The Arty Semite

Monday Music: The Girls Are in Trouble, but Not This Album

By Mordechai Shinefield

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy of JDub Records

It is hard to believe we are only five years from klezmer-punk band Golem’s 2006 debut album, “Fresh Off Boat,” and the first time (most of us) heard Alicia Jo Rabins on a record. Since then we have gotten a follow-up from Golem (2009’s tremendous “Citizen Boris”) and a solo debut from Rabin’s new project, Girls in Trouble.

Now, in 2011, Rabins has released her own solo sophomore album, “Half You Half Me,” putting herself in contention for the most prolific Jewish artist of the last few years. Moreover, “Half You Half Me,” out this week on JDub records, escapes the fate of many album follow-ups. Instead of a collection of hastily thrown together songs in the wake of a debut success, the album is a carefully written, confident set of songs that pushes the Girls in Trouble project forward and almost alleviates the pain of going two years without a new Golem album.

“Half You Half Me’s” album title suggests a figure divided, and that motif is developed on the opening track, “We Are Androgynous.” The track opens with a light, poppy riff that sounds like fellow chanteuse Neko Case, and Rabins’s voice singing “We are androgynous, doubly faced beings / One looking forward and one looking back.” Rabins’s voice is anything but androgynous, though. She sings with a light, almost delicate register that is decisively feminine. The androgyny may be a product of the album’s ambitions — each song supposedly tells the first-person account of a Biblical woman. Those references are obscure, though, and the album falls somewhere between the explicit narratives of the Biblical heroines of Galeet Dardashti’s “The Naming” and the primordial unnamed female matriarchs of Charming Hostess’s recent “The Bowls Project.”

Listen to ‘We are Androgynous’:

Outside some resonant lyrics, though, the conceit is incidental. The album soars when the protagonist is indefinite or simply Rabins herself. They are not carrying out revolutions or secret mystical histories. The most beautiful moments on the album come when Rabins notices something obscure, or outlines something beautiful. On “Lemon” she sings, “I kept on cutting till I started to see blood.” That’s a good description for this set of songs. They start off mundane, but she cuts into them until something pretty bleeds out.

Watch Girls in Trouble play in Toronto in 2010:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Neko Case, The Bowls Project, JDub Records, Mordechai Shinefield, Music, Half You Half Me, Golem, Galeet Dardashti, Fresh Off Boat, Citizen Boris, Charming Hostess, Alicia Jo Rabins

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.