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RARB REVIEW

School: Brandeis University
Group: Spur of the Moment
Album: Zodiac Incoming

Total time: 59:49, 17 songs
Recorded 1996


Track Listing

  1. Pinball Wizard (5.2)
  2. Ghost (5.6)
  3. What Would You Say (6.0)
  4. The Letter (5.2)
  5. Afternoons and Coffeespoons (5.2)
  6. Mother's Pride (5.6)
  7. The Promise (5.4)
  8. As I Lay Me Down (5.6)
  9. Over My Shoulder (5.6)
  10. Crucify (5.4)
  11. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (4.6)
  12. You'll See (5.2)
  13. You Are the New Day (4.6)
  14. Holding Out for a Hero (5.6)
  15. In the House of Stone and Light (7.2)
  16. Eternal Flame (6.6)
  17. Untitled (1.0)

Reviews

Overall

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

starts off well, ebbs to a near standstill halfway through, then gains strength and momentum for the ending. this group is good at what seems to be their chosen niche, 80's hits (the promise by when in rome, as i lay me down by sophie b. hawkins, eternal flame by the bangles, etc.). when they diverge from these sorts of tunes, strange things seem to happen, like unusual interpretations of tori amos, like a traditional song performed totally straight (which is then made fun of in the hidden track), like boring song choices by artists spanning from the 80's to now. anyway. let me digress for one moment: how come none of the women in this group arrange? this seems to be common in coed groups. the men arrange, the men percuss, the women solo over them. i don't mean to rag on spur of the moment, but this review does give me a chance to vent on what i think is a common problem. women: you need to start arranging if you don't already. it's ridiculous to me that out of 16 tracks on an album, the only time a woman wrote down notes was on "you are the new day," a traditional song which was not arranged but adapted. sorry. i'm back. anyway, i'm definitely surprised by the quality of this album. in general the songs do have energy and the soloists are quite solid and the arranging is very good. however, the album certainly is not consistent in terms of pitch nor quality of performance. one unusual thing is that the women all sound the same to me. they're all from the bangles, when i'd've loved to have heard a melissa etheridge or a sarah mclachlan or a bonnie tyler (they do a bonnie tyler tune, "holding out for a hero," but with a bangles voice) or a bonnie raitt or a joan jett or an ella fitzgerald or a fiona apple. anyway, the men seemed much more diverse and seemed to contribute more to the album, which is something i believe an album should try to avoid (that is, one should feel a sense of relatively equal contribution and personality from all members). shit! sorry. i'm going off again. the album is good. not fantastic, but definitely good. i enjoyed it. i recommend it. and my dad went to brandeis.
Rating: 6 (5.5)

Rebecca Christie

If you listen to this recording holding your ears, it might help you compensate for the fact that they seem to have sung it holding their nose. There are some decent arrangements hiding out on this album, the latest from Brandeis' coed Spur of the Moment, but the backgrounds and women in particular are nasal to the point of killing tuning and listenability. Which is a shame given the talent of some of the men in the group. In David Cohen — their music director — Spur of the Moment has lucked out and come by the sort of male soloist most groups would kill for. His voice is perfectly suited to those Duran Duran-esque, synth-driven 80's songs college groups love. Unfortunately, the guys take a back seat to the blat of the women — why anyone would encourage people to try for this tone is beyond me, but it's so pervasive they must have asked members to blend to it. Which is impossible — unfortunately, these types of voices don't blend when surrounded by their kind, they just sound even more flat. I wonder how many of the tuning problems on this album could have been solved by opening up the female sound? I know a thin breathy sound is the current thing in pop music, but here it is taken entirely too far and without any breath to mute the piercing quality of a nasal straight-tone. If you should have to listen to this album it, program it so House of Stone and Light comes last. This is a quality track that brings out nothing but the best from their sound — a wonderful surprise for the next to last song on the album. It has a lovely laid-back energy and uses their soloist to great effect. It'll leave you in a better mood.
Rating: 4 (4.9)

Alison Berube Sullivan

The strength of Spur of the Moment lies in their arrangements. Their songs are never empty and never boring. They have some very talented arrangers, as well as singers and percussionists. The high quality of their music is consistent, with the same features standing out in almost every song: great blend, great percussion, full arrangements. They have enough voices to cover every part well, including percussion.
Rating: 8 (7.1)

Mike Connelly

The album is a fairly boring experience — much of it is "pretty," but in a bland, predictable sort of way. Vocal percussion is used effectively, but the group seems to use it as a crutch — some songs would just die without it (it doesn't help that the bass lines are weak to nonexistent in spots). The arrangements sound very similar from one to the next, very formulaic, with lots of repetitive rhythms. While none of the soloists are bad, none stand out. The altos get an odd sound — very forced, as if they are really mezzo's trying to belt out parts that are too low for them. The overall sound is muddy, and the engineering job doesn't help — everything is swimming in reverb...it sounds like the album was recorded in a big room with one mic far away from the group.
Rating: 5 (4.9)

Brookes McKenzie

This album perfectly illustrates the hazards of having one person arrange most of your songs: if s/he's less than stellar, your entire album is flawed, and even if s/he's great, most of them end up sounding pretty much alike. It also shows the flip side of Brookes's First Law of Coed Groups (The women are _always_ better than the men) - if all your women sound like Susannah Hoffs and/or theater majors, you have a slight problem. These two faults undermine this otherwise decent album. All the women in this group have nasal, flat (tonally speaking, not as far as pitch is concerned) sounding voices, which does make them blend with each other, but it doesn't produce a sound that you particularly want to listen to. As for the tenors, let's just say that the ones you do hear make you wish they'd called in sick for this album. However, the basses are actually a lot more present than in most coed groups. When Spur of the Moment get a good song choice and an arrangement that doesn't suck, they can produce a track worth listening to, but when they're given bad syllables and overly cheesy song selections, the result is unattractive. Unfortunately, the latter situation prevails for the first half of the album, but later on things pick up somewhat, with some interesting things going on.
Rating: 5 (5.1)


Individual Tracks

  1. Pinball Wizard (5.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    good energy, but the soloist is just inappropriate for this song. she's a broadway girl singing roger daltrey, and although the who somehow have invaded broadway and were indeed known for their rock concept albums, roger daltrey WAILED. he rocked. he didn't sound like he was on broadway. anyway, the arrangement by music director david cohen is solid (great guitar syllable writing is one of cohen's specialties it seems), with a little break for "can't explain," which was a welcome diversion and leaves room for explosion into more pinball wizardry. i DISLIKE the ending, with parallel rising major chords on the words "to him." david is a top notch arranger as is evidenced by the rest of the album, but i have trouble understanding that choice.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    Long, questionably-tuned slow intro gets the song and the album off to a terrible start. From there a chuggy little arrangement backs a female soloist with a nice voice who has no business singing a Roger Daltrey lead. Arrangement provides some unintentional camp with the periodic big "aaah" slides. In general they don't seem to get that this isn't a 90's pop song — it's a real rock song, supposed to have feeling and edges and stuff. The four-measure "I Can't Explain" bit is the best part of the song — swingy and smooth and suited to their interpretation, unlike the song surrounding it.
    Rating: 3

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This track is a strong start to the album. It really moves. It has great energy, a strong solo, and a good arrangement.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    The intro on this one scared me, it was so choral. Fortunately, the group finds more of a pop sound once the tune kicks in (although the choral sound comes back in spots). The groove is decent, mostly due to some strong mouth percussion. I liked the idea of a female soloist, although a couple of the lyrics sound kind of silly with the gender swap.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Serious lack of blend in the (choral, of course) opening, arrangement immediately goes (and stays) severely cluttered with bad syllables and too-aggressive delivery of slightly lame lines. None of this is helped by the fact that the soloist is a show tunes refugee — she's not bad (if you like pure Broadway cheese) but she should be more forward — her voice is too slight to blast over the background. Despite this, parts of this song show what it could have been — the simpler chorus actually works well until they ruin it with one of those awful rising "awww"'s, but after that there are some interesting female lines that I like a lot. Too bad the rest of the song doesn't live up to those parts.
    Rating: 6

  2. Ghost (5.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    very very nice. i really like the way this arrangement builds into the song's choruses, it has lovely changes into the bridge, competent & cool sounding percussion, a good soloist and is performed very well. the arrangement (by m.d. david cohen) gets better as it pulls you toward the ending, which in my opinion every really good arrangement should do. production is also excellent on this track, although i question the choice to fade out when there is an audible ending to the song mid-fade. the only problem i have with the arrangement is that at times it overpowers and complicates what the soloist is doing. perhaps this could've been remedied by cranking the solo volume, or just some careful editing...
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    Quavery solo over a slow background, which is mercifully in better tune than the held notes in Pinball Wizard. The choruses are really nasal, the rest of the song less so. Bridge after first chorus is quite pretty, then nasal background kicks back in. The song requires a more compelling solo and lead and a smoother background — a tall task, and one they can't quite make it.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a very good arrangement of a good song — several parts including vocal percussion make the sound quite full. Although the soloist sounds nervous and labored, the background is beautiful. The song builds dramatically at the bridge, and I was caught up with it.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    The soloist had a warbly sounding vibrato that I didn't care for. The backgrounds are all sustained notes — the only thing providing a rhythmic element is the mouth percussion. Although it's a slow song, it could have more life and especially seems to drag on toward the end.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    Overly abrupt studio fade-in, bad syllables (way too many "doo"'s) and lack of blend again, it sounds like there are 18 million of them (this is not "We Are the World", people), and the percussionists seem to be under the impression that they're doing a techno version of the song. All of these problems pale, however, beside the main thing that plagues this song — the soloist. She has enough vibrato to kill a horse, her attempts at being emotion- all fall completely flat, furthermore she actually _is_ warblingly flat on the high part, AND she doesn't have nearly enough power to pull off the chorus, let alone the bridge. Speaking of the bridge, it is also a veritable orgy of bad syllables ("chang-a-chang" vying with "doo-wahh").
    Rating: 3

  3. What Would You Say (6.0)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    cooly song choice. this arrangement is often jam-packed with so much information stacked up so thick that you might think the soloist and general gist would be lost again, but somehow this tune succeeds. the parts surround the soloist, support him, and they're pretty fucking cool in and of themselves such that you don't really care about the soloist that much anyway. there's a breakdown in the middle of the song that gradually progresses into ants marching, a great idea, since the tempos of the two songs are well matched. anyway, that's very well done. fuck, i just really like the women's guitar part in the choruses. fuck, i just really don't like the nasally syllable choices all over the song. philip berne is a good soloist. cohen and samrat chakrabarti collaborated on an arrangement which has cool-ass parts in spades, but with just as many annoying syllable choices (which, i must say, can be overlooked without much difficulty).
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    The arranger seems to have no idea which syllables to use, so he's thrown in just about everything at one point or another, with varying degrees of success. The beginning has some nice ideas marred by choice of syllables — the "bramp" guitar stuff contrasts with itself to much to enjoy the overlay over the smooth bits, and "shoop" is out of place later on (even if it does have the bonus effect of opening up the women). An unremarkable solo joins with ugly alto accents and some unintentionally funny heavy male choruses which sound more like Toad the Wet Sprocket than Dave Matthews. Ending the choruses on an exposed alto "chig!" was probably not the best choice. The breakdown section is strident and kills tuning — simplifying the background seems to hurt them, not help, as they do much better when the song is more complicated. The "Ants Marching" riff starts to show some promise, but a calypso-ey delivery of the verse kills it.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I like the beginning of this song, and the variety of sounds and syllables used in the background parts to achieve the desired effects. Good percussion, too.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    An attempt at a "twangy" guitar sound comes off pretty cornball, as do some poorly chosen syllables in the backgrounds. The bass line is almost inaudible, adding almost nothing to the arrangement. There are also some rhythms that don't quite lock in. I enjoyed the interlude from another song (sorry, I don't know what it is).
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    Annoying guitar-imitating syllables abound on this Dave Matthews song, but the rest of the arrangement (particularly the part right before the chorus) is decent. Flat-sounding women (with a few Kate Pierson sound-alikes thrown in for variety's sake) also dominate, which doesn't help. The solo does a credible job of imitating Dave, though, and the song does chug along well enough, aided by the beat-box-y percussion. The weird thrown-in bits get old after the first listening.
    Rating: 5

  4. The Letter (5.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    broadway soloist singing a mellow folky natalie merchant tune. this combination does not thrill. short, sweet arrangement by spur's wellspring of charts, david cohen. standard but effective arpeggios bounce around the parts while others sustain thick aahs & oohs. nice. again, not thrilling.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    The background on this sounds awfully Kings Singersy, which is even more incongruous given the thin breathy lead vocal. Overall the song seems a difficult one to make sound good; they do nothing special with it, and it would take an extraordinary performance indeed to make it shine. At least it's short.
    Rating: 4

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a very pretty song. The solo is sweet and tender, and the arrangement is just gorgeous.
    Rating: 9

    Mike Connelly

    The bell tones that make up most of the background for this ballad aren't consistent from voice to voice. Volume and tone quality just don't match, making for a lumpy track for the soloist to sing over. Not too exciting.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Yet another Cohen arrangement, this one is mostly arpeggios of "bum"'s — the few held parts (when they're not going "dooo-wah", another favorite trick) are a relief but fail to make up for the overwhelming aura of cheesiness that this song exudes. And it doesn't seem to have needed the extra Whiz — despite my normally low regard for her, I'm frankly shocked that Natalie Merchant could ever have sunk to these depths. The solo just tops it off with a perfectly nasal and top-40 delivery. It's bizarrely short, but since that's the best thing about it, I shouldn't complain.
    Rating: 3

  5. Afternoons and Coffeespoons (5.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    you'd remember this song if you heard it. it's the crash test dummies other hit from the album that had mmm mmm mmm mmm on it. anyway, there's parts of this song where the soloist drops from hearing completely. the group suffers from pitch problems sporadically, and the percussion on this track seems more amateur somehow. i question the choice of this song, since it lacks any real passion anywhere, even in its original form on the album. which doesn't leave much room for spur to go nuts. nuts.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    Ow. I kind of like the low pop-song melody, but the background is painful. Everything sounds about a quarter tone flat — partly its tuning and partly the sheer nasal edge to all the vocals. Go hunt down another version of this song that isn't as difficult to listen to.
    Rating: 3

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The rich soloist does a great cover of this Crash Test Dummies song. The complicated arrangement is well-done. The group has good energy and good blend, and the song moves quickly without being rushed.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    There's an awful lot of (fairly typical) guitar strum impersonating going on in this one ("chanka chanka..."). Actually the entire arrangement is very repetitive. One of the strengths of the original version is the cool sound the lead singer's voice has...the soloist here doesn't even begin to approach that quality.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    *Really* bad syllables on this one (and from different arrangers, this time), just for an extra treat. Good percussion, but it doesn't fit the mood, such as it is. They sound like a cartoon of an a cappella group on this one, with chirpy women and random basses and tenors singing things like "zum-a". The solo doesn't help — of course, it's hard to sound like Brad R., aka Mr. Bass (although I'm sure they had to raise it about an octave in the first place), but there's no need to be quite so good-natured about it. Overall an exercise in trying to be cute and failing.
    Rating: 4

  6. Mother's Pride (5.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch problems. challenging pitches were chosen at the beginning of this arrangement, and they weren't conquered, especially by the alto(s?). it was nice to hear what david cohen sounds like, very nice soaring tenor stuff over another of his arrangements. again i'd question the song choice, but that aside, pitch problems abound too much to make this tune's success possible. a better performance, with wider dynamics and better control over the pitches would've made this really beautiful.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    Must the women always be so nasal? Solo here does a decent job of carrying a pretty heavy background, but the duet is strident and doesn't blend at all. These songs with low, sluggish backgrounds seem so appealing to arrange, but they almost never work out well, but you can't blame this group too much for falling into an old pitfall. They do the best they can with a tough job, and the soprano obbligato is respectably open. David Cohen has a great tone on the solo that would lend itself perfectly to the next song — he keeps Mother's Pride from slipping any farther into itself.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Easily my favorite track on the album, this song gives me chills. The melody is beautiful, the lyrics are sad, the sound is almost eerie, and the solo is exquisite. And the lovely "flute" part is also notable.
    Rating: 10

    Mike Connelly

    The feel is very similar to track 4, bell tones and all. This one adds an extremely square wordless soprano solo at the beginning. Some pitchy notes in exposed spots are particularly painful.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Where on earth did this song come from? More "doo"'s (some of them dissonant) but at least you can hear the basses on this one, random pinched sounds chiming in from someone, the flute (I think that's what they mean by "flute") is just a classical music impersonation by a soprano with a capital S. Basses stumble back into their part, accidentally punching it a little too hard, and then promptly go off tune. The only thing I can think to say about the soloist is that he adds a little more cheese to the liberal amounts of it that make this the _second_ cheesiest song on the album.
    Rating: 4

  7. The Promise (5.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i actually thought the beginning of this song might've been a joke, the female voice and sort of overture thing at the top was just wrong. there are definitely some neat tricks in philip berne's arrangement, mostly echoes everywhere in every part of the song in backup parts and echoes of the soloist and just everywhere in general. the drums would've been great if they'd just panned the kick and snare to the middle: the way it is, they're way off to one side, opposite the hihat. really heavy eq on the kick and snare is actually very effective, nice and tight performance as well. the echo chamber breakdown thing is very effective also, and in keeping with the echoes already established in the rest of the arrangement. the solo is not terribly inspired, but neither is the original by when in rome, so maybe i shouldn't complain about a lack of overflowing emotion...
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    You know, the breakdown chorus says everything about this song. A respectably complex echo cascade starts out with the impossibly nasal solo. The farther it gets from the original melody, the more open and clear — and more pleasant — the tone of the singer coming in. Why couldn't Spur of the Moment have drafted one of their tenors custom-built for the song? You can hear him periodically in the background of the chorus — it's not too high. Instead they choose a woman who's tone is so nasal she sounds like a robot holding its nose — why? Maybe to blend with the background — Nasal chords, and a flat synth riff make a reasonably open bassline sounds like vocal genius under the blat. (It should be noted this the only time the bass is really noticeable on the album.) The warwhoop synth bits behind the second verse do provide a bit of a chuckle.
    Rating: 4

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Overall, this is a groovy song with a good beat. The soloist's voice has a bit of an edge to it, but all she needs is a little softening and smoothing and this would be a great song.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    Another awkward solo starts this one off — the soloist is slightly off-key, lending tonal ambiguity to an arrangement that already makes it difficult for the listener to figure out what key the group is in. The rhythmic feel is very mechanical.
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    Does not start out particularly promising (ha, ha), but soon picks up — particularly the percussion, which IMO is the main thing that makes this song interesting. It more or less kicks - a damn good drum loop imitation, plus a cool hi-hat/scissoring noise, both of which would sound perfect in a techno song, but are the teeniest bit out of place in a generic 80's one hit wonder pop song. I'll take what I can get, though. The bass line works for me even though it sounds like only one person's singing it. The solo is a little plastic for my taste, but this is actually a great song choice for them, and a halfway decent arrangement works wonders.
    Rating: 7

  8. As I Lay Me Down (5.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this group has so many female soloists that sound so alike i can't believe it. i keep looking to the track list to see if it's the same soloist as before, only to see it's one i haven't heard before. amazing. actually, nina adelson is perfect for this sophie b. hawkins song. in fact, the rest of the women in this group probably would've been perfect for this song. it's right up all their alleys, seriously. this and the promise both succeed remarkably well, it's like spur's thing is 80's tunes with the one two beat and kinda cheesy lyrics, really, they do these kinds of songs well. cohen's arrangement is nice & tight, although i'd've argued with him about the ending when the entire group evolves into "as i lay me," i don't know, it's just not powerful enough of a lyric to inspire me at the end of the tune.
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    Perky and nauseating. Take a soloist from one of those trite contemporary christian groups and have her hold her nose. Add the sort of goofy percussion that accompanies songs like "talking in your sleep" by a so-so women's group. Factor in my personal loathing of this song and you get a generally unappealing package. Next!
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This track features a soloist whose voice is childlike and sweet, and really works well with this song. The group as a whole has nice blend and nice dual percussion parts, but the ending of the song is harsh.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    One of the better ballads on the album. Actually, I guess it's not really supposed to be a ballad, but it comes pretty close. The soloist has a very light voice, which I liked quite a bit, although she has trouble getting to some of the low notes and goes a little heavy on her vibrato.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Unfortunately, now we get back to the main style of this album — I don't even need to look to know who arranged it. This one also features a soloist who sounds like she's about five years old — although she doesn't actually, she might as well lisp, and she can't hit the low notes. She does sound nice and clear on the high parts (including the crucial bridge), though. Again, the percussion almost redeems this song — a nice heartbeat in the beginning, then a steady throb — and it's done by the same guy as on the previous song — they should make him the permanent air-drummer.
    Rating: 4

  9. Over My Shoulder (5.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    where did this group come from? they crack me up, honestly. this is a song by mike and the mechanics. mike and the mechanics? amazing. and the soloist, matt ramer, really sounds like he's from this period of time, when lyrics were exceedingly cheesy and men sang really really high and clearly and with no grit and when the songs were all about chicks and love and stuff. YES! complete with fadeout! cracks me up. it just amazes me that spur has taken these songs and really succeeded with them. cohen's guitar arranging on this track is really cool, great syllables which really lend themselves to the rhythm of the tune. i guess the reason i'm not rating these higher is because none of the songs themselves really thrill me. it's not that they're being performed poorly so much as the songs themselves are kinda bland, like the 80's were in many ways.
    Rating: 6

    Rebecca Christie

    Sort of funky. I approve. Solo reminds me a little of Billy Joel — he has his part well in hand, offsets the background women well (who have an echo-style part). And it feels like he's kind of enjoying himself, which extends to the group. Fast parts are much better than slow and there are no big surprises, but it's a nice listen.
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a funky song with vocal percussion that I can only call powerful. The background is tight, and the solo has energy and personality to add to his nice voice.
    Rating: 7

    Mike Connelly

    A very dull, repetitive arrangement — the backgrounds get one rhythm to repeat for the whole song (the clunky background lyrics don't help). Having the reverb go in and out is an interesting idea, but it's too overdone and becomes distracting.
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    These guys try hard, but are just a little too into it to pull it off. Percussion aside, this song starts off with a dazzlingly naked display of previously unexplored awful syllables ("joom","jadit", and even "mahanajana"), but they actually become tolerable when camouflaged by the rest of the background singing words. The solo, however, does not — percussion-boy is much less apt ("loooking back") at lead vocals. However, this song is distinguished by having one of the only actually realistic studio fade-outs I have ever heard on an a cappella album.
    Rating: 5

  10. Crucify (5.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this tori song was interpreted EXTREMELY rhythmically. it's too mechanical in its performance of the verses, and then it jumps into a kind of merengue rhythm for the chorus, which i found totally inappropriate. tori amos has a very unique writing and production style, and i feel that spur completely missed the mark here. tori is not gospel (spur breaks into a huge choral section toward the end), and she's not merengue, she's not dance (as the rhythm tracks here suggest), she's just totally passionate about what she sings (this soloist does not invoke a huge amount of passion). the "why do we crucify ourselves" part towards the end is nasal and obnoxious. i almost feel like somebody got a hold of david cohen's arrangement and read it wrong or something, 'cause the parts are all there, they just don't FEEL right.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    Solo gets brownie points for not trying to sound like Tori Amos. She does what she can in her own style, getting a range of different timbres out of her voice, and in general it works when judged on its own merits. I wish I were more familiar with the original — I get the sense that the song ought to do more than just a pop song, but the background here doesn't help it go anywhere. Solo puts in a good strong performance, but it's not the kind of job that takes over a song, leaving me a little unsatisfied. Oh well.
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The soloist on this song has a unique voice quality that is reminiscent of Alanis Morissette, which I enjoyed very much. Nice variation in dynamics in the background, and nice blend in the duet at the end of the song.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    I guess the lyrics are fairly silly, but I didn't really notice on the original as much as I did here. It's one thing for the lyrics to not make any sense to me, but the soloist sounds like they don't make any sense to her either. The backgrounds are generally pretty good, although the group sounds a bit whiny at times, especially the high soprano parts toward the end.
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    The basses sound like it's too low for them. Thank God Ramer's back on percussion, but unfortunately the show tune girl is also back from track 1. She actually has a nice voice — she's probably the best soloist on this album, but her tone is all wrong for this song, although sounding oddly like Natalie Merchant at times. The arrangement is a little bit sparse, but serviceable enough. The fact that Spur of the Moment seems to have recruited the Chipmunks for the trio at the end doesn't help. However, enough of the feel of the song comes through for a decent version. The ending is mildly cool.
    Rating: 6

  11. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (4.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch, way way way way way too much reverb all over the place, it's like a wash of bad pitches that're reverbed longer than you ever wanted to hear them. honestly, i've never heard a chorus so washed out by too much reverb like this. the arrangement has a lot of these pyramid things that spur is fond of, and they're consistently off pitch. soloist is fine, he's the only person you can hear clearly at least.
    Rating: 4

    Rebecca Christie

    Light, mellow and decent — solo is a little subpar, some of the background parts stick out, but this is a song they should be proud of. Here's why: tuning is good, tempo is smooth, and the background has a great blend in — the background! Mixing level are perfect so everything can be heard. And the clear soprano accents are nice too.
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    I found this song a little monotonous — the verses tend to drag and some of the background parts are somewhat wooden and don't blend well. The choruses are better, though, with good energy and tempo.
    Rating: 5

    Mike Connelly

    This song has been around so long — for a group to pull it off, it really needs some sort of new twist, which we don't get here. Very bland and repetitive, with so much reverb that it's difficult to pick out exactly what's going on in the backgrounds at times. There are also some wordless solos that stick out from the rest of the ensemble.
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    No subtlety and spasms of bad arranging (notably on the bridge) make this an irritant instead of the plausible rendering it could have been. The solo tries really hard to make the song his own, but better men than he have been foiled by the evil genius of Sting. The percussion likewise is a nice effort but ends up sounding a little silly when combined with such things as "ne-na-na-na" for syllables. Overly rushed fadeout. Altogether rather unfortunate.
    Rating: 4

  12. You'll See (5.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    more pyramid stuff arranged this time by matt ramer,works nicely, but again is often off pitch. this is actually a nice track, a nice solo, a solid arrangement, but the song itself is really not too exciting. madonna's certainly done better, and these are referred to in the arrangement, but this song is not really brought to a higher level.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    Oh yeah — this is that Madonna song. It sounds higher than I remember it, and the solo is very light and tentative compared to Madonna's husky, studio-enhanced tone. Good arrangement — a challenging soprano part works well when its in tune but slips sometimes, which is a shame because the other parts are nice and smooth. All of the different "doos" could stand to lighten up and give a bit more attention to pitch. This is a good level of rhythmic texture for them, ch-ch-change not withstanding... Toward the end of the song, the key change itself is quite shaky, but the parts come together very well in the higher key.
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    Again on this track, blend is lacking in the background. Some of the individual background parts are too prominent and threaten to overshadow the shaky solo.
    Rating: 5

    Mike Connelly

    The group just doesn't blend — there are some rhythmic parts that sound really distant, while the more melodic parts are right in your face. Also, the singers can't decide if they want a classical or more "pop" sound. Pitch is also a problem in spots.
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    An attempt at a brooding ambient beginning is wrecked by the introduction of overly jittery syllables. The solo is a little bit sketchy, but not as bad as she could be. Seems a lot faster than the original, which helps, I think. The jitters are magically transformed into a groove in the middle of the song by the heavy bass-y percussion, again courtesy Ramer, but the key change positively hurts. This song has the sopranos a lot higher than usual, but they shouldn't be. A fairly good song choice for them, though, and an interesting stab at arranging. Nice trail-off ending.
    Rating: 6

  13. You Are the New Day (4.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    traditional. i never understand this. why is this song on this album? why is a traditional thing in the middle of an album filled with 80's & 90's pop stuff? what the fuck is going on here? it's fine, it's FINE, but why why why WHY? just out of place.
    Rating: 3

    Rebecca Christie

    This sounds like a Christmas Carol. Perfectly acceptable ensemble number to break up a set and please old alumni. There's no real feeling, enthusiasm or finesse, however, so it lacks the charm of professional versions.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The only "traditional" piece, this is also the only non-pop cover song, and is therefore a bit out of place. The group entrances and cutoffs are good. The song has pretty harmonies and nice blend, but flat texture and dynamics.
    Rating: 6

    Mike Connelly

    A chorale type number (it almost sounds like someone took a ballad and tried to arrange it in the style of Bach or something). There are no dynamics, and the tempo is very mechanical. With such a predictable arrangement, I'm not sure what is supposed to provide the interest here ("Ooh! They can sing major triads in tune! Oh happy day!").
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    An obvious attempt to gain credit for diverse material, this token traditional suffers from a lack of subtlety — they sing the whole thing at the same boring volume. They also sound like they could be singing the phone book, for all they're paying attention to the (albeit cheesy) lyrics. Blend is so-so. Altogether so much of a walk-through for them that it's hard to take it at anything more than face value.
    Rating: 5

  14. Holding Out for a Hero (5.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    aah, we've returned home. tight percussion, sounds great, totally appropriate. the only thing i'm missing here is the big "aah aah" chorus things by the women that are from the original. there're more pitch problems from the women, and the mix is not terribly good: seemingly random parts stick out much louder than others in inappropriate places. but the soloist, karen loewy, is just right, albeit without bonnie tyler's original grit. ooh, this is especially apparent in the bridge, where bonnie wails hard, and karen is just sweet. oh well.
    Rating: 5

    Rebecca Christie

    My ears have become sensitized to the women, and a light and prominent solo keeps them in the background where they belong. That nasal problem is only intrusive when they have words on the chorus. Percussion does a good job of keeping the song moving along and gives some nice energy, picking up slack from the other parts. Solo is quite pretty on the oohs at the end and does a fairly good job throughout
    Rating: 6

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This is a really great arrangement. The song starts out strong and maintains it throughout. It is fast-paced and energetic, with good presence of the basses, and a great ending.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    Very dated sounding. Yeah, I know, every college group nowadays does a few '80's pop tunes. But that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea. The group settles into a fairly comfortable groove, but it just doesn't go anywhere from there.
    Rating: 4

    Brookes McKenzie

    A bit of a shock from the previous number, this notorious coed group number actually starts out fairly convincingly, with a not horrible arrangement and lots of energetic (if corny) drum fills. However the solo, though she's okay in the beginning, gets more quavery the higher she gets, although she can almost pull off the ringing Pat Benatar-like bits. Unfortunately the sopranos on the words also get eaten by the tape recorder when they're trying to turn up the juice. This song comes damn close to working, but fails by a few crucial notches.
    Rating: 5

  15. In the House of Stone and Light (7.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    another david cohen special, arranged and soloed. when david spends time on an arrangement, it really works. changes throughout offer spice, and make the song grow from verse to verse to verse to chorus. bigger and bigger. that's good arranging. somehow the little melodies in the instrumental part aren't performed terribly well, lacking energy and jumping out like they needed compression or something. good percussion and a seriously good solo by david, in addition to his sweet arrangement, make this work.
    Rating: 8

    Rebecca Christie

    Wow — this is like finding a beautiful stone in the middle of a mud pit. It opens with a neat beginning and some cool effects, and as the song develops manages to channel the nasalness effectively. A laid back, textured arrangement does a good job of moving the song along, and the solo is wonderful. Music director David Cohen has a light clear voice that is able to *sing* the song without worrying about how high it is, and enough depth of tone to convey some meaning. Even the background woman who sounds exactly like Lisa Simpson can be ignored — the soprano section has a laudably accurate part throughout, to give the women some credit. It all comes together for a smooth, pleasant package without the slightly annoying quality of the original. In my view, Spur of the Moment doesn't take the ending far enough dynamically or emotionally — it has the potential to really soar — but they don't blow it either. A lovely listen.
    Rating: 8

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    This song features an impressive opening. With smooth background blend and excellent vocal percussion, this is a very good cover.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    A promising ethereal intro (did I hear a little overtone singing in there? hmmm, hard to tell) leads into a rock tune that, well, sounds pretty much the same as all the other rock tunes on the CD. An interlude with alternating male and female soloists is jarring (especially when the two singers overlap each other); the two voices have such different sounds, you wonder if they were even listening to each other during the performance.
    Rating: 5

    Brookes McKenzie

    Nice bass underpinning on this song, and the propulsive percussion, though utterly unsuited for the song (note to Matt Ramer: drop me a line when you graduate and we'll do Massive Attack a cappella), actually makes it rock, despite some weird twiddly bits. This is by far Cohen's best arrangement because he keeps it simple, with full-throated "ahh"'s for the most part and soaring soprano lines. He's also a good soloist, managing all but the most difficult parts of the song. Overall a good effort - I just wish they'd toned it down the tiniest bit.
    Rating: 7

  16. Eternal Flame (6.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    check it out! another soloist that sounds like the other women on this album, but we've not heard her solo yet! i don't understand it! but gail paris does a perfect bangles thing on this, it's just right for her and the other women in spur. really, that's not a negative, it's a great solo, and a nice cover of this bangles tune which will forever remain a classic for teenyboppers from the 80's. nice arrangement by cohen and friends. just right. now you just have to like this kind of music...
    Rating: 7

    Rebecca Christie

    Lisa Simpson sings the solo. Or maybe it's supposed to be Lisa Loeb — but no, it's not flat, so it can't be that. And it's not as breathy as either of those could be, just a straight arrow of tone, with none of the softness a ballad would seem to demand. The background on the choruses is actually pretty good, although the percussion seems a little misplaced. Opening is awfully tooty after the smooth mood of House of Stone and light, but it settles down to an acceptable background for a college group.
    Rating: 5

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    The background on this song is appropriately light, allowing the soloist to carry the song. As usual, the percussion and blend are notable, but the ending is a bit weak.
    Rating: 8

    Mike Connelly

    Yet another alto who doesn't sound very comfortable on the lower notes. Some echoing background parts are almost humorous (soloist: "E-ternal" backgrounds: "TERNAL!").
    Rating: 6

    Brookes McKenzie

    This is a perfect song for them to do, since all their altos sound like Susannah Hoffs anyway, and they actually get the arrangement almost right this time — nice timing in the beginning. The bass line is a little silly, and could be lower, and the highest soprano a little screechy for my taste. I really like the women in the background on the second verse. They hit the bridge a little too hard — you can hear what they're trying to do, but they don't quite get there. The solo's cute enough for the most part, but she really needs to learn the meaning of head voice, especially when they try to get quiet. Weird "a-men" ending — they should have faded out.
    Rating: 7

  17. Untitled (1.0)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    [not reviewed]
    Rating: none

    Rebecca Christie

    Punk woman meets Ethyl Merman and Kermit monks. I think they included this just in case you thought you could leave this CD on a pleasant note after sticking it out through the whole thing. It's a guarantee that'll never happen.
    Rating: 1

    Alison Berube Sullivan

    [not reviewed]
    Rating: none

    Mike Connelly

    This is the obligatory "secret bonus track", which in this case is an alternate version of track 13 with the men doing sort of a Jim Henson impersonation and a female singer just belting her head off. Hopefully most people will be fooled and turn off their CD player before it gets that far.
    Rating: none

    Brookes McKenzie

    [not reviewed]
    Rating: none

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