By: Dave Sharpner
Hooleh everybody. Welcome back for another cd review.
So it seems the Yalili guys have done it again. They’ve provided us malnourished music-hungry fans, with yet another delectable shmorgasboard of choice rare lyrics, sweet and fine vocals, and top of the line music. we’ve been sitting here at the music table, waiting ever so patiently knife and fork in hand. And now, it seems our tremendous savlanus has paid off.
The Marcus brothers by the way are holding now by their fifth studio album. ( They also have a live album by the way) And they’ve been known to deliver solid inspiring English-yiddish-hebrew rock-country-folk infused music. They’re following has grown exponentially over the years to the point where they’ve now become the hottest group on the market.
They’re rhymes are brilliant. Their lyrics are poetry. Their vocals are crisp. And their songs have real meaning.
All this is without even mentioning the production value of the music itself, which is in a entirely different league than just about anything else you’re going to hear.
AND FINALLY ITS HERE!!!
One final thing worthy of note here in this introduction, is their growth as artists. If you listen to each of their cds you’re going to see a gradual increase in quality and originality and creativity and artistry. These guys are real artists. This is not just a hobby. They take their craft very very seriously. And go as far as they can to push the quality to newer and higher levels. They’re trying things here on this album they’ve never done before. And you’re going to be seeing this over the next few years. A group which stays true to their original sound and style, yet continues pushing their thresholds and music into new and unchartered territory. These guys are constantly evolving.
Anyways, with that somewhat lengthy intro out of the way, its time we get cracking at the album itself!
Will this song be the next YAALILI? Maybe. Were just going to have to wait and see. Its so catchy and so happy and most importantly its so 8th day!
The lyrics start us off with a verse from the hagaddah. “Echad Ani Yodeah.” But here they depart from the original text of that ancient book we’ve all come to know and read Pesach night. No, they’re not revising the hagadda mind you. So don’t you be worried that your seder’s going to start sounding different henceforth. They’re just adding their own little p’shat to these ancient texts. “Echad Ani Yodeah. This time time do me one favor. Mitzvah Lihyot Bsimchah.” And we move on the next verse…”Shnayim ani yodeah. When you share it that’s the flavor. Mitzvoh lihyot b’simcha.”
In other words their saying to the overly serious person who they’ve joined again for the Seder this year “Okay. You’re right. There’s a time for seriousness. But this time as we sit here Pesach night. And you ask me if “I know one?” I’m going to answer you something different by saying “Yes. I know one person whom I would like to be a bit happier.” And therefore I’m asking you to “Do me one favor.” Please lighten up and share a smile and rejoice with us all! As it says “Mitzvah Lihyos Bsimcha!!”
And then furthermore, you ask me if “I know two?” The answer is “Yes! I know two!” Two, is when you share that joy with others! YES! Now “that’s the flavor! Mitzvah Lihyos Bsimchah!” Then a strange thing happens. The overly serious guy spontaneously gets up and starts dancing with Shmuli and Bentzi and all the other guests. “TANTZ TANTZ TAKEH TAKEH. HOOLEH! HOOLEH! HOOLEH!”
2. WAIT FOR YOU
This upbeat happy go lucky country folk style track starts off with a stacatto like hammering beat followed by a electronically altered electric guitar riff. This song is classic 8th day style. Its got their trademark sound written all over it. As an interesting aside by the way, I’ve noticed in many parts of this song Shmuli sounds quite a bit like Country Yossi. Anyways the song goes on, singing of our journeys through this long and painful galus. The lyrics here are pure poetry. Something you won’t always find on a English song. And as somebody once said “If you want to learn how to write non cheesy and original meaningful lyrics then look no further than 8th day.”
3. SING ALONG
is a simple Bluesy Jazzy folksy kinda song. Shmuli’s voice sounds very different here. Its higher pitched. Not just the voice, but the entire way he’s singing is very different. He sounds quite like the rapper Ari Lesser actually. I think he’s purposely doing this by the way to achieve the right effect for this song. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly as to the real intended meaning of these lyrics. Yeh, The 8thday is like that. These deep and subtle guys love hiding their powerful messages under layers of seemingly random words. Sort of like a shvereh Toisfos, I think I’m beginning to now “get” what their saying. Something about how we get caught up in our lives, and forget to reflect on real meaning and purpose. We forget about what’s important. We take pics (and *selfies) in Picadili. And we spin fake castles in the sand which are all temporary and trivial. So when G-d calls out to to you in a song, then be sure to spread his message further by singing along. That’s my current interpretation. (Going on my 19th listen approximately.) Who knows? Maybe tommorow, with a fresher head, I’ll have a greater clarity in this sugya, and I’ll come up with a whole different p’shat! (By the way, if you have a new approach to this shver’a shtik’l 8th day, than please leave a message in the comments below. ) As for the music itself, there is very little of it on this song. Its just a bit of Bentzi strumming on the ukulele (an old instrument similar to guitar but with a much smaller) And some nice little harmonies.
4. THANK YOU
This is how it happened. I was listening to hooleh! for the first time. I’m at track 4 and it was about 7 seconds in when it suddenly dawned on me that I just listened to what was probably one of the strangest and coolest sounding intros that I’ve ever heard in my life. Seriously. So I hit the rewind button to hear it again…7 seconds later, and then I did it again…And again…Now before you begin judging my sanity, please listen to the intro on track 4 of hoolleh! Thank you very much. Mind = BLOWN!! I don’t know where they get this stuff from. Its just so fresh and original..(maybe I should just write a full review of the intro? Ya think?) anyways back to the review..
We get Shmuli singing here from his heart a song of thanks for everything gods given him until this point. The drumbeats in the background here, I would like to just point out by the way, are incredible. I mean my entire room is vibrating. (And I’m listening now on midrange volume mind you) And then at about 15 seconds in we get some heavy electric guitar thing going on. It is so heavy in fact that it actually sounds like my old roommate’s annoying alarm clock which used to go off punctually every night at 3:37 am ( Well, until I taught him how to set it properly, that is)
And then comes the dancing chorus… A slightly reggea infused exubarant expression of thanks sung with such vigor and vim that Shmuel sounds completely overcome with joyous excitement. “Smiles shining… keep the blessings coming… blessings upon your head!!” Here’s the interesting thing. I can actually feel the dance in this addictive chorus. (That’s why I wrote dancing chorus ^ btw) Its like I’m seeing Shmuel dancing now before my very eyes while Bentzi backs him up with his sick guitar work. All these visuals can actually be heard! Its unbelievable. These guys kind of transcend their Finally we get the first time I’ve heard 8th day ever doing chazzanus (In case youre shuls looking to hire by the way, just know, these guys have the chops .) as Shmuel sings a cantorial version of Shehecheyanu. Okay now that Im done reviewing track 4, I think Im gonna listen to that intro just one more time.
5. KER A VELT
A hebrew song! This is exciting! I’ve been trying for a while to make out the words their saying in the intro. It sounds like a mix between Spanish and Hebrew. I think I’ve actually just come to the final conclusion that these aren’t really words their just a niggun-noise-chant (Did I just make up a brand new music term?) This, by the way, is my favorite song on the album. What straightforward and clear vocals! Ahhhhh…. just listening now to the sweetness of Shmuli’s voice. (And Bentzi coming up here on the harmony a bit.) I think I might just be in music heaven. Seriously.
And this is all before I even get to the lyrics by the way.
“Ker a velt” This chorus here sounds real good. I bet If I was better at Yiddish I probably would like this even more! Time to get out the good old trusty Yiddish dictionary… Hmm.. Lets see..
Wow.. turns out Kerr actually doesn’t mean car! I found the phrase ‘Kerr zich’ which the dictionary translates as ‘turn yourself over.’ Getting warmer! I happen to know that ‘velt’ is ‘world’. So there you have it. Upon further research I struck gold! It seems the phrase ‘Ker a velt’ comes from a shmooze given by the Lubavitcher Rebbe that we must ‘turn over the world’ (through our actions)
Ok. Now that I know what the title and chorus actually means I think I now appreciate this song even more. I think I’m gonna listen to this song again. Its really soothing. And uplifting. “Ker a velt…”
My second favorite song!! “NIY NIY NA NIY” This track storts off with a tempo building niggun.
“NIY NIY NA NIY!” And the tempo keeps building up as the lyrics start off speaking of a person who is dealing with the challenges and viscittutes of life. “Sometimes I stand tall sometimes I crumble. Sometimes I stand strong sometimes I stumble.” This person is each and every one of us. We all have our ups and downs and yet at the end of the day were all fighters. Were fighting this battle with all our energy. Further more, I beleive the message is that whatever our circumstances, and no matter what we have to fight, with that is fine. Cuz “its not the latest moves that make a fighter.” The beat now is speeding up and sounds like a stampeding of horses hoof beats.
The song ends off by changing into a reggae song. These guys are giving Mattisyahu a bit of a run for his money here.
COUNTRY! I love country music!! This song is real soul. Its heartzig as heartzig gets. In fact its actually a new genre created by the Marcus brothers called “KUMTZITZ-COUNTRY” They usually sing this type of song on the long Winter Motza Shabbosi’m in the small hick villages far out West, by the way. Occasionally though, some out of town Yeshivas down South will be heard singing the Kumtzits-Country type of song. Every body comes out of their cabins. And after kiddush levana and Making Havdallah out in the rodeo and hearding up the cattle, they would gather round the campfire. Guitars in hand they sway back and forth singing. Now getting back to the song, this song is a plea to Hakodush Baruch hu to return his presence to us once again and to “stay”. But also I think this is a song to any one who god forbid feels unwanted or rejected. The message is ‘don’t leave!’ because you, like each and every individual, are important to the world and to Judiasm. So we ask you, even if you were perhaps mistreated, still we need you! Please stay!
The rhythm of the drums is starting up now and building intensity for the opening of first scene. (Yeah, this beat kind of sounds like the intro to a big scene in a action movie) This short rock song is actually a freedom anthem. Its the story of our history. Our hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow. And then there’s the solid heavy hitting chorus.
“NO MORE WE’VE BEEN WE’VE BEEN
NO MORE WE’VE BEEN WE’VE BEEN
ITS OUR SONG OF FREEDOM!”
What a message of hope!
9. ROYALTY IN RHYTHM Starts off sounding like a warm heimesheh kumzitz around the campfire with a beautiful heartzigheh niggin. Then the songs pick up the pace and starts giving us a visual and poetic picture of shabbos. “When the sun sets on Friday night I get so star struck from her holy sight. Heavens angels dancing at her side. Colored candles burning up the sky.”
The tune of the melody here reminds me a bit of YBCs “Those were the nights” and the melody continues: “Scary shadows dancing on the wall. But in our hearts we got no fear at all. His total trust the secret of her might. She makes a broken world seem so right.” Pure poetry right there.
Will this song become a staple at shabbos meals everywhere? Well, not sure about everywhere, but I definitely plan on singing at my Friday night meals!
10. NEVER AFRAID This is haunting. The music sounds like something out of a horror movie. Only a bit scarier. Bentzi’s guitar strumming is really setting a rich mood here. The lyrics are kind of eerie too. “Rusted bars faceless guards.” This rock song is a story of a man in prison. But this is not just a story of one man. Its the story of our nation. A nation which has endured so much. And yet always stood and still stands ever tall and proud. And on they sing ..”Cuz he’s a g-d fearing double daring tzitzis wearing kind and caring “nyeh bayus ya” man. “NEVER BE AFRAID”! Some of these lyrics sound like they’re Russian here. So I’m gonna have to head back to the bookshelf for that good old trusty Russian dictionary.
11. YOUR NAME This is a very soft and sweet old kind of song. We’ve basically got just a piano here and a bit of guitar and drums. Were settling into a slower more laid back pace now. The style of this song sounds like something you would hear in the 50’s. Like maybe Frank Sinatra or something. Its about how were god’s precious kids and he says to us that “you’re my beloved people. cuz your name is love.” This song is so so sweet. And soothing. It just pulls at your heart strings and sucks you in like a big funnel. At 3:57 we get voices of little youngsters playing. And the song (and album) slowly goes on to the finish.
So there you have it folks. Another “off the charts super-smash” from the hottest group in Jewish Music today. Yup. This is the one you’ve been waiting for. The album you’ve been saving up for weeks by babysitting and putting in all those long extra hours working over time on your day job.
Now lets hope when you actually get in the Judaica store they still have a copy left….
* a new term coined in 2013 by President Obama at a funeral, referring to pointing a (i)phone at your self and taking a unflattering picture on location. (and usually posting that unflattering pic to facebook)