Friday Finds – Israeli Invasion!

Time once again for Friday Finds. This time, three bands I hadn’t heard of until very recently (and of course, one of them has already gone the way of the dodo – it is my lot in life to learn about bands I like soon after they disintegrate). These three are linked not only by being new discoveries for me, but by their country of origin. I wouldn’t normally think of Israel as a springboard for cool music, but I am apparently a provincial boor. I suppose it’s not really surprising – Israel is a modern, sophisticated country; why wouldn’t the music scene reflect that? Anyway, after the jump, three Israeli artists of whom I have recently developed an appreciation.

Goth Something in My Ear

 First up, Pink Noise. This was an eMusic random discovery that I have been pretty pleased with. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find out a lot about this band. Their website isn’t exactly loaded with information (though there’s a nifty film of a recording session). What I know is this: The band originated in Tel Aviv and is now based in Brooklyn. They have one EP out – that’s what I got from eMusic – and they are (self-)reportedly working on a full-length album produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, but when that will be released is unclear. (For all I know, it already has been.) According to their Facebook page, it’s their third album, but I can’t find any information about prior albums. The band has played out a lot in New York this summer. They should do something about their Internet presence, though.

The use of minor chords, un-poppy progressions, and a reliance on fairly intense bass to drive it give the music a somewhat Gothy atmosphere, sort of like a less-dark, less-metal Lacuna Coil. Singer/bassist Sharron Sulami delivers vocals that can go from breathy and ethereal in one song to powerful and edgy in another, sometimes morphing from one to the other in the same song. Case in point: “Moving In,” in which Sulami’s frantic voice and the repetitive lyrics convey with alarming, yet somehow endearing, accuracy the rising anxiety – if not terror – that can come along with agreeing to share your personal living space.

I hear echoes of Siouxsie in that voice. I think my favorite track on the EP is “Dive”:

Pink Noise – Dive – Live @ vibromonk studios from Yuval Ziegler on Vimeo.

Absolutely love the, er, electronicist (I don’t think it’s quite right to call him a keyboardist) on the floor there. Looking forward to hearing more from this band.

 

Just Missed Them

Band number two is Carusella, a Tel Aviv-based two-piece consisting of guitarist Tamar Aphek and drummer Guy Schechter, both sharing vocals. From the sound, you would expect them to be a bigger band, but really it’s just the two of them. These guys hit the scene in Tel Aviv in around 2007, and (according to their Facebook page) have just recently decided to call it quits. (Remember what I said up there about finding bands after they’re defunct? Bah.)

Carusella played at SXSW this year, and I found their song “Star Quality” in the BIttorrent file of SXSW Showcasing Artists.

This one just burrowed right under my skin and settled in, and I can listen to it half a dozen times in a row. Aphek’s voice is bigger than you would expect from looking at her. At first, it sound like she might have some sort of odd falsetto thing going on, but it becomes clear that she’s just restraining it, and the first time she gets to the line “There’s just the way you look at me!” in the chorus, it comes roaring out in a blast of raw, rasping energy. When she’s singing:

There is no agony

There is no misery

No more identity

There is no star quality

the end of every line is tinged with anger and pain.

And man can she play. Loads of fuzz and driving rhythms, very metal, in conjunction with Schechter’s excellent drumming. Wish I’d had a chance to see them perform. Ah well, I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing more from them in other projects.

 

Beastie Benim

And last, something a little different. This is another SXSW discovery: Hadag Nahash, a Jerusalem-based band that plays Western hip-hop, rock, and funk tinged with Middle Eastern sound. All the lyrics are in Hebrew, so I have no idea what they’re saying, but I like their sound. Their videos are pretty cheesy, but generally in a good way. In this one, they’re straight pimpin’ like only nice Jewish boys can.

The music ranges from pretty standard hip-hop to 70’s-style funk (complete with brass section), to some interesting hybrids, like this one that mixes in a fairly hefty chunk of traditional Middle Eastern rhythms and instrumentation:

The mix of familiar and unfamiliar rhythms and melodies makes for eclectic, exotic music that I really enjoy. I might wish I understood the lyrics (especially since, per the Google-translated comments on their YouTube videos, they seem to say something in many of their songs about the political situation in Israel and the region), but even without that, I can appreciate the sound.

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