list. Among them are: singer-songwriter Esther Freeman, who will be hosting a Shabbat Candle Lighting for women as well as performing on Sunday; Yanky Shpigelman, brother and former bandmate of the previously-covered Esther S.; John Wylde (aka Avi Yaniger), a folksinger originally from Jerusalem; Glaser Drive, a folk rock/Americana quartet of sisters; Pesach Stadlin, a student rabbi, “spirit guide”, and songleader; and Moishy “Mark” Klaver, a pop singer-songwriter from Suffern, NY. Other additions, lacking in web presence but nevertheless intriguingly named, include JooraffeMs. Shira, Shloni, Psydlox, and The Klezmaniac (presumably not to be confused with the Grammy-winning Klezmatics). The video ends with “More Artists TBA”, so expect more updates to this post as the festival nears.

 

UPDATE 8/3: A more-or-less final lineup has been published (see below), although a “Secret Set” is still listed and the bottom asterisk on the poster notes that it is subject to change. Ignoring DJs and artists without an easy-to-find web presence, here are some of the new acts revealed (another h/t to That’s Frum!?):

  • Pumpidisa, a youthful NY wedding and simcha band, will play the Main stage Sunday evening.
  • Innocent Persona, a pop rock band led by vocalist Ittai Stern and affiliated with Diwon’s Bancs Media, will play the Cloud stage earlier that day.
  • Elana Brody, a Virginia-born, Brooklyn-based musician who eloquently describes her sound as “Melodramatic Orgasm Pop”, will play an acoustic set that afternoon.
  • Aaron Holder, a folk-pop singer-songwriter influenced by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and praised by the likes of Moshe Hecht, will play the Cloud stage after PERL.
  • Blanket Statementstein, a very, very underground hippie/punk/alternative collective best known for their association with Moshiach Oi!, will close out the festival that night on the Cloud stage.

 

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The Camping Trip lineup

 

Video: Nefesh Mountain, “Bound for the Promised Land”

Neo-bluegrass act Nefesh Mountain have released an open-air acoustic video for their new single “Bound for the Promised Land“. The footage was filmed in Hudson Valley, NY by Jeremy Hansen.

Founded by husband and wife duo Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, Nefesh Mountain released a self-titled debut last year and are already preparing a sophomore record – Beneath the Open Sky, from which “Bound” is taken – for release this fall. The new album is set to feature prominent bluegrass musicians like Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Tony Trischka, and David Grier, in addition to regular band members Alan Grubner and Tim Kiah.