Your browser does not support our new site design, so some things might not display or function properly.
We suggest upgrading to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 9+ for the optimal experience.

July 5, 2018

Tuning / Blend 5.0
Energy / Intensity 4.3
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.7
Sound / Production 4.7
Repeat Listenability 4.7
Tracks
1 Giants 4.7
2 Hey Brother (Let's Go Down) 4.3
3 Wouldn't It Be Nice 4.7
4 Hands 5.0
5 Villains Medley I: Be Prepared / Cruella De Vil / Trust in Me / Prince Ali / Friends on the Other Side 4.3
6 Villains Medley II: Poor Unfortunate Souls / The Imperial March / Gaston 4.0
7 Witches: Rotten to the Core / I Put a Spell on You 4.0
8 Rise 4.7

Recorded 2017
Total time: 30:00, 8 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Giants 4
2 Hey Brother (Let's Go Down) 4
3 Wouldn't It Be Nice 5
4 Hands 5
5 Villains Medley I: Be Prepared / Cruella De Vil / Trust in Me / Prince Ali / Friends on the Other Side 5
6 Villains Medley II: Poor Unfortunate Souls / The Imperial March / Gaston 3
7 Witches: Rotten to the Core / I Put a Spell on You 3
8 Rise 4

Rise is an excellent release.

My first casual listen-through was pleasing, but I knew nothing about a group called Naughty Scotty and the Octapella & Take 7. Surprisingly, it is two groups: Naughty Scotty and the Octapella (NSO), and Take 7 (T7). They are select, auditioned male and female groups, respectively, from Winter Park High School in Florida. Both groups were organized ten years ago.

As stated, my first impression was that this collection of music is an excellent offering. On my second listen, I dove into the tracks and found some minor issues, but there is nothing that would cripple the enjoyment of this music. Generally, the producer gives these tracks a great mix. Throughout, the singers use musical devices well (dynamics, tuning, solo capabilities, etc). At some point in most of the songs there are little musical failings, but I do like the use of appropriate unison and octave singing that the arrangers have incorporated.

On the negative side, the title song Rise with NSO & T7 uses what I call "old vowels" or old-style a cappella sounds. Not a serious problem but aurally it sticks out. Villains Medley II by NSO sounds very close to a common high school musical play presentation — it lacks the energy, finesse, and true musicality we expect from a cappella groups. Remember, the only context the listener has is the music, with no view of a stage and actors.

I really like Wouldn't It Be Nice (NSO). It is true to the Beach Boys, and going too far away from the California beach-style music would have killed it. Great energy, solo, and background singers — I would have loved it as the opening track. Hands (T7) is beautiful. It has a nice solo, the foreground and background singers are reasonably separated, and the arrangement is very strong.

Overall, Rise is a wonderful presentation from both groups, individually and together. Thank you for a set that will endure. Singers, keep the music going and thank your high school directors.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Giants 5
2 Hey Brother (Let's Go Down) 4
3 Wouldn't It Be Nice 5
4 Hands 5
5 Villains Medley I: Be Prepared / Cruella De Vil / Trust in Me / Prince Ali / Friends on the Other Side 4
6 Villains Medley II: Poor Unfortunate Souls / The Imperial March / Gaston 5
7 Witches: Rotten to the Core / I Put a Spell on You 5
8 Rise 5

Rise is the appropriate name for this album from Naughty Scotty and the Octapella and Take 7, two fantastic groups hailing from Winter Park High School in Winter Park, Florida. This album truly aspires to be special and it rises to the occasion beautifully. Naughty Scotty and the Octapella (or "NSO" as the singers refer to themselves) is the all-male group in this collaboration, while Take 7 locks down the all-female side of things. This release features a few tracks by each group separately, and bookends the music with Giants and the title track, Rise, featuring both groups working together to create an empowering sound.

What makes Rise stand out is a balanced mix of great song choices, thoughtful arrangements, evocative performances, and terrific production. Wouldn't It Be Nice is charming through and through from the guys, while Hands is incredibly poignant from the ladies.

One track that doesn't hit as perfectly as the others is Villains Medley I: Be Prepared / Cruella De Vil / Trust in Me / Prince Ali / Friends on the Other Side. I do love some Disney, and these arrangements are absolutely compelling, but it's hard to capture some of these iconic roles. Villains Medley II: Poor Unfortunate Souls / The Imperial March / Gaston, on the other hand, hits the nail on the head. Going from a unique take on Poor Unfortunate Souls to a legit take on Gaston is suitably impressive. And the ladies of Take 7 come right back with a jawdropping rendition of Witches: Rotten to the Core / I Put a Spell on You.

Bottom line, Rise should be in everybody's music collection, aca-fans or otherwise!


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Giants 5
2 Hey Brother (Let's Go Down) 5
3 Wouldn't It Be Nice 4
4 Hands 5
5 Villains Medley I: Be Prepared / Cruella De Vil / Trust in Me / Prince Ali / Friends on the Other Side 4
6 Villains Medley II: Poor Unfortunate Souls / The Imperial March / Gaston 4
7 Witches: Rotten to the Core / I Put a Spell on You 4
8 Rise 5

I once had a director refer to sheet music as "ink on a page" and a trumpet as "nothing more than plumbing". It's been at least ten years since I've heard that statement, but it still sticks with me. Music is what comes from the musician, a fusion of equal parts skill and emotion. It's with this line of thought that makes Rise special. In a note from the director, this release is described as "songs of hope and villainy". These two groups from Winter Park High School — Naughty Scotty and the Octappella and Take 7 — are from a suburb of Orlando, and Rise is dedicated to the victims of the shooting that took place at Pulse Nightclub in June of 2016.

Just from the description, it's obvious that this album is driven by emotions. With Giants, the album starts very strongly. Opening with warm and colorful chords, the groove is equal parts fun and driving. With nearly 25 voices interacting simultaneously, there's a lot going on at any one point in time between all the different chords and rhythms. Therefore, whenever a moment arrives — such as the very end of the bridge — where suddenly the entire group is moving in the same pattern, it forces the listener to pay attention. From that chord, the sound explodes to the final chorus. The world doesn't speak for these high schoolers: they are their own voice, and they will not be silenced.

However, with every moment that arrives dripping with emotion, there are some songs where the emotions just don't seem to ever start flowing. The prime examples of this are the two villains medleys. As a whole, I've never been overly fond of medleys. The musical ideas are never fully cohesive. Consider the shift from Be Prepared to Cruella De Vil in Medley I. Be Prepared has a haunting drive throughout the underlying patterns and Julio Quiñones has a glorious tyrannical baritone sound. Add in all the amazingly executed little hyena expletives, and I would have given this song top marks if the group had done only this song. However, the song suddenly saps away all of the energy from Be Prepared, shifts keys, and changes style to a swanky jazz swing. This style is later abandoned to switch to another song. The ideas are created but never finished — the main reason why I hate medleys. With three medley tracks all next to each other, those unfinished ideas are the biggest complaint I have with this album.

Overall, there's a lot to love on Rise. Across the board, every soloist brings something to the table. When the group comes together to deliver powerful moments, the soloist acts as a magnification of the group, and the emotions are palpable through the speakers. However, if all of the emotions are building up to the big moments, if anything goes awry on the way to that large impact, the moment falls flat. Take 7 and Naughty Scotty and the Octappella have both proven they have the skill and the passion to make their voices heard. All that's missing now is a little consistency in the delivery and letting every song fully deliver that impact these groups have proven they can do. However, until that day comes, I wouldn't mind another listen.

Advertisement

How To Get Your Work Reviewed

To have your album (2 or more tracks) reviewed by RARB, please email us with your name, group name and album title. You will receive a response with information on how to register your album in our system.

To have your digital single reviewed by RARB, please fill out our online singles registration form.

×

Ordering Information

Rise also streams on Spotify.

×