The hot 'Sabra Sounds' of Peretz and Mesika [pg. 24]

KOBI PERETZ Everything I've Got (Ro'ee Records) It took two weeks for Kobi Peretz's latest album, Everything I've Got, to achieve gold status in Israel. The much loved Mizrahi (Mediterranean) singer croons over 10 tracks written specifically for him by the likes of songwriters Yaron Cohen, Shmuel Elbaz, David Zigman and Meir Amar. While most albums comprise just one or two hits, each of the 10 tracks here could be a success in the Mizrahi music arena. From the opening song "Kol Hakoach" with its catchy rhythm to the ethnic echo of "At Tzocheket," everything is in place musically and lyrically. Peretz is considered royalty in the Mizrahi music world, though many will also remember him for his crossover song "Balbili Oti," which became one of the country's most popular ring tones with 1.3 million downloads. The songs on this album are all about love. The most touching is "Ima" (Mother), an ode to moms everywhere. Nine of the songs are originals. The 10th - "At Kmo Esh" - is a previous hit now updated with a contemporary dance beat. This is the 30-year-old's seventh album to date, and it's definitely aimed at Mizrahi music lovers. Fans of the genre will delight in it. AVI MESIKA Kzat Aheret (Base Records) Avi Mesika is no less fashion conscious than Kobi Peretz, whose album jacket contains a mini fashion show revealing the singer in seven poses. Mesika too employs the music-model blend in his album jacket. As for the music, Mesika offers up 14 tracks (plus two bonus songs) on his new album, Kzat Aheret. Although dubbed a rap album, this release is more of a Mizrahi music collection. Yes, Mesika raps his way through most of the songs, but the heavily influenced MidEast folk tracks "Ad Hashamayim" and "Lyla Lavan," or the piano driven, saccharine "Siman She'at Ohevet," simply cannot be classified as being part of the rap genre. Mesika made a name for himself back in 2003 with his huge hit "Tni Li Ahava," and then collaborated with other hip hop/rap artists on the collection, Yeladim Gdolim (children's songs put to contemporary hip hop beats). He wrote lyrics, composed music, and musically arranged all tracks on his latest album. There is no doubt that Mesika has talent. But there's something missing that may prevent Kzat Aheret from becoming a top album. Mesika duets on the album with a range of artists including Mizrahi singer Moshik Afia, rocker Yahli Sobol, rappers Shorty and Kashi, and opera singer Efrat Rotem, among others, yet still comes out with an uninspiring sound. While some of the songs have catchy beats ("Derech Hadasha," "Zoakim"), this album is more irritating than anything else.