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RARB REVIEW

School: MIT
Group: Chorallaries
Album: Earshot

Total time: 71:19, 18 songs
Recorded 1995

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Rio (6.0)
  2. Airplane (6.6)
  3. Mad About You (6.2)
  4. Synchronicity (5.2)
  5. Find the River (6.4)
  6. She Blinded Me With Science (6.0)
  7. Fatso (6.2)
  8. Kiss That Frog (5.8)
  9. Mercy Street (5.8)
  10. Love Shack (6.6)
  11. To One in Paradise (6.0)
  12. Life in One Day (6.2)
  13. Missionary Man (5.8)
  14. If I Had a Million Dollars (6.6)
  15. We Belong (4.4)
  16. Your Existential Past (6.8)
  17. Love Song (7.4)
  18. Funky Bus (5.6)

Reviews

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.

Overall

  1. I'll say it right off the bat: I just don't like this group's sound. My main complaint is the lack of a full bass sound on the bottom, but the upper voices also have deficiencies; as a group they are often thin and nasal.
    Rating: 5 (6.7)

  2. This is an album of patterns and repetitions. The song choices are varied, but in a similar vein. There are two Sting-written songs, two Peter Gabriel songs, and two songs by The Story. The first half of the album is way over-studioed, like some would-be producer got ahold of a digital mixer and autoblended all the chords. The male soloists are good. The female soloists have a strained tone, as do the midrange sopranos. Almost all the arrangements overuse vocal guitar noises and the "dj" phoneme, as in "jumma" "jada" and "jing." Almost all the arrangements have great openings, regardless of how things turn out, and most make use of that one reeeaally high soprano they have, pretty nicely as it happens, and the falsetto stuff is good. Most of the songs are without a definitive bass line — no one with a really strong low range in the staff — many could use energy, and while good, the vocal percussion is _very_ rhythmically limited. There are no voices here that will make you go "wow!" There are no songs here that will really make you go "_that's_ great." You _will_ find a long album of decent, long songs, some of which work and some of which don't, almost all of which are in tune.
    Rating: 6 (7.0)

  3. This is a group with a strong identity. Just take a look at the tracks they're singing and you know which a cappella path they've chosen. Popular music in the past twenty years relies strongly on a rhythmic, one or two measure "riff" that functions as an ostinato under a melodic line. In the studio, musicians have a wide range of timbres to choose from, whereas a cappella groups must limit themselves to the human voice. This limitation often ends up in "contemporary" arrangements that all sound like the end of "I am the Walrus". The Chorallaries have done a remarkable job of avoiding these pitfalls. The latter half of the album drags a good deal, but many of these arrangements display a very creative and unique handling of the a cappella choir. Looking at the album notes, I see that almost all of the arrangements were done by the same three people. One wonders what direction this group will take when these individuals are no longer present. Probably the only gripe I have with this album (save the lackluster second half) is the imitative nature of most of the tracks. What wonderful new music would be created if only the aforementioned innovation was directed towards creating an entirely new sound, rather than trying to approximate an already existing sound.
    Rating: 7 (5.6)

  4. A decent coed group, and they could be so much better, but for the most part their arrangements are not suited to their sound or talents. They sound nice on the folkier, quieter stuff, but they simply aren't hard-edged enough to pull off the rock songs. Basses aren't a real presence here — either they aren't true basses or they aren't being utilized in the arrangements. Due to this and the stratospherically high sopranos who are often arranged in a twittering way, they sound rather girly for a coed group. This is accentuated by the way the album was recorded and mixed, with the treble way up and the bass nonexistent. They obviously have one really wicked high soprano that they're determined to get full mileage out of, regardless of its appropriateness to the song in question. Too many of their arrangements sound like mediocre imitations of Off the Beat, but often they have one part that works nicely, and if the rest were more like it, their renditions would be so much more convincing. They also have a tendency to choose lackluster and/or foolish syllables, on which it is impossible to blend, and to make up for a lack of drive with bizarrely fast tempos.
    Rating: 4 (4.8)

  5. The Chorallaries have got some good potential. This album contains some really good songs and some mediocre songs. There are no glaring problems, but the things that stick out in my mind are that blend could be improved, since there are one or two voices which consistently stick out (some of that may be a result of the recording process), and that generally, the sopranos could be stronger. Also, a minor note about song order: back-to-back selections by the same artist/group tends to get boring. For the most part, it's not a bad album. The good songs make up for the not-so-good ones.
    Rating: 6 (6.4)


Individual Tracks

  1. Rio (6.0)
    1. Ah, Rio. Their rendition begins well, with a dissonant chord leading up to the percussion entrance. Already I'm wishing for more bass, though. There's some soprano twiddling going on up high (hm. might be a guy in falsetto. or a guy and girl) that reproduces a sound from the original that most groups don't bother attempting; it sounds pretty good. Soloist is good but not great. During the middle sax solo, a guy and girl sing the sax part, doubling each other (in different octaves). It's an interesting effect, and it works.
      Rating: 5

    2. Interesting beginning, leading into some really great vocal synthesizer. The lower voices are a little too nasal with the guitar noises, however, and the choral effect on the chorus is not my thing at all. Particularly not with the autoblend/brighten studio trick they seem to use whenever there are words/oohs in the background. The sax solo also is not my thing — better suited to jazz/piano bar than boppy eighties music. The solo is fine, and the pitch decent for the most part. I only wonder what the arranger was thinking when they interpreted it.
      Rating: 6

    3. This is an exceptionally busy arrangement. At times it feels very rushed. The basses are really working up a sweat. They're not always right on (either rhythmically or pitchwise), but they do an admirable job. The soloist is quite strong. The group should be a little bit more careful about cutoffs during the choral sections ("and she dances in the saaand"). The double pseudo-scat solo works surprisingly well. It really has direction... The ending goes on about a minute too long though. It starts sounding like a Philip Glass piece. The soloist is very strong.
      Rating: 7

    4. _Way_ too fast, bassline sounds crazy at this tempo (you can hear one of them take a breath because they're racing at the speed of light) plus I sort of hate it (the bassline) anyway, twittering high sopranos, parts of this arrangement are interesting — the 2nd to last verse is well-done, but most of it is sort of ridiculous, percussion also is too light and swishy for this song. Solo is decent although he gets a little full of himself. The guitar solos are not *too* egregious. Overall rather hyperactive and irritating.
      Rating: 4

    5. This is a strong first track. The solo is strong and the choral sound on the choruses is nice and full. A good, fast-moving bass part, too.
      Rating: 8

  2. Airplane (6.6)
    1. The accompaniment has an interesting figure involving the syllable "jang" - it sounds good in this version. The soloist is a little weak in spots - too quiet for me; I consider this song to require a bit of edge on the voice and maybe a touch more intensity.
      Rating: 6

    2. Nothing personal, guys, but "jing" is one of those syllables that just doesn't do it for me. The chorus has some funky things going on, pitchwise, not all of which sound like they ought to be there. The solo has a folksy sound that is okay, although I'd like a stronger tone that flowed over the notes a little more. But better this way than in a hooty head voice, I suppose. The sirens are fun. That studio effect shows up in a lot of the chords, though.
      Rating: 5

    3. I really like this track. I think this makes somewhat better use of the voices. There's a LOT of very clever stuff going on in this arrangement, but there still seems enough room for the inherent beauty of the song to get through. There are a few rough spots when the sopranos are asked to stretch to the extremes of their range. A really nice job tuning some pretty crunchy chords. The soloist has a very likeable voice.
      Rating: 9

    4. Foolish syllables ("jeng-jeng-cha-da"), first soloist starts out unsure of herself but gets better, I like what they've done with the low descant but don't think that either soloist is particularly stellar. This song is strangely mixed, with people wandering around as far as space is concerned. Percussion could stand to be beefed up. Not unpleasant overall, though the bass line gets *really* repetitive.
      Rating: 6

    5. I like the song choice, but the solo is weak. Otherwise, it's not bad. The arrangement is good, and the changes in background dynamics are well done.
      Rating: 7

  3. Mad About You (6.2)
    1. Well, in this one they use the "jang" or "jing" syllable again, to the point where I quickly became sick of it. A soprano (or two?) does steel drum imitations up on top. She mostly succeeds, with only a few occasional splattered (flat) notes; it's an interesting effect.
      Rating: 6

    2. What a great beginning with the tenors! Even the soprano lack of blend and inaccuracies doesn't take away from that, and later in the song, they do some neat high overlays, and the soprano solo is good in the middle — the beginning might have been better if only one soprano had done it. The background for the chorus and the line leading into it is terrific. The solo does a credible job — he has tough shoes to fill, and does his best to sing it in tune rather than attempting to match Sting's tone and give up what little control he has. I have to nag about my personal pronunciational pet peeve — anyone who sings "I'm lost without choo, I'm mad about choo" should be sent to remedial speech therapy. The rain at the end is nice, but after three songs I'm already really sick of all this processed sound.
      Rating: 8

    3. The background gets a little tiring on this one after a minute or two. The soloist is strong, quite pleasant to listen to, but not that much happens in this one. (There is one neat part with the women rocking around a half step, but that's about all that really held my interest.) Ends with a thunderstorm for some reason. (Maybe it was on the original album)
      Rating: 5

    4. I rather like this arrangement — the helium-high sopranos are on pitch, which is impressive, and their sporadic line works well for this song — but the rest of it is a little busy; they need some held notes instead of every single line being staccato. Solo starts out alright but becomes rather perfunctory where he should get into it. Unnecessary and ineffectual thunderstorm effects at the end. Interesting and good song to do _a cappella_, but far from perfectly realized version of it. Still one of the better tracks on the album.
      Rating: 7

    5. I guess you have to be a Sting fan to understand the appeal of his songs to a cappella groups. The song does have some good, steady percussion. Nice tone on solo, but the soprano part is too high, and gets screechy.
      Rating: 5

  4. Synchronicity (5.2)
    1. Well, I'll say this for it: the feel of the song is there; the energy is at the right level. It's a pretty good rendition of a pretty complicated song. However, there are a few problems that get in the way: someone is almost always flat, the mixing tends to make the accompaniment drown out those with words, and the transitions between song sections are weak. At the end there is a series of inexplicable "Wheee"s that do nothing for me.
      Rating: 6

    2. Good rhythm here. The lyrics are decent, though the delivery of the verses leaves a little to be asked for. Most of the dissonances work out more or less as they ought, and the intro comes together well — for once that dratted blend effect is used in good cause. The bass line is strong and holds things together. It also sounds like they made good use of falsetto.
      Rating: 7

    3. A song VERY well suited for this groups style. The women show a remarkable ability to tune tone clusters, quite a feat. (It's not always perfect, but it's damn good). A couple of voices stick out here and there. The group does a very good job of sounding like a machine, especially in the last third of the song.
      Rating: 8

    4. Bass line too high and also rather forced-sounding, percussion randomly leaps in and out of arr. and is lame to begin with. Pitch problems are painful on the choruses, and the arr. is mildly offensive. Reminiscent of both Off the Beat and Artists in Resonance, but higher and more nasal. They're all over the place on this one, and the effect is not pretty.
      Rating: 2

    5. Personally, I wouldn't follow a Sting song with a Police song because it gets boring. This song itself is monotonous. The blend just isn't there — parts stick out. Could be a mixing problem.
      Rating: 3

  5. Find the River (6.4)
    1. This I'm not at all happy with. In REM's original, Michael Stipe has a lot more invested in this solo; it seems like something's at stake when he says "I have got to find the river". In this version those are just words. Where is the emotion? The background is pretty standard arranging- and singing-wise — it bogs down at the chorus, though: the background shifts from an eighth-note pattern to a quarter-note pattern and it just loses whatever energy it had.
      Rating: 5

    2. I like the soprano/alto overlay at the beginning a lot, and the mood is pretty good. "drum a jumma" is not a syllabic phrase I would base an arrangement on, but there's no accounting for tastes. The women have a thin tone, flat in feel if not in pitch — opening up and or maybe some confidence. The mood for this is good for what it is, the pitch fine, the effects kept to a minimum, but nothing about this song makes me want to listen to it again.
      Rating: 5

    3. A very pretty song. A good change of pace after the previous song. There is a rather high sop line that doesn't always lock in perfectly, but is quite pretty nonetheless. The soloist is a bit flaccid at times. A few unstable pitches in the basses. They're going quite low and making some tricky jumps.
      Rating: 8

    4. I barely even recognized the song in this weird arrangement — again, syllables that simply don't work "jum-ja-da". One quite good percussion line being done by someone approximating a bass, but they could easily scrap the high mouth-y one. The realllly high sop line is again at least on pitch, although its appropriateness is questionable. Solo is tolerable although not particularly expressive. Background sounds ragged at times. The percussion almost saves it though, as well as some decent parts of the arr.
      Rating: 6

    5. A pretty arrangement. This song flows easily and never sounds forced. Great percussion, too. It really fills in the song.
      Rating: 8

  6. She Blinded Me With Science (6.0)
    1. Now _this_ is pretty fun. Oh sure, I could quibble about a bunch of little things (the syllable "Cha!" in the background loses its charm awfully fast, there are some tuning problems here or there, and the affected Brittish accents don't always work) but you know, this song is still pretty darn entertaining. Interesting percussion is sprinkled throughout the song, the soloist is up to the task, and there are some cool women's wailing parts a fifth apart that sound appropriately spooky. Overall I'd say this one's a winner.
      Rating: 7

    2. This is fun. It's kind of dead, but I can understand toning it down to keep the pitch good for the mics. The falsetto echoes are great, the synth interpretation is good and the sopranos are in tune. I could have asked for more from the bass drum but the other percussion guy is great and there's a cool ending. The whole thing is cool — wish I could have seen it live.
      Rating: 8

    3. I have a feeling that this is a really popular song for these guys, but I think that's mostly due to the special place the original has in the audience's heart. I don't think it works too well in this a cappella rendition. It's just a bit too scattered, too confused. After the first minute you've pretty much heard everything that's going to happen, and listening to the rest becomes redundant. Really draws attention to the imitative nature of the entire album.
      Rating: 4

    4. Too fast, someone is randomly peeping every so often in either channel, percussion is decent, they have too many people singing parts that don't need *that* much emphasis. There's also really no need to sing the main riff of the song on a nasal "wah" — even on this song, which could arguably be justifiable, but I'm not convinced. I do however really like the soprano line they added to the song on the chorus.
      Rating: 5

    5. This is a difficult song to pull off a cappella, and the Chorallaries make a good effort. It's just as weird as the original, though the soloist is not quite as neurotic.
      Rating: 6

  7. Fatso (6.2)
    1. Hey! I've never heard the original of this song, and I'm kind of glad; it might have made me too picky about this. This is a great deal of fun — a not-too-serious song about a weight problem and cultural expectations of thinness. The soloists are intentionally way out of tune in some places in exactly the right horribly-wrong way; I love it! The background has a great lazy, groovy (did I just say groovy?) feel to it that fits the song's approach perfectly. Minor mixing complaint: the background sometimes overwhelms the melody.
      Rating: 8

    2. I have heard the original song, which puts me one up on the casual listener. The Story is a great band that everyone should hear at some point, by the way. The percussion is fun, the background is good and that high soprano has something going on. The solos leave a little to be desired in tone quality, but the off key stuff is wonderfully true to the original. Good job by the lower soloist when she goes way down, though her higher range is not as pleasant. Great song choice, great lyrics and I hope the crowds got the point.
      Rating: 8

    3. I complement the taste of the arranger...if you haven't heard the original, you should look it up. It's wonderful. With that in mind, this is a pretty faithful rendition. One thing I really objected to was the addition of a little improvised "arhythmic" percussion thing during the chorus. There's plenty of harmonic direction through this section and I found the additional percussion to be unnecessary and distracting. There is also what appears to be a very broken chord at the end of the first chorus. ("when I'm 100 pounds...") Might be the descant...
      Rating: 5

    4. I like this arrangement a lot until it deteriorates into chaos in the middle, but then recovers. Their blend could be better. Solos are nice on this song but they could have been mixed better. Is someone saying something in that froggy percussion thing? They really use their coloratura to the hilt. The bass line is perfect in this song, and for the most part well-mixed. Despite some problems, the most successful song on the album.
      Rating: 7

    5. My first impression of this song was not good, but it has grown on me a little. Even still, the two lead voices are thin, and the harmony is not at all pleasing to the ear. Of course, I have not heard The Story's original, so maybe it is supposed to sound that way.
      Rating: 3

  8. Kiss That Frog (5.8)
    1. This is a fine adaptation of Peter Gabriel's song from "Us." The group has great energy on this; the background is driving the song forward, not just marking time. The basses are quite audible for once — that's good. The soloist was a good choice, just enough like Gabriel to let your mind think of the original, but also doing his own thing from time to time. It's an interesting, complex arrangement to boot.
      Rating: 7

    2. The intro has the same feel as Synchronicity. I think the overdubbing on the solo works well, as when he's by himself I don't like him as much. This song is pretty good, and if I hadn't heard Synchronicity do the same things three tracks earlier I would like it a lot. As it is, the sparser arrangement and simpler song leaves a disgruntled taste in my mouth, thus the low rating.
      Rating: 6

    3. Ostinato from hell! I've actually grown to like this arrangement. During the first few listenings, I was annoyed after thirty seconds. Sure it's repetitive and monotonic, but for some reason it works. There are a few shaky sections in the sopranos. Both the soloist and the group plow unflaggingly to the end...
      Rating: 6

    4. Tempo is inconsistent — the background starts out fine, but the solos rush it in a perfunctory way, and then it speeds up. Arrangement also is mostly too busy, although one part in the middle works, for the rest the syllables are bad *and* they don't blend, sopranos are shrill, and the bass line is so high as to be ineffectual.
      Rating: 3

    5. A good arrangement and a steady, consistent bassline solidify this track. The middle parts are good, too. Good job keeping the high energy going throughout the song.
      Rating: 7

  9. Mercy Street (5.8)
    1. I would have liked a little more bass on this one — it's there, just not enough. The song as a whole is just a little too bland; I'm just not excited about hearing this, whereas I'm always happy to hear the original. There are good points: the chords are all right-on and the studio effects were appropriate.
      Rating: 6

    2. I would have liked the intro better with fewer effects, even if it meant a less directed sound. Those sopranos have got to open up in their middle range if they want to be pleasant. Good tempo on the intro, but the body ought to be slower. The solo don't thrill me, and coming on the heels of another Peter Gabriel song that also didn't thrill me; I am feeling quite blah. Nothing too bad about the song — pitch, arrangement, solo, etc — and it has some nice moments, but I just feel unenthused. My interest dribbles off like the ending.
      Rating: 7

    3. A few exposed entrances at the beginning are less than seamless. Not much happens in this arrangement. It's just kinda there. Some pitch problems in the middle break.
      Rating: 4

    4. Just a tip — if you're going to put two Peter Gabriel songs on the same album, *don't* put them in a row! Arrangement is too twittery for the song, they rush it. The solos enunciate too much, have no feeling behind it and are way too loud in the mix. Swell at the end is too fast, and consequently does not work. Does not capture the ambiance of the song, but does not completely ruin it either.
      Rating: 4

    5. OK, faced with back-to-back Peter Gabriel covers, I have to mention again that I prefer more of a varied order. The arrangement is virtually the same as that of the previous track. Overall, though, the song is performed well.
      Rating: 8

  10. Love Shack (6.6)
    1. Well this is fine for what it is (I'm not a 'Love Shack' fan). It's energetic, the words are clear, and it's all pretty much in tune. This version went on a little long for me, but so did the original. That "Cha!" syllable from "Blinded Me..." is back, as tiresome as before...
      Rating: 8

    2. I was all psyched after the intro of this, until the girls came in with that icky-shrill "Love Shack." The guy solo/speaker is great, the background damn good, and those women need some soul, or at least some brass. Too bad — this was the most promising version I've ever heard a cappella. It gets a good score because the guy is the first successful line deliverer I've ever heard when groups do this song, and I'm overlooking some heinous sliding in the middle because no matter how bad it did only happen once, twice if you're being picky.
      Rating: 7

    3. Yet another sound-alike arrangement. Still, it works pretty well at capturing the fun of the original. I don't mind listening to it at all. In the picky picky department...the soloist should have left a longer pause in that legendary line "tin roof..."
      Rating: 6

    4. Why do groups (especially co-ed groups) feel compelled to do this song? I can't think of anything more guaranteed to be annoying. That said, this is a *far* better version of the song than the others I've heard, mostly due to the percussion (which is excellent and really keeps the song going, even though it's arguably too beat-box-y for this song) and the solo, which is not as annoying as it could be. Arrangement is also fairly good, except for the horrible tendency they have to turn guitar figures into caterwauling.
      Rating: 5

    5. A good song with a good solo which provides a great change of pace. It moves. The group really has fun with this one, which makes all the difference.
      Rating: 7

  11. To One in Paradise (6.0)
    1. A lush ballad, this is a completely unfamiliar song to me. It's pleasantly effected, but there are some muddy words as well as a few botched chords. On the whole though, this is well done, and is a nice contrast to the style of previous tracks.
      Rating: 7

    2. Same sort of intro as Mercy Street — I like this one better, but why do it twice? This is very sweet and pretty, and is wonderfully free of annoying syllables. The sopranos still grate a little, but otherwise I like it. Very New Age.
      Rating: 8

    3. Probably the most processed track on the album, definitely the most obviously processed. (The reverb goes up to 11.) This is a tough arrangement to pull off. There are many twisty, unexpected chord changes that, when not nailed immediately, leave the ear desperately searching for some tonality to grab on to. And unfortunately, many of those chord changes don't lock in. There are several uncomfortable spots. If the performance were more together, the song would be beautiful.
      Rating: 4

    4. Beginning is interesting but then becomes overly busy — if they could blend better this would be less egregious. There is also no real attempt to feel any sort of a sensitive mood for the song, which pretty much wrecks it for me. Recording quality is different on this song, sort of muffled and hissy at the same time, also lots of "atmospheric" effects, which is overdone. Arrangement would be good if it didn't get really boring by the end, and if they left out the parts where they all blast the words at once.
      Rating: 6

    5. This track starts off with some beautiful choral work, but it seems that intonation becomes more of an afterthought as the song progresses. If the tuning were tighter, this would be a great song!
      Rating: 5

  12. Life in One Day (6.2)
    1. Howard Jones' song. Good intro (a slower iteration of the theme), then they plunge full speed ahead into the song. It's a lively rendition, with a high-voiced male soloist who fits the song well. The arrangement is interesting, with a call-and-response portion between the men and women that I thought worked really well. Overall, a good track.
      Rating: 7

    2. The solo is sweet if light, and the whole thing is very uptempo and bright and cheerful. Kind of like the chipmunks, and those overbright women add to the effect, although the high oohs are pretty. Okay, so the original is a lot slower and calypso and has a groove, but this is fun too. Really.
      Rating: 7

    3. The opening lines exhibit some pitch problems, but the group quickly settles into a nice groove. A very fun arrangement. The basses seem to be riding sharp during the chorus. (They're repeating a pretty low note many times.) Perhaps the chorus should be taken a bit slower...
      Rating: 7

    4. Why do they do everything in double-time? A lot of these songs could be quite good if they didn't sound like they were on high- speed dubbing, not only ridiculously fast but chipmunk-high as well. Soloist's phrasing is annoying.
      Rating: 3

    5. Again, this song has a pretty beginning. It is light and peppy and the solo is smooth. Nice arrangement, but the lower parts are overpowered by the middle range parts.
      Rating: 7

  13. Missionary Man (5.8)
    1. The soloist in this Eurythmics song does an admirable job at the unenviable task of attempting to sing an Annie Lennox lead. It's not quite as good as Annie, but it's a wonder she sounds even this good; Annie's a hard act to follow. This track's also got the right feel; it descends into silliness when the 'instrumental' section turns into 'Tequila', but that's OK. It's not too out of place, and the rest of the track sounds good enough to make you forget about the incongruity of those two songs being mixed.
      Rating: 8

    2. This is fun. Cool arrangement, and cool original tempo which it tried valiantly to stick to although I think the excitement made it rush. The solo could use a some bite but definitely has the right idea. The falsetto is pretty hysterical and the whole thing seems to "get it" a lot more than anything else on the album.
      Rating: 8

    3. Simple arrangement. Not much happens. Performance is fine.
      Rating: 3

    4. For once the basses are turned up enough in the mix, which sounds good. Soloist would be excellent if she had a little bit of energy — she has a nice tone but she drags compared to the background. Arr: disjointed, nasal and random. Song's energy bleeds slowly away throughout the song. Harmonica imitation neither necessary nor the least bit amusing.
      Rating: 5

    5. The singing is OK on this one, but the arrangement is monotonous. The good side of that is that it has a nice, steady rhythm. The "tequila" section in the middle is lame.
      Rating: 5

  14. If I Had a Million Dollars (6.6)
    1. Another fun one. I don't know the original, so I don't know whether to credit this group or the original artists with the line "but not a real green dress/that's cruel." Whoever came up with it, bravo. Tuning's good, words are clear, and the mixing lets you hear the soloists for once.
      Rating: 8

    2. Cool points for doing the Barenaked Ladies. The two soloists are really great, almost as wonderfully goofy as the original. The spoken stuff works well. Good tempo, nice intro, whiny sopranos.
      Rating: 8

    3. Another nondescript arrangement. It's a very simple song. The songs success relies upon the humor of the original, which if you don't own, you should. Doesn't seem to be much of a reason to record this one, but they did.
      Rating: 4

    4. Arrangement overly twee. Percussion too girly — song does not require a high-hat — it also gets off-rhythm with rest of background. Both solos have vexatious phrasing although the first has a nice tone, and are strangely mixed — really far forward, which makes the mic-popping more noticeable. All the banter that's ad-libbed in the original sounds stupid here.
      Rating: 5

    5. A catchy tune. The solos are good, and background blend is good — the background parts don't stick out like they do in some other songs.
      Rating: 8

  15. We Belong (4.4)
    1. I hear tuning problems in the first 8 measures and the soloist does nothing for me. One high figure in the soprano sounds good with the echo they put on it, but the song as a whole just leaves me cold. The percussion doesn't sound good to me — it's overdone and too simple. The arrangement doesn't always have a good bass note to base the chord on; I hope that was intentional, but it didn't sound like the odd inversions made much sense.
      Rating: 4

    2. The sopranos are flat. Ick. The whole song could be eloquently summed up in one syllable: "Laaa!" sung with the same "a" as in mat, or cat, or blat. Other than that it's pretty good, and I like the men. A nice, low, audible bass line would have been nice, but the percussion is neat too.
      Rating: 6

    3. The album seems to be hitting a slump right around here. Not much is happening. It's not a very interesting song.
      Rating: 4

    4. Soloist's voice irritates. Bizarre arrangement with erratic rhythm, although occasionally it's decent. Percussion good although it becomes a bit much. Descant ridiculously high. Overall not a very successful version of the song.
      Rating: 3

    5. The solo is strong, but could loosen up a bit — she sings this far too straight. Also, the rhythm is pounded out very strongly. It could flow more smoothly.
      Rating: 5

  16. Your Existential Past (6.8)
    1. Good energy. Interesting fast accompaniment figures for the guys. Everybody's in tune! This doesn't do much for me as a song (I don't know the original and the words aren't making a great deal of sense). All in all, pleasant to listen to.
      Rating: 7

    2. I like the beginning. Not as whiny as the other women-intensive backgrounds. Hark — I think I hear a decent bassline that more or less deserves the name, and the solo is good. This song reminds me of Level 42 in its mood — I've never heard it before, but I gotta say I like it and the title is cool.
      Rating: 7

    3. The group starts doing what it does best...repetitive rhythmic grooves. The soloist is quite strong and the song is pretty catchy. A welcome relief from the previous three songs.
      Rating: 6

    4. Arrangement goes from loud to blasting on the chorus (solo has to scream to be heard over the background), but when it quiets at all I think it's decent, although both the sopranos and the basses have stupid-sounding lines. The percussion is quite good, though, driving the song along well. If the solo were a bit more sure of himself he'd be excellent instead of just good. Interesting song choice, which I respect. The ending, however, is bizarre.
      Rating: 6

    5. Here is another great arrangement — the cross-movement of background parts all over the place is great. Nice balance, and a good sound.
      Rating: 8

  17. Love Song (7.4)
    1. "Jah-dap" is the favored syllable here, and it works well in this song. The soprano soloist is excellent and the background is smooth and even, which is appropriate to this song. There's a faux guitar solo in the middle and it sounds really good with the effects they've put on it. Quite relaxing (in a good way).
      Rating: 8

    2. What a way to break the pattern — the women aren't straining! They're not whining! How pretty. Nothing else too revolutionary here, but this is nice. Ooh, I do like the guy guitar — by far the most effective vocal guitar on the album. Nice job, sweet pretty song.
      Rating: 7

    3. A fine arrangement of a beautiful song (another plug for The Story...they're great). Maintains an almost hypnotic quality to it (another thing this group is good at). The soloist is right on. The arrangement is nice and understated.
      Rating: 7

    4. Solo is good despite some pitch problems and strange pronunciation of key words ("folling" for "falling"). Their arrangements are simply foolish sounding most of the time, due to bad choice of syllables. I hate their imitations of guitar solos, and this song features two of them. The fade-out ending is a) unnecessary, b) too abrupt, and c) ruins the mood half-successfully created by the rest of the song.
      Rating: 6

    5. I enjoyed this song. It is pretty and soothing. The arrangement is repetitive, but it works. The solo is light and airy, which also works in this case.
      Rating: 9

  18. Funky Bus (5.6)
    1. Okay, so I don't get this song. It's still fun. It's pleasantly goofy and 70'sish. It builds to a nice set of choruses; this is the first build-to-chorus track I can think of where the resulting chorus deserved the buildup. Percussion is good. Tuning and energy are great.
      Rating: 7

    2. Yeah, it _is_ kinda funky. The womenwhine is under control, the solos are cool, and there's some cool falsetto action going on. This song leaves me in a much happier frame of mind than the rest of the album, as long as I let them off the hook for the inane chatter at the end.
      Rating: 8

    3. It's ironic that they chose this one to end with, it's the one song on the album that seems to be lacking voices. It just sounds sparse. There's the basses hammering out an ostinato, and the women on top, but there's nothing in the middle.
      Rating: 4

    4. What were they thinking, to try to do a "funk" song (or at least what seems like it's supposed to be a funk song, as far as I can tell from their mostly lame attempt to render it)? They are far too light in tone to be able to pull this off, although the percussion is decent, as is the solo. Goes on too long, and mostly sounds like a joke.
      Rating: 3

    5. This is quite an upbeat contrast to the last song. It features a funky soloist for the "Funky Bus." Good energy and good percussion.
      Rating: 6

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