Friday, June 14, 2013

Yuval Mendelson and the Lobsters-Blue Beetle

I remember hearing Sheygets' "My father is a lawyer" for the first time when I was about 15 and being just blown away. I think it was the first time I heard an Israeli rock song of my time that I could really identify with. I was discovering at the time (2004) excellent music from the 90s and before but there wasn't much new music that really interested me (that I remember of anyways). But then I heard Sheygets and I could relate so well to the music and especially the lyrics "I haven't done a thing but I have everything and if I'm hungry I have food to eat" not to mention the harsh and honest critique "They're talking here of recession, I don't feel it at all. And the poverty line seems light years away. We'll buy them cheap and then sell, sell expensively". My friend dissed them as wannabe punk but looking back they're Israeli punk at its best and their music is still very relevant today. I had so much fun rediscovering their music so here are some must-see clips: One of Sheyget's first songs "New York Rafiach" from 2001 is a timeless anthem and you can still hear teens today shouting with the lyrics at bonfires "this world sucks from New York to Raffiach, wherever you turn around, you'll always find an enemy". "My father is a lawyer" is from their second album which also features Oy Vavoi-did someone say Foo Fighters? In 2006 they released their third album with the radio hits "Olympic Contest" and "The Prettiest Words". Two years later as part of Israel's 60th celebrations they released a mini album with covers to old Israeli songs like "Hello you wonderful country". To understand what a brilliant cover it is check out Yoram Gaon's original. Sheygets' songs are full of cynicism but something tells me that the way they sing  "it's good to wander but even better to come back" is heartfelt.
I was a bit in shock when I saw the clip for Yuval Mendelson's first single with his new band after the breakup of Sheygets. The rebellious, energetic and boyish guy was replaced by someone much calmer and older, though still very boyish. The song felt like something you'd hear on a Saturday after a wild party, which I loved but it was very different from Sheyget's style. But then again we got older too. Blue Beetle, music and lyrics by the very talented Yaheli Sobol, is more playful but there's also a heaviness which compliments it and makes it much more interesting-the lyrics and video don't exactly much up-maybe a play on childhood games vs. real life? I might be looking into it too much but I'm raising the question because Mendelson directed the clip and each song from his album The Geometrical Shape plays out like a little movie. It might sound like an exaggeration but I found the album to be flawless. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into each song and there's something for everyone but it still remains coherent and enjoyable from start to finish. If you've just discovered Sheygets and are bummed that they split I don't think you'll be disappointed-it still carries the spirit of Sheygets, especially tracks 5, 7 and 11, but it sounds much more personal, intimate and mature. In between Sheygets and the Lobsters Mendelson turned to a film career and directed the horror comedy Cats on a Pedal Boat about, get ready, a cat who falls into the contaminated Yarkon river and causes havoc for a teenage couple. Sounds cult-worthy and I still regret missing the screening-Israel needs more comedies! "Israeli Intelligence" is gold but it needs more companions to even out all the serious dramas. That being said, the music scene really needs more music like Yuval Mendelson and the Lobsters.

For already a year I've been trying to hold on the hope
That someone will return her to me
Maybe it will be a memory that will pass in her mind
Or maybe some song that she'll listen to and will remind her of me

Every time a blue beetle passes through the street
It seems that she's inside it and she will stop
She continues down the street
You had your chance
Now she ran away

If only I could see that the end was near
I wouldn't have talked how I talked
Why is it so hard to understand when it's the one
To appreciate what you have when you still can

Every time a blue beetle passes...

Now she ran away
I don't know what
To do with all the love
That remains

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