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This album was reviewed by five members of
RARB. In this compilation, their comments are
always listed in a consistent order. Thus, for each song (and in the
"overall" section), all comments numbered "1" are from the same
reviewer, as are those numbered "2", etc.
This album is my first exposure to Artists in Resonance and on the
whole, I'd have to say that I'm glad I came across this coed group's
work. The main selling point of this group is the women. Not only do
they all have strong voices and an impressive command of the lower
register, but they also have a refreshingly aggressive approach to
their vocals. These women come out of the corner fighting. On many
of the song, such as "Express Yourself," this is just the right
The bad news is that the men don't hold up their end of the bargain.
Most of the coed groups I've heard rely on the men to provide the bass
and the background of their sound. Fortunately the women in this
group don't need that kind of support, because the men fail to provide
it. They all have nice, but unimpressive voices.
The song choices are rather interesting: They don't seem to care
about singing obscure songs (and that's a good thing), singing more
than one song from the same artist (2 Stevie Wonder tracks), or doing
multiple novelty medleys, covering songs that were originally a
cappella. In the end, I have to respect them for singing what they
want to sing. One final, the album is plagued by low sound levels on
some of the songs.
Rating: 7 (6.5)
They sound a lot like the Penn Off the Beat, but a little more
experimental — which would be good except for the fact that they do
all their songs with the same sort of Top-40 feeling. This makes their
forays into various genres not as convincing as they could be. For the
most part they have strong voices (especially the sopranos and the
basses, both of which are excellent), but they don't put them to best
effect, with busy and/or awkward arrangements and inappropriate vocal
stylings. The recording quality is extremely muddy, which makes it
difficult to make sense of the arrangements, and sometimes they rely
on studio effects such as reverb to heighten soloists that really
don't need it. There are some interesting things on this album,
though, such as the two medleys, both of which are ambitiously
arranged and well sung. Many of the other songs, however, fall short
of what they appear to be trying to achieve.
Rating: 5 (5.2)
This group has a great mixed-voice sound and balance. Tuning is
generally excellent (the chief but infrequent problem coming
from vibrato in the high female voices, usually) and the
soloists are quite good. They prefer imitative-type
arrangements, but cover them well, my biggest complaint being
that the endings of nearly all of them sound more like
amputations than closings. They seem to be shy of vocal
percussion for the most part, but when they roll up their
sleeves and seriously get down to it, it works quite well.
Rating: 8 (8.0)
This is a very good coed album — they do a good job of blending the
women with the men and in a few places do some great falsetto
overlaps. The female vocal percussion is also very well done —
there is a tendency in these groups to just let the men take over and
not make use of the range available. The biggest problem with the
group is the tendency of the women to oversing — the hitting-it-
hard, broadway style is fantastic in some places, but they almost
never back off, go for a light tone that would be more appropriate.
A very white sounding group for the most part, but with infusions
of soul in some key places that work very well. The studio tricks are
kept under control for the most part, though some go a little
Rating: 8 (7.3)
This is one of the best collegiate albums I've heard. Singing, solos,
and arrangements are strong throughout. They have lots of variety,
both in terms of song choice and in terms of the type of sound they
are getting. They cover Madonna and Sesame Street with equal
skill. They use their co-ed range to good effect, and don't have the
blending problem that plagues many co-ed groups. The album isn't
perfect — one slight but annoying problem is soloists too often going
for pop growls and soul slides; it sometimes sounds a little
corny. There are also occasional lapses in energy and
tightness. Overall, though, a very strong album.
Rating: 9 (7.8)
You wouldn't think that a Madonna song would be a good way to get
an album off to a rockin' start, but it is in this instance. I
was instantly struck by how strong the women's voices were in
this group. Normally in a coed group, I expect the men to provide
the bass, but here the women's voices clearly stand on their own.
They have genuine strength and bass behind them. Anyway, back to
Express yourself...The arrangement is solid and evolves just
enough to be interesting. There is some particularly nice (but
brief) use of clap and stomp percussion towards the end.
Unfortunately, this is pointlessly accompanied by a distracting
quote from Queen's "We Will Rock You."
There are some strange things going on in the studio here — the lead
seems to fade or retreat away from the microphone, possibly to
compensate for her increase in volume. Her Madonna imitation isn't bad, but
something about the quality of her voice makes it sound like she's
going flat. The arrangement, unfortunately, reinforces this by giving
many of the parts descending lines. It is also crowded and distracts
from the solo. They do not blend very well on this song. The
percussion is good but badly mixed so that it's indistinguishable from
the rest of the background. Lame insertion of "We Will Rock You" at
the end, although I like their use of a male falsetto as the high
harmony instead of a soprano.
Excellent lead. The background gets a bit boring, but I expect
this is a carry-over from the original.
Good blend between solo and duet, and nice tone quality. The
beginning is odd but not bad, but the tempo change between the
intro and spoken stuff at the beginning and the first chorus is
unsettling — a percussion throughout might have helped out. The
Queen insert doesn't do it for me, and the breakdown section tries
to hard with different voicings and studio tricks. But the strength of
the solo covers up a lot of the flaws.
Strong solo, driving arrangement, great energy. "Backup" singers
really filled out the melody well. The "We Will Rock You" reference
should have been dropped, doesn't really work, and not really funny.
A confession: I'm a huge Sesame Street fan, so I liked this track
before I even heard it. They start off with the theme (the
version you probably grew up with.) The harmony is nice but the
arrangement is innocuous. Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz. Except for
C as for Cookie and I Love Trash the vocals aren't imitative,
which is probably a shame since they usually aren't doing
anything very interpretive either. (The one exception is Rubber
Ducky, which is vaguely sexy) The People in Your Neighborhood
song (and it's seque to I Love Trash) are the only sections that
are funny for reasons beyond the recognition value. On the whole
the performance is too SLOW, particularly the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 song (the one that went with the pinball machine).
Although the arrangement needs help, you'll probably get a
nostalgic kick out of this track.
The women's voices are gorgeous here, but unfortunately they sound
totally inappropriate. The arrangements are simple but effective, but
the solos are (for the most part) annoyingly sung. The best song in
the medley is "One Two Three Four Five", which is actually both
amusing and a good song. For some reason, though, most of this is not
as funny as it should be — maybe because they sound overly choral. It
almost works, though.
Some of these work really well, the others range from a bit
uncomfortable to grating. About half of these struck me as
being too slow. A couple of cheap shots at Mr. Rogers may amuse
I like the jazz adaptation of the theme. Some of the songs they do
are sort of odd, and all the female soloists are sort of weird. Some
work pretty well, like "One of these things" but some of the stuff on
"I love trash" are different, and the song about the big word, which
I won't even attempt to spell, is annoying. This song would
probably be great for little kids, except for the bit about hating Mr.
Rogers which is funny [and on the money] but not good for kids.
"1-2-3-4-5" is really great, though. Overall, a nice effort but long
and inconsistent. Cool live if you're not expecting it, though.
The best medley of this type I've heard. Great song
choice. Arrangements very good, they get lots of different
colors/sounds. Consistently entertaining. One nit-pick: female
soloists on the Sesame Street theme should decrease their vibrato.
There is some REAL PASSION in this track. The trouble is that the
mixing isn't at the same level as the first two tracks. The lead
vocals, which spill over with mournful soul, are so distant that
they sound like they're being sung from across state lines! This
is a great performance that is ruined because you have to make
allowances for poor engineering.
I'm not familiar with this song, so it's hard to tell, but this
interpretation of it is extremely melodramatic. Again, though, they
have beautiful voices — they should be singing in a choir, as they
don't quite have enough pop sensibility to pull this off. The soloist
has a completely different quality than the rest of them, which does
not mesh well. Her voice isn't bad, though, but I like her better on
the high notes. The arrangement is sometimes very pretty, sometimes
cluttered and wall-of-sound-like, but again inappropriate.
Excellent lead; interesting texture in the arrangement, but it
never seems to gather any sort of momentum.
The soloist has a great voice, and the high obbligatos are very well
done. The falsetto stuff is a perfect example of how a coed group
can bridge the gap in voice quality. Some parts of the song are
wonderfully full and sultry. The bass is good here too. The arr. can
get a little odd at times, though that may be just the song, and the
gregorian chant stuff is sort of out of place. The other unfortunate
thing is the sharpness of the really high note at the end — a quarter
tone lower and it would be really spectacular.
Very interesting arrangement; sort of a choral/soul mix. They get a
sound I haven't really heard anywhere else.
Again the lead vocals are distant, but it isn't as damaging here.
Largely because this simple ditty is punctuated by a full choral
sound on the chorus, which help improve the overall sound. If
anyone from Three Dog Night, who originally performed this, is
reading this, I'd just like to say that I have NO IDEA what this
song is about.
This would be so much better if the mix wasn't so muddy — the lead is
too far back in the mix. The solo is for the most part pretty good, if
a little coy at times. Arrangement is also nice and simple, with only
a few awkward moments. Their blend is not too good, as I can pick out
almost every voice. Overall, though, I like this song.
This number cries out for vocal percussion. Blend and balance
are quite good, though, as is the lead.
Nothing glaringly bad here, but the song is very dead and very
white — should be a lot crisper. The chorus especially could really
benefit from some definition and punch. Bland.
Good. Would've been nice to get a little more energy near the end, and
the backgrounds could have been crisper. Generally, an enjoyable tune.
Vocals distant and echoey, again. The song is saved by a nice
switch of tempo in the arrangement in the end. For what it's
worth, this is the second Stevie Wonder cover on this album. (The
first being They Won't Go...)
Blend is terrible on this song, and the mixing distracts from the
solo, who in turn is unnecessarily soulful. The percussion is
(deliberately) sporadic, but it doesn't quite work. This song is okay,
but not my favorite.
Great alto lead, but the intensity level of the background
doesn't match it in the verses.
The soloist has a very full sound which works well, and she has a
good sense of when to really lean on the notes. The instrumental
bridge parts are weird, but I suspect that's par for the course.
Slightly plodding arrangement, but soloist has tons of energy.
They really show off their harmony skills on this track
where they get an impressive sound out of their ten members. If
you're not familiar with this Bobby McFerrin tune, the only lyric of
any note is the title line which is chanted throughout the song. Over
that base, the lead vocalist spins a non-verbal melody line that is so
deft, affecting that it almost seems religious. (In a way, the whole
song is a simple prayer.) I sort of wonder why they bothered to
perform this track, since the original was both a cappella and coed.
They don't have anything to add and they obviously can't touch Bobby's
performance, although it is interesting to hear the lead vocals sung
by a female voice. The echoey distant sound that had been plaguing
the rest of the album isn't as bad here and actually lends itself
quite well to the tone of the song.
I really have no concrete reason to fault this song, but it fails to
convince me. They blend well, swell well, and are right on top of
everything — the arrangement is excellent, the soloist (while a little
too Valley-girl sounding) can do amazing things with her voice, but
for some reason I'm not moved.
Very intense feel throughout this song complements the lead very
well. I love to hear a group which understands dynamic control!
I have a feeling that this song is not for everybody, but I really like
it. The beginning is sweet and soulful and the rest of the song
does a good job of keeping the mood.
A cover of the McFerrin tune; I'm used to the lead as a falsetto. The
woman who solos actually sounds too low for my ears. (This is a timbre
comment, her pitch is fine). Sung smoothly, entrances and fadeouts
Synchronicity isn't just the title, it's also how they sing this
track. The group, split into sections for the overlapping vocals,
share the lead vocals. In the most interesting part of the track, all
the background drops out (except for some thigh slapping) and
they sing as a crisp singular unit. Nothing to write home about.
I really do not like this arrangement at all — bad syllables,
percussion sparse, it just does not capture the driving rhythm of the
original. They divided up the parts badly, as well. The experiment
with the knee-slapping (at least that's what it _sounds_ like) does
Apart from the occasional bit of harmonic and metrical weirdness
this is a good rendering of a difficult piece.
Neat beginning. The male melody is really neat, and the female
parts are good to but the intonation/diction is not quite right. I'm
not sure they fix that with what they've got. Good adaptation of a
very busy, tough song.
Attempting this tune is brave, and they do as well as a collegiate
group could be expected to do. Which is to say, very well. A great
arrangement. There's no way the human voice could "tink" like the
keyboards in the original; aside from this, a great cover.
A healthy cover of this Seal track. The only shortcoming is the
leads. They're good, they just aren't Seal. But who is? If you
can get over that, you'll enjoy this track's energetic
This song would be good a) if it had a better solo and descant-ist,
and b) if the arrangement consisted entirely of the what they sing
during the verses. On this song they sound particularly like the Off
the Beat, but with stronger basses. In the middle the arr.
disintegrated, but then recovers. I am not all that fond of this song
Neat tune, very neat effects.
Not a bad soloist, though I would have slowed it down
and added some feeling. The duet has a better grasp of the"feel" than
the solo does and it shows. He has good tone, but is missing that
last link to the song that could take it to the next level. The bass
is great, and the female percussion is among the best I've heard
during that breakdown verse, an overall great moment.
Both of the soloists were good, but they didn't work
together for me. No nightmare clash, but they didn't complement each
other. I enjoyed the arrangement. Liked the unison ending.
If you haven't heard this violent, 50's styled anti-love song
from Weird Al, then I guess it's about time you got it into your
collection and this version will do nicely. But if you have heard
it before, forget it. Go directly to track 10. They just can't
seem to do anything particularly funny or original.
Fairly good approximation of one of my least favorite songs in the
Bobs' catalogue, including the annoying lead vocal. The bass also does
a decent RichardBob imitation. The very end is mildly amusing, but for
the most part they don't quite have enough to pull it off. Nice try
Traditional arrangement in the usual style.
I'll admit I never have really liked this song, which may have
something to do with how critical I am. The soloist is not quite
bitter enough, though I like his goofball tone. The background
women would have done better to remove all vibrato. I do like the
bass "yeahs," and this is a pretty good version of this song. Studio
effects on the last chord are kinda cool, if out of nowhere.
This is done as well as any of the other many versions
of this song. The arrangement is simple and the soloist has an
appropriate nasal tone.
Dear Katie Cheap,
I love you. Please marry me. I know we've never met. I
don't know what your interests are. I don't even know what you
look like. But that doesn't matter. All I know is when I first
heard you singing on Higher Love, I was totally blown away. Sure,
the arrangement is great, but so much of the credit goes to you
and your bottomless vocals. What a performance! Without a doubt,
one of the best tracks I've heard in a long while.
This arrangement starts out well, but then turns into a mess that is
at once cluttered and predictable. The soloist leans too heavily on
the notes for this song. Percussion is randomly introduced in the
middle and then disappears again. Blend is extremely variable -
sometimes good, sometimes awful. Overall a more-or-less mediocre
version of the song.
I like the treatment of the lead line throughout this
arrangement, which I prefer to the original.
This woman is a little too on to this song. This is not a broadway
show tune. Back off, have fun. The whole song could stand to take
a step back and get a little light funk. Good basic arr, voices, but
everybody needs to back off. Good percussion. The male soloist has
the right idea, but slower and lighter is key
Very well done, but too long. Soloist strong.
You probably don't have anything like this in your collection.
This sparse song, sung by two lone male vocalists, is plaintiff
and expressive. Captivating. You have to give them credit for
doing an arrangement with only two of their singers and for doing
such an obscure song. On the other hand, they loose points for
covering a song that was a cappella to begin with (by an artist
called Vinx. Speaking of which, allows me to take this moment to
recommend Vinx. He's a rock/pop/world/jazz performer whose music
is based mostly around his excellent percussion, but he is also a
singer of McFerrin quality. Sting discovered him and he sort of
discovered Zap Mama. Usually not a cappella, but you'll like
Interesting experiment, with only a lead and one other singer.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I am not familiar with
the original, so I can't tell how big of a departure it is, but it
sounds fairly adventurous for almost any song. The main guy has a
great voice, but the other one is significantly weaker, and sometimes
they're dissonant when it doesn't seem like they mean to be.
A duet of two outstanding voices; a great change of pace with
respect to style.
This is really cool. It capitalizes on its difference, just the simplicity of
two voices havin' fun, kickin' back. Very genuine. The two voices
blend well; although there are imperfections, it doesn't wreck the
grace of the song.
This is quite unusual — a male duo a cappella folk/rock ballad. I
give this group points for trying something different. I also happened
to like it a lot. The singers work well together, and the backup
singer does a couple of different things to keep it interesting —
straight harmony, delayed repeat of melody, and "doo-doo" backup.
Skip it. Why, oh why, do college groups keep doing this
song? I know why — they hear the a cappella intro and think, "We can
do that." But they never can match the original intonations and
perfect production values of the original. Sure, this arrangement has
some things to add to the original toward the end, but you'll never
make it that far into this cut. The opening is downright laughable.
If you want to hear this song a cappella, the all-vocal version by Yes
is on Modern A Cappella.
Arrangement often cluttered, but for the most part works pretty well,
although I hate the way they shout/speak the chorus. Soloist is overly
strident, but her voice is pretty good. Blend is weak on this song.
Basses are quite strong, but the tenors are choral-sounding.
Unintentionally amusing "big drum" sound when they repeat the intro in
The usual sort of arrangement, but the energy level is excellent
throughout, and the tuning on those staccato chords in the
background is pretty darn good.
Easy there, killer! Slow down! Good arrangement of instrumental
parts and ensemble stuff that most groups never come close to
when they do this stuff. In addition to the ridiculous tempo, the
soloist hits it too hard — this song could be made fantastic if it
slowed down and got a light, vibrato-free solo, because it's got some
great moments and a lot of potential. Some parts at the end go
really flat, but they slowed down enough to hear the song.
Another song that is unfortunately overdone. This is as good a version
as I've heard, but I've heard it too much. I like the soloist, but she
goes over the top on the "breaking dow-wow-wown" when she is singing
non-synchronized over the backup.
Whereas the Sesame Street Medley had a fun sort of nostalgia
going for it, what is there that would make you listen to this
track? The medley consists of the James Bond Theme (kind of
Manhattan Transfer-like), Live and Let Die (the tenor doing the
leads is just off, but the percussion and female vocals on the
fast section are good), For Your Eyes Only (a surprisingly nice
ballad with effective use of whistling), and From Russia With
Love (funny mock Russian Bass vocals, but who wants to listen to
this?). For Your Eyes Only would have made a great stand alone
song (with maybe quote from Live and Let Die thrown in) but as a
Medley, it just doesn't work. Not a smart way to end an album.
As in the previous medley, the background often sounds great, but the
solos are overdone and foolish-sounding. They do too much of each song
- we don't need to hear all of "For Your Eyes Only" as _well_ as every
other James Bond song. The arrangements are often quite good, but they
don't hold one's attention that well. The entire thing goes on far too
Nice effects. This arrangement makes good use of the
differences between male and female voices.
Great adaptation of the opening instrumental theme! The
"Live and Let Die" theme is less successful but not bad, but after
that comes some great female VP. "For Your Eyes Only" is very pretty,
though the soloist before that commits the common sin of
oversinging with edge, schmaltz and broadway vibrato. "From Russia
with Love" is up and down, with cool bits and pitch problems. So it
This medley didn't work as well for me, it was unfortunately not
consistent in quality throughout. The instrumental intro was good but
should have been smoother/blendier. "Live and Let Die" was ok. Loved
the whistling on "For Your Eyes Only." "From Russia With Love" was
just *odd*; the soloist has a very strange tone, perhaps he is
attempting an accent? It got better as it progressed, however.
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