After reading some reviews of the Acapella albums that have come out this year for Sefirah and after a comment by Anonymous on SWFM blog, I decided to come out with my own Top Ten list. I do not know how to post pictures yet of album covers but if you click on the album it will take you to a web page to hear clips and view them. After the list I will explain why i rank them this way. These are also only the albums I own since I felt the others were so bad.
1. Yosef Karduner - Osef Lididi Limei HaOmer
2. Yehudah Solomon- Beyond Words 1
2. Yehudah Solomon- Beyond Words 2
2. Yehudah Solomon- Beyond Words 3
5. Chassideshe Otrois- Volume 1
6. Shabbos Tisch
7. Chassidesh Otrois - Volume 3
8. Miami Boys Choir - Around the Campfire
9. AKApella - Premium Blend
10. Beetachon- All
Honarable mention goes to the CDs with the Febrengens of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt'l. They play these tracks on Shmais Radio and the CDS are available in Crown Heights.
The reason I picked Yosef Karduner as my #1 is because the album is filled with real neginah. It is only him singing with his voice recorded over to create the harmonies. It is also very easy to sing along in harmony and reach some sort of deveykus by focusing on the niggunim on this album.
Yehudah Solomon I put in second but not by far. The amount of research and time put into these albums are amazing. Besides Yehudah's voice, many of the niggunim on these albums are not previously recorded and gives people the chance to learn many niggunim that can be traced back to the Tzaddikim of hundreds of years ago. Just like the Karduner album it is easy to harmonize as well as reach deveykus if you focus on the niggunim.
The Chassidishe Oitrois album was the first CD in an new revolution of Chassidishe niggunim being available on CD which was professionally recorded. Anyone who wants to hear what Chassidim sound like while singing real niggunim must listen to this CD. There are three CDS in this set so far. I think he first one is the best and the third one is very good as well which is why I put it at #7. The second volume is good as well but I think there are other Acapella albums that are out there that are better.
Shabbos Tisch is very similar to the Chassidishe Oitrois album but focuses on different niggunim in following the success of the Lchaim Tisch album which cannot be listened to during sefirah or the three weeks.
The Miami Boys Choir CD came out recently and is definitely an excellent album and is worth all the hype. They sing alot of their old popular songs minus the music. Just like the Karduner and Solomom albums it is very easy to harmonize with the songs which is the case of many of the Miami Boys CD. The reason why I do not have this album higher on this list is because of one thing on the album that drives me crazy. The album is called At The Campfire so Yerachmiel Begun must of thought it would be cute to have chirping and crackling during the entire album to make it seem like you are actually at a campfire. I don't know how that cant drive anyone crazy while trying to listen. I also think they should have put Nikadesh on the album as well. Maybe they will come out with a Volume 2 for the three weeks minus the campfire noise.
The first AKApella album is very creative and fun. I agree that is completely acapella but I think the album is on the borderline on whether or not it is appropriate to listen to during sefirah and the three weeks if you don't listen to recorded music. The new AKApella album i am not going to buy because I do not like any of the songs that are on there and they should have stuck to the same type of format as the first one.
Beetachon is real Acapella. For anyone who was ever on a college campus and attended an Acapella concert, they know what I am talking about. All of the singers have extreme singing talent and they are able to create a few albums that are all very good. The reason I put this at the bottom of the list is just like the AKApella album. It is great music but because of the fun they are having while singing it takes away from the spirit of the Sefirah and three weeks period.
I would love to hear if there are any other albums people felt I have left off this list or have the name of any albums I might enjoy that I have not heard of.