Jewish Music Blog

February 23, 2006

Link Dump

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishmusic @ 11:22 pm

Sameach Music Podcast has a couple of behind the scenes pictures. I personally would like to see more studio pictures, just to get a feel for the people behind the podcast.

Ari Boiangiu recently released his guitar focused album. I tried going to Neshomaorchestra.com to read up on Ari, but the site wasn’t working. (Update: it’s working now). After hearing a track on the previous Sameach podcast, I went to the Sameach website to listen to demos of the rest of the album, but I could not get them to work. I tried both Firefox and Internet Explorer, I even tried right clicking and saving the file to my desktop and playing it to no avail. Luckily I was able to find workable demos at Mostly Music.com. Ari’s website is located at boyandjew.com.

February 21, 2006

Lipa Keneinehora – Review

Filed under: Reviews — jewishmusic @ 10:02 pm

I’ve always expected a lot from Lipa’s albums because of his unique style. This album does have a couple of unique songs and arrangements, but on the whole I feel the album is pretty typical. Each song has different musicians and different arrangers, as well as a variety of composers, which in theory provides more variety, but with a couple of exceptions the arrangements are typically yeshivish sounding. The first song, Rabosi, is the most catchy fast song on the album. It is arranged by Ron Tichon who plays all the instruments except guitar which is covered by Singolda. This seems to be a pattern for Tichon – Shalsheles 3 was arranged by Tichon with the same configuration. Only Lipa could sing a song to the words Rabosi Nevarech; in his interview with JE Magazine, he explains why he used these words. The only other song which breaks new ground is the ballad Chalom Chalamti. The arrangement is excellent, from the rhythm section and string arrangements to the natural key change. The only sound which doesn’t fit into the arrangement is the choir, which sounds the same as any typical yeshivish album. Throughout the album, the music calls for a different sound of choir, but I’m constantly disappointed by the almost annoying yeshivish sound. Another example of good arranging is in the song Hut Bitachon. At 2:36, the groove changes and Lipa’s voice is altered with a very appropriate sound for the song. -If only the rest of the song had the same amount of energy as that 15 second bridge. Nish Im Shabbos has a jazz feel, but the song itself is not a jazz tune – merely a simple tune based around two chords arranged as a jazz tune. The arrangement is nice; it would have been nice if the song was too. I like the song Al Tadin – it has a certain drive to it.

A couple of things about the drummers on the album: Willard Tyson (Dyson?) who plays on songs 4 and 10 has, in my opinion, the best sounding set on the album, but his playing sounds like he’s holding back; I feel that his playing should have been a little more busy. Ron Vered in song 3 does an annoying triplet bass note figure which is distracting and very untasteful. He uses the same groove in Shwekey’s Yedid in the song Sameach. Rick Cutler plays on song 9 which is arranged by Yisroel Lamm. The words to this song are among the saddest words there are – so what is with the drum groove? This is clearly a decision by Lamm – Cutler has too much musical taste to play this groove on his own. The groove adds an extra 16th note in the bass drum, and consequently in the bass guitar, which should not be there. Yaron Gershovsky only covers piano on this song, and his level in the mix is barely audible, which greatly subtracts from this potentially emotional song.

To sum this album up in one sentence: There are a couple of arrangements in this album which make it stand out, as well as several arrangements which subtract from the direction and energy of the songs.

February 2, 2006

Shalsheles Junior – Review

Filed under: Reviews — jewishmusic @ 1:44 pm

Although this album is called Shalsheles, the only real connections it has to the previous Shalsheles albums are that the songs are composed by Yitzchok Rosenthal and Simcha Sussman occasionally sings background vocals and some lead. Other than that, this album really has little to do with previous Shalsheles albums. What really made the 3 Shalsheles albums unique, besides the songs, were Yisroel Lamm’s arrangements. In contrast, Shalsheles Junior is arranged by Ron Tichon. I think this was a good move – after 3 albums, the Shalsheles sound didn’t evolve and was just more of the same.

Interestingly, the only musical credits are ascribed to Tichon. This means one thing – low budget. Tichon had to arrange, play and record all of the music himself, which is no easy feat. Considering this, Tichon did a superb job on the music. He uses electronic sounds to fill the void left by the lack of real instruments, instead of trying to imitate real instruments with samples or keyboard sounds. I think this was another good move – if the music is not going to be totally real anyway, why not take advantage of the electronic element? The electronic sounds don’t sound too rocky or techno a la Eli Gerstner. Tichon also plays guitar, so both the electric and acoustic guitars on the album are real. Tichon’s keyboard playing is also very tasteful. Tichon’s choice of chords is also worthy of note. Some of his more original yet tasteful choices are in the high part Hisoriree and the low part of Ivdu. Had Tichon used the obvious choice (E, B, C#m, A instead of C#m7, Abm7, A, E) for the high part of Hisoriree, it would have been more noticeable that it sounds like Can You Feel the Love Tonight by Elton John. Tichon assisted in arranging Tek-Noy, which is evident from his signature pitch bent strings which he uses in Ilu Phinu and the Fast Medley. The beginning of the Fast Medley sounds like a funk Yamaha auto-accompaniment beat from one of their high end arranger keyboards, which is a credit to Tichon’s versatility. Tichon’s style in general is refreshing – I’d really like to hear an album arranged by him with real instruments.

The kids themselves sing like kids. What I mean is that the singing is often little more than just singing – there’s little soul and emotion behind the singing. There is one vocalist who clearly is a step above the rest – he’s the first singer on Ivdu and Shehashalom. The other kids aren’t bad, I just don’t think there’s must to their singing. Almost all of the singing is in tune, which is a result of good recording and auto-tune, and thankfully the auto-tune isn’t noticeable. Some of the background vocals sound out of tune, similar to the original Shalsheles albums. There are also several times where the rhythm of the vocals is noticeably off, such as the high part of Shehashalom at 3:48. A bit about Sussman’s singing: his voice clearly is associated with Shalsheles, so I understand why he sang. What I don’t like is that his background vocals are often too melodic and flooded with auto-tune which draws too much attention to the background and away from the foreground.

 

The songs are in general pretty nice. As with the previous Shalsheles albums, the real strength in songs lies in the ballads. Ivdu and Shehashalom are both excellent and original songs.

Tichon’s arrangements and the influx of new vocals makes Shalsheles Junior a refreshing change from the previous Shalsheles albums.

Update 6:10 PM: Ron Tichon informed me that Avi Singolda was the guitarist on Shalsheles Junior. I had assumed that because the only musical credits were ascribed to Ron that he had done all the music. Why not give credit where credit is due?

 

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