An indie holiday

Adam Gardner and Dave Schneider joined forces to become the Leevees this past April.

levee disk 88 298 (photo credit: )
levee disk 88 298
(photo credit: )
THE LEEVEES Hanukkah Rocks! (JDub/Reprise) When Neil Young went on tour to promote his Greendale album in the summer of 2003, Rolling Stone reported that the production's bus fleet was fuelled with used vegetable oil, which apparently works in any ordinary diesel engine. With its oil lamp miracle, Hanukka has evolved into the Jewish festival of deep frying (sweet dough, grated potato patties, and whatever else is lying around), so the Leevees probably won't be short of fuel while touring in support of their debut Hanukkah Rocks! album. Adam Gardner (of the indie darlings Guster) and Dave Schneider (of The Zambonis) joined forces to become the Leevees this past April. The two came up with the idea of putting together a Hannuka album with songs that are original and actually good. Fittingly, they wrote all of the songs for the album in eight short days, and thanks to Interpol producer Peter Katis, the resulting CD is possibly the strongest Jewish holiday-themed rock album of all time. Hanukkah Rocks! actually does rock, but its creative songwriting and clever lyrics are what make the album so enjoyable. Chutzpadik, contemplative and silly in a manner that's closer to the spirit of Jonathan Richman than Adam Sandler, the Leevees' songs cover the holiday gamut. The opening "Latke Clan" references an old Jon Lovitz SNL bit, proclaiming that "Hannuka Harry is the man." The centerpiece, "How do you spell Channukkahh?," relates anecdotes regarding stumped spelling bee participants on ESPN2 and a former Latin classmate insisting that the word begins with a "silent J." Other indispensable song titles include "Goyim Friends," "Gelt Melts" and "Applesauce Vs. Sour Cream." VARIOUS ARTISTS The Hanukkah Lounge (Craig n Co) Craig Taubman has now repackaged yet another holiday, offering this compilation of Hanukka-themed low-tempo electronic music. With beats and moods that mostly stick to the realms of trip-hop, psychedelic lounge jazz and bossa nova chillout, The Hanukkah Lounge at its best evokes early Air and Kruder and Dorfmeister's K&D Sessions. With its Yemenite chant samples and oud picking background, Yuval Ron's "Sura" is exotic and trippy. Laurence Juber and Taubman's "Chanutronikah," on the other hand, lacks an edge, although its use of sparse elements from the famous "Hag yafeh kol-kah" melody is an interesting starting point. Bob Parr's "S'vivon" combines low, staccato string parts with an echo-heavy beat, like the opening credits theme of a contemporary Hollywood thriller. Overall, Taubman's Lounge concept is certainly innovative, but unfortunately, the results lack consistency.