Melody Macher


A Euphonic Union of Klezmer and Punk

By Ted Siefer

Scattered about T.T. the Bear’s, a hole-in-the-wall club in Cambridge, Mass., were plastic dreidels, bags of chocolate gelt and jelly-filled donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts. It was a feeble attempt to play up the show’s Hanukkah theme, and as demonstrated by a performance by the band Golem that had the audience dancing a dervish-like hora, it was probably unnecessary.Read More


It's Rosenberg vs. Goldberg in Cleveland

By Benjamin Ivry

It’s Rosenberg vs. Goldberg, and the world of classical music criticism is trembling. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s classical music critic Donald Rosenberg filed suit this month, several weeks after he was taken the Cleveland Orchestra beat after writing about the ensemble for 18 years. Rosenberg’s suit names the newspaper and the Musical Arts Association, which runs the orchestra, as defendants. Also named are Plain Dealer editor Susan Goldberg and some of the orchestra’s directors. Goldberg has been quoted stating that Rosenberg’s job transfer is an “internal personnel matter,” yet the controversy, taken up by journalists and bloggers, has become highly external and even angrily vehement.Read More


Shtick and Awe: Daniel Barenboim in New York

By Benjamin Ivry

You’d think Godzilla, or at least an enemy flotilla, had stormed the gates of the city, the way the media has trumpeted the news; the Financial Times announces, “Daniel Barenboim has invaded New York.” The 66-year-old pianist-conductor, born in Buenos Aires to a family of Russian Ashkenazic Jews who later immigrated to Israel, is definitely in town.Read More


The Teapacks Push the Envelope

By Mordechai Shinefield

This past May, the Teapacks were eliminated in the semifinals of the Eurovision song competition along with bands representing 17 other countries. Their elimination capped a months-long saga in which pop music collided with geopolitics, garnering international headlines for the six-member, ska-inflected, band originally hailing from the now-embattled Israeli town of Sderot.Read More


What Does Gay, Jewish R&B Sound Like?

By Mordechai Shinefield

What does an openly gay, Jewish R&B singer sound like? Thanks to Ari Gold, a formerly Orthodox kid out of the Bronx, the question isn’t speculative. On his newest album, “Transport Systems,” out this week, he answers that an openly gay, Jewish R&B singer sounds much like any good R&B phenom: a sexy, honey-tinged voice and lyrics about falling in love.Read More


D.J. Without Borders

By Mordechai Shinefield

Sam Hopkins, aka DJ Balagan (Balagan is Hebrew for tumult), is a mixer, drummer and producer. His newest album, “Funny Accent,” is a mix tape in the most classic sense. Rather than simply sample older songs for his own aggrandizement, Hopkins removes himself from the process — acting more like a museum curator than an artist. The result is one of the most fascinating documents of 2007. Funny Accent is the statement of a fan toting around a crate of LPs, and in the process of showing them off, Hopkins tells the story of a Jewish musical history.Read More


Death Metal for a ‘Dying Language’

By Mordechai Shinefield

In his 1978 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Isaac Bashevis Singer said: “Yiddish may be a dying language, but it is the only language I know well. Yiddish is my mother language and a mother is never really dead.”Read More


A ‘-palooza’ for the Rest of Us

By Mordechai Shinefield

What can you say about a Jewish music festival that rounds up nine eclectic musical acts, puts them on the same 9-hour bill and then holds the festival the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah? Ambitious, to say the least. When you attract over a thousand people to a festival that combines the Do-It-Yourself aesthetic of the Warped Tour and the oy-vey aesthetic of New York Judaism, your event is an unqualified success. When dusk fell on Riverside Park, against the backdrop of hundreds of bodies swaying, a single yarmulke was lifted into the air like a lighter, and it was clear that Michael Dorf and his Oyhoo Festival achieved something far more elusive with Jewzapalooza: They had put together Jewish concert that spoke to the zeitgeist.Read More


Shining Light on Celan’s Dark Words

By Mordechai Shinefield

What do you do after pioneering Barbez, a combination Slavic cabaret and Jewish New York punk band? If you’re Dan Kaufman, Barbez’s frontman, you set aside anything pop-oriented or melody-bound and fling yourself over the avant-garde bridge. “Force of Light,” a series of compositions reinterpreting Paul Celan’s poetry, makes no effort to be listener-friendly.Read More


Northern State’s Rap Against J.A.P.

By Mordechai Shinefield

Young Jeezy may prefer Cristal and Northern State may “enjoy a lemonade spritzer with Eliot Spitzer,” but outside of alcohol choices, stereotypes concerning hip-hop stars and J.A.P.’s are surprisingly similar. That theme is one that concerns Northern State, a trio of female rappers from Long Island (two of whom are Jewish). Instead of dwelling on the racial and sexual implications of that dichotomy though, Northern State play it for humor. “You have a sweat suit and you’re dripping in diamonds/Tell me are you a rapper or a mom from Long Island?” Hesta Prynn (aka Julie Potash) rhymes in a deliciously bratty cadence on the group’s new album “Can I Keep This Pen?”Read More


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