Arts & Culture

What I’m Listening To: Vampire Weekend, Flight of the Chonchords, and British Girls Who Love American Boys,

Welcome to a 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. "American Boy" – Estelle Yes, she’s another female … Read More

By / April 10, 2008

Welcome to a 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.

"American Boy" – Estelle Yes, she’s another female rapper/singer from London. But this one started on her own label, got herself signed to John Legend’s label, and convinced Kanye to drop a verse on this song. (Will.I.Am produced it, but don’t hold that against her.) It’s a slick, R&B-influenced dance track about how excited she is to check out our country and our boys—perfect dance-floor fodder. Estelle may not get as much TV placement as Amy Wino, but her album just dropped, she’s touring in the states right now, and she is definitely worth your attention.

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend How can I not include a VW song? This album is on constant replay in the JDub office, by all four members of the NYC staff. I’m not even sure what to say about the band that hasn’t already been said by bloggers watching their incredibly rapid ascent from hipster darlings to Saturday Night Live musical act. "Upper West Side Soweto” seems asinine, but it’s a fairly accurate description of their sound. Lyrically stuck in college, aurally stuck between Paul Simon and the Strokes, this album is catchy as hell. And in today’s rough and tumble times, it’s nice to have something that’s just so damn fun.

An Evening with Jo Amar in Old Jerusalem – Jo Amar Early on with JDub, I accepted that my core skills were more in the business than in making the music itself, but I still love to DJ and maintain dreams of future careers in ethnomusicology and production. So to this day I still collect vinyl from stoop sales and old relatives, mostly 70s funk & soul, hip-hop, and anything Jewish.

My dad found this record in his synagogue in Scottsdale. According to the record jacket, Jo became a Cantor in Morocco at age 14 and in 1965 sold out Carnegie Hall in his first US appearance. This recording, however, is nothing traditional. It’s “the newest Oriental hits.” Often records like this completely Westernize the music with cheesy orchestral arrangements, but not this one. Jo sometimes has an organ in the mix, but it’s not overly intrusive and gives it the slightest hint of modern flavor (and psychedelia).

"Robots (live)" – Flight of the Conchords FoC are a comic-folk duo from New Zealand. Before their show even hit the states these guys were superstars here after a ridiculous viral build few bands are ever lucky enough to benefit from. Some comedy albums run dry after one or two listens, but we play this song in the office a few times a week, and I always, always get a kick out of it.

"Burying Luck" – Minus the Bear This band is from Seattle, and on a great label called Suicide Squeeze. Full disclosure: The label prez DJ’d our Hanukkah bash this year as DJ Half a Shekel. She passed us their newish CD (it came out in August, but their big tour is happening now leading up to Bonnaroo), which is really a solid work of post-grunge rock. Lead singer Jake Snider’s voice reminds me, almost painfully, of Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket. I’m not sure if that’s a complement or an insult, but that sense of the familiar took me by the hand into the album.

Previously: Purim Crunk, Yeasayer