Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Miami Revach

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Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music

Reviewer: Noah

Ok, I'm on a reviewing roll, so let's dive right in and get this train wreck rolling. Just to start off, it's been quite a while since B'Derech HaTorah, and this album is probably good enough to be worth
the wait.

1. Revach

Needless to say, this is a great song to get us started. As has been done before, this song shouts, "hey, remember us? We're back." It has a very catchy beat. Usually I like it when just the kids sing, but Yerachmiel does a good job of mixing in the adult choir, and, inevitably, himself. I especially like the transitions from the low part to the high part, "l'am l'am l'am sigulah." Those soloists are fantastic.

Score: 9.5

2. V'nihiye

So we're once again breaking the mold by not having a fast song second. But, then again, Miami Boys haven't had a slow song second for as long as I can remember. But this one is not your typical second song, nor is it a typical Miami Boys song. Yerachmiel finally decides to branch out and do a middle eastern type song. It must be a hora, because they tell us so in the song itself. Granted the words aren't so original, but they're sung in an original way, so points for that. Once again the soloists are really excellent, I think one of them is even sfardi. This is a great song.

Score: 9.5

3. Mi Adir

So it's tough to keep coming out with good Mi Adirs because just about every album these days has at least one of them, and sometimes a Mi Bon Siach or two. I wouldn't exactly call this song special, but it's definitely very solid. Pretty much your standard Jewish slow song, and I like slow songs, so we're good. I dunno how Yerachmiel does it, but this must really be a special group of kids because the soloists are really unbelievable. There's a great part at the end when the entire choir sings together, acapella in unison, followed by a soloist and a final "Mazal Tov" again in unison.

Score: 9

4. Ribono

This is an interesting one. It starts off with a very fast instrumental, and then the adult choir comes in. They sing the low
part, and then Yerachmiel comes in with the high part. This is a very
fast song, actually sung in a minor key, so it's really quite interesting. This is a great song for jogging and lifting weights or
something. It really gets you pumped.

Score: 8.5

5. V'Ahavta

So, all of a sudden Yerachmiel has taken a liking to telling stories with his songs. Remember "Lo BaRuach Hashem" from the last album? Well, this song is very similar. He basically takes the text straight from the Gemara and puts a tune to it. It's really quite clever. The low/slow part gives the background story or Rebbe Akiva's students,
and the high/fast part is just "V'ahavta l'reyacha kamocka," another saying of Rebbe Akiva. The slow part is actually really nice, and the
fast part is pretty cute.

Score: 8

6. Yafeh

I really like this song. It starts off with the high part sung a capella. This song, while not exactly as fast as Ribono, still gets you pumped. And again, the soloists are fabulous. These are more original words from Yerachmiel, but they are really great, "Yafeh sho'oh achas biTeshuvah uv'maasim tovim ba'olam hazeh mikol chayei olam haboh. Yafeh sho'oh achas shel koras ruach ba'olam haboh mikol chayei olam hazeh." Very nice.

Score: 9.5

7. Y'chadsheihu

This is another really good one. Another one to get you pumped. The instrumentals are really good, and, of course, the soloists get the job done once again. I also really noticed the harmonies in this song. The rhythm and the tune are fun and catchy. This'll have you dancing right away.

Score: 8.5

8. Lift Up Your Candle

Just as a word of explanation, I've yet to hear an english Jewish song
that I really liked. Some are better than others, but they just don't do it for me.

Score: N/A

9. Shira

This is another solid song. Even though these are very familiar words, the tune makes the song a lot of fun. I especially like the middle part, "Yachad kulam hodu, yachad, yachad." And I just can't say enough about the soloists. A huge yishar kochachem to them.

Score: 9

10. Mimkomcha

So, I'm under the impression that there's really only one good tune to Mimkomcha from Kedusha. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I feel like this tune is too similar to the standard Carlebach one that it's
almost a cheap parody. I wouldn't call it a bad song, I just think that you need to do it entirely differently than it has already been done.

Score: 7

11. Hashkiveinu

Umm, I hate when people try to sing with a chassidishe twist. I mean,
I like chassidim, and they do great things for Judaism, but they pronounce hebrew just plain wrong. That's not to say that the rest of
us do pronounce it properly, but at least it doesn't sound strange when it gets sung. The tune isn't bad. If you want to compare it to any song, just listen to Yiree from Shwekey 3 and you'll get a good idea of what this song is about.

Score: 6.5

12. Kein

Back in Chol HaMoed Sukkot this year I was zocheh to attend the Miami
concert at the Nassau Coliseum. When the Boys first came out, the song they sang was this song. And, believe it or not, the first thing I did when I got home was to check out whether it was a really old song or a new one. So when the new album came out, I checked right away to see if the song was on it, and sure enough it was. It has a very catchy tune, and it's a great way to end this really excellent album. The soloists are super.

Score: 9

Umm, get it. I mean, come on, 12 songs? You get more bang for your buck than the average album, and the songs are terrific.

Yeshiva Boys Choir 2

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Album can be previewed/purchased at Mostly Music

Reviewer: Noah

Ok, it needs to be done. This is like the most controversial album of the year; serious business. So, I'll try to do my best.

Please share your thoughts on my review, because however much I might know about music in general and Jewish music in particular, these views are clearly not black and white. On to the songs:

1. V'ohavto

So, in accordance with all of Eli's albums, this song is an insta-hit. It's a bit different than most of his other ones, e.g. Lecha Dodi, Kol Hamispallel, because it's not really a fast song in the conventional sense. It starts off rather slow with muted guitar, and then a single soloist singing the high part, "v'ohavto..." Then other singers join him and Eli tosses in the flute, which is pretty cool. The harmonies throughout the rest of the song are great, and there's one really nice modulation. My only complaint is that the song gets a bit repetitive. Still a solid song.
Rating: 9

2. Bar Hey Hey

Eli then goes the Yosis/Hinei route and has the 'boys sing another fast song. This middle eastern style song took a while to get used to. I now, finally, appreciate the amazing instrumentals throughout the song. Points also for originality. I mean, these aren't exactly your standard words to a song. Anyway, the three parts to the song, "Amar ley Bar Hey Hey l'Hillel," "Hai 'l'himanos,' l'himalos, mi'ba'ey ley," "Elah ze she'manuhu chaverav l'dvar mitzvah, v'hu lo nimnah imahem," all sound essentially the same musically. The only chiddush comes afterwards when the children sing a series of "ooh, oyoyoys," a la Malochim from the first album. I really like the end when they go way up high for a final "Bar Hey Hey."
Rating: 8.5

3. Kol Hashem

So, I really like slow songs. The feeling and the meaning of most of these songs sustain me through difficult times, and are always good for shedding tears. But I just don't get this song. I mean, it's not a bad song, but I've come to expect a lot from Mr. Gerstner. There's relatively little goinng on musically, and the tune is largely uninteresting. There's just lots of "Kol Hashem"s. Since I don't
really have anything nice to say, I won't.
Rating: 5.5

4. Koo-moo

So this is a cute little song. I wouldn't call it a great song, but it's a nice change after slow song 3, which I don't really believe exists. This is actually the definition of a happy song, following such Gerstner greats as Yismichu, from V'ishei Yisroel, and V'al Kein, from YBC1. It's lively, has nice music, and "bum-dum-bada-badas," so it follows all the guidelines for a happy song.
Rating: 7.5

5. Mi Adir

Sadly, yes, it pains me to say it, but I like the new MBC Mi Adir better. This one might sound more original, but still. Eli's killing me with these slow songs, but it's not really that bad. I'm just a perfectionist. This is when Eli makes his signature appearance, just
like in V'hu K'Chosson from YBC1, and Avinu from Menucha, and Odcha from Chevra 2. His singing is definitely the highlight of this song; he sings with such feeling and so softly that he almost sounds like a child himself.
Rating: 6.5

6. M'Leim

Now, I've never heard music put to these words, and I happen to like these words very much, so we'll give Eli points for that. So this is really the first electricized song on the album, and frankly, it's about time. While I don't think this is a great song either, I like when Eli technos it up. He also uses some interesting rhythms.
Rating: 7

7. Mikolos

Eli, you've worked yourself back into my good graces. Now THIS is a song I can listen to over and over again and forget to eat and drink, and go to daven, and make phone calls...So, essentially, I love this song. Each time I hear "Adiiiiir" and the high "Hashem l'orec yamim," my heart breaks. This is just one of those slow songs that I never get tired of. Well done, Eli, kudos.
Rating: 10

8. Hadricheini

I like this song too. It's not super, but it's also pretty original. The tune is very cute and the words are ones I've never seen before in a song. The rhythm is also really interesting, especially the last time around the song when they sing the high part, "Z'chor rachamecha..."
Rating: 8

9. Yivorechecho

So this is a classic case where something gets way too hyped up and then you're expecting something fantastic, and then it disappoints.
From what many of you wrote in the forums, this song was supposed to be a real hit. Eh, it's not so much my style. However, it is, once again, quite original. The words certainly are not original, but putting "Yivorechecho Hashem Viyishmerecha" together with "Hinei lo yonum v'lo yishon shomer Yisroel," is sheer brilliance. I dunno, I guess I just expected something great to happen in this song, but it never did. Still pretty good though.
Rating: 7.5

10. Al Yisroel Shalom

Once again, Eli has come up with another original song. This one I really really like. I imagine if they had frum clubs in the city they would play songs like this one. The instrumentals are great, and the synthsizers go nuts. I like the modulation at the end also. I seriously have "Mi'smol umiyamin al Yisroel Shalom" in my head all the time now. A nice way to end the album, just like Tehilas Hashem was for YBC1.
Rating: 9.5

So there you have it. I'll grant you all mechila when you say things
to me that you don't really mean.