wedding disk 88 298.
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Shlomo Katz is one of the most promising young talents in Jewish rock today, thanks largely to an original repertoire based on haredi styles that also departs from these styles with remarkable creativity, authenticity and beauty.
His Jerusalem-based Shlomo Katz Band has taken this departure even further with its ferocious jamming, but this disc is a solo project, which Katz claims is based stylistically on each song's demands rather than on any master plan for the album.
"Ve'apek," unfortunately, is presented as jazz-lite rather than as the tight rock it might have been (and probably will be live), but overall, Katz's studio approach is to be commended for its versatility and directness. On "Hine Anochi," Reva L'Sheva keyboard player Chanan Elias uses a trippy moog effect reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Sheep," while the opening "Sos Tasis" has a great down-home feel thanks to Arye Dov Kaplan's violin and Sruli Solomon's mandolin.
Katz's vocals are as sweet as they come, and studio atmospherics smattered throughout the album showcase his pipes. The haunting minor-chord refrain of the title track, the niggun-like feel of "Yismechu" and the less-is-more intimacy of "Gibor" are all effective displays of Katz's songwriting, individuality and voice.
AMIT SOFER AND HIS BAND
Wedding Hits 2
The title of this suite seems to indicate that it is one in a series, but it's hard to imagine Noam Productions releasing another album of this sort, since every famous Jewish wedding song can already be heard on Volume 2. Sofer brought us last year's Purim Hits, and this compilation takes the same approach, featuring freilakh (upbeat) medleys that lead us through well-known sing-alongs while conforming to the Hassidic pop mold.
At least a creative ticka-ticka double-time beat and a funky wah-wah strum can be heard somewhere in the mix on "Asher Bara." The disc only gets downtempo twice, on the two non-medley tracks, Carlebach's "Im Eshkahekh" and an extra-schmaltzy "Niggun Huppa." Even the "Sameah Tisamah" ballad is presented here at breakneck speed.
This disc continues Noam Productions' increasing reliance on holiday- and event-themed recordings that develop the corporate brand rather than the individuality of the artists on the company's roster. In the case of wedding albums, Simply Tsfat's Souls in Harmony is still the most ferociously fun and original recording to date.
Ben Jacobson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.