Arts & Culture

What I’m Listening To: Dub, Purim Crunk, and the New Beck

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. "Pull Me Out Alive" – Kaki King Kaki … Read More

By / March 20, 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.

"Pull Me Out Alive" – Kaki King Kaki King was good friends with one of my roommates senior year of college, so she hung around our place sometimes. With the exception of a baal tshuva and a former frummie from Monsey, my other Alphabet City roommates were all musicians, and being surrounded by artists was by turns inspiring, maddening, and fun as hell. Kaki had a very unique air about her—quiet but obviously passionate. Mellow in conversation but aggressive on her guitar. We went to a few of her early shows, where she stood alone onstage using her guitar as a drum when she wasn’t fingerpicking the hell out it. It wasn't what I expected to see (or like) in a New York club, but she was totally captivating.

In the past year, Kaki's career has taken off. Sean Penn asked her to do music for Into the Wild and she worked with the Foo Fighters on their last album. She’s no longer a mute instrumentalist—last week, she put out Dreaming Of Revenge. You MUST watch this video. Yes, the light effect is similar to those annoying Sprint commercials. But this video was made from 5,000 still photographs. And the song has that perfect poppy edge while staying rooted in Kaki’s alternative/indie base. Love it.

"Cocaine" – Sly & the Revolutionaries & Jah Thomas Dreux Dub is essentially reggae with the delay effects turned up and the vocals turned down—chill instrumental music. Adam Mansbach, the author of The End of the Jews, turned me onto this track. Adam’s book is about a multigenerational family of Jewish artists, including stoned bar mitzvah DJs and graffiti-bombing grandfathers When he made a “playlist” for the book, he included this and described it as solid music to write to. So I took his advice, bought it on iTunes, and put it on as I started to write this. I think it's a new essential in my collection.

"Big Mistake" – Tim Fite Mark my words, Tim Fite is the new Beck. He's steeped in blues, country, and the hip hop art of sampling, but has a personality (and stage show) all his own. I bummed a ride with Tim to Bonnaroo last year in a van where we were only allowed to listen to books on tape and ‘80s hip also on tape—and we had to stop in the mountains of Tennessee to check out a gourd stand (where we convinced his brother, Greg Fite, to buy a hand-made raccoon-skin hat). Tim plays acoustic guitar onstage, and Greg runs sampler and projections, which often show Tim backing himself up on other instruments, and other times feature Tim’s illustrations and animations. Have I made the “personality all his own” point well enough yet?

This song is from his upcoming album, “Fair Ain’t Fair.” It’s a great leap forward in Tim's songwriting and style, but also a perfect introduction to his music: Catchy, melodic, easy to sing along with, but still with the bleeps and blips and weird moments I love him for. You can hear it here.

"Transliterator" – DeVotchKa Heard this on, a great online radio station I recently got into. DeVotchKa waves the flag of “Gypsy rock” (the camp inhabited by Gogol Bordello, Balkan Beat Box, Slavic Soul Party, Golem, etc), which I've never fully understood. Using an accordion is great, but it doesn’t make the music Gypsy (or Roma). I hear more David Byrne that Eugene Hutz.

This track is from DeVotchKa’s album, which came out this week. It's also the second song in today's list from Anti Records, which I guess makes me an Anti fan. I love the keyboard riff, the delicate sound of the music, the strings – I can almost imagine this being used in an extended cut of a van-chasing scene in Little Miss Sunshine (which they scored).

"Purim crunk"(from the Emory Hillel) Thursday night is Purim, so we can’t miss the only opportunity I’ll have to showcase my favorite and only Purim Crunk song, called, appropriately, “Purim Crunk.” It was commissioned by Emory University's Hillel last year. I’m pretty sure the artists weren’t Jews, which makes their accurate retelling of the Purim story all the more impressive. Please download this song and play it loud and proud at your Masquerade balls this weekend.

Don’t have a Purim plan? JDub has five, in NY, Boston, Cleveland, SF, & LA and we’d love to see you at one of them.

Previously: Yeasayer and more