The Shondes
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The Shondes

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Rock




"The Shondes send out Searchlights"

I've known about queer alterna-folk rock band The Shondes for a while now. As a gay Jewish gal myself, it was almost impossible not to be excited hearing music made by "my people." Of course, they haven't always made it to the top of my playlists, but were seen as more of a fun group to know about and listen to occasionally. Their latest release, Searchlights, has been a game-changer for me though. The quartet's technical skills have gotten better and better alongside the sharpening of the songwriting.

Over the course of the past year or so, the group has had to come together not only to focus on their music but also to face some incredibly difficult times after violinist Elijah Oberman was diagnosed with, and treated for, cancer.
At a time when absolutely nothing is controllable, instead of taking time off, the musicians came together and let music be their outlet. The end result of their devotion to each other is a great and beautiful reminder of how music can be matzo ball soup for the soul.
We were able to speak with the band's drummer, Temim Fruchter, right before Yom Kippur and talked about Jewish guilt, dealing with a sick bandmate and the transformation of their sound.

AfterEllen: I should start out by saying happy new year to you all!
Temim Fulcher: Yes and to you, too!
AE: I don't even know if you are supposed to set any goals for the Jewish new year. If you did, what are they?
TF: You know, it's funny, somebody just asked me that the other day and I couldn't answer it. And I can't answer it now. But usually I do and I tend to think it's a really good opportunity to set goals for the new year. We've been on the road during the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah) so I haven't really had the time or attention span or the wherewithal to do much of that. But we're going to be in Madison for Yom Kippur so hopefully we'll have some good, grounded, meditative time there.
I think this last year sucked for some friends that are really close to me. One of my best friends, our violinist, had cancer. Now he's better — which is great — but I think going into the next year it's sort of an opportunity to have a renewed, healthier, more sustainable year.
AE: Yeah, definitely. Well you brought up Yom Kippur and I'm curious just because, I know for me dealing with it personally, it's a big to-do, but I imagine it is probably worse for you: What's the Jewish guilt situation in terms of your family reacting to you not being able to join them for services or breaking the fast with them?
TF: [laughs] Well actually in my family the clincher is really Sukkot, which is the week after. It's like a big harvest-palooza in my family and we just sit in a tent all night eating.
AE: Oh, you all actually set up a tent?
TF: Yeah! My parents are probably — well in their fantasy, we'd be together for this, but I think they gave up on the guilt thing a little while ago when I was like, "You know, I'm a touring musician," and they were like, "Oy vey." So it sort of was what it was. Finally they were just like, "It's fine, we love you. Just come back home when you can."
AE: That's so great! You know, a lot of times everyone expects Jewish parents to always want their kids to be doctors or lawyers. But really, lately, I've noticed a lot of parents really fostering their kids' attraction to a more artistic lifestyle. What was your experience?
TF: Yeah, I definitely think that's true. In my experience, I grew up in a Modern Orthodox family and the doctor/lawyer aspirations are attached to class stuff. I grew up in a middle class household and I'm sure there would've been no complaints if I went into some sort of lucrative profession. But my dad is a Jewish wedding musician, my brother turned out to be a jazz musician, my mom is an art teacher, one of my sisters is a puppeteer and my other sister is an activist. So it's sort of like, it turned out in this way where my parents were like, "We want to foster your creative souls but we also want you to not starve."
But then when my brother and I started to get press about our music, they couldn't help but be like, "Well, I guess what you're doing is pretty cool." So it's nice. I mean, of course there's always concerns about job security and health insurance and all those other things that come up when you choose to be a freelance artist the rest of your life. But at least it's a balance that they can understand.
AE: You bring up a really hot topic. Did you read JD Samson's article about how her job as a touring musician has left her broke and without the skills to do something else once she retires?
TF: I actually read that yesterday in the van. I was so depressed, I was like, "Oh my God, it's all true."

AE: It's really incredible because when you think about it, that extends to freelance writers and other less corporate workers too. It really hit me hard because I'm in the process of trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my life. It was a real eye opener.
TF: Absolutely! I obviously related to a lot of it. You know, JD is 33 and has been at what she's been doing for a long time. I'm almost 33 and just started playing drums when I was 26. So I sort of feel like there's this whole additional angle of like, OK this is a challenge I took on and it's really fun and awesome and exciting and it feeds all of the creative parts of me and I'm doing what I want to do. But it's always a lifelong learning process and project and it's an exciting commitment but it's also terrifying. Like, should I be off in a corner learning how to do someone's taxes or something? Which, by the way, would be the worst idea ever and I should never subject someone to that.
AE: The lack of health care is really scare. This kind of leads into the circumstances behind your new album and Elijah being diagnosed with cancer. You all wrote the songs and recording throughout his treatment and everything. What was your first reaction, I guess yours personally first and then also as a band?
TF: Oh wow, that's always a really hard thing to quantify. It's sort of a blur to me. When he first called me up at work to break the news, I think we all kind of launched into planning mode and I've actually never had to care for a friend who's been that sick or who's had to go through that kind of surgery or anything like that. So it was really a new experience for me and obviously for him. I think as a band and as people we sort of immediately knew that obviously, it goes without saying, we were going to do whatever it would take for him to get through his surgery and heal and get through it on the other side healthy. Whatever it took is whatever we were going to do.
I guess it was kind of lucky that we had the opportunity to make art together throughout that and through the aftermath of it because I think there's something sort of really healing about writing songs and making music together. Obviously it can't heal all of that stuff and sometimes you're going to be like, I feel like shit and I don't want to be making music right now. But when those things coincided and it was a good thing, it was a really good thing. So I'm really grateful for that.
AE: Well, the end product is great. It's definitely my favorite of your albums so far. The violin playing in this was — well in the past, I guess the klezmer part of it was the first thing to hit me. I don't know if it's the Jewish part of me knowing about it or if it was a more traditional klezmer sound being used with other rocking elements. But with this album, the violin sounds a little bit more blended to the point where you wouldn't necessarily say, oh this has elements of klezmer in it. It just blends so well with the rest of the music that it doesn't overpower your sound. Does that make sense?
TF: Yeah, that totally makes sense and I appreciate that. In a way I think that's what we were going for with this record. With any band probably, the first album is kind of like a crap shoot in many ways. [laughs] We were such a new band and I hadn't even been playing drums for very long. So that album is very close to my heart and the second album actually turned out to be a depressing breakup album, so while that's close to my heart too, this album, there's just something so exciting about being able to rock out and just hone in on the pop elements of the kind of music that we really love to make.
It's funny about the klezmer thing because with the exception of a couple of moments in some of our songs, we're not usually trying to generate any literal klezmer elements but people pick up on it so often I think because there's such a visceral response from people who are familiar with that music who hear a Yiddish name and hear a minor tune played on violin in this context. So it's interesting that klezmer has been drawn out as a big theme in our music. But I think really honing what it means to be a rock violinist and be in a rock band that has a violin was one of our primary goals, so I'm really glad that came across. And I think too, that it was mixed in such a way that it really popped. I know a lot of press people and a lot of our fans pick up on our live energy and we really wanted that to come across on this record, so hopefully we got close.
AE: Well I definitely think you'll have a lot of new listeners and followers with this album. Tell me a little bit more about your tour right now. It seems like most of your stops have an all queer lineup, is that right?
TF: It's not an all queer lineup. We definitely do sometimes book with local queer bands and that's really awesome. We played in Portland with Lovers and it was so, so much fun. It was one of the most fun shows I've played I think because people were so excited about the bill and we were excited to play with those local queer bands. The audience was just stoked. So I think this tour has been really energizing for us because we haven't been on the road for a year. No matter if it's a sold-out show or if it's a show with 20 people at it — and those shows do happen sometimes in cities we've never been to like Memphis, or cities we've only been to once like Fayetteville, Arkansas. But consistently, we have at least a small pocket of people who are really psyched about what we do.
I think it works to our advantage that — obviously strings in rock and roll are more prominent at this point — but there's something a little bit distinct about what we do to certain people and it's exciting that they come out so enthusiastically. So the shows have been really great on this tour.
We actually got to shoot an impromptu music video in L.A. We've gotten to connect with a bunch of artists that we love. We got to play at this sort of riot grrl influenced festival in Long Beach, California with Allison Wolfe. There were all of these teenage riot grrl-inspired bands playing so there was sort of this multi-generational awesome female-fronted punk rock thing happening in one room. And of course there's been lots of eating but I think that probably goes without saying. [laughs]
AE: Well that certainly goes for me more often than I would like but I can't help it. I was born to nosh. So, Shonde is Yiddish for "disgrace." Were there any other Yiddish names that were up for grabs when you were naming the band? It's funny for me because in English, that would be such a punk rock name. But your music is not what I would think of as like a dirty punk kind of thing. Like, in English it doesn't make sense for your band to have the name, but Yiddish is like the opposite of a "punk rock" language, so it makes sense. Like, "shonde" isn't all that far off from "shayna," which is "pretty" in English.
TF: [laughs] I wish I could publish the list of names were were considering because it's just so funny but it's one of those things that's funny to you and then to other people it's just self-indulgent. But, yeah, "shonde" — you know part of what I think is so sweet about using a Yiddish name for a rock band is that there's something so soft about Yiddish in this very positive way. It's like a gentle humor. Like my parents were kind of like, "Why are you calling yourselves 'The Shondes"? Isn't that kind of a negative term? Isn't there something harsh about calling yourselves 'Disgraces'?" And I think the fact that it's sort of mediated by this gentle edge that Yiddish inherently has, there's something nice about that. In terms of the musical stuff, one of the things we talked about when we first started the band is that both Eli and Louisa come from a more classical background — even though Louisa's been playing in punk bands since she was a teenager and Eli's been for a while, too.
But there's something that's kind of a subversion when you're taking something from the classical tradition and bringing it into making loud rock or punk music. So part of that went into naming the band. So even though it's not always emotionally screamy and angry feeling music, there is something that is kind of a needed punch in the face to what you've learned coming from a classical background. And obviously it has political implications that we all related to — all of us being Jews who have worked for Justice for Palestine and are queer and then as women dealing with and speaking out against misogyny. You know, in certain communities, our opinions are unpopular. [laughs] So there's something kind of nice and universal-feeling about calling ourselves The Shondes. It's sort of a nod to that experience.
Make sure you check out their latest album and keep up with them on Facebook, Twitter and, hopefully, on the road.

- AfterEllen

"FY!QM reviews: The Shondes’ Searchlights"

When I first listened to “Close The Door,” the first track off of The Shondes’ latest album, Searchlights, my immediate thought was “Drums! There are drums! And I can hear them!” It is no secret that I absolutely adore The Shondes; they put on a phenomenal live show and are some of the most awesome, social justice minded individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Unfortunately, their previous albums have always left me a bit disappointed, not because the songs weren’t good, they were. A lot of them were great, and they had so much energy and fire when performed live, but that never translated to the studio recordings. The songs would drag, the dynamics were missing, and the drums were so flat and pushed so far down in the mix that it actually became distracting to listen to without seriously messing around with the EQ. But that has finally come to an end. Searchlights is not only is their strongest collection of songs to date, it is a recording befitting their immense talent and passion.

This album sees The Shondes leaning more towards the indie-tinged rock sound pioneered by Husker Du and currently championed by bands like Lemuria. It’s fast paced and the drums (again, which are so refreshingly present) lead a steady charge forward. The rest of the sound is filled out by chunky guitar chords and a treble-y bass tone. “Are You Ready” is a great example. It starts sparse, drums, bass and vocals, and the verses feature short licks that lead into two rhythm parts with the same chords, but in different patterns, filling things out in an unexpected way. My favorite track, “Give Me What You Got,” sounds like it could be a Lemuria song. The bass bounces along in the verses, and the guitar is just jangly enough to harken back to the heyday of riot grrrl. Plus it features a lyric about being seen as a Gargamel. How many bands do you know that can pull a Smurfs reference and not have it be completely ridiculously cheesy and awful? I can’t think of any.

What really sets The Shondes apart from their peers however, is violinist Elijah Oberman. His parts lend an olde world feel to very modern, punk-influenced music. They call to mind folk tunes, regardless of whether or not his lines were influenced by them. He’s never at the forefront, and I think that really helps add depth to their sound. It’s not a gimmick, and the violin is a truly integral part of the band’s dynamic, haunting in the background of many of their songs, giving them a lingering sadness.

Lead vocalist Louisa Solomon is, as always, amazing. She has an incredibly distinctive, and emotive, voice. It’s longing and desperate in many places, and it commands your attention. The title track might be the best demonstration of her ability. She goes from an almost pleading tone, to a yelp in the final chorus, ending in a soft mournful sound. That, combined with the amount of reverb placed on her voice, really adds a huge emotional gut punch to the lyrics. Oberman provides great harmonies on most of the songs, and takes the lead on “All This Weight.” While technically he is not as strong as Solomon, he too has a very recognizable voice that really lends itself to emotion, a natural sadness that really fits in with The Shondes’ sound.

Searchlights, much like its predecessor My Dear One, is a more personal than political album. These are songs about people and relationships, although this is much less angry than My Dear One, which in many ways was the band’s break-up album. Searchlights, however, is more hopeful. There is still pain and sadness here, quite a bit, but you can also see the band building themselves back up again.

Searchlights is available now in a bunch of places, both digitally and in various physical formats. They are also currently on a nationwide tour, so go check them out if they make a stop in your town! - F**k Yeah Queer Music

"Lovers, The Shondes, Forsorcercers"

[TRUE ROMANCE] Portland’s Lovers and Brooklyn’s the Shondes make for a perfectly paired bi-coastal bill. Lovers, with whom you are surely familiar by now, owned the overwhelmed hearts of 2010 with the plaintive synth pop of Dark Light, which succeeded at collapsing the beauty of lust’s first blush and the terror of a messy break-up into one teeming sound. The Shondes do something similarly quickening on the recently released Searchlights, a half-hour rush of bittersweet, lovestruck pop redolent of Olympia, Wash., circa 1994. If, like me, you think the insanely catchy “Freewheel” was Team Dresch’s best song, then you, like me, just discovered your new favorite band. - Wilamette Week

"Recommended Show: The Shondes at the Vera this Saturday 10/1"

The Shondes are a quartet of femme-led firebrands who mix personally passionate and politically charged melodic punk with ragingly romantic vocals seasoned by klezmer verve and cosmopolitan bounce. Their urgent, explosive new album Searchlights will probably be available at their upcoming Seattle show at the Vera Project this Saturday, October 1st, as the band plays on a bill with Emily B Kingan, Emily Hart, and Aubrey Zoli. As always at the Vera, it's all ages, and eight bucks (seven with a club card), and guaranteed to be one of the most moving rock shows you'll probably see this season.

Currently on tour, The Shondes initially formed in 2006, around the ferocious but still fetching lead vocals of bassist Louisa Solomon, and features forefront playing by excellent violin player Elijah Oberman and spackles of frenetic guitar from Fureigh, upon the brassy bed of shudder and boom from multi-level percussion maven Temim Fruchter's drums. The Shondes name is based on the Yiddish word for "disgrace," and their message is that unless you are a stubborn bully or a hypocritical moral coward you don't need to have any. Their two previous albums were great, and in fact the second one, My Dear, has my favorite song of 2010: "You Ought To Be Ashamed," posted above in a live version from a feral show in a state that needed some reminder of cultural common decency.

Searchlights sheds some of the overtly florid influences of the band's previous releases, its ten tracks being more straight-ahead modern rock in approach, less cabaret-kissed, reflecting both the story behind the album and the story of our times. The album was written within the terrifying, fighting-for-life world of Oberman's struggle with cancer, and anthems like "Are You Ready" and "Give Me What You've Got" have all the vivacious life-affirmation of a classic Stiff Little Fingers or more driving early Patti Smith Band song.

The album makes a wonderfully complementary bookend to the Wild Flag album, being all cranky and tight and spilling over with raw feeling, less assured things will go right, and yet hopeful inside the blaze of life's furnace. The full scale of Oberman's treatment and recovery beams by its final song "Bright Again," and the album's first few plays will leave you breathless. I have the feeling there might be another song of this year in there for me too, and I plan to hear it live at the Vera this Saturday night. - Three Imaginary Girls

"The Shondes Release “Searchlights,” Celebrate with National Tour"

Brooklyn-based band The Shondes released their third album, Searchlights, today. The powerful LP was written after violinist Elijah Oberman was diagnosed with cancer, throughout his treatment and recovery. As a result, the songs embody a distinct urgency. Songs of questioning, heartache and an overall optimism are interwoven in each of the 10 tracks.

“The songs on this album are the kinds of rock songs that made us want to both dance and also cry the whole time we were working on them,” said drummer Temim Fruchter. “Those are the exact kinds of songs that are my favorite to perform – the kinds that feel like they really, really connect us to the audience when we play them.”

Searchlights kicks off with the energetic “Close the Door” with powerful vocals and violin accompaniment. A relatable track, Louisa Solomon’s earnest singing transcends. “I want to set the record straight/I guess I just have too much faith that justice will prevail,” she sings.

“Are You Ready” follows suit with a heavy bass beat and steady percussion while The Shondes’ dynamic rock & roll flavor is further showcased on “Give Me What You’ve Got.” With angst-ridden vocals and soaring instrumental interludes, it’s easy to envision this track being performed live. This comes as no surprise though, as the band is known for their energetic live show.

Formed in 2006, the band’s moniker, “Shonde,” is the Yiddish word for disgrace, and they have always talked candidly about being unashamed of who they are and standing up for what they believe in. A standout release, Searchlights, impresses and aptly blends punk rock sensibilities with striking violin, bass, guitar and percussion accompaniment.

Whether Solomon’s voice crescendos at the perfect spot or Oberman’s violin is at the forefront, the band begs the listener to take notice, pouring their hears and souls into every note played. And that, for every music lover, is something to believe in.

Listen to The Shondes’ dynamic track, “Ocean To Ocean,” here and be sure to catch them currently on tour. Complete tour dates below. - You Sing I Write

""Heartbreaker" by The Shondes"

Every month or so, Brooklyn Based unveils an exclusive song by a Brooklyn band, recorded at Nadim Issa’s state-of-the-art recording studio in Gowanus, Let ’Em In Music. Then, Laura Leebove of the music-inspired food blog Eating the Beats creates a recipe with—or inspired by—the featured artist. This month’s mp3 is The Shondes’ cover of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and the recipe is homemade Pop-Tarts baked with drummer Temim Fruchter.


The Shondes have spent the better part of the last few years touring relentlessly, but as they were starting to write their third LP, the melodic-punk Brooklyn quartet was forced to make other plans. In July 2010, violinist Eli Oberman was diagnosed with cancer, causing the band to cancel a European tour, and in February of this year their van was stolen in Brooklyn. They overcame those challenges—thanks to months of treatment for now-cancer-free Oberman and a successful Kickstarter campaign to replace the van—and they came out the other side with Searchlights, out Sept. 20 via Exotic Fever Records.

Drummer Temim Fruchter says the band wanted to make an album that could still be joyful, despite unexpected circumstances—music equally appropriate for crying and dancing. They turned to 80s pop for inspiration. “It’s incredibly cheesy and over the top and you can dance to it and sing along,” she says, “but it’s also kind of emo and melodramatic in a way that pulls on something for me.” Fruchter, Oberman, vocalist/bassist Louisa Solomon and guitarist Fureigh spent time studying and rediscovering music by artists like Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, the singer of their BB Songs cover, Pat Benatar.

“We all have always listened to Pat Benatar, but how much have we paid attention to what ‘Love is a Battlefield’ sounds like and how it’s played?” Fruchter says. “So we buckled down and listened to it, and we listened to Cyndi Lauper in a new kind of way together, and we’re like, ‘Oh, so they’re creating this effect by doing this and that.’”

She described Benatar’s music as having a defiant exuberance to it, and that’s not far off from The Shondes, either. Shonde is Yiddish for “disgrace” — fitting for a group that proudly breaks tradition and expectations by being queer, feminist Jews who are against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. While Searchlights isn’t as overtly political as some of their previous work, Fruchter says the band members’ ideals are still ingrained in everything they do. “On this record I think it’s just about how life is both and horrible and awesome at the same time. That’s sort of what inspired these songs and also it’s kind of true of political work,” she says. “You’re constantly mourning these huge tragedies and also celebrating huge victories. There’s a meta-politic that we hold on to that’s in our hearts while we’re writing this stuff, even if it’s not political in the most literal sense of the term.”

Throughout Searchlights, lyrics about breakups, uncertainty and losing sleep are backed by upbeat, violin-laced punk music that’s fit for driving with the top down. The song “Coney Island Tonight” is about escaping to Coney Island after a rough day, but the chorus is bright with soaring violin and ’60s girl-group harmonies.

Fruchter and Solomon wrote the album’s closing track, “Bright Again,” as a reflection on their rough year. “When I listen to that song, I think a lot of one of the most valuable lessons I learned from Riot Grrrl, which is not to shy away from expressing something just because it feels cliché,” says Solomon. “While there are certainly downsides to relying on clichés, there’s also no reason to over-complicate a simple feeling, like the helplessness and fear that go along with supporting a friend through illness.”

Fruchter says the challenge of staying grounded in Brooklyn gave the band an opportunity to strengthen themselves, as bandmates and friends. “[We reminded] ourselves that this process of songwriting and making art can actually be sustaining and healing,” she says. “We can sit in New York and work together and work out these songs, and when we’re done we’ll have a kickass record.”

Interview by Laura Leebove, the Brooklyn-based writer and self-taught home cook behind the music-inspired food blog Eating the Beats. Her full-time gig is in the editorial department at eMusic, and she spends most of her free time in the kitchen of her Bushwick apartment. Follow her on Twitter at @leebovel. - Brooklyn Based

"Punk Rock Banter with Brooklyn's The Shondes"

The Shondes — meaning “shame” or “disgrace” in Yiddish — is an an utterance heard time and time again from the mouths of disappointed Jewish parents.

But fear not, self-conscious kinderlekh, the word has been reclaimed by four intrepid Brooklynites who mock shame where it stands.

Brooklyn’s The Shondes have been dropping Jewish-inspired punk rock for five years, armed with a fiddle, an illustrious alto frontwoman, and messages of Palestinian liberation (you read that right). On the verge of releasing their third studio album Searchlights on Sept. 20, The Shondes singer Louisa Rachel Solomon and drummer Temim Fruchter took a minute to talk about Bruce Springsteen, the Bible Belt, and how to be queer, trans, Jewish and punk rock at the same time.

What kind of music did you hear growing up?

Louisa: It’s funny, we all come from completely different musical backgrounds. Jewish music of various kinds, showtunes, classical, punk, classic rock, folk, metal… we all bring a lot of influences to the table! Personally, 80s pop was very formative. I remember rushing home from pre-school to put on my sister’s Madonna records and practice my stage moves. And Debbie Gibson was my first concert — a life-changing experience. The common thread for me between that pop music I loved so dearly as a little kid, classical + Jewish music, and then later on, feminist punk — was drama. Even, melodrama. And I don’t think melodrama should be a dirty word! It helps us access big, powerful feelings,which is for me, like, 1/2 the point of writing and listening to music.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with traditional Jewish music, what aspects influence your songwriting and how?

Temim: I don’t know, it’s not exactly tangible, but there’s this quality about so much traditional Jewish music that is both gorgeously mournful and also deeply exuberant, and I think that’s a combination we really go for in our music. Call me cheesy, but I think about, like, the wedding dancing scene in Fiddler on the Roof – and about how certain kinds of familiar notes and scales and violin lines evoke that perfect, bittersweet feeling for me. My dad is actually a musician and a singer and he plays Jewish traditional weddings with his band all time. There is this feeling I get during those dance sets – I inevitably weep through all the grinning – that I would love for fans to be able to feel at our shows and through the energy of our performance and the construction of our melodies.

We hear that you’re trying to veer the focus away from your identities as trans, Jewish, queer, etc. in favor of being, well ‘musicians.’ Can you tell us about that struggle? Does it have to be one or the other in the music industry?

Temim: Well, pigeonholing can be a hard thing for bands to navigate, but the short answer is: no, I definitely don’t think it has to be one or the other! The thing is, we’d like our music to be the focus of press that comes out about us, sure, and at the same time, we are always happy to talk about our stories as individuals, and about our histories and identities and beliefs — and about how all of that stuff plays into our music and our performance. Sometimes the press tends to get weirdly fixated on those personal aspects of the band, and even sometimes by way of some pretty inaccurate representations of us, and it’s frustrating, because we’re like, ‘hey, but wait, we’re playing music here, don’t you want to talk about our rhythm or our songwriting or our harmonies or something?’ So I think it’s really awesome and valuable to us when people can get to know us and who we are through our music first.

What were the biggest musical influences on your forthcoming album Searchlights? We hear you’ve been carrying a torch for Bruce Springsteen.

Temim: God, yeah, we’re always carrying a torch for The Boss and we constantly referenced the particular E Street brand of heartstrings-y raucous music when we were writing material for Searchlights. After My Dear One, we were just so excited to release an album of songs that felt a little bit more upbeat and, well, pop, and so we all got kind of geeky and excited to study some of our favorite songs and artists. I used it as an excuse to have a personal 80s pop renaissance, listening to more Go-Gos and Roxette than I should admit (not to mention some 90s power pop I shant name here), and we’d all sit together driving to and from shows listening to the Boss or R.E.M. or Pat Benatar or even like old Beatles and being like “ooh, ooh, we should do something like that.” It was fun to just let ourselves take cues – and inspiration – from some of the music that we grew up on and that makes us feel genuinely happy.

What were the biggest non-musical inspirations for the album?

Temim: Well, for one thing, a lot of the songs are kind of inspired by this feeling that life is both really effing hard and terrifying and also really gorgeous and inspiring and joyful– we’ve been having lots of conversations about holding those things together and I think those conversations helped to breed some of this material. Other than that, New York itself – as always! – has a prominent role in the stories a lot of these songs tell. I think you can really visualize parts of the city in these songs. Not to mention the fact that we even finally got to name check the Catskills.

We hear that you inspire kids all over the place, even in the Bible Belt. What’s your most heartwarming inspired fan story?

Temim: I mean, my answer is gonna sound kind of obvious, but it’s just those little moments where people really, genuinely connect to you and what you’re expressing through being at a show. Like, when we’re on tour, I’ll overhear someone come up to Eli after a show and talk about how they gave up classical violin years ago but how his rocking out on the strings just inspired them to go home and pick it up again. Or people will come up to Louisa and talk to her about how much her singing has really, really moved them, you know. But also, plenty of people come up to us and tell us that our album helped them get through a hard day, or a hard year, or a break-up, or a good cry — which to me feels like a huge honor. Of course, this one time someone recognized me on the street, and I got all cocky and was pretty excited to hear about how our album had touched their life — and instead, they were just coming over to tell me that they had seen me when I was an extra in a Poison video. Which is, of course, itself nothing to scoff at.

Over the past couple of years you’ve lost a guitar player, had your van stolen, and violin player Elijah Oberman survived cancer. Stuff like that can tear a band apart. What keeps you together and touring?

Temim: I mean to be honest, a lot of that stuff has only strengthened our connection to one another. This year was a very hard one, for sure, with Eli fighting and then surviving cancer, and there have been some really rough spots over the last several years, like you mention, but in a lot of ways, the band is this home base to come back to. Which is pretty deeply cool. For me it’s like this awesome, huge collaborative project with people I love, so even as we’ve been through some pretty big stuff together that might potentially have been hard or divisive, the project itself is kind of what really anchors us through a lot of that. It’s a reminder of so many good things and a reminder of what’s possible, what being alive and together and making art can be about.

What was it like to have your fans pitch in through Kickstarter when your van was stolen?

Temim: Oh man, it was pretty mind-blowing. We really weren’t sure if we should do a Kickstarter campaign to begin with — it felt kind of weird to ask fans for donations when there are so many other important things to be donating to, you know? But when we decided to do it, setting the goal of $10,000 and thinking, OK maybe we’ll hit the $1,500 mark, it was pretty awe-inspiring when we crossed $10,000 in just 11 days. And to be honest, after a year filled with a lot of bad news, it was pretty morale-reviving to feel so supported! And I’m not gonna lie, we ate it up — we would sit at our computers refreshing the screen and texting each other “OMG. We just crossed $400.” “Whoa, just got $20 more.” And, to boot, the van really feels like this communal vehicle now, like all of these awesome people were a part of making it happen.

Coney Island turns up again and again in your lyrics. What role has it played in your lives? What is your favorite part to visit?

Louisa: You know, Coney Island is one of my absolute favorite places in New York, and I pray it doesn’t get destroyed by developers. It has been an accessible, public beach for over 100 years. How cool is that? It is extremely crowded on a hot day — it’s like the beach equivalent of the subway at rush hour, but when you’re up for that — it’s amazing. It has never stopped blowing me away to stand on the beach staring out at the ocean, and turn around to see the Wonder Wheel and a million people. It’s magic. Beer tastes better on that boardwalk. Skee-ball is more satisfying. Getting whiplash from the Cyclone is worth it. And it is the place I will always go when I want to feel alone but surrounded by people at the same time. I love the ocean and I love this city. What can i say?

Favorite road food?

Louisa: There is a secret that people who live in the southwest know, and New Yorkers like myself were way in the dark about: there is delicious, cheap (and vegetarian) food at gas stations. You just have to be in Hatch, NM instead of Brooklyn.

We ask a lot of bands how they warm up for a show. But you guys play with so much intensity that we have to ask how you manage to calm down afterward.

Louisa: That’s one of the most awesome questions we’ve ever been asked! Our former guitarist called that post-show afterglow “the rock ‘n’ roll high,” and I don’t want to come down from it. But when it’s really time to go to sleep after a show (especially if we have to get up to drive to the next one in the morning!), I drink bedtime tea with valerian and watch The Lou Grant show on Hulu. Works like a charm. If we’re driving on right after playing, we listed to Coast to Coast on AM radio in the van — now THAT will put you in different state after an hour or two, too.

You tour a lot. What are your favorite driving albums?

Louisa: Searchlights by The Shondes. That was such an embarrassing joke. I’m a fool. Ok, so in my mind there are two main types of “driving music.” There’s roll down the windows, scream along driving music, and there’s quiet, contemplative driving music. Some of my favorites are Bruce Springsteen — Nebraska, Bill Withers — Just As I Am, Elliott Smith – S/T, REM – Automatic for the People (and MANY more!) As for the more raucous kind of driving music — I like to listen to my high school favorites like Bikini Kill and Hole, along with more spirited Bruce Springsteen classics, 60s girl groups,, and Pat Benatar. - MTV Iggy

"MTV Iggy Presents: The Shondes"

It would be hard to come up with a more perfect name for a punk band influenced by traditional Jewish music than The Shondes. In Yiddish, a shonde is a disgrace or a shame. It doesn’t get a whole lot more punk rock than that.

Currently, that perfect name belongs to a Brooklyn-based quartet made up of Jewish, transgendered, queer activists (or various combinations of those designations) who actively support of the right of Palestinian people to self-determination — which obviously makes it even more perfect. It’s fair to call them a queercore band, but there’s a few more layers to tease out after that. The traditional Jewish influence comes out in certain ravishing turns of melody and the extra pangs of romance and melancholy added by Elijah Oberman’s violin. You can pick up on a riot grrrl influence in the sparks they throw off during a live set — especially incandescent frontwoman Louisa Solomon.

Their songs deal with music, politics, touring, break-ups and just generally trying to survive in this world with your heart intact and your spirit unbroken. Their fiery and melodic music captures that ethic perfectly, and listeners tend to respond emotionally and very personally. It’s hard not to. Over the years, The Shondes have relentlessly driven across mountain ranges, deserts, and the Bible Belt to get to any town where their show might make someone feel a little less alone. And, with a new album at the ready, they show no sign of stopping.
- MTV Iggy

"Yes in My Backyard"

Brooklyn four-piece the Shondes make bold, brassy lonely-heart rock with the snarl and swoon of classic '90s Northwestern indie--all riot grrl bluster, K Records sentimentality, and a keening, wailing violin that's more Nirvana Unplugged than Raincoats unhinged. Their debut album, My Dear One, due May 4 is one of the first records released by Fanatic Records, the label arm of the long-standing indie promo company. Separating themselves from Sleater-come-latelys, the Shondes have a little bit of steampunky clatter underneath their crunching riffs and a keen ear towards the Jewish music that raised each of its four members. "There are definitely moments in our music where you can tell we've been absorbing Jewish sounds our whole lives--in the spirit of the vocals and the violin especially," says vocalist/bassist Louisa Solomon. "But it's not something we are hyper-conscious of. It just happens because we write from the heart, and those old sounds live pretty deep inside us." "Make It Beautiful" features Elijah Oberman's violin swirling plaintively around the edges of a Jewish scale, while the rest of the band digs deep into a Cranberries-meets-Gossip alt-ruckus.

The Shondes vocalist/bassist Louisa Solomon on "Make It Beautiful"
What is "Make It Beautiful" about?

"Make It Beautiful" is a very simple song. It's about the incredible value of friendship and collaborative songwriting, particularly in those moments you're not sure you're going to be able to get through.

Is My Dear One an album about heartbreak?

Yes. Heartbreak, betrayal, survival. The truth is, I had no choice but to write a record about heartbreak, because I was heartbroken and severely depressed. The alternatives were to stop writing songs all together, or to adopt some persona and write ironic songs about nothing, and those weren't viable alternatives for me.

How did this particular song come about?

Our new record came out of a really traumatic moment for me and the band. One night, immersed in all of that heartbreaking content, I was sitting with Eli, our violinist and one of my best friends in the whole world. We were thinking, shit, we need some sort of beacon of hope on this record! But it can't be some fake, posi- shit. And the only sincerely hopeful thing we could think to write about was our collaborative songwriting process. Granted, songs about songs, meta songs, songs about songwriting--it's all pretty overdone territory. But participating in a time-honored cliche was a risk we were willing to take, so long as we were expressing something honest and real. Lines like "I write songs to save my life" totally made us laugh at ourselves, but if you've ever found yourself choosing between songwriting and suicide, then you know it's genuine.

How does traditional Jewish music fit into your music and your lives?

Well, we all come from different kinds of Jewish backgrounds, running the gamut from secular pinkos to Orthodox. At this point in our lives we all value Judaism in different, core ways, and have huge appreciation for Jewish music--traditional stuff you hear at synagogue, klezmer, Yiddish folk songs, new explorations like Girls In Trouble, etc. The influence it has on The Shondes' music is hard to pin down. My zayde has said "Oh! I can hear the Jewish sound right there!" but I never know quite where he means. It's subtle.

What's your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?

My current Yiddish motto--And yes, it rotates! Yiddish offers a lot of mottos!--is, "Tsores mit yoykh iz gringer vi tsores on yoykh," which basically means, "Troubles with soup is better than troubles without soup." So when it comes to eating in my neighborhood, I tend towards wherever I can reliably get hot soup to ease my troubles--my zayde would be proud. Zaytoon's has delicious lentil soup with lemon, and Vegetarian Palate is my soup staple because their veg wonton heals most things.
- The Village Voice (Chris Weingarten)

"Listen Up: A Little Bit of Genius"

"Are The Shondes the next Sleater-Kinney?" - VH1 Best Week Ever Blog

"The Shondes Pack Heat and Politics in Atlanta"

At the Shondes’ October 11 show at Atlanta’s WonderRoot, Elijah Oberman played a plugged-in violin with such physicality that he sometimes crumpled almost to the ground around his instrument. But no one in the band treated their instrument gently this past Saturday night on one of the last stops of a tour that started in August. All four members of the Shondes treated their Yiddish and classical–influenced post-punk like a heavy object to be lifted and carried.

This was especially true of bassist and lead vocalist Louisa Solomon, who charged at the mic as if to push the song forward with her body. Her powerful voice rose and fell with the other members’ voices and Oberman’s weeping violin, which gave the songs an ethereal, theatrical tone, while Temim Fruchter’s head-long drumming ensured that prettiness never compromised fire. Old-world romance elegantly intertwined with riot grrrl piss and vinegar onstage. Eat your heart out, Gogol Bordello.

As if to underscore how hard they rock, guitar player Ian Brannigan broke a string fairly early in the set. Solomon took the opportunity to lead the 30 or so audience members in singing happy birthday to a friend in the audience named Amanda. WonderRoot is a nonprofit, community-run arts center, and its tiny, stage-less basement venue allows for such intimacy.

In another moment of levity, Solomon said, “We like Atlanta” after proudly announcing that the Shondes hailed from Brooklyn. But she added the qualification: “We don’t like your baseball team.”

“We don’t like them either,” one woman in the audience assured her.

Shonde in Yiddish means a disgrace, a shame, or an outrage. The name choice doesn’t take a lot of unpacking after you consider that the band’s members proudly identify as "queercore," are mostly Jewish, and are staunchly anti-Zionist. Before starting a band, the members of the Shondes knew one another as activists and there is no question that there is a political intent to their music. Their song “I Watched the Temple Fall” is a clear plea to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The lyrics articulately separate (or reclaim) Jewish identity and spirituality from Zionist politics.

A lot of valid arguments have been made against overtly mixing politics and music — it takes the focus off important things like rhythm or, worse, excuses a band’s lack of talent or imagination. But those arguments don’t apply to bands whose politics become inseparable from the emotive quality of their sound.

On paper, this band sounds like a train wreck, but in real life they are completely arresting. Post-punk guitars plus Yiddish and classical melodic influences might seem disparate and unlikely to combust when mixed, but they made sense in context, and the band’s sheer fierceness in performing created enough heat to bond its influences into a musical whole. It also helped to fuse the personal and the political in the lyrics. As often happens in folk-punk (another audible element in the Shondes’ music), the private yearning in the love songs has a way of bleeding over into the yearning for a better world in the topical songs and vice versa until it isn’t clear where one sentiment ends and another begins.

The Shondes ended the night with “The Start of Everything,” a song whose words describe a spiritual awakening through music and whose swelling melody was every bit the sound of that awakening. - Venus (Beverly Bryan)

"The Shondes"

When Sleater-Kinney called it quits last year there was a noticeable collective unease over who, if anyone, might fill the void left by their departure. At least, in my own circle (okay, in my circle of one, but I'm going to miss Sleater-Kinney) there's been a bit of a mourning period followed by the wondering. What band might be able to pick up the riot grrrl baton and push forward into the ears and minds of progressive listeners? What now for those of us who like our music to feel and think and fight just like we do?

The Shondes, a rock quartet based in Brooklyn, are here with an answer and their own simple solution: be yourself, be true to yourself and what you believe in, and rock the shit out. Isn't that what music is all about anyway? Rarely. It should be, but more often than not I find that musicians are too conventional, afraid, or immature to actually do just that. This band, however, breaks the mold. They wear their influences, both musical (from traditional Jewish melodies to hardcore/punk rock, among other things) and political (Jewish and non-Jewish Palestinian-solidarity activism, among other things) on their sleeve. No, I mean that seriously. They've walked away from playing certain venues because they try to "make it a priority to play spaces that are not destructive to the communities in which they are located, that are accessible for people with disabilities, that are all ages, and that promote anti-racist queer feminist politics."

No amount of dedicated radicalism would be worth noting unless the music was worth listening to, and to that point The Shondes have taken everything that's been building up inside and turned it into "rousingly glorious music". Sure the lyrics bite and cut through the mix to convey a message but the instrumental aspect of this music is what will get your feet moving. The Shondes deliver a perfect blend of punk and gypsy folk music that comes across as both beautiful and enlivening. From the stomping thunder crush of the rhythm section to the well placed violin and group vocals this is a band that rocks as if they just don't give a fuck but has crafted their art in a manner that shows they clearly do.

It's entirely too early to anoint The Shondes as the next band to take the forefront in the riot grrrl, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney lineage, and I'm not even sure they'd want that/belong in that classification, but to merely consider the notion should give you an idea of what this band is all about. Listen and decide for yourself. - Earfarm

"The Shondes: My Dear One"

The Shondes are one of those bands I adore personally even if they aggravate and worry me. There's so much goodness in how they carry off an openly avant approach to the traditional femme-fronted punk-inspired style, beginning with the cabaret clomps and lurches of "My Dear One," the opening and title track to their latest (second record), and beautifully shown by the violen of Elijah Oberman throughout. New guitar player Fureigh joins the long running, far-touring Brooklyn band with a more subtle, playful approach than the angular spazz outs of their last player.

But lead vocalist and bass player Louisa Solomon anchors and drives the band with a fury and finesse few frontwomen have these days. My Dear One is described by their label as a "heartbreak narrative" and it sounds like it. Most bands are made by their drummer and Solomon is lucky to have Temim Fruchter to throb and fly over. My favorite song is "You Ought To Be Ashamed," a stomping number full of incredibly precise little details about a user-loser, who ruins simple things like "a pre-show shot of Jameson," and whose behavior strikes the narrator as a dull parody of stories by "Bukowski, Updike, Kerouac." The subject frantically, boldly cut down in this psychodrama, it makes John Cale's song "Chicken Shit" about his tour-stopping guitarist who quit the band sound like a gnarled belch. For vindictiveness, its impossibly catchy melody and shuddering, multi-vocal climax can't be beat, even by fathers of the form.

A casual listen throughout My Dear One reminds one of Amanda Palmer and other Gothy relationship-trauma artists, yet the band's obsession with politics (found in lyrical metaphors about Jews fighting for a free Palestine, and a publically evangelical devotion to veganism) and their own devotion to each other makes The Shondes seem more like a female-fired up Clash than another raging narcissist's harem. My only criticism is that the unrelenting seriousness starts to seem melodramatic. In a weird way, The Shondes remind me of a New York, evil twin Parenthetical Girls, dual in both gender observations, but with Zac Pennington aiming for creepiness and wit and Solomon focused on cutting lamentations. And where the Parenthetical Girls are often minimalist or in a happy daze in their 80s sound touchstones, The Shondes go crazy with the vanilla clove and black espresso Peter Murphy, Sisters of Mercy big rock flutter.

It's The Shondes' willingness to be so open about their beliefs, including spiritual ones ("Gather Up Your Prayers," Solomon's line in "My Dear One" that she'd "rather be with God than with you"), that worries me if they're overlooked. Possible band inspirations aside, this is no crowd-pleasing piano-pounding fake-feminist flavor of the daily blog. With a little humor, and more tempos than inevitable overdrive, they could be one of the real world's favorite bands of the next decade. At least they're already living in it. - Three Imaginary Girls (Chris Estey)

"Formal Punk"

There may be more blatantly Jewish punk bands than the Brooklyn-based Shondes — Australia’s YIDCore used to play a ska cover of “If I Were a Rich Man,” and Can!!Can’s Patrick Aleph stage-dives while screaming out lessons from the midrash — but there’s probably no better name for one.

In fact, despite their name (the Yiddish word for “shame”) and their genre, the Shondes are suspiciously low-key. Their album art looks more Dashiell Hammett than garage band. Their songs have names like “Get Out” and “Fire Again” — names that channel angst, anger and embittered love, but in a way that’s dark and brooding, not kitschy and flamboyant. If anything, in the two years since their first album the Shondes’ music has grown less like straight-ahead punk and — the biggest shonde of all — more like pop.

But this new music might be their biggest revolution yet.

The Shondes’ previous record, 2008’s “The Red Sea,” was a blend of rock, punk and thrashy distorted-guitar music. The songs were noisy symphonies reminiscent of Olympia bands like Sleater-Kinney and Nirvana. (That’s a loaded comparison, but the wild post-teenage freedom of “Your Monster,” the closest thing to a single on “Red Sea,” feeds off the same energy as early Nirvana tracks.) In contrast, how to describe the just-released “My Dear One”?

For starters, the album begins with a pizzicato violin.

The title song is a fragile ballad carried by the strength of Louisa Solomon’s voice. “Last night I almost flew to you/my sixth floor window with a view,” she sings, airily and frolicky, over those plucked strings. It could be a relationship song, but Solomon quickly clears up whom she’s talking about: “I never knew God to live in/the traffic and the scaffolding.”

Then, at the end of the first verse, the rest of the band explodes effortlessly into the song, matching Solomon’s energy with raw noise. It’s the musical equivalent of going from zero to 60 in no time at all, a quiet little pop song shedding its old skin and emerging as a completely different, feedback-heavy, fueled–up power ballad.

The songs on this album move from the klezmer-rock bombast of “Lines & Hooks” all the way to the pop of “Make It Beautiful.” Most of the songs on “My Dear One” are love songs, and it’s impossible not to think of the band’s personalities and politics when you listen. “Miami” is an ode not to the city, but to lost love: The Shondes’ last tour ended abruptly in that city, after their erstwhile guitarist left the band. “Gather Up Your Prayers” might be a breakup song, or it might be a breakup song for God; it works as both.

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The Shondes’ messages of social change and sexual identity are there — the band has performed at Palestinian-solidarity rallies and at gay and lesbian benefits — but they’re subtly handled. The lyrics mostly use the universal “you and I” dichotomy, and the listeners’ tendency to interpret as simply as possible sometimes shortcuts the implications, hearing generic love songs rather than specific stories. “Miami,” which starts off with Solomon angrily demanding, “Did you leave me on Venice Beach?” over rumbling drums, is about a very specific breakup, but — like all great songs — it could be about anyone being abandoned, anywhere. They are a Jewish band, and they’re playing klezmer modalities and time signatures, but you could not know any of that and still think the song you’re listening to is the best song you’ve heard in years.

Solomon also plays bass, and three-quarters of the delight in listening to the Shondes is that their stuff is so damn danceable. Solomon and drummer Temim Fruchter are the center of the band’s songs. Guitar and violin float above the beat. Even when the Shondes are being soft and pretty, there’s a hardness about the songs that gives them muscle, one that never lets our brains relegate the music to the background.

The Shondes are still rebels, still playing with our emotions and forcing us to question our values — but in a weird, roundabout way, they’re also forcing us to see their pop songs as complex and emotionally mature. It’s way too early to quote Pete Townsend’s overused “Hope I die before I get old” credo, and the Shondes have a ways to go before they reach The Who by any measurement — but they’ve also found a way to age without getting, you know, quiet. - The Forward (Matthue Roth)

"What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?"

Leading up to their sophomore album, The Shondes made it clear that at the center of the twelve new songs was a series of heartbreaks and setbacks: friends moving, lovers leaving, and the everyday struggle of simply “getting by.” While agony is easy material for most songwriters, The Shondes chose to make woe work for them, giving us an album of potent anthems that ring of emotional catharsis in every note.

What’s most striking about My Dear One (Fanatic Records) is the leaps and bounds by which the band has grown since their 2008 debut, The Red Sea. On the latest album, The Shondes have found an identity that transcends labels; instead of “queer,pro-Palestinian punk rock“, they are emerging as fine critics of the post-Riot Grrrl era. On My Dear One, the personal is the political and vice-versa. There is no trace of sloganeering aside from lead singer Louisa Solomon proclaiming “I write songs to save my life”, and you’d have to be a zombie if these songs didn’t garner some sort of reaction from you.

Sounding like early 10,000 Maniacs as a Crass Records band, The Shondes ability to blend melodic punk with the theatrical is distinctive, totally catchy and profoundly unique. This record sounds not like an album steeped in heartbreak, but a celebration of survival, and it gives me hope from the first note to the last. - The Faster Times (Jason Diamond)

"The Shondes: My Dear One"

I never expected Brooklyn's Jewish queercore activists The Shondes to record the ultimate break-up album. After their strongly political (pro-justice for Palestine) and slightly dissonant debut The Red Sea, I thought they'd stay musically stern, angular, and just a bit distant in that Sleater-Kinney/Pretty Girls Make Graves kinda way.

But this second full-length finds the crew (less original guitar player Ian Brannigan and plus new guitarist Furleigh) commanding the well-worn themes of romantic defeat and disillusionment, and the catchier sounds associated with them, like a ship the quartet was born to captain. Here be touching tunes that grab you and drag you down to watery depths of feeling most people can't even access in their day to day life. It's a fantastic way to follow up the stunning, almost-metal barrage of their debut. Unfortunately, you can't plan for something like that. Someone has to break your heart first. The members of The Shondes (Shonde is Yiddish for a disgrace) are refreshingly uncoy about the fact that these tearful and fiercely accusatory songs are about Brannigan's abrupt departure.

Singer and bass player Louisa Solomon is the terrifying and alluring siren in this mess of nautical metaphors and similes I'm making, especially when belting lines like "I never knew you could be so cowardly/ Now I'm always stuck in fucking Miami." She mixes the cold fire of Rainer Maria's Caithlin de Marrais with the hearty women's music warmth of Tracy Chapman or Indigo Girls. Her lyrical lamentations range from sharp tour diary sketches of a romantic breakdown to poetic evocations of the same, and on to expressions of emotion so bare that they're actually embarrassing, sometimes in the course of one song. My Dear One is emo as all hell and demonstrates the word still means something as long as people are still putting out music like this. Against the current fuzzy, frothy musical landscape, an inspired, emotion-driven album like My Dear One stands out in the memory like a lighthouse at night.

If you were young or just susceptible in the '90s there is a song on here that will remind you of a song that used to make you tear up. But, what's more, with Elijah Oberman's weeping violin and the many other klezriffic flourishes, the album is at the very least haunted by the ghost of a song that made your Bubbe cry too.

My Dear One still captures the essential velocity of the band in performance, while fine-tuning their roughly Yiddish-theater-meets-Kill-Rock-Stars sound. They are succeeding musically as they never have before by twining those disparate threads of shout-along pop punk, post punk, and Old-World soul into something with the strength and solidity of a steel cable and, in so doing, achieving ineffable rock ballad perfection over twelve tracks without losing their accents – any of their accents. My Dear One is the work an extraordinary band. Queercore lives and, in The Shondes, it has grown up to be a real Shayna Maideleh. Five nautical stars. - Stomp and Stammer (Beverly Bryan)

"Shame On You"

"Riot grrrl radicalism wed to classically structured songs." - The Village Voice

"The Shondes: The Red Sea"

To stand in the rotten sand of Coney Island on a dark winter's afternoon looking back at the haunting silence of the abandoned carnival would be a sour sight. The Shondes, a ... band from Brooklyn that takes its name from the Yiddish word for "shame," must've spent a great deal of time pondering this raw wasteland. The driving politico band weaves their personal tales of tragedy with a soaring, near-inspirational sentimentality, culling emotions from their shared struggle to define their identities in a society with no room for them. At times, the Shondes conjure comparisons to post-punk's volatile spark on songs like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "Let's Go," and yet they seem most inspired when the orchestra kicks in on "Your Monster" and "The Start Of Everything" as walls of shiver-inducing, epic violins crescendo. Louisa Rachel Solomon's vocals are strong, nimble and graceful on the band's self-released debut, which sees both complex song structures intertwined with direct, inquisitive lyrics. The result is an album rich in saw-tooth guitars, pummeling rhythms and an undeniably anthemic spirit. It's haunting and it's eerie, yet it's rousing. The Shondes are a twisted carnival film noir come true. - CMJ

"Queer Jewish Rock"

"hard-driving, politically savvy rock 'n roll” - Flavorpill

"M-M-M-My Shondes"

“Ready for an indie break out....radical politics, inspired riffs, textured
hamonies and pure sex appeal.” - Curve Magazine

"This Week in Live Music"

"Their forthcoming self-released debut, "The Red Sea," is a visceral work. While they give much credit to the sounds that influenced them -- riot girl and queercore bands of the '90s, traditional Jewish music -- their moody songs are redolent of a time in the early '80s when punk fractured into something more tuneful and complex. Harmonies grow discordant, Eli Oberman's viola lends substantial melancholy to their quiet-loud dynamics. While being a radical, Judaic-bent, genderqueer, post-punk quartet sets The Shondes apart, being a political band whose music is as strong as its message is a rare treat."
- The Chicago Tribune

"The Red Sea"

"The Red Sea" is an album that spills out in heavy layers, piling powerful vocals and muscular arrangements on top of each other until its seems like the end result just might crush you, but there’s no way you’d ever want to turn away from it all. Thanks to a die-hard tour schedule, the Shondes garnered a substantial buzz before releasing their debut The Red Sea. Being hailed for their riot grrl approach to political songwriting and speculated as being the next Sleater-Kinney, the Shondes have firmly established their footing as a band to watch out for in 2008, and they’ve done it all on their own. The Red Sea lives up to the hype and beyond. It’s a perfect album from beginning to end, one full of brilliant textures and resolute melodies. Don’t be afraid to get on the bandwagon, because this is not just another buzz band. - Liz Worth, EXCLAIM!


The Red Sea (Self-Released, January 8, 2008)
My Dear One (Fanatic Records, May 4, 2010)
Lines and Hooks EP (Fanatic Records Nov 2010)
Searchlights (Exotic Fever Records, Sept 20, 2011)



There’s a particular way the stars glow, crystalline and sharp, on a night when everything feels possible. This is the kind of exhilarating night that inspired The Shondes’ third album, Searchlights (Exotic Fever Records, 9/20/2011), mixed at Brooklyn’s Studio G by Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu, They Might Be Giants).

Searchlights is an exuberant and fiery bundle of songs – each packing a distinctive punch. The rousing and life-affirming collection was written after violinist Elijah Oberman was diagnosed with cancer, throughout his treatment and recovery. So, appropriately, Searchlights seethes with the energy of being alive – the gorgeous parts, the terrible parts, and all of the in-between. It’s an album as much about friendship and growing up as it is about survival.

Since their 2006 inception, The Shondes – Louisa Solomon (vocals, bass), Elijah Oberman (violin), Temim Fruchter (drums) and Fureigh (guitar) – have been forging a style that combines hard-driving, moody elements of rock with shimmering, joyous elements of pop, and truly foregrounds the violin as a rock instrument. With Solomon's raw emotion at the helm, they seamlessly meld influences as disparate as classical and traditional Jewish music and punk rock. The band is known and loved for their live energy and their affection for one another and what they do together. On this third album – more than ever before – that energy and camaraderie is palpable on each track.

The band’s moniker, “Shonde,” is the Yiddish word for disgrace, and they have always talked candidly about being unashamed of who they are and standing up for what they believe in.

The Shondes were excited to be back on the road for a national touring supporting Searchlights throughout 2011, including their homecoming show in Brooklyn at CMJ.

Searchlights is The Shondes’ first album on Exotic Fever Records, a new and exciting collaboration.