From an 8th Day CD, you can expect the following: catchy tunes, funky and abstract lyrics, and Chassidic concepts distilled in truly original fashion. And it’s for those reasons that I have been eagerly awaiting their latest release.
Chasing Prophecy (the name of which is probably a play off of the Israeli group, “Shotei Hanevuah”), is 8th Day’s third studio album. They’ve advanced in certain areas – Bentzi’s guitar riffs have more oomph and express more proficiency than they have on previous albums. They’ve also mixed in a bit of electronica that actually helps the album – it helps it rise above the typical band sound. Their compositions are mostly solid, although it seems that, as on their album Brooklyn, they have a few songs that have a similar build to previously recorded songs. I can handle it because the arrangements are different. At the same time, one wishes that they mixed it up a bit more. And with regards to mixing it up, I also have gripes with the tracklist, a “problem” (if you want to call it that) on Brooklyn as well. The way they are listed on the album, the songs don’t flow well into one another. However, if you’re listening to them on an Ipod, that is never a problem. (Just consider this the kvetch of a music snob.) But their vocals, as always, are sterling.
All in all, this is a great album – it’s fun, touching, meaningful and musical. Let’s go track by track:
Ya’alilee: (****) With a few songs on this album, you can hear two sources of influence: Megama and Journeys. This one is an echo out of Journeys’ Sfashkenaz, but it beats it by far. The sefardic tempo; the simple and fun lyrics; and the funky auto-tune going on make it a tune that will be blasting out of many speakers. There’s a clarinet running around the song that gives it certain originality – particularly because they stayed away from a typical pop solo. Instead, it has a Yemenite feel to it. Classic 8th Day-flavored vocals complete the picture.
Eimosai: (***) For song #2, I would have expected one of the better tracks on the album. Instead, this is one of the weakest links in the chain – a cute song with lyrics half lifted from an old camp song. The toichen is nice though – a song about where the band gets its inspiration from.
Avraham: (***) This song has shadows of In The Painting around it. The lyrics are great, up to the second round. I didn’t think that the section quoting the mother gets the shaft – it just doesn’t totally fit in. The chorus is really the best part of the song, with the bridge coming up not far behind. The first section just isn’t that balanced – lyrically or musically. But I love that chorus… So beautiful!
Smile: (****) Great song. This one, with the King Kong reference, brings us back to Megama days. Here the vocals really kick, and the lyrics shove the message across – what in Heaven’s name can we do to bring Moshiach already?! I wish the chorus really picked it up though.
Lookin’ For You, Tatenyu: (****) The album’s starting to hit its stride. The chorus in particular here totally rocks. This is 8th Day’s real talent – taking deep Chassidic insights and interpreting them in with fun musical twists. But really?! A YANKEE fan? Blegh!
Chasing Prophecy: (***) Here’s a swing-jazz piece. I would have liked to hear more from the brass. But there’s a sweet piano solo in the middle of the piece. I think that’s where it should have just exploded into sound. Funky song. Love the end.
8th Day: (***) Another song that reflects an earlier song – Been a Long Time. The arrangement here kicks the earlier one, so at least they’re not going backwards. You’re probably going to find yourself singing this number, as it’s pretty catchy. Bentzy breaks into a really nice guitar solo here. As I mentioned before, he’s showcasing much more talent here than he has in the past. One lil gripe – the ending is a bit blasé.
Yiddish Country: (*****) Yeehaa! This rocker is tops on the album for me – lyrically, musically and emotionally. Perfect vocals and perfect arrangement got me hooked on this number the first time I heard it. Another classy solo from Bentzi deserves mention.
Beggar Woman: (***) The boys took a Megama song in memory of Moshe Yess. Their version is very respectful of the original, while giving it enough originality to make it truly their own.
Play Your Music: (***) The first line of this song again sounds like Been a Long Time. Ripping drums and guitars keep it on its feet, though.
Yiddishe Mama of Mumbai: (****) This is more emotional than I thought it would be. At the same time, they kept it classy without getting into tear-jerker zone (which I can’t stand). It somehow moves me, without presenting an emotion-in-your-face rather lyrically or in the arrangements. The lyrics are just powerful. One critique I will toss in, though – the “so holy so pure” line should have been tweaked slightly each way through to give it a bit more ear candy. I would have also ended the song with some low humming to knead the emotion all the way to the end of the song.
It’s Shabbos Now: (*****) I’m glad they tossed this song on. It was debuted on the Shmorg 2, and I always thought it was an amazing song – too amazing for a give-away album. I lifted the lyrics and put them directly in my Shabbos songbook. Beautiful presentation, filled in nicely with the banjo (though the banjo/accordion solo could have been a bit more exquisite). This song makes me smile every time I hear it. (and if you haven’t watched the video, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmvEYNAsUxA)
I’m giving this album four stars because of the total experience. It is truly an enjoyable album to listen to (at least if you mix up the songs better than they did). 8th Day is truly original. They are truly creative. And they are truly a pleasure to listen to.