Arts & Culture

Hey New Jew Music Expert Aaron Bisman, What’s On Your iPod?

Welcome to a new semi-regular column by JDub Records founder Aaron Bisman. Since he spends his days immersed in new Jewish music,we asked him what he listens to on his time off. The answer: More Jewish music, plus some funk … Read More

By / March 10, 2008

Welcome to a new semi-regular column by JDub Records founder Aaron Bisman. Since he spends his days immersed in new Jewish music,we asked him what he listens to on his time off. The answer: More Jewish music, plus some funk and indie rock.

What I’m listening to:

"Wait for the Summer" – Yeasayer I’m not as up on music as I’d like to be—probably not up enough to qualify as a true hipster. So maybe I’m late to jump on this bandwagon, but after spotting Yeasayer on many a “Best of 2007” list, I caught the young Brooklyn ensemble live at Bowery Ballroom and became an instant fan. They remind me of many things—Talking Heads, Toubab Krewe, 70s classic rock—without sounding like any of them. They do make me think “indie” and “alternative” might be turning into new euphemisms for “jam band,” but hey, I like the 2 AM set at Bonnaroo.

"P’sach Lanu Sha’ar (Open the Gates for Us)" – The Sway Machinery Jeremiah Lockwood is a member of Balkan Beat Box and a recipient of the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. This unreleased recording is part of his fellowship project, Hidden Melodies Revealed. Cantorial solos, Afro-pop horn lines, and Jeremiah’s obsession with the blues meld into a sound that’s genuinely unlike any other on the scene today—Jewish or otherwise. Jeremiah performs like a man possessed. His shows, which feature members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Antibalas, and the Arcade Fire, are exciting and frightening all at once. How else would you want your Rosh Hashanah liturgy? I can’t wait for the full record.

"House by the Sea" – Iron & Wine I thought Iron & Wine was a singer-songwriter, but after playing his new album, The Shepherd’s Dog, on repeat, I’m not so sure. He transcends the narrow boundaries of such genre classifications with songs like “House by the Sea," which begins with a swell of sounds that is mostly (entirely?) acoustic but could just as easily be an electronica intro to a Thievery Corporation song. A minute in, it turns into a beautifully melodic masterpiece. He doesn’t lose any of the textures but continues to build them up, keeping me interested in the story and the sound, and leaving me feeling like I want to live in this lush aesthetic.

"Day 'N’ Nite" – Kid Cudi This is my new jam, but I don’t know how to pronounce his name. (Cutie? Cuddy like what a cow chews?) Regardless, the newest signing to Fool’s Gold (the label from A-Trak, the turntable wiz who also happens to be Kanye’s DJ and a Polish-Canadian-Jew), turns out a slick electro backpacker banger. The half-time beat reminds me of a chopped and screwed remix, except this song is dance-floor–worthy without the two bottles of cough syrup.

"Kartzioy (Leeches)" – Sagol 59 I’ve known Sagol, the Godfather of Israeli hip hop, since 2000, when I met him performing at the now defunct Syndrome in Jerusalem. It was one of the first hip-hop shows in Israel, a low-key affair with Sha’anan Street of Hadag Nachash, a few hooting hippies, and a sax player who claimed to have been in one of Miles Davis’ bands. He’s come a long way since those days of covering NWA in Hebrew.

Sagol’s newest album, Make Room, which will be coming out on JDub later this spring, was produced by a 17-year-old prodigy named Johnny HaKattan (little Johnny). It brings his lyrical assault into a brighter, poppier palette of sounds that has challenged Sagol to update his flow and his lyrics. The first five times I heard the chorus to this song, I thought it was some African dialect; the distorted, high-pitched vocals blend together into an almost indistinguishable sound, and my Hebrew’s not that great. In reality, he’s telling the story of the constantly downtrodden—what Israelis call “a fryer.” (Basically, a sucker. If you’re Israeli, you probably live in fear of being classified as one because everyone’s trying to screw you.)

Blow Your Head – Fred Wesley & The JBs Fred Wesley has played trombone with Parliament, with Bootsy Collins, and, most famously, in the JB’s (that would be James Brown’s band, both with and without the Godfather of Soul). I got this track on a cheesy-looking compilation from 1988 called “James Brown’s Funky People pt. 2.” Whenever I need a little pick-me-up in the office, I turn this on. It opens with a wicked synth line, and then the drums come in and you can see the Funky People getting down. I either want to dance with them or sample this in a hip hop beat (which I’m sure has already been done to death).

Guess what Fred’s newest project is? Playing with JDub’s own Socalled – you can hear him on a track from Ghettoblaster called “(These are the) Good Old Days.”