OMEK HADAVAR The Depth of the Matter (self-release) Omek Hadavar has joined the ranks of Eden, Blue Fringe, Moshav and Heedoosh as one of the few Jewish-themed bands that takes a guitar rock-centric approach. The band's recently released debut, The Depth of the Matter, has generated enough of a buzz to garner several New York-area gigs in recent months. The Depth of the Matter's feel is built around the guitars of David Weinberg and the keyboards of Ari Yablok, but the album varies considerably when it comes to how contemporary it sounds. Some cuts (especially "Nachamu Ami") are driven by phrased piano rhythms topped by soaring guitars, reminding the listener of Coldplay. "Ya'ancha Hashem" is made lively by dramatic electric chords and an energy that builds as it goes. Others cuts ("Va'ani," "Mesilas Yesharim") are less strong and even Billy Joel-like. But at its best, the band is driving, upbeat, tight and rocking, as heard on the album's highlights "Ana Bikoach" and "Tzama Nafshi." BLUE FRINGE The Whole World Lit Up (Sameach Music) Hailed as the premiere act of Jewish rock's young generation, Blue Fringe has sold an impressive 20,000 units of their first two albums. The second one, 70 Faces, avoided the sophomore slump by favoring upbeat and relatively fiery rock-pop. With its members now in their mid-20s and finding themselves free to let up a bit, Blue Fringe's third effort, World Lit Up, is a low-key, spacious, sometimes melancholy affair, produced and recorded by Soulfarm axe-man C Lanzbom. World is far less flamboyantly cheeky and Jamiroquai-fabulous than its predecessors. It boasts fewer originals than usual, with fresh arrangements of traditional Jewish tunes and several covers (including the Flaming Lips' breathtaking "Do You Realize") dominating the disc. Many songs employ beloved liturgical and para-liturgical melodies as springboards. Dissonant, fleshed out intros become unlikely chord progressions on original verses that lead into choruses built around the well-known originals. This structural template is a nifty trick, and the band pulls it off cleverly on "V'Shamru" (one of two Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach covers) and "Etz Chayim." On "Eshet Chayil," which is traditionally sung by the husband to his wife at the Shabbat table, vocalist Dov Rosenblatt adds, "Way before you took a breath / you said you would be mine / Way before you took a step / You walked around me seven times." Later, on "Eicha," original lyrics pave the way for a chorus that's based on the traditional cantillation melody for the book of Lamentations. The disc closes with an extended, atmospheric "Birkat Kohanim" (Priestly Blessing), which starts out as a scat chant based on the one sung during the titular synagogue ritual, but then bursts into many layers of heady vocals as the blessing itself is recited for a dramatic coda. Ben Jacobson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.