With the new year just around the corner, it's time for the annual Sabra Sounds wrap up. This past year, local musicians were very prolific in writing and producing new albums. From veteran singers to new and shining stars there isn't just one artist to represent for this past year. In fact, the country's domestic music scene was updated in almost every genre in 5769.
Let's begin with the top bands. Terry Poison put the electro-rock style front and center with a couple of hit singles ("Smack Snack," "Comme ci Comme ca") and with an opening for British group Depeche Mode during a concert here. Asaf Avidan and the Mojos brought new fans to the folk-rock scene and scored a landmark deal with Sony-Columbia records. The Idan Raichel Project continued its world music takeover. Boom Pam kept the party going with the group's unique mix of Eastern European-Mediterranean-surf music. Blue Pill made a lot of noise on the rock scene with its debut album Me'al Hamayim (that included the mega-hit single "Yasmin"). Hakartel kept the groove going with its electro-funk-rock. Mercedes Band kept the funk scene alive withBring the Beers and Hatikva 6 made sure the reggae scene was kept up-to-date.
Two other bands that can be thanked for making the local music scene more interesting this year are The Walking Man (pop at its best, and in English, too!) and the collaboration project by Berry Sakharof and Rea Mohiah, Ibn Gvirol - Adumei Hasefatot. Their album put the famous Jewish poet/philosopher's writings to remarkable folk-rock beats.
New Act of the Year for solo performers can be narrowed down to three budding names. Dor Daniel took a chunk of the spotlight with his debut soft rock-pop release Between Dreams and was one of this past year's singer-songwriters to be described as one with a Midas touch. Tamar Eisenman also snagged a fair share of kudos. The Jerusalem-born singer-songwriter scored a number of chart-toppers with her new albumGymnasium (which, by the way, is sung entirely in English). And, of course, Ori Mark gave the rock scene the much-hyped Don't Talk About Sex album.
BOTH GENDERS in the music scene grabbed headlines and chart slots this past year, and selecting the Best Female/Male Artist of the Year is a difficult task. Standout female singers included alternative-rocker Rona Kenan, the Joni Mitchell of Israel, Yael Deckelbaum, Eurovision representatives Mira Awad (who happened to release the first ever Arabic CD on a major Israeli label) and Ahinoam Nini, veteran songstress Gali Atari, pop princess Emily Karpel, and the always popular Mizrahi Queen, Sarit Hadad. Former "Kochav Nolad" winner Ninet Teib also grabbed headlines with her new rock album, but for reasons relating more to paparazzi than to the quality of the music (which was not among the year's best).
Rubbing shoulders in the Best Male Artist category this outgoing year were the likes of singer-songwriter Evyatar Banai, who counted a number of chart hits from his album Night Shines Like Day and Mizrahi favorite Eyal Golan, who packed out Caesarea in support of his latest album, This is Me. Eric Berman returned with a second album of tongue-in-cheek satirical lyrics. First-rate guitarist Dudu Tassa released an album of rock songs that continue to play on radio rotations. Kobi Aflalo (last year's winner of the Army Radio Artist of the Year title) put out a sophomore release of love songs. Punk rock veteran Rami Fortis proved his mettle once again with the release of a triple album. Shalom Hanoch also showed he still has something to offer the rock scene with a new eponymous album, and pop-rock star Yoni Bloch flooded the airwaves with his new tunes.
Dozens of other musicians contributed to this past year's musical output, and, while their names might not have stuck out, many of them boasted singles and chart-toppers over the course of the year. I tried to narrow down the biggest hit songs of 5769 and here they are in no particular order: "Achim LaNeshek" (Project 30 and Berry Sakharof), "Da" (Alma Zohar), "Hazman Oseh Et Shelo" (Avraham Tal), "Yasmin" (Blue Pill), "Tami Yodaat" (Mind Church), "This is Me" (Eyal Golan), "What a Day" (Dudu Tassa), "Veoolay" (Moshe Peretz), "Ani Rotzeh Lazuz" (Boom Pam with Tomer Yosef), "Od Yom" (Dr. Casper's Rabbit Show), "Rock Stam" (Michal Amdursky), "Hit Me" (Tamar Eisenman), "Smack Snack" (Terry Poison), "Abba" (Evyatar Banai), "Af Lo Mila" (Din Din Aviv), "Bereshit" (Asaf Amdursky), "Soneh Le'ehov" (Yoni Poliker), "Berehovot Paris" (Yair Ziv) and "Todas las palabras" (The Idan Raichel Project). If you're looking for a gift to give this Rosh Hashana, any of the names in this article could qualify as a great present.