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Rise Up!

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Album Review

One thing about the Klezmatics, they're not afraid of a little controversy with their klezmer music. Here they stir the ashes a couple of times, with an English-Yiddish cover of Holly Near's "I Ain't Afraid" that comes twice on the disc, and points out the pitfalls of what people do in the name of religion, and also in "Loshn-Koydesh," an unusual tale of a Hebrew lesson with an appropriately seductive melody to match the words. This time around the emphasis is most definitely on songs, rather than instrumentals, and for the most part they keep their fire quite restrained, rarely letting the instrumental work fly into the stratosphere as they have in the past. Where they do, on "Katz Un Moyz," for example, the results are spectacular, a reminder of how good players like Steven Greenman and Matt Darriau truly are. But Lorin Sklamberg has rarely sounded better singing with the band, as he proves on "Makht Oyf." That said, the annoying chorus of children on "Tepel" overdoes what could be a pleasantly kitschy piece, and highlights the heavy production used on the record, generally to its benefit, but sometimes too heavy-handed. They might be more serious and focused this time around, abandoning the free joy of the past, but they're still damn good.

Biography

Formed: 1985 in New York City, NY

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Klezmatics take one of the wildest approaches to klezmer, the traditional dance music of the Eastern European Jews. Although their music is heavily influenced by the recordings of Abe Ellstein and Dave Tarras in the 1940s and 1950s, their lyrics comment on a wide variety of political and social issues and have led the group to be labeled "the planet's radical Jewish roots band." The original members of the Klezmatics — Dave Lindsay (bass), Rob Chavez (clarinet), Alicia Svigals (fiddle)...
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Rise Up!, The Klezmatics
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