The originality of Asaf Avidan & the Mojos

By Jesamé Geldenhuys

Established in 2006 in Jerusalem, Asaf Avidan & the Mojos shook up Israel after reaching gold status in a year with The Reckoning and platinum afterwards. It became the biggest selling independent record of all time in Israel.

The Reckoning is an album of complete originality as Asaf Avidan & the Mojos break down the walls of a specific genre and sound to create a signature style that echoes influences from folk to rock. This unique album uses raw lyrics, escaping vocals and talented instruments to create a unified sound of psychedelic transcendence that transports you from one scene to another while embodying the professionalism and necessities of a musical album. Reminiscing Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin, Asaf Avidan & the Mojos are a force to be reckoned with which was proven after winning Israel’s Best New Artist award.

The Reckoning was the debut international album launched by Asaf Avidan & the Mojos. The local band took their home country, Israel, by storm in 2008 when they gained worldwide acclaim due to their diverse mixture of folk, blues and a rock sound clearly influenced by Led Zeppelin and reminiscent of grunge in this album. The Reckoning seems to be produced by feelings more than instruments and the album takes you through an array of different realms of genres to ignite your sounds and sensations.

The five member band consists of Asaf Avidan (vocals, guitar), Hadas Kleinman (cello), Ran Nir (bass), Roi Peled (lead guitar) and Yoni Sheleg (drums). The fifteen original songs in the album, written by Avidan, have no inhibitions of abandons. The band uses their unique sounds to compliment each other through their confident and exploding resonance, following every vocal line with awareness to match the raw lyrics to the unique indie spirit of the music.

Asaf’s vocals tie it all together. His hoarse and incredibly high vocals, sometimes even a screaming release, echo Janis Joplin in her prime. His seductive and inimitable voice makes it captivating but also very hard to recognize as a specific genre. In his sound you hear Annie Lennox, Leonard Cohen, Queen and even Linda Perry- to name a few. It?s this that adds to the essence of the writhing anguish that he portrays in his music.

The lyrics in this album tell a story of betrayal, love- a significant other. The honest scenes that he describes transport you to a variety of feelings and emotions that you inevitably recognize. To reflect the approach he’s taking with the album he begins with the opener titled Maybe You Are?

The lyrics: “She peeled his skin away, so every day he’d cry” reveals the raw angle he chose to go with for the album.

The variation is seen throughout as Hangwoman is more of a rockified-blues embodiment in which you can clearly hear Asaf adding some Elvis echoes in. One of the biggest hits Reckoning Song also reveals his use of variation through the use of the acoustic guitar to create a flamenco beginning.

In conclusion, The Reckoning is one of the most unique albums of the decade. Its complex honesty and musical rawness creates a masterpiece that Asaf Avidan & the Mojos manifest through sound, lyrics and genre.

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