It might be hard to imagine a band paying homage simultaneously to 18th-century Yiddish music and 1980s heavy metal. But a few seconds listening to the band Yiddish Princess, and you’ll be convinced the two genres are a perfect fit.
Sarah Mina Gordon, the band’s lead vocalist, describes their songs as “informed, unsentimental Yiddish music.” It might be a harsh self-assessment, but the power-pop combo–also including guitarist Avi Fox-Rosen and Yoshie Fruchter–is a mixture of fierceness and unexpected intimacy.
On their debut E.P., Yiddish-language vocals soar beside crunchy guitar and dramatic synthesizer jams. At the turn of the century these same songs were played with violins and clarinets; now they feature guitar solos and spooky keyboard lines. And it works. The fact that Yiddish Princess’ songs actually are covers of old Yiddish songs about subjects like destitution, poverty, and social maladies–well, it renders the dramatic music even more appropriate.