A.K.A. Pella is back and yes, they are better than ever. They definitely took their game up a notch with this new addition to their collection, “Platinum.” What they did, was take the best songs that have been released within the last couple of years (for the most part) and re-record them to perfection with added harmonies and secular intros.
No, I do not know which secular songs are used for every intro and I don’t intend to give attention to them. I’m listening to the album for the Jewish songs and not the added “sugar coating”.
Take note to the 14 track album. Although one is from another album, it’s still an amazing song and a bonus for those who didn’t buy Shloime Kauffman’s album (why? why would you not buy it?).
I was going to do a audio report, but sometimes, there isn’t enough time for such things! Hope you enjoy the review despite the lack of audio.
Hentelach: I must say, Beri Weber sings this Lipa song well. I like Weber’s voice. Although I was not terribly fond of his song selection for his debut album, I could tell that there was talent and lots of potential. It’s cute how they say “Raise your hands in the… Heib of Dana Hentelach”. Very catchy and brilliant! It’s scary how real their voices sound and it’s so good, it should be assur (or is it?). This is an album that will be listened to all year long.
L’maancha / V’hoo Kayli: The JM scene has been taken by storm by this Eitan Katz hit, L’maancha. It’s a gorgeous song, in fact, I just used it for cabbalas shabbos this past shabbos. It uplifts the kehila (congregation) and warms the soul. The simple harmonies throughout are heart-warming. V’hoo Kayli, the killer track from Baruch Levine’s debut album, which featured Yaakov Shwekey is of the same caliber as L’maancha. It would have been nice to hear Levine & Shewkey with A.K.A. Pella doing background vocals, but you can’t always get what you want!
Ma Tamar: The intro is a bit much for me, up until the “music” part enters. It’s scary how good the background vocals are. Mo Kiss is the guest vocalist for this original Aaron Razel/Yeedle song. He truly turns this song into a Mo Kiss song, or otherwise known as soul music. You either love it or you hate it. I happened to enjoy it this time around and it gets my vote. The break up of the song at approx: 3:34 is really catchy.
Yuffing Else Matters: A.k.a. Yufyafisa. This is by far one of the best Shalsheles songs out there. From the refrain to the chorus, it’s a solid song. The fake electric guitars is amazing, just like Country Yossi said in his magazine. I prefer Shalsheles’s voices over A.K.A. Pella’s for this song, but it still sounds great. The problem with the interlude at 4:01, is that you can’t really make out the words they are saying, because the na na’s are too loud. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not.
Nilli Milli: This is Im Ein Ani Li Mili from Shloime Gertner’s first album. I was never a fan of this song like most people, although I like this version better. The eerie music at 3:54 is the best part of the song.
Anavim: Yossi Green’s big hit, Anavim, deserves a spot on this album if you’re already going to have Vezakeni and V’hee Sheamda, the three big songs at weddings. I’m not sure about dedicating a full track to this song, perhaps it would be better as a medley. However, the harmonies are top notch and it saves the song. Green guest stars, and he’s been doing a lot of guest singing on his songs. His voice is like beer, it’s an acquired taste.
The TGIF Medley: This is a collection of songs that have a relevance to Friday night, i.e. shabbos. It starts with Eitan Katz’s “Dmin Niggun” with the words Lecha Dodi added in. The voice trumpets are pretty crazy, as well as pretty much every background vocal instrument. The song then changes to Yaakov Shwekey’s/Yitzy Waldner’s Aishes Chayil. It’s known as the “serenading song” of Jewish music. Finally, it closes the medley with Baruch Levine’s highly popular Vezakeni. With all that said, this is not one of my favorites on the album, but it’s still a nice medley.
B’inyan Hasimcha: This song easily displays the most talent of this group and Dovid Gabay. It has the most well known singer on the album and it’s juicy from the beginning until the end. If you listen, right before Gabay laughs, A.K.A. Pella says “In your house…Simcha”. It’s pretty funny, and I can see why Gabay laughs. You can tell they had a lot of fun with this song. After all of this, this is still my number 3 on this album, behind 2 other songs. However, this is my wifes favorite song and that deserves mentioning!
M’heira: Kol Ish, an acapella group out of the Chicago area guest stars in this song. There’s some great harmonizing and they’re good to the point that I’d pick this song over listening to Shwekey’s original version.
Greatest Medley Ever: Well, it’s not the greatest medley ever, but it sure is good! The song starts off with a humorous intro. The guest singer, newcomer Simcha Leiner, sings a pretty sleepy niggun while there’s someone yawning throughout. Then they apologize (seriously) and advance into a pretty fast, pumping noggin. The songs are Poseach from Shloime Daskal, Usid from MBD, & Ma Ma Ma from Shwekey. Leiner has an incredibly powerful voice and there were some parts where I knew he could nail it, but he didn’t do it. Maybe it was his choice, or perhaps it was A.k.a Pella’s choice. Also, it sounds like they had to much echo or reverb throughout the song, but I can’t be sure. He sings Ma ma ma the best of the three. Watch out for Simcha Leiner in the future, he’s going to be big.
V’hee Sheamda: There’s no fancy beatboxing or effects on this song. It’s Yonatan Razel’s amazing composition redone without music. I’ve personally heard this song too many times, although I did sing it at the Pesach seder this year, I just can’t listen to it anymore. As for this version of it, it’s a relaxing listen.
Yavo: Jackpot! This song is by far my favorite song on this album. Who knew that a men’s group could sing a song almost as good as a choir could? I love it from the secular intro until the last second. This song will be on repeat this sefira. This song will be on repeat this sefira. This song will be on repeat this sefira. This song will be on repeat this sefira…. Get the idea? ;)
Sunshine in the Rain: This song was taken straight off of Shloime Kauffman’s debut album, Avodas Tzedaka, an amazing debut album. You’ve got to love Kauffman and A.k.a. Pella on this song. It’s a really powerful English song and it’s a joy for us to have it as an acapella for this time of year.
Yufyafisa (Alternative): Shalsheles Jr. & Shloime Kauffman guest star in this song. They go above and beyond in this song and nail and surpass the original Yufyafisa. The new Shalsheles Jr. sounds great! I can hear that Dovid Dachs appears to be the main soloist. It’s interesting that Kauffman appears in this song. Either he’s the new Simcha Sussman (leader of Shalsheles Jr.) or they thought he would be a good fit with the children’s group. Your guess is as good as mine! The ending of the song switches to a secular song and it sounds amazing and it’s quite addicting. This is my 2nd favorite song on the album.
You don’t even need a final verdict on this album. It just went above and beyond my expectations, sending the other 3 A.k.a. pella’s into a world that’s no where near to as close as this one is in. Buy it… don’t be foolish :).
Read Michel’s Review Here.