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Goodbye 2005, hello 2006, still the same old 5766

Well, it's that day of the year when I make an archival copy of the website and reflect on the year that has passed. It is worth noting, I guess, that in a year in which I have not managed to review a new CD since March, the website is nonetheless about 200MB larger (compressed, even!) than it was last year. I might also add that this has been an incredibly exciting year, musically, so I feel like a real turkey having been too distracted and too busy to write about it.

Some of the new volume on the website is explained by the addition of the email database—one day to be the germ of a whole set of database-backed directories. The rest? I dunno. I'm pretty sure that email addresses are no longer getting sucked up by spammers, but I also know that the script I am using seems to be a bit, um, tempermental. Revisions will be coming.

I have also straightened out the new Jewish music review pile, noted a few CDs that have gone missing (hullo? who borrowed the new Frank London? who gave you permission to forget the Ruth Yaakov CD upstairs?) and actually wrote half of a new review this evening before the phone rang. The email inbox is down from nearly 400 messages to a third of that volume. The calendar and listings think that they are caught up—if you have sent in an event, and it isn't listed on the calendar, send me a reminder. If you asked for a listing, or modified an existing one, and those changes didn't happen, also send me a reminder. I am otherwise under the illusion that all is well.

I am tremendously excited by the one remaining KlezmerShack anniversary event: a mini-Jewish music festival, taking place on March 25th and 26th, with lots of music, a Klezmer Conservatory Band alumni old home week, and a slew of nifty workshops. As it sinks in how much work I should have done over the last six months, I expect that this event will eat away at time I might have had to catch up further. Somehow, I will do both.

The most exciting part of this year, however, has been listening to new music: cuts from the new DJ SoCalled album (still to be released), and the latest Matisyahu album, and those incredible Frank London projects (Chazzones and the Brass AllStars "Carnival Conspiracy") and some incredible rereleases including an Alberto Hemsi recording. Brave Old World finally released the Lodz Ghetto CD and it is even better than I remember. Hip Hop Hoodios released a full album. Khupe released another divine album, "eyns, tsvey, dray." Less-well known bands from around the world: Tummel from Scandinavia, the Freilachmakers from California, Spiel Azoi and Soleluna from Australia and a host of other bands, great and not so great have released memorable music that I hope to write about very, very soon.

After all of these years and all of these arguments about "what is Jewish music," though. I feel that this year we have gotten a neat wakeup as to how that changes. It's like it must have felt in Bagdad a thousand years ago when folks started singing religious hymns to the local maqam and the rabbis were horrified at those non-Jewish sounds taking over. Now it's everything from Lubavitch hip hop and reggae to veterans of Guster and the Zambonis writing secular pop songs about how to spell Hanukah (the LeeVees, god bless them). I haven't listened to so much music so close to the pop charts in years, and I'm loving it.

So, what impressed you about this year's music? What Jewish music made you excited?

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