It’s safe to say that Jews are generally thought to be more bookish than rock star – we usually snicker a little when we find out that Gene Simmons is Jewish, feeling more at home with Neil Diamond or, on a good day, Bob Dylan. Yet these chaps manage to blend the book and the rock artfully. In marrying a Jewish literary tradition with a klezmeric sound, they create a new and more complete vision of Jewish cultural expression, which in and of itself, seemed oddly out of place at The Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. But perhaps this is exactly the kind of living Judaism that the museum wishes to explore: one which crafts and combines different streams of expression in order to redefine and reinvent itself.
While the flavor of each song varies, the collection holds together conceptually and musically, more as a cabaret show than a traditional album. The lyrics shy away from pop and more towards ballads or show tunes, each song telling its own witty tale. But beyond the charm and clever conceit, the album simply works because it’s good. The music is smart, entertaining and enjoyable. The songs touch on issues of loneliness and love such as in Margaret Atwood’s Frankenstein Monster Song where a sad Frankenstein demands that his creator “sew me a lady, sew me a monster lady just like me,” as well as on local urban woes such as Aaron Naparstek’s one sentence song Honku “You from New Jersey honking in front of my house in your S.U.V.”
Popping the disc into my stereo at home, I half expected (or hoped) that some hologram of Hearst and Camp would project out of the machine and onto the wall in some R2D2 homage to Carrie Fisher’s royal days. Sadly, it didn’t, but the words and music still held their strength though half the joy comes in seeing these musicians perform – something they clearly enjoy doing. Whether live or recorded, the music surprised and excited me as it went to a geeky-smart place so deep inside that I no longer knew was there. Not because it was so far in the past, but rather so far in the future. One Ring Zero is clearly music for the gilgul to come.
Am I an environmentalist for the same reasons I don't like to spend money?
Two related theories about Bob Dylan, or, a review of his November 19,
2001 show, in which divine revelation plays a significant role.
and the Zohar
Hasidism and Homoeroticism
Sound & Image
Andy Alpern and
Shir Yaakov Feinstein-Feit
One Ring Zero
Josh's Jury Duty
Our 480 Back Pages
Zeek in Print
Spring/Summer 2004 issue now on sale!
From previous issues:
They Gonna Crucify Me
Are the Ten Commandments Really Carved in Stone?