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Rockfour biography
Israeli psyche-pop trio RockFour are tough to pigeon-hole. Formed in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon, they began playing together during military service, and developed a repertoire of original songs in Hebrew and English. Tipping their berets to the Moody Blues, Teardrop Explodes and The Zombies, RockFour convincingly married The Byrds & Bowie, updating it with 21st century panache. In 2000, four albums in, RockFour made the controversial switch to English lyrics which immediately catapulted them onto the international scene and branded them Israels finest (and only?) rock export. And they havent let up: RockFour is now well on its way to conquering the world with a unique brand of neo-psychedelia and progressive pop. Its a mix that works: Rock Four have sold over 30,000 records in the Middle East and Europe.
2001 was the year RockFour caught the eyes and ears of the North American media. Rolling Stone Magazine critic Richie Unterberger chose ONE FANTASTIC DAY (Third-Ear Records) as one of his Top 10 albums of the year; both the New York Times and the New York Press hyped their live show and the band went on to be featured on the nationally broadcasted NPR radio show, All Things Considered. Over on the west coast it was the LA Times and Under The Radar that raved about the band. Headlining many prestigious rock festivals including SXSW, CMJ and the International Pop Overthrow, the band went on to sign with guitar pop label, Rainbow Quartz.
Their second release, NATIONWIDE, is the follow up to their break-through album ANOTHER BEGINNING (Rainbow Quartz 2002). NATIONWIDE was recorded at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit by Jim Diamond. The complex song-craft, interwoven with pristine pop harmonics, is balanced on a raw, energetic immediacy. RockFour wear their prog-pop sensibilities well: chiming 12-string jangle, classic rock riffing, and clever atonal squalls of lead drive this recording into the arena of 70s rock. NATIONWIDE echoes The Cars, ELO and at times vintage Squeeze, while the guitar playing evokes classic Robert Fripp and Jimmy Page dueling with Sonic Youth, all the while retaining a psychedelic dose of early Pink Floyd and The Byrds.

Why this artist must be listed in :
RockFour sound incredibly like a product of late-60s Britain, a little bit of early Pink Floyd, a lot of Beatles, a pinch of Byrds, a smidgen of The Zombies-- with the occasional exception in the form of a punishing interlude, or st...
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ROCKFOUR discography

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ROCKFOUR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.17 | 3 ratings
Butterflies Net
4.85 | 4 ratings
The Man Who Saw It All
3.17 | 3 ratings
Return To The Snail
3.93 | 5 ratings
4.50 | 2 ratings
One Fantastic Day
3.50 | 2 ratings
Another Beginning
3.50 | 4 ratings
4.33 | 3 ratings
Memory of the Never Happened
4.08 | 3 ratings
The Wonderful World

ROCKFOUR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Rockfour Live

ROCKFOUR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ROCKFOUR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ROCKFOUR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Return To The Snail by ROCKFOUR album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.17 | 3 ratings

Return To The Snail
Rockfour Prog Related

Review by ShW1

3 stars This is a cover album to the mighty 'Shablul' ('snail') album from 1970, and to some other related songs. 'Shablul' considered as one of the very first Hebrew rock albums. (In fact the first one is 'Pozi' by almost the same crew) and contain 60's Beatles - esque songs, with sixties oriented charming Hebrew lyrics.

a bit of Hebrew rock-pop history: The Israeli mythology tells that Arik Einstein, than about 30 years old, a well-known and loved singer in Israel, had contact with Shalom Chanoch, in his early 20's, a very talented song writer and guitarist, that already had a solid background with some other excellent Israeli acts, in order to create together in an innovative, open- influenced style. The result was a serious of milestone Israeli albums. 'Shablul' is the third of this serious.

Another fact that worth mentioning is that Arik Einstein, as a true pioneer, is also involved in the first Hebrew 'Pop album', 'The high windows', along with Shmulik Kraus as a songwriter, and Josie Kats as a female vocalist. (This album contains pop rock songs with lots of vocal harmonies and lines). Both albums belong to the local Israeli pantheon.

Thus, covering such a classic album as 'Shablul' could be considered as a hard mission and means to enter to some big shoes. Rockfour managed to do a good work here, in their Own interpretation. The guys from Rockfour took those songs, strengthened pshycadelic mood, dropped some instruments from the original versions, changed the sound and production, fixed a little bit the grooves, and managed to get a much more sixties product than the '70 original version. (In fact, in the introspective, conscripted Israeli society back then, making a true Hebrew 60's album was an impossible mission.)

Some artistic decisions that made here are a bit weird in my opinion. Such as dropping the fantastic blues feel from 'Don't give up' ('Al tevatri alay') and 'Take a woman' ('Kach lecha') and go for much more pop-psych grooves. The songs don't come out well in those arrangements IMO. (track 4 and 5).

On the other hand the 'Prague' song (track 8) sound fantastic here, without all those festival - esque trumpets and violins, and instead, featuring an excellent bass riff (from Mark Lazar). The song got much rockier, and the moving lyrics about the end of '68 'Prague spring' are much more presence here. Other successful covers are 'Absalom' (track 2) and 'Don't take it too hard'. ('Lama li lakahat lalev', track 4). The former is a hippie - sixties song with surrealistic hope- for- peace lyrics, The latter is a beautiful ballad with quite part, and a rock part alternating each other, and give reminiscence to some Lennon - McCartney songs in the same pattern.

Another benefit is the full, uncensored version lyrics to the Hebrew whimsies of the 'I'm singing' song ('Ani shar', track 7). (The original version is lyrically softening a bit, to feet into the radio criteria). And also presence here is the necessary 'Once there was a man' ('Hayo haya', the last 13 track) from 'Pozy' album (by Misha Segal) in memory of Zigi Screbnick, a genuine keyboard player, that died very young from a disease, but will be remembered for some great piano and keyboard playing at that era, including 'the High Windows' album mentioned above. The song cover is controlled by some roaring, psychedelic organ sounds and heavy ponding rhythm.

As for the Vocal execution, compared to the original: the vocals are made by band members Eli Lulai and Baruch Ben Yitzhak, and many other guest vocalists. Eli Lulai is the best among this crew. The other are good also, but still, not a chance that any of them would reach to the same quality and heights as the original vocals by Arik Einstein, that considered as a local Frank Sinatra (but rockier), Especially in terms of acting and delivering the songs. But I think for a non-Israeli listener (if someone interested) it's not such a big issue. In any case, the vocalists here sound rockier than the original, what may be making the whole thing more attractive for 'abroad' listener (who is tolerant to Hebrew lyrics).

So to sum it up, this album is an excellent opportunity to get exposed to the very first rock- pop Israeli songs, in a Beatles vein. This phase comes before the 'Israeli art rock movement' that featured partly in this site, (and held by Shlomo Gronich, Matti Kaspi, Yoni Rechter and co.), and equal to proto-prog in this site. The album could be purchased in a cheap price at the local online stores.

 The Wonderful World by ROCKFOUR album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.08 | 3 ratings

The Wonderful World
Rockfour Prog Related

Review by R-A-N-M-A

4 stars When HaOlam HaMufla (Wonderful World) hit the front page of PA roughly a month ago, I spotted Rockfour a couple of times in the top searches for the last 24 hours. Now I know I'm not the only one here who is easily distracted by a pretty album cover. It seems though up till now I'm one of the only ones who absolutely had to get my hands on it for a review. Cudos to cohot for claiming the first rating before pretty much any of us had even heard of Rockfour, but I'll claim the first full review.

The decision to pick up Wonderful World was a total shot in the dark. I wasn't even aware that there was much of an Israeli rock scene never mind any exports from it. Overall I'm impressed by the band. Their sound falls just barely on the pop music side of space rock. The song structures are short most are built at least initially on a not overly challenging alternative rock style. On the other hand there is plenty of mellotron and cosmic diversions which depart from its alternative pedigree. This is however a prog-related album and it is clearly not in the band's game plan to cut loose on any killer epics. I think it's a shame because they do show some real promise when they let themselves get a little out there.

In spite of the bright polychromatic album cover, Wonderful World's overall sound is actually quite melancholy. The closest musical relative (probably a first cousin) I can offer to other inquisitive souls is The Flaming Lips; a band which has been unfortunately omitted from PA, but that is a discussion for another time and place. Their music has the same light touch and fairly decent pop sensibilities. By contrast, it lacks some of the harder edges which poke through on the Lips' work nor do they allow themselves to get quite as daring in structure or sound. The signing is quite good and befitting the music. I am an English Canadian of mixed Ukrainian and British decent so needless to say I cannot make any comment on the content or quality of the lyrics which are entierly sung in Hebrew.

The first track is also the title track. It airs more on the pop side of the album and is just a little brighter than the other tracks on the album. I can tell that this would be single material even with the language barrier in mind. It is much more sophisticated than what would pass for pop to most North American listeners.

Seret Zar or Foreign Movie is a mostly acoustic track and possibly the most generic on the album. It reminds me of some of Sam Robert's slightly spacy-er stuff. If I may be so bold, it is the worst rack on the album, but if this is as bad as it gets we're all in luck.

Ein Lecha Elohim or You Don't Have a God is one of the most consistently spacey tracks on the album. Every instrument and vocalist echoes throughout which makes it stand out from your standard alternative rock fair. While the "oooooh's" are generally a little weak on the writing front, they seems to fit the track's overall aesthetic.

Gavia Kadosh or Holy Cup is a down tempo psychedelic drone. For the most part it seems quite depressing, but depending on your mood it could be on the menu. It's a simply structured track with a faded and distorted sound. Once you're a little passed the midpoint it makes it takes one of the best progressive twists on the album and opts of a head bobbing acoustic guitar riff. It does come down from this short lived but enjoyable high with a tempo change up which sounds like it could have come right off of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Good track and just shy of a great track in my mind. I just wished they'd had the desire to play around a little more at the change up.

Degel or Flag is without a doubt my favourite track and for me the most evocative of the album's surreal cover. It has the brightest sound of any of the tracks. It alternates continuously between toe tapping pop and drifting space rock. The whole package makes for pitch perfect crossover prog.Though it only lasts just shy of five minutes it's so captivating you'd swear it was two minuteslonger. It is well worth a listen and happily is one of the few tracks I was able to sample before purchasing the album. Go hit up youtube if you're at all curious, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Sheva Dakot which means Seven Minutes is curiously only 3:46. It is mostly fairly typical alternative rock, but it makes more than infrequent leaps into high distortion cosmic sound effects a la Flaming Lips. It's a pretty solid track but not really a high light of the album.

Mal'ach or Angel has just a touch of Supertramp/Muse to it with the prominent staccato piano playing. It is just a touch shorter than Gavia Kadosh and not quite as depressing. Like Gavia, it also makes a break for something considerably more interesting around the midpoint. The degree of the departure is a little less obtuse but doesn't really settle back to exactly where it came from either. The result is a track which shows Rockfour's potential as a progressive band.

At first Bayum HaHu or In That Day feels like it was yanked right out of the gently rolling middle section of At War With the Mystics, but within its short span it makes a noticeable turn towards the disquieted heavily distorted territory of Embryonic. The similarities here between Rockfour and the Flaming Lips are extremely noticeable. I don't mean to say that they've ripped the Lips off, but fans of the Lips will find this very familiar.

Staying in the frenetic style of Embryonic is the instrumental BeIlum Shem or Nameless. It is by a wide margin the hardest track on the album. At its centre lies some great virtuoso drum work and hard bass playing. As it fades out, it bleeds directly into Menat Yeter or Overdose and together they make-up the best part of the album since Degel. Menat Yeter is similar to Degel in that it is both toe taping and comic at the same time.

The closer is Horef Israeli or Israeli Winter. It is rather more on the sombre side and on the alternative side. It isn't without it a little bit of stardust though. It's an apt closer for what has proved to be a highly entertaining listening experience.

On my first listen, I mistook Wonderful World as an alternative rock album which only flirts with being progressive in passing. On subsequent listens though it has revealed itself to be considerably more detailed and well realized. Unlike other prog-related bands like Muse, the progressive tendencies are essential to the sound and not skin deep. It is both creative and entertaining from a pop perspective and absorbing from a psychedelic perspective. I wouldn't go so far as to qualify it as essential, but I would highly recommend Wonderful World and by extension Rockfour to just about anybody. I do feel it will be of specific appeal to those of us who like their music a little on the cosmic side. I'll certainly be looking for more of their work in the future. Four stars out five.

 Supermarket by ROCKFOUR album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.93 | 5 ratings

Rockfour Prog Related

Review by Open-Mind

4 stars ''Unhappy chords, you better count the seconds'', said Eli Lulai (Rockfour's lead singer) on the first track "Supermarket", the first album in English, and Lulai is absolutely right, all the tracks, except one, are minors.

Rockfour are really one of the best things ever happend to the Israeli rock music scene, if not the best of them. Group of 4 people (now 3, after Lulai left) that inlfluenced from 60's psychedelic music, with a 90's touch of bands like Radiohead, and REM.

In 1999, Rockfour decided to start writing their material in English (instead of Hebrew, their native language), because it's sounds better than Hebrew, there is a famous saying that there is no rock'n'roll in Hebrew, and it appears to be right after rockfour started an english career :)

Although that with the release of the album in 2000, the album received bad reviews and laughs from reviewers and fans, the result was pretty satisfying, the rich vocal harmonies, the guitar arrangments of Baruch Ben Itzhak that specialize in 12 strings "Rickenbacker" guitar, the mellotron parts that preformed by Noam Rapaport (from "Shlichei Hablues") - very interesting fact is that the mellotron that used on "Supermarket" is the same Mellotron used by Richard Wright of Pink Floyd.

"Supermarket" just like his name, is prety eclectic, there are some tracks like "Forest Woods", that charaterized with heavy distortions, "Superman", the silent and minimlized one, "Route 66" that is haunting and full of psychedelic guitar influence, and the title track, "Supermarket" with a lot of influences of prog rock, but although the big differences between the tracks, "Supermarket" keeps it constant.

 Butterflies Net by ROCKFOUR album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.17 | 3 ratings

Butterflies Net
Rockfour Prog Related

Review by Open-Mind

2 stars Interference is a very known human instinct. It is always interesting to have a look at the places the eye can't reach. For example Rockfour didn't want me to hear their first album "Butterflies Net" ; In their website the album doesn't even appear on the discography; At shows they never play songs from the album, except "Ha Ka'as" (Track 5); The hardcore Rockfour fans hate this album, but I as a big fan and as a reviewer decided to check what it's all about.

I heard "Butterflies Net" few years ago, when I started to realize the wonder that Rockfour is. But the problem is that just in a week I've managed to get "The Man Who Saw It All", Which is one of the best Israeli albums ever made. It was so good that I couldn't stop listening to it and "Butterflies Net" stays on the side without even an attempt to even getting a serious opinion about the album.

The strong 60's & psychedelic affinity which is expressed so hard on "TMWSIA" & the last Rockour album (in English) you can feel it on "Butteflies Net". It can be seen at the colourful & psychedelic cover of the album, on the booklet of the album which is full of pictures of the band members who seems like they've just being kidnapped from Woodstock, but the wild 60's spirit is affected in every aspect but one: did anyone said music?

"Butteflies Net" is a standart rock/pop album from the genre that was very popular in the early 90's. Except one track, no track have lasted more than 4 minutes. In such a short time you can't have the chance to really express your true talent. The band line-up was pretty different from now: Issar Tennenbaum is the only member that is active nowdays at Rockfour as a drummer, Baruch Ben Itzhak have swiched positions from bass player to a lead guitarist, Amir Zuref have left the band after the recording of this album & Eli Lulai have left the band recently. The exellent drumming by Issar Tennebaum is really unexpressd on this album, and don't expect to hear brilliant solos. Even the lyrics are very standart so perhaps it was a wise decision to not add the lyrics to the booklet of the album. The biggest mistake of this album is in my opinion is the conclusion that Rockfour didn't do what they know best and tried too hard to be a radio band which they're not.

Although some of the tracks are a nice & catchy like "Shuv Lo Shaket" (T1) & "Ha Ka'as" (T5), and the opitimistic part in the end ("Sham Yesh" (T8) & "Shalechet" (T9)), which the last one is the longest track on this album (5:55), The two tracks are much more alternative from what the album has to offer, but it is still far away from the loved Rockfour. The fact that these two tracks are at the end show in what way Rockfour goes.

"Butteflies Net" is the opening point of Rockfour's career. You can feel that Rockfour aren't sure what they gonna do later but fortunately they had 3 years to think about it and to surprise us with one of the best hebrew albums ever.

 The Man Who Saw It All by ROCKFOUR album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.85 | 4 ratings

The Man Who Saw It All
Rockfour Prog Related

Review by Open-Mind

5 stars "The Man Who Saw It All" is the 2nd studio album of Rockfour. The album characterized with 60's style psychedelic sound. Although the tracks were pretty long and complicated, and part of them are instrumental, he was very successful producing hits like "The Man Who Saw It All" (Track 2) , "Time Machine" (T4) , "Hole In The Moon" (T3) and "Any Direction" (T5) and many people define it as the best israeli album ever. Isn't it a bit disturbing to say that, for an album who is just 12 years old?

Rockfour like to play it 60's in "TMWSIA" in every aspect: from the non-conceptual instrumental tracks, the divided sound (Guitars on the left vehicle, vocals on the right - see track 02), to the sweet composings with background vocals and great harmonies. After the galloping open ("Suddenly"), Eli Lulai and his friends start to symbol the power of one of the best albums i've ever heard with "The Man Who Saw It All", "Hole In The Moon" (where Baruch Ben-Yitzhak defines a dirty guitar sound for generations to come), "Time Machine" (which can remind you of The Beatles' "For No One", in a way) and one of the best psychedelic tracks ever to be recorded in hebrew (if not the best of them) - "Any Direction".

If i can be perfectly urnest, i believe that until track no. 8, "Late No Longer", Rockfour gives you - track by track - pure israeli classics. The album grows up with the listener, so that he can learn to love even the less communicative in it - for example, if in the beginning i couldn't stop hearing "The Man Who Saw It All" and "Time Machine", i began learning to love the complexity and the beauty of the storming guitars and electric bass of Baruch & Mark in "Sometimes", and i litterally fell on the floor when Eli started screaming and Iser before "It"'s chorus. I can't even switch tracks in this album, because Rockfour have created a musical journey, when every track builds the next track, and the album as a whole. This is not a concept album, but with the time the listener turns it to a concept album deep inside.

So is the best israeli album ever a perfect song compliation? no. There are some tracks that steals this title from "TMWSIA". There are not bad tracks, or even medicore - but with the high standard that Rockfour puts here, even "good" tracks can interrupt the musical orgasm that Rockfour provides. You can mention "Late No Longer" and "Me, Myself And What Comes Between Us" (Track no. 09), are obstacles in this album's way to the top of the international music mountains.

After Track 10, comes "Witness", which is really an exposition to one of the album's peaks - "End Of The Road". In "End" Rockfour proves they can be cynical, sharp & rageous and provides a full well-done rock anthem, with extra-ordinary drumming by Iser Tennenbaum, and mainly the singing by Eli Lulai, that will reach perfection in "Supermarket". The album ends with two instrumental tracks - "The Man Who Saw Too Much" and "Dust", that besides being a stage to Rockfour's talent, really contributes to the circle feeling that the album gives, like commands you to press play again and to re-experience the journey you have just witnessed to.

So if the Rockfour-haters, the ones that define them as "A very good band, that didn't reached it's full potential" (since when a rock band became a 12 year old student?!) - "TMWSIA" is the israeli album i've most enjoyed listening to, and i recommend it very much, because it's one of the best things that can happen to your musical archive.

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition.

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