Imagine that someone asked you a year ago which cover of "If I Were a Rich Man" would have more punk edge, the version performed by four Australian Jewish kids or the one performed by post-ska queen Gwen Stefani. You probably would have guessed wrong. Unlike Stefani and her new-found diva-hood, Australian punk rockers Yidcore are the real deal. At www.yidcore.com, the band explains to fans that they're not a joke or a novelty act.
After touring relentlessly for many years, Yidcore has recently signed on with Melbourne-based alternative label Rubber Records, who seem interested in investing in the band. Within a few months of joining the label, Yidcore had secured gigs opening for US punk hits Goldfinger and classic ska-men Reel Big Fish. They've also published an animated DVD, and have now released a two-shot album.
The first album, Eighth Day Slice, explores the rougher energies behind The Ramones and Green Day, and sends them through the filter of down-under, post-Adam Sandler cheekiness. The result is an extremely hard-rocking and irreverent romp, from the raw sounds of an electric guitar plugging in that opens the album, to the "I'm only gonna be used again" lament of the closing song "Since I Bothered You."
The rest of the recording consists of a barrage of guilty pleasures, including "Get to Know You in the Biblical Sense" and "I Wish I Was More Like Woody Allen Cos My Daughter's a Bit of Alright." In between, we are treated to punked-out covers of Israeli classic rock singalong "Yoya," and Bette Midler's Beaches theme "Wind Beneath My Wings."
Album two, Fiddlin on Ya Roof, is exactly what it sounds like: a punk tribute to the ever-popular "Fiddler on the Roof," which is currently enjoying new popularity thanks to a fourth Broadway revival. Of course, in this version, "Matchmaker Matchmaker" is reconfigured into a prayer to be set up with Natalie Portman, the complex "Tevye's Dream" has an "I see a little silhouette-o of a man" interlude thrown in, and "audience" banter between numbers features theatergoers threatening to sick the ADL on the performers.
Strangely enough, though, aside from these updates to the original score, Yidcore's Fiddlin is surprisingly faithful to the Sholom Aleichem-Joseph Stein words and Jerry Bock melodies.
Currently gearing up for their mid-November appearance at Brisbane's annual Ramone-a-thon tribute, Yidcore threatens to return to Israel for at least three gigs in early December, so local fans of Jewish-themed hard-core punk, mark your calendars.