Koby Israelite an Accordion Beast!

Blues from Elsewhere
Asphalt-Tango records 3513
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Koby Israelite—born in Israel and now based in London--is one part Jimmy Page, one part Bob Dylan, one part Johnny Cash, and one part John Zorn—except he plays the accordion, not a guitar or saxophone. His latest is the aptly named Blues from Elsewhere, and the eponymous track sounds like Sephardic honky tonk. I’m not exaggerating about any of the influences noted above. Check out how he squeezes out the notes atop crunching power chords in “Accordion is the New Guitar,” and then give a listen to his cover of “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” I can doubt even Dylan could imagine the jump jive/power rock instrumental treatment, or Annique’s keening vocals. Israelite is full of such surprises. “Johnny Has No Cash No More” is where Texas two-step meets barrelhouse accordion; “Crayfish Hora” unfolds as if gumbo-crazed Jews were belly-dancing down Bourbon Street; “Take My Brain and Sell it to the Night” is like string band for the Andrews Sisters; “My Way the Right Way” a blend of rock, hand jive, and surf guitar; “Just Clichés” sounds like the soundtrack for an experimental cartoon made in the 1930s; “Kashmir” has the trippy dreaminess of a lost Yes composition; and “East of Nashville” is really east—like Tel Aviv. My first thought was that only Sharon Shannon pushes the accordion to such innovative extremes. Upon further reflection, she’s a piker compared to Koby Israelite.—Rob Weir

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