Shalsheles V Review

General — By on October 10, 2010 1:32 am

Yitzchak Rosenthal is back with his expert compositions for Shalsheles V. Although the group remains intact, Simcha Sussman is now recording from Israel, his new home.

Shalsheles has always been known to be “bed time music.” It’s relaxing, refreshing and not in your face. Last album, they changed that style with Yufyafisa and Kel Hakavod and fans were eating it up. A.K.A. Pella made a remix of Yufyafisa not once, but twice (with the help of Shalsheles Jr). In this album, you’ll find songs like Ashrei Ish, Mi Chamocha and Me She’asah, which add a fresh, modern day feel that’s constantly missing in Jewish music.

As Jews, we live by our heritage. We keep it intact and pass the mesorah down from generation to generation. However, the style that is Jewish music is not a mesorah, it is music from 30 years ago. It’s just outdated music. Slowly, musicians are starting to realize that in order to appeal to the younger crowds, they need to change their music. By doing so, they are not breaking a mesorah, they are just breaking a bad habit of staying with outdated music. I’m glad to see that Shalsheles clearly notices that Jewish music is evolving and needs to. They have shown this by bringing in Aryeh Kunstler’s musical talents to the third song, Ashrei Ish. I hope more of the Jewish musicians follow in those footsteps and update their music as well. Shalsheles has managed to change the style of music to sound better, but not secular and electrified, like much of today’s contemporary secular music.

I heard a great line the other week. When I asked about the chol hamoed concerts in New York this year (not the boys choirs), and what the crowd was like there, I was told the following. “All the concerts on Chol Hamoed were empty, I think people are starting to realize that it’s (concerts) not much more than a wedding without the shmorg!” It’s true. With the abuse of outdate music and horn instruments, which rightfully belong at a wedding to give it that special “wedding feel”, the concerts are just wedding that you have to pay to go to and you don’t get any food! As Jewish music evolves and the fan base grows, I think we will find that concerts will be a lot more exciting!

Once again, kudos to Shasheles for keeping Jewish music refreshing!

(Instead of giving you long, boring, detailed recaps of each song, I’ll give, what I thought were the positives and negatives of each song. I’ll let you decide the rest! :D)

Positives = “+” signs. Negatives = “” Signs.

Baruch Habah

+ Great music on the intro, especially the keyboard behind the opening lyrics

+ Simcha Sussman sounds amazing, despite being in Israel

+ Good length for intro

Would have liked some more high harmonies instead of choir harmonies

Poseach

+ Classic Shalsheles intro and arrangement

+ Great refrain (low part), better chorus (high part)

+ Chaim Block’s high part towards the end

Middle part leaves more to be desired

Song fades out, which is outdated

Classic Shalsheles intro and arrangement

Ashrei Ish

+ Aryeh Kunstler’s rock solid, contemporary arrangements

+ The way the choir sing “Emes” as they enter the chorus (high part)

+ The composition is top notch. Think Kel Hakavod from the last album, but better

+ Killer electric guitar strumming and solos… and no horn instruments (B’H)

+ Eerie, yet exciting middle part at 3:00

No Aryeh Kunstler guest vocals

Ki Er’eh

+ Hands down, best slow song on the album

+ Child vocalist, CJ Glicksman

+ Simcha Sussman’s vocals after the child vocals

+ Great harmonies throughout

+ Good length for a Jewish music slow song

Mi Chamocha

+ The NEW Yufyafisa

+ Addictive and transcending song throughout

+ Beginning to end of song is flawless

+ Baruch Aryeh’s vocals

+ Great ending displaying each vocalist

Ki Tov

+ Na na’s at 0:55

+ Get’s better second time around the song

+ Sounds like a Baruch Levine song

+ Short

To happy-go-lucky, beach tune

Chaim Block fades prematurely for me at 1:56

Shalom Rav

+ Typical Shalsheles composition

+ Amazing chorus

Very slow refrain

Hinei Anochi

+ Typical shalsheles fast song, like V’nocho and V’haya. Still so good…

+ They only have one of these songs on the album

+ Great chorus

Typical Shalsheles fast song, like V’nocho and V’haya. Still so headachey…

Outdated music (i.e. horns are plentiful)

Mehaira

+ Pure and fluid song throughout

+ Simcha Sussman rocks this song

+ Shalsheles manages to recycle the same style tune from previous albums one more time

+ Harmony at 3:29

Shalsheles manages to recycle the same style tune from previous albums one more time

Mi She’asah

+ Not Aryeh Kunstler arrangements, but still contemporary and fresh

+ Funky, yet addictive music

+ The chorus is out of this world. Different. Harmony filled. Refreshing.

+ Harmony at 4:05, such gooey cream filling goodness

+ Choir to end of the song is fantastic and different

+ Vocals during the choir’s ending

Generations

+ Beautiful lyrics; heartwarming; tearjerking.

+ Fantastic arrangements and vocals.

+ Doesn’t get interrupted in the middle by the message “this is a mostlymusic preview.” :)

+ Shalsheles redeems Dreaming with a quality English composition.

+ “It’s Generations & generations….” Love it.

Would have loved to hear a child vocalist on this

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13 Comments

  1. just a thought says:

    I think it’s a little presumptuous to assume that 1) all the concerts were empty. I heard they were all mostly filled. and 2) if concerts were emptier this year than usual the reason is horns. In fact, shwekey’s last cd was a major hit and his concerts are selling out all over the world left and right. (go to shwekeyshow.com, he’s been doing this show non stop since June … )

  2. music613 says:

    JM Derech.

    I must disagree with your into remarks.

    Shalsheles II was great with the “outdated” music. You know why? because all the songs were knack. All Ten songs–hit out of the park.

    When you have great singable songs, you don’t need “fresh”.

    Yisrael Lamm , and for that matter, Moshe Laufer, the old time arrangers, are a superb. Give them quality songs and they knocks it out of the park. Horns and strings. NO techo chazeray neccessary.

    We don’t need fresh, arrangements, we need great songs.

    Sorry for busting your bubble.

  3. JM Derech says:

    Music613

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but the fact is, just like the unity video preaches, we need to have more Achdus, more unity. Why should music stay the same way if it isn’t a mesorah? I know of whole communities who know maybe one or two Jewish music singers. Unless you’re living in New York and it’s a “thing” to do, Jewish music just doesn’t appeal to a majority of Jews. The solution may not be to change everyone’s style of music, but there definitely needs to be an equal share of “fresh” music. I know plenty of baalei teshuva who still listen to secular music. simply because Jewish music hurts their ears and it doesn’t compare. I’m not saying we should mimic secular music, I’m saying we should do better in a “parve” way.

  4. JM Derech says:

    Just a thought,

    When you have a superstar like Shwekey, Fried or MBD, you’re going to have sell out shows regardless of what the music is like. It’s like saying people are buying pepsi everywhere, despite the fact that their logo is horrid and their labels are boring. Once you’re established and recognized in anything, you’re going to sell out. Even if the music isn’t amazing. It’s more about the atmosphere of the concert and the fact that you can say “I was at the Shwekey concert and he had a huge orchestra (usually).”

    About the horns, it could be your right. I am basing it off the quote I heard, who happens to be a reliable source. Since he or she said that it’s “like a wedding without the shmorg”, you can connect it to horns, because the horn instruments are the big things at weddings.

    Obviously, the economy is also impacting ticket sales. However, I stand by the “horn” factor. I think it’s abused and outdated. It doesn’t fit in with all the modern music they’re trying to mix it in with.

  5. Music613 says:

    JM Derech:

    I hear ya pal but I disagree. And here is why:

    Let’s take for argument sake Pinky Weber’s Racheim. Do you Remember that song. I’m sure you do.  Schwekey sang it ad sh’yeytzai mapeinu.
    Great song strings and all. Was it so freshly arranged. Nope. It did not need fresh music.
     
    So too Shalsheles’ esah ainay. IMHO it was beautifuly arranged by Yisrael Lamm. Was it fresh? Who cares. It was a great song and the arragements  needed no shtick to sustain the song.  Now before you think I’m some old fogey. Let your heart not be troubled.  I agree sometimes you need Shtick or “fresh” as you call it. However that should be used sparingly 
    Case in point: Mordechai Ben David’s knockout album Kulam Ahuvim used techo with Umar Rav Akiva tastefuly. But the majority of songs were arranged old style with one song from Suki Berry sounding so early 80’s. 

    In summary is “fresh” good for Jewish music? It depends. But we can certainly agree that techo is not Jewish.

    If techno is used and adapted to Jewish music in my opinion that’s ok. Jewish music with a touch of techno. No prob.
      
    However, if the songs are TECHNO with a touch of Yiddish words, that is chazer treif.
      
    I was at the team production 30 year Moshe Laufer concert in March. The oilam went crazy for which songs?
    The old ones. The ones with the shvacheh arrangements. 
    Why? 
    I rest my case.        
    (but I would love to hear your take:-))

  6. Music613 says:

    JM Derech-

    one more point. Let’s take two albums. Same artist.
    Which one did the oilam, the regular guys, like better?

    I’m not talking about the reviewers on JMR, but the regular joes like me. 

    Be honest– which album do the majority of JM buyers appreciate more? A  posheter yid or 
    meimka delipa?

    Be honest. 

    Which one was more fresh? 

    Lets start with the question #2. 
     Granted,  Meimka Delipa was  fresher and up to date.   
     
    But, in my opinion that is not what the Jewish music lover wants in an album. Sorry.  

    I heard from a reliable source that Lipa himself at a function said he got complaints from people that there was no singable song on the meimka album. 

    JM, my friend, according to you why were people complaining? There were no horns on meimka. There were No strings?

    We should have been dancing in the streets. We should have been eating it up. Finally, fresh. Not outdated.  But no.  

    Why did we not gravitate to meimka the same way the masses bought a poshiyer yid?

    I’ll tell you why. Because  A posheter yid had sheloily Asaanee goy and Binyan addy ad. Imka had none. Nada.  

    Just my humble opinion. It’s not about the shtick. The techno. The dreaded horns. 

    Nope. It’s the songs.

    IMHO if binyan adey ad had less knacker arrangements it would still be a mega hit.
     
    It is a good song. We didn’t need Nolan Jackson to make it a hit ( although Nolan’s soul version in the car was great) 
     
    In sum,  an artist lives and dies by the quality of the song.

    Not the arrangement. 

  7. JM Derech says:

    Music613,

    You’re not disproving my point. I have no problem with the oldies. Everyone loves oldies, in the secular world, there are stations devoted to them. People go crazy over them at concerts. That’s fine. However, I’m talking about the new music coming out. The music for the next generation. Not yours, not mine, the next generation. The oldies will be classics, but you can’t remake the oldies! Music and style shift with the passing of time, if you stay behind, then you’ll probably be making music hits 30 years from now when it’s back in style. Until then, it’s just a bad attempt at recreating a burnt out style of music.

    Once again, it all comes down to taste. Do me a favor, take a poll of younger yidden who listen to Jewish music, or even those who don’t. Ask them if they would rather have more “fresh” music or the old stuff. I’m not talking about just the yeshivish crowd. I’m talking about polling the modern crowd, the baalei teshuva and the secular yidden. See what the results are. If Jewish music wants to stay alive and appeal to a larger crowd, it needs to revamp the style.

  8. Music613 says:

    JM-

    with regard to your previous comment. A bal teshuveh friend of mine once told me that he “likes Jewish albums when they sound Jewish”
    what did he mean?

    I thought I understood him. What’s your take? what does sounding Jewish mean? Did he mean Klezmer style did he mean hartzedik?

  9. JM Derech says:

    Music613,

    With regards to LIPA… not a proof at all. Lipa is in his own world, he does his own thing. We all know that. His new cd wasn’t fresh, it was different than his previous album.

    With regards to your baalei teshuva friend. First of all, he’s one person. Second of all, I’m not saying take away the Esa Einai’s or Racheim’s, I’m saying update the music. Listen to Aryeh Kunstler’s “Veliyerushalayim” from his new album. It sounds Jewish, yet it sounds NEW. Also, add in some soft rock instead of techno, no one wants to hear techno.

  10. OutOfTowner says:

    Hi everybody,

    I think there are a few good points here:

    1. We need fresh music.
    2. We need good music.
    3. We need fresh music that is good.
    What’s my point? It’s nice to use different and new styles, but at the same time it has to be good music. Some of the older styles are good too (sorry horns don’t ruin a good song only mediocre ones). I’ve said my piece on techno before, but the comment about Aryeh Kunstler’s new CD is very true. It is a different (dare I say niche?) style than most of the Jewish music out there today, but it is very good! Mendy Werdyger’s new CD is very good too! It has many of the older styles (albeit with fresh arrangements) songs, but they are good songs and he has a beautifully sweet voice so it’s enjoyable to listen to!

  11. Musiclovr says:

    JM Derech-
    Wow. I definitely agree with most of what your saying, except about one of the songs.
    From the first time I listened to the CD, till the 100th, my absolute favorite song was Poseach. Maybe its just the classic Shalsheles style, I don’t know, but I am definitely addicted to it. When I started reading the review I thought I would find a similar opinion. But it’s okay, everyone’s entitled to their own Fave.
    Anyway, excellent review. Thanks!

  12. Sarah says:

    what do you all think the best shalsheles album is?
    I want to get one, but can’t afford them all right now…

  13. Sarah says:

    By the way, I’m a georis , so as far as the baalei tshuva movement (which I guess I’m part of) liking a particular type of music…I don’t really think it’s fair to group us all into one market. There are baalei tshuva who cna’t get rid of their TV and old music. Then there are others who get rid of everything to remind them of their past life and move to Yerushalayim. There are seminaries and yeshivas full of us. Then there’s everything in between.
    Personally, I obviously listen to Jewish music. I was working in a resteraunt playing Baruch Levine (I think the song was Shomer Yisroel) and someone (not frum) came in and said “Cool, Jewish ska!” They were completely serious. Another person, who grew up Modern I guess, asked t if we could stop playing Jewish music because he doesn’t like it.
    There are people on all ends of the spectrum, and BH there are music artists all over that spectrum too.
    As for my personal collection, I have Eitan Katz, Shwekey, Shua Kessin, Sheves Achim, Yeshiva Boys Choir, Kol Zimra, etc. As you can see that’s a big range….
    Please don’t group us into one category as people that like a certain type of music. We are individuals and have personal tastes.
    I”ve heard many referances to the desparity in the quality of music from the frum world and the secular world. Well, I personally disagree. There might be a disparity, but being a normal music listener and not an expert, I don’t hear it. But any disparity that you might see (which I don’t…) is more than made up for by the frum music having much more kevuna and meaning what they are saying. You can bring up a few singer/songwriters in the secular world who might really mean what they say, but I don’t care, because it’s usually not tznius anyway, and they are the vast minority.

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