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Tamar Aphek - All Bets Are Off


by Kevin Wierzbicki

All Bets Are Off cover art

Usually the phrase "all bets are off" means that anything can happen. The cacophonous beginning of "Russian Winter," the leadoff track on All Bets Are Off reinforces that notion. The guitar effects, booming bass and frenetic drumming accompany Aphek's vocals throughout the song, perhaps representing the heavy and scattershot emotions that go along with a breakup, which is what the cut is about. At any rate it's an attention getter, something that this Israeli singer and songwriter (and guitarist and keys player) has grown quite adept at. Big on the Tel Aviv underground scene, Aphek's notoriety is spreading globally thanks to intriguing cuts like "Show Me Your Pretty Side," a cut with a vibe that recalls Nico and the Velvet Underground and where Yotam Coman plays an appropriately haunting sax part, and "Too Much Information," half melody and vocal hook and half off-kilter beat and spacey effects. "Beautiful Confusion" is slow and subdued, primarily focusing just on Tamar's voice and percussion, although she adds a bit of fuzz guitar here and there. With the closing line "Looks like were moving on/Battleships at dawn," this song is also apparently inspired by a love relationship gone wrong. And in keeping with the meaning of "all bets are off," Aphek gives one of the album's songs the title "Nothing Can Surprise Me." Listeners on the other hand, especially those who like a good dose of the outre in their music, will find All Bets Are Off to be an enchanting surprise.

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