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Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel | INDIE

Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel | INDIE
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"Winners of David Gilmour's Arnold Layne Competition"


Congratulations to Israel-based ROCKFOUR, whose version of Arnold Layne not only scored the highest votes from the public, but also the endorsement of David Gilmour himself, to take the honours in our competition.

David commented on the high standard of entries, having taken the time to check out many of the submissions, including some which had jettisoned all chordal and melodic references to the Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd original.

Rockfour's prize is a day's recording in the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London's St. John’s Wood, but equally thrilling, and more rare, will be the design of a new logo for them by Storm Thorgerson, co-founder of Hipgnosis, longtime Floyd art collaborators.

Congratulations to Rockfour and thanks to the many artists who contributed their work to the competition. - myspace/David Gilmour

"Rockfour - Nationwide"

For its third English language release, this Israeli psychedelic juggernaut traveled to Detroit and worked with producer Jim Diamond. I presumed that this would result in a rawer recording, as Diamond is best known for his work with many of the leading lights of the Detroit garage rock scene, including The White Stripes. This made sense, since Rockfour happens to be one of the most explosive live bands in the world.

My presumption was off by a mile. Diamond's production is precise as can be. In the end, I don't think his role was artistic, so much as just putting these songs in the best light. Which he did. Even when I listen to this on my P.C., the clarity of the disc and stereo separation allows all of the colors of Rockfour's songs to shine brilliantly.

While the band does attempt a few new things, for the most part, Rockfour stays the course. They still have some of the most dazzling harmony vocals in the business, taking inspiration from The Bee Gees, with a more haunting aspect. Instrumentally, they are second to none. Marc Lazare is a muscular bass player, who can Entwhistle as well as he can McCartney. Likewise, drummer Issar Tennebaum can play as forcefully and thrillingly as any skin pounder, yet he is capable of great subtlety and feel. Singer Eli Lulai is passionate and engaged at all times.

The star of the show, however, is Baruch Ben-Izhak, a guitar hero if there every was one. Ben-Izhak is outlandishly talented, a virtual encyclopedia of guitar sounds. Not since Rick Nielsen has there been a guitarist with such a facility for so many hallmarks of ‘60s rock guitar. Like Nielsen, all of this know how is grounded in a supreme appreciation for the song. Ben-Izhak has flash, yet he never overwhelms the song -- he maximizes it.

Rockfour is so tied to psychedelia, that it's no surprise that Ben-Izhak has that sound down cold. Yet there is so much more here. On "You Said", Ben-Izhak unleashes some heavy quasi-Tony Iommi fuzz, along with a burning guitar solo and some delicate jangle. This song is an ominous and attractive mix of heavy music -- in fact, it is one of the heaviest Rockfour tracks ever -- contrasted by the beautiful, mournful harmony vocals. This song would make a fine, more rocking companion to Simon and Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter".

The band moves forward into the ‘80s (though it's hard to imagine them in parachute pants with feathered hair, particularly the chrome-domed Lulai) on the album's first two tracks. "Honey" finds the band paying homage to The Cars and other bands of that ilk. Oh oh, it's magic, I suppose. The song throbs along, before finally hitting a more typical Rockfour chorus. Indeed, the new wavey elements are really just decoration. They serve to make Rockfour a bit poppier. To the band's credit, this does not diminish their power. If anything, the sudden burst of the chorus and Ben-Izhak's apeshit solo actually stand out in further relief from the smiley face groove.

The next song is the title cut, which seems to reverse the approach. The song starts off in true Rockfour fashion, and then the new wave/Cars elements bubble up, including some nifty Elliot Easton-style lead parts from Ben-Izhak. This song also has one of the strongest choruses on the record, which actually highlights one of the band's few weaknesses. Rockfour's lyrics tend to be obscure (or maybe opaque). Since their music is so colorful, this often isn't a major problem. However, sometimes it's hard to fully grab on to the songs. No matter how attractive the music is, the songs often lack lyrical phrases that can lock the listener in. This is not a problem on "Nationwide", however.

Lyrics are beside the point on "Candlelight". It's not that the words are meaningless. It's just that the song is so simple and pretty -- a real showcase for the band's vocals. Both Ben-Izhak and Lazare play with exceeding delicacy. The bridge, where Lulai sings alone, accompanied by Ben-Izhak, who plays a spacey lead that Les Paul would have appreciated, is stunning. The album closer "Much More to Offer" is another spacious number that edges into shoegazer and desert rock, while retaining a bit of a Pink Floyd feel.

There are plenty of other great cuts, like the latter day Beatlesque "Moving Fast" and the intent "Mad Routine", a song that would have fit well on either of the past two albums. In all, this is the best Rockfour album yet, as it has a great balance of moods and stylistic touches. It results in a terrific flow. I just wish that their music was just a little more direct lyrically. Not necessarily on every song, but I think that if they could make a bit more of a connection between the words and the dramatic music and passionate performances, things would crystallize into an incredible experience. Even with that, they are one of the best rock bands around. - - Mike Bennet

"Israel's Rockfour: Astonishing"

Thursday, March 28

Let me tell you about what made me fall in love with music all over again.

In these times of global unrest and uncertainty, the band Rockfour from Tel Aviv, Israel, proves that music can transcend the tumult of our times and beget pure inspiration.
I was lucky enough to initially witness the power of their live show at a sparsely-attended Birdy’s on Thursday. The next night, Radio Radio was a house fully consumed by the buzz stirred by the previous night’s performance. Most of the people at Birdy’s made a point to come back for a second serving with as many friends as possible. Regardless of the venue or how many people made it to the shows, Rockfour played two mind-blowing sets of unrelenting euphonic consistency. Both performances held my attention with an undiminished sense of true wonderment.

They opened with a flawless version of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” and closed in encore by humbly claiming the deed of ownership to the Beatles classic “Rain.” In between those two marvels was a set filled with three-part harmonics, magnetic hooks and sonic perfection made complete with recurring goose bumps. They call clearly on the influences of the Who, Beatles, Byrds and even David Bowie without the cheap feeling of derivation.

Whether it was wildly innovative or shipped in directly from the ’60s, it was inspired. There really isn’t anything new under the sun, but in my mind the importance lies in the effect a band can have on an individual. If they were playing TV show themes and had the ability to move me in such a powerful way, then so be it. I should be so lucky to get that feeling from any source, let alone a rock band from Israel.
Each member of Rockfour is a cleanly polished musician with strong technical ability. The band is made up of Eli Lulai on lead vocals and guitar, Marc Lazare on bass and vocals, Baruch Ben-Izhak on guitars and vocals and the visually enthralling Issar Tennenbaum on drums. Eli’s stage demeanor was of manic invincibility while Marc and Baruch were much more reserved; but I labored to peel my face from Issar’s drum kit. With water splashing from the drumheads and seemingly effortless use of two sets of sticks, his intensity and style could easily be compared to Keith Moon.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Issar and Eli after both shows. With modest grace and warmth they spoke at length about music, other bands’ as well as their own, and what their reception in the U.S. has been like. Eli, with a wide, uncollapsing smile, told me that it has been positively overwhelming. Issar filled me in on their plans to move stateside by the end of the year, fueled by Rockfour’s touring success as well as the band’s improving grasp of the English language. I drove home at 2:30 a.m. knowing that I had experienced something genuinely special.

I can only second what Moxy has to say about Rockfour. In a lifetime spent watching shows, their set at Birdy’s was among the most powerful and passionate I’ve ever witnessed. They don’t so much channel the obvious influences — Beatles, Byrds, Floyd — as absorb them as a template for their own mournful observations.

Although not overtly political, they hint at the discord in their song “Government” when they ask, “Is it time to change the government?” But notice that it’s phrased as a question. Like every great band, from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols, they give you their view and leave it for you to decide.

I also heard a distinct influence of Zappa’s whimsy, Radiohead minus the bombast and Live without that annoying bald guy. Rockfour’s bald guy, Eli Lulai, reminded me of a young Michael Stipe. Intense yet fun-loving. Overbearing. Mysterious.

One might read all these comparisons and think they’re derivative. I think these comparisons to legendary figures — and rock writers all over the world have struggled with Rockfour in this way — come not from convenience but because there simply isn’t any other way to categorize them except by comparing them favorably with the greats.

I missed Prince’s set at Birdy’s, but after seeing Rockfour, I don’t feel one bit cheated. I think I got the better end of the bargain.

Given the world situation, it’s ironic for a band from Israel to sing pop music and act exuberant and energetic onstage. I mean, the band was so psyched that Lulai danced frantically, all by himself, on the Birdy’s floor as the night’s closing act, Tommy Flake, played.

Adding to the irony was that when I arrived home, I flipped on the TV and it was all Breaking News and suicide bombers and blood-soaked streets, literally miles from where these guys grew up. Rockfour came here from hell and brought a small Midwestern city joy.

If that isn’t proof of the miracle of rock and roll, nothing is. - Nuvo Magazine - Steve Hammer

"Supermarket - 4 STARS"

It is not easy to make a record in 2000 with a heavy mid- to late-1960s feel that doesn't strike jaded ears as pointless revivalism. Rockfour manage to largely succeed in doing so, to their considerable credit. The harmonies are very much in the late-1960s vein of the Beatles and Pink Floyd, while the melodies and slight sense of whimsy are likewise much in the late-1960s British psych pop mold, and the guitars often carry a Byrdsian ring ("Oranges" being the outstanding example). "Superman" gets into a bit of a (very early) David Bowie mold, not least due to its title. Certainly the creative use of Mellotron in particular is vital to the convincing dreamy psychedelic feel, as are ventures with the stylophone and wind organ. Of course, many bands draw inspiration from these musical giants of decade past, but Rockfour stands out from that pack in their superior sense of melodics, an unforced ease with the approach, and a diverse lyrical palette that encompasses frustration with government and the media, poetic spaciness, and (on "Oranges") paisley alternate-world dreaminess. Any attention this draws in the U.S. and U.K. may be partially due to the novelty of an Israeli alternative rock band, but, in fact, this would be worthy of notice regardless of its regional origin. - All Music Guide

"Another Beginning - 4 STARS"

Israel isn't often thought of in terms of its rock & roll bands, but the psych-poppy Rockfour could change that. The Tel Aviv-based quartet (singer Eli Lulai, guitarist Baruch Ben Izhak, bassist Marc Lazare, and drummer Issar Tennenbaum) bear some resemblance to Sweden's the Soundtrack of Our Lives, only with a wider sphere of influences, ranging from the Byrds and the Move to Julian Cope and the Gang of Four. Their mix of psych, pop, prog, and post-punk influences recall a less-pretentious and -overblown Radiohead. Even when the songs break the five-minute barrier, as about a quarter of them do, there's a strong compositional sense that keeps them from turning into the sort of longwinded noodling that occasionally mars Soundtracks of Our Lives or Radiohead albums. More importantly, songs like the catchy opener, "Government," and the gauzy single "President of Me" are terrific pop songs with ear-grabbing hooks and memorable melodies. Another Beginning (originally released in Israel under the name One Fantastic Day) is a solidly enjoyable album from start to finish. - All Music Guide

"Nationwide - 4 STARS"

Nationwide isn't too different from previous Rockfour releases, and it's still highly reminiscent of much late-'60s pop-psychedelia, usually of the British sort. That's okay — when you do retro-indebted sounds as well as Rockfour does, the many spottable influences aren't a source of annoyance, as they are for such a high percentage of bands that take their cues from a prior era. It should be said that very few groups have done Beatlesesque (late-'60s period) harmonies as well as Rockfour (particularly on parts of "Nationwide"), and it's good news that so many of them are on this disc. If you want a more obscure reference point — obscure to much of the general public, at any rate, if not the kind of hipped-in collectors predisposed to like a band such as Rockfour — it's hard to imagine that anyone who likes the S.F. Sorrow-era Pretty Things won't like this, or like the haunting track "Candlelight," in particular. Something else that distinguishes the group from others with similar grounding — and something that might find them some favor with critics and listeners who are usually dismissive of bands with these leanings — is the rather tense, probing mood of many of their arrangements and lyrics, which stand in opposition to the too-cheerful inclinations of more power-poppish outfits. In a lighter vein, "Have a Good One" recalls the late-'60s Beatles in their mellower interludes, while "Moving Fast"'s drum sound convincingly emulates the most thwacking beats of The White Album. A few more standout tunes on the order of "Candlelight" would have gotten the band over the hump to a new level, but certainly it's a satisfying record. - All Music Guide


Many more reviews are available on! -

"LA Times"

Most pop music acts today are thought of in terms of what we see on MTV. When RockFour played at the Roxy on Thursday, it was hard not to think in terms of what we see on CNN.
The Tel Aviv quartet, popular in Israel since the mid-'90s and recently recording in English and reaching for an international presence, had just enough elements in its set to justify evaluating the music in light of current events.

An Israeli flag was draped over an amplifier, and such key lyrics as "We can't decide who's on our side" (in the opening "Astronauts") fit easily into the context of Middle East headlines. But there's much more to the band than that.

Drawing on the '60s folk-psychedelia of the Byrds (prominently in guitarist Baruch Ben- Izhak's Rickenbacker 12-string licks), the Beatles (a powerful closing version of the Fab Four's "Rain") and the Beach Boys (several echoes of the wistful "Pet Sounds"), RockFour could easily fit alongside Sweden's Hives and the Soundtrack of Our Lives or Detroit's the White Stripes in the current garage-rock revival--though some sappy prog-rock touches were reminiscent of numerous Eastern European bands. And the influences showed too transparently in places, though they often benefited from some imaginative twists. Whatever messages are in the music were not belabored. Singer-guitarist Eli Lulai showed no signs of any overt political mission, preferring wry understatement.

Perhaps the explosive bursts that punctuated several songs, powered by Ben-Izhak's confident playing and Issar Tennenbaum's fiery drumming, represented the real explosions and conflicts in the Middle East.

Or perhaps this is simply a strong, world-class band flexing its musical muscles. - Shayna Sobol


The Wonderful World - LP - 2010
Anova Music
Memories of the Never-Happened - LP - 2007
Anova Music
Nationwide - LP - 2004 Rainbow Quartz
For Fans Only - LP - 2003 Earsay
Another Beginning - LP - 2002 Rainbow Quartz
One Fantastic Day - LP - 2001 EarSay
Supermarket - LP - 2000 - Orchard



Rockfour is one of the most important and influential bands in Israel for the past 15 years. Their signature sound is a tightly knit mesh of a guitar driven harmony that hints at Love, Grandaddy, The Byrds and Wilco. The band debut album was released in 1991 while its follower, the 1994 The Man Who Saw It All is wildly regarded as the triumph album of the Israeli rock scene in the last 20 years.

The bands first international recognition was achieved thanks to the outstanding reviews of the 2000 release Supermarket, an album that also appeared in the year’s “best of” list of rolling stone magazine.

Supermarket was followed by three international releases that helped build an indie cult status for Rockfour by getting fabulous responses in media outlets such as NPR, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and The Los Angeles Times (which dubbed it a “world-class band flexing its musical muscles”). The band spent 5 years of constant touring; they played several times in CMJ, SXSW and other festivals while also performing as opening acts for Dave Matthews Band, the B-52s and Blondie.

In 2004 they released Nationwide in psych rock label Rainbow Quartz, the album was produced by Jim Diamond (The White Stripes)

Memories of the Never Happened marks Rockfour’s first release with Anova Music and Cooking Vinyl (US). The album included 11 energy-packed tracks mixed with vaulting jams and melodic harmonies, and was received high rotation in stations like KCRW (on 'Morning Becomes Eclectic') and other college radio stations.

In 2009, the band joined one of the most successful Israeli singers, Ninet Tayeb, to produce her second album. The album was critically acclaimed and the band was praised for its production and playing skills throughout the album.

May 2010 saw the release of their new album The Wonderful World that consists of Hebrew songs, for the first time in 15 years.