While the Middle East has been marked by civil wars and refugee crises, the region’s metal bands distilled chaos into music and wrote some of the best albums of the year.
Michael Goldwasser, the son of a Reform rabbi, leads the Easy Star All-Stars. He talks about ties between Jews and Rastafarians and why Israel is the next big reggae scene.
Jewish Images in the Comics: A Visual History
By Fredrik Strömberg
Fantagraphics, 304 pages, $26.99
Ladino artists are working to keep their historic Sephardic culture relevant and fresh. The story is playing out at the inaugural world music festival in Gibraltar.
Though she has been involved in the Ladino music scene since Neil Armstrong strode the moon, Ljuba Davis’s new release, “East and West,” is her debut album. The 43 years Davis has spent kicking these songs around orally before committing them to permanence rings throughout the album. “East and West,” unlike comparable recent ladino records (like Sarah Aroeste’s “Gracia”), eschews contemporary sounds in favor of what seems, at first blush, like canonical melodies.
“Ride,” the debut album from New York City-based band Caramelo, has global ambitions worthy of its name. The opening track, “The Girl is Gone,” sets the tone for the rest of the album when Jewish singer Sara Erde trades smooth fly-girl R&B vocals with flamenco artist Alfonso Cid. While Erde’s voice is immediate, alternating rapidly between English and Spanish, Cid’s is bombastic and distant.