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RARB REVIEW

School: Brandeis University
Group: VoiceMale
Album: Flipside

Total time: 52:59, 15 songs
Recorded 1997

Ordering Information


Track Listing

  1. Hooked on a Feeling (4.8)
  2. Hook (4.8)
  3. Tempted (3.2)
  4. Lie on Lie (6.8)
  5. Hard Hearted Hannah (5.6)
  6. You Can Have Her (5.4)
  7. High Hopes (7.0)
  8. What I Got (4.8)
  9. Come My Way (4.6)
  10. Notorious (6.6)
  11. Mack the Knife (6.2)
  12. Sloop John B (3.6)
  13. Dancing Nancies (5.8)
  14. The Letter (4.4)
  15. Mama Said Knock You Out (5.0)

Reviews

Overall

Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

well, here's another a cappella album by another male group at another college. they're mostly newish radio stuff with a couple old jazzy doowoppy things here and there. chicks dig 'em. dudes wanna be in 'em. but they're not too good. i enjoyed rare moments on this album, but the pitch was so off throughout that it basically prevented me from rating anything higher than, well, higher than i did. the most exciting track is a hidden one, some dude doing ll cool j's "mama said knock you out" with 3 buddies helping out with the beat and the backups. this is honestly my favorite track on the album, because it has energy and excitement and a dude just freakin' on the lead rap. the rest of the album is filled with mediocre soloists, percussion that sounds decent but fails to lock into a groove, and arrangements that are good but aren't performed well. these guys need to focus on some fundamentals: time (rhythm, groove, whatever), PITCH, and energy.
Rating: 3 (3.2)

Randi Sherman

So Flipside is a new group at Brandeis. Keep that in mind when you listen to their CD. They focus on two different styles: barbershop and pop/rock. They're more solid with the barbershop style, and if it weren't so "unpopular" at college, I would say they should focus their repertoire there. The percussion in the group is the strongest quality; it's creative, consistent, and not overpowering. Most of the soloists have very little expression or emotion behind their singing. Their best voice part- the basses. However, many arrangements are too difficult for them, and a simpler, sharper arrangement would've been better. Lots of the background singing is out of tune and needs clearer intonation. I think if they waited another year to make a CD they would've had better results, but I'm sure lots of the seniors wanted one before graduating.
Rating: 4 (4.7)

Sarah Andrews Cook

VoiceMale's Flipside is a pretty spotty product but not bad for a relatively new group. The songs range from typical male a cappella choices like Sloop John B and Hooked on a Feeling, to '80s cheese and '90s alternarock. VoiceMale's future success would seem to reside in what they choose to focus on, since their stronger tracks are actually ones where they do a good, focused job on challenging material (High Hopes, Dancing Nancies) rather than the typical traditional fare of men's a cappella that every group has done at least once. As a new group they don't have the baggage of being expected to do the type of material they did 10 or 20 years ago, so they have the chance to go with some newer, interesting stuff. They make a joke of their hidden rap track, but they could actually do that well if they wanted to. It's a rare group that does a large variety of song types equally well, so VoiceMale might want to pick a few things and really work them instead. I'd say, go out on a limb.
Rating: 6 (5.9)

Shawn Pearce

This group shows a lot of promise. They sound like they have a lot of fun, they push themselves in their music and their arrangements, only allowing for occasional laziness on songs, and they try new and interesting material. Musically, they have some growing to go, but this album, unlike some, deserves a few extra listens, and 2-3 of the album tracks should definitely go into a "Really Cool A Cappella" mix tape. There are few enough clunkers that this makes it a really enjoyable listen. And if they keep pushing themselves like this, I really wanna hear their next album or two, cause they could be looking at CARAS contention...in a couple of years.
Rating: 7 (6.1)

Benjamin Stevens

VoiceMale is an eleven-member all-male group from Brandeis University. Eleven seems to have been a good number, as they produce consistently strong sound on this album ("Flipside"), with a good spread across the voice parts: they seem to be possessed of a couple of great rumbly basses and more than a couple clear high tenors. If the baritone parts get lost in the middle, well, it's not unusual, anyway.

Overall, the album is good. The group sings some interesting arrangements, and I am particularly impressed with the way background voices are kept varied and interesting on a number of songs (no simple "doo-doos" over and over here). Backing voices in general are well blended and modulated, letting the solo voice carry the weight; I almost get the sense that VoiceMale is trying to be unobtrusive about being a cappella, good music being good music no matter the medium.

Some problems do show up, however. Tempo seems a little sketchy on some songs (and really sketchy on one; see below), with the basses not quite grooving with the rest of the group. Also, the vocal quality of the soloists is not always suited to the song at hand: their crystal-clear tenor voices do not have the "edge" needed for some of what they undertake. Sometimes they have soul, sometimes not, and when not it's unfortunate. Still, the songs are full of energy, and the album is a worthwhile one. A good variety of musical styles, brought about by consistently good backgrounds and reasonably decent soloists, and aided by good light VP throughout, make this a solid album.
Rating: 7 (6.5)


Individual Tracks

  1. Hooked on a Feeling (4.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    bad pitch, bad rhythm, decent percussion (well produced, at least, the percussion that is). the thing about the percussion in this tune is that it fails to establish a groove. ooh, really bad pitch actually. if this is a sign of things to come (which the first song on a disc should be, in my mind), uh, well, i'm not terribly excited. nice little rolled snare thing at the end. competent soloing, competent arrangement, nothing terribly outrageous in either department.
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    Well, it's hard to do an original arrangement of one of the most performed a cappella songs. I wouldn't have started with this; kind of a "This song again?" expression comes to mind. They've got a great percussionist on this one who sets the tempo really well. The soloist is good except for some weird vowels. The "ugachaka's" rush whenever they sing, and the backup vocalists don't sound together or in tune. But the percussionist- he gets some of the points all on his own.
    Rating: 5

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This is a poor choice of opening track, because it's such a typical song for your average men's a cappella group, and VoiceMale doesn't do anything with it that makes it stand out from anyone else's way of doing it. It's no mystery that men like to say "ooga chacka," and VoiceMale is no exception. The soloist is non-offensive, but he keeps the whole solo at the same dull roar with the occasional outburst of throaty emotion. Not an awful track, but not a great one either.
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    First of all, pronunciation...for the entire song it sounds like he has a cat fetish...."Hooked on a Feline", to me, is TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!! =) Seriously, Blue Swede as a group could barely speak English and they managed to pronounce the song correctly...that was one of the things that really bothered me about this song. The other was the fact that they tried to make it so pristine that it took the oomph away. Doing it in this fashion, IMHO..and please forgive the pun...spayed and neutered the song. BAAAAAAD kitty. =)
    Rating: 4

    Benjamin Stevens

    A dramatic opening for the album: "ooga-chaka" pounding out my brains got my attention. The soloist comes in very well, and is joined by a nice backing; I might have wanted a greater drop in dynamic for the "ooga-chakas" when the other voices came in. A nice light VP threads through the song. The soloist has a good clear voice, but it sounds almost too bright at times, too boyish. His intonation is also a little strange at times (he just doesn't say words how I expect he would). Still, this is an exciting and entertaining opening, and they keep it energetic for the duration.
    Rating: 7

  2. Hook (4.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    weird mixing here, sounds like there's NO high end on the backup vocals at all, like they're singing from under a couple of mattresses. soloist lacks balls in a major way, and he's also want of some soul. hey! guess what! more bad pitch! yay! some nice syllables in this arrangements, zhuns, zhas, etc, and a good use of words in the backups. i can't hear the basses for the most part. AAAAGGGH! the pitch is absolutely painful, and the bridge with the quick lyrics thing comes out of nowhere (the arrangement doesn't lead into it at all), AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! totally jagged, yuch.
    Rating: 1

    Randi Sherman

    I like the creative syllables, but they don't always match. The balance of the background voices is off; you can barely hear the middle parts. When they go to the chorus, it's really sloppy with too many parts that seem to clash, via pitch and rhythm. The soloist is good, but lacks expression- he just sings from note to note. They tackled the fast verse of "suck-it-in" but all they did was tackle it. It's sloppy.
    Rating: 4

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The solo is nice, and though the soloist doesn't have the edge John Popper has, he has a good feel for the song. The overall attitude of the group feels a little too mild, though, and they almost could have gone farther in that direction and made it a lounge-y sort of parody rendition, or made it harder and fit the mood of the original.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    You know, the line "..as long as I sing with inflection" that starts this song is really funny coming off of the last track. But I digress... Actually, it's a little stiff in the background, but otherwise this is a solid song. Background stays interesting while not being overly busy, and the soloist is top notch. About the middle of the song, though, it gets a little repetitive and it lacks fire...although they made it up when the soloist rushed through the patter section on the third verse...but at least it sounded convincing.
    Rating: 7

    Benjamin Stevens

    A "prettified" version of the original, with the background voices not so much imitating the feel of that original but doing a fine job of getting the notes right. Nice to listen to. Great syncopation of the parts during the chorus. The soloist is playing it a little too straight (another one of those brilliant tenors), and has some tuning problems coming off of his higher notes. This is especially pronounced in the chorus, which is a shame since the background there is so interesting.
    Rating: 6

  3. Tempted (3.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    a remix of this classic with dance percussion. this part (the percussion, again) is actually kinda cool, and would be cooler if it were more consistent throughout. as it is it changes section to section with no continuity. weak soloist, really bad pitch on all the backups. one word that keeps coming to mind as i listen to this album is jagged. jagged jagged. shit flies out at you and you're like whoa, where'd that come from, totally the opposite of smooth. the soloist's little ad lib variations on the lead are just not that good. extra points for the dance concept. lack of groove kills, though.
    Rating: 2

    Randi Sherman

    I love this song; when the original artist "Squeeze" performs it. Rough beginning, and there are some rolling chords that are just plain sour. The falsetto in the song is sticking out and squeaky. When they change voices during one verse (they do in the original as well) it's messy and rushed.
    Rating: 2

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The whole rendition seems a little...unfocused, for lack of a better word. The tempo is sped up, with almost frantic (yet quite varied) percussion. This loses the seductive nature of the original, and doesn't add anything good to it as far as I can tell. The soloist doesn't convey anything about being tempted at all, and the part where several singers each say their one line is a sad shadow of the original. Weird choices went on here.
    Rating: 4

    Shawn Pearce

    WAY, WAY, WAY TOO FAST!!!! Squeeze is not meant to be disco, I'm sorry.... and it's a shame too, cause the background is solid, and the soloist works fine for the song...but the speed killed the song IMHO. I can appreciate the attempt to make something different out of the song, but this wasn't the way to go.
    Rating: 3

    Benjamin Stevens

    Not a great arrangement, and not performed very well. The backing voices sound chaotically slung together rather than aiming for a coherent whole. The lead soloist sounds a little strained on his higher notes, which unfortunately occur throughout the song. A change in solo voices is a mistake: four people take the fore, and each one doesn't do well — the normal lead, a falsettist who should be singing lower, a muddy bass, another bass. Not a total loss of a song, but I'll be skipping it from here on out.
    Rating: 5

  4. Lie on Lie (6.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    this is by chalk farm, you've heard it but might not remember from the title. starts out really cool, nice little arranging here. lead sounds pretty good (keith berman does an admirable job), too, quite appropriate for the style (white music — this is not a bad thing necessarily, and it's not here). more bad pitch in this one from the backups, but not as much as usual. i like samrat chakrabarti's (one of the founders of this young group) arrangement as well, builds well and has nice variety and syllables.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    Very cool beginning as each voice part is layered in, and the soloist matches the tone quality of the rest of the group well. However, at the chorus, there's too much going on, and you can't understand the soloist's words. He's drowned out by some unclear syllables in the background. It's too bad the chorus comes back so often, because the rest of the song has a lot of potential.
    Rating: 6

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This is a nice imitative version of one of the top alternative hits of the day, yadda yadda yadda. The soloist has the right attitude, though some of his more affected pronunciations stick out. The nice thing about this song is that it is as focused and on track as Tempted was not. The intro and ending parts were really nicely done.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    GOOD SONG!!!! I love it when a cappella turns me on to popular music that I otherwise wouldn't have heard of (Folk Implosion is another recent example of this. Very powerful sounding song. Execution suffers in the push sections a bit when they shift from strong singing to near shouting...but that happens a lot...especially when you're excited about a song, and not experienced enough for control....and VoiceMale is young in comparison to a lot of groups out there....Overall, one of their better tracks.
    Rating: 8

    Benjamin Stevens

    Fantastic! An unusually and interestingly arranged background, sung just right, makes this song delightful to the ears from note one. The backing changes halfway through, making it all the more exciting. Great "push" from the whole ensemble during the chorus, just the right affective feel to it. The soloist is solid, with a darker quality than the others well suited to this song. A keeper. Really well done.
    Rating: 8

  5. Hard Hearted Hannah (5.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    uh oh. barbershop. wow! how come their pitch is so solid on this and so weak on other tracks? oh well. i'm not sure why this is on the disc in terms of continuity, but i did enjoy it, it's performed well, and whatever. good pitch is good pitch.
    Rating: 6

    Randi Sherman

    Here's where VoiceMale proves what they're good at: barbershop-style music. The balance is pretty good, but the basses are a little overpowering. The chord changes are pretty good, and it's a good song to feature a few different voices.
    Rating: 7

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    You're going to have to really wow me if you want me to care about listening to such a glee clubby song. They don't do much with dynamics, and they pretty much rush through the whole thing. This sort of thing only works well if the group oozes personality, especially during the little interjected solo snippets. Instead it just goes on and on.
    Rating: 4

    Shawn Pearce

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the Brandeis Glee Club. =) Seriously, a credible job, some imperfect harmonies, some rushing....enjoyable, but hardly remarkable.
    Rating: 6

    Benjamin Stevens

    A barbershop tune; barbershop with an ensemble is difficult, and this group experiences the common difficulties. There is no real "ring" to the chords, as more than one voice on a part don't _quite_ match up. The lead-ins to each section are tentative and not really strong. Even the tag at the end, any true barbershopper's pride and joy, is short and without energy. They sound as if they're trying to play it straight, but they get more boring than they bargained for.
    Rating: 5

  6. You Can Have Her (5.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    i really didn't like this. the soloist sounds nervous, the arrangement is simplistic, the whole thing is just a cappella doowop stuff of the super-typical variety. when the soloist jumps up the octave is frantic frenetic insanity that just doesn't sound good in any way. whoa! there's digital noise towards the end of this track! um, not professional. whatever. apparently the audience was not quite as discriminating as i.
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    The group is proving that they are, indeed, a young group, and sticking to the simpler arrangements shows that they do have some good voices and talent. I really didn't enjoy the soloist's "yelling" when the notes were an octave up, but it was acceptable since it fit the still of the song. As soon as the energy of the group was up, the pitch was up too. I thought the song itself (not the fault of the group) was boring.
    Rating: 6

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    They have a lot more fun with this one, and I have a feeling that being in front of a live crowd has something to do with it. The soloist goes for it, and really works the song and the crowd. A simple song like this can be either boring or fun, and here they have fun with it.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    Why does every group feel it necessary to do a live track on their albums lately? Fairly simple song that from what the soloist said has been in their repertoire for awhile. As such, it falls symptom to familiarity to the brink of sloppiness as well as "It's a crowd favorite, so they won't care what it sounds like" syndrome. The soloist, hence, is WAAAAY out of tune, and the background chords are mediocre at best. *shrug* The song itself is cool....
    Rating: 5

    Benjamin Stevens

    I don't normally like live tracks, since something seems to get lost in translation, and the recorded audience always ends up having (always ended up having?) more fun than I do. Still, I like this tune. The solo is bass/baritone, but launches into an energetic higher part to keep things interesting. Well done. Background is fairly tame and consequently well-sung, with a nice change from "doo-doo" to call and response in the refrains. Some tuning problems in the soloist, especially at the end where he seems to change keys and then get back on track. Studio time would have made this a real gem.
    Rating: 7

  7. High Hopes (7.0)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    extra points for pink floyd (even if it's the crappy new stuff) and the cool production with tons of effects. without the gallons of reverb i'd've been shooting myself much of the time, but with it the big stuff sounds monstrous. there're some really annoying baritones going "gung" all the time, and it kind of bugs me how nonchalant the soloist is. AAAAAAGGGH! then the modulation happens and the pitch is just all over. again, jagged, people fly out of the mix and say "wooo" "ahh" "wah wah wah wah" and i'm just smashing my head against the wall. ah, the wall. maybe they should've done a good pink floyd song... this one's intensely boring. the end kills me. in a bad way.
    Rating: 2

    Randi Sherman

    Great replication of the original with the introduction. They obviously used the studio to its fullest on the song with lots of reverb. I couldn't tell if the low voices were really singing or just rumbling, but it was really effective. My one hesitation- how would they do when this song was performed live? The soloist was great, capturing the mood well. The one MAJOR problem- during the bridge, one voice (in the middle of a held chord) was really out of tune- making the whole chord sound awful.
    Rating: 8

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    Pink Floyd is a tough a cappella undertaking. Here they obviously have fun working with studio effects (the distant approaching "gong"s especially), and since it's not my job to speculate on how this would work live, I have to say that they really pull off the Floyd challenge. They put together a rich, full, resonant sound, with lots of interest in the arrangement and a good imitative solo, which all adds up to a very strong track.
    Rating: 8

    Shawn Pearce

    Neat opening....I've never heard the original song, but it sounds very much like Floyd (although recent Floyd, as the song itself doesn't approach the complexity of classic Floyd). Again, the background seems stiff as in "trying too hard" stiff.....but overall, this is a VERY cool song, but I have to wonder if they could come close to this live on stage.
    Rating: 8

    Benjamin Stevens

    This is the best song on the album. The background is lush, ambient and atmospheric, and the solos key in perfectly to the feel established by the backing voices. The bass is really strong, giving a real driving feel over which the bizarre textures of Pink Floyd can be laid. A complex, interesting arrangement, again changing throughout the song to keep the parts interesting. The solo is first deep and narrative, then higher and so tender it's chilling. I got goosebumps. Listen to this over and over.
    Rating: 9

  8. What I Got (4.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    hello! basses! get with the drums at the beginning! or, percussionist! listen to the basses! something. the percussion is simply all over the place. shared solos are, uh, ok. god, i've never heard a two chord song with worse pitch, really guys, get the fucking backups together already! i'm sure the audience dug it 'cause they just heard it on the radio, but jesus, this just lacks any kind of soul or groove or anything. FUCKING GROOVE FUCKING GROOVE. this song is all about the groove, and the arrangement, while imaginative, does not enhance the groove but destroys it.
    Rating: 2

    Randi Sherman

    The percussion starts out well, and when the rest of the group comes in (actually- only two people) they're nowhere near the tempo the percussion started! There's lots of tempo problems; you wait to find out when the rhythm is going to settle, and it never does.
    Rating: 2

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The arrangement of this song is really fun (I do seem to like that word today, don't I?) with lots of cool little individual parts popping in. The soloists (there are two) however don't really stand out enough over this cool textured background, and sound a lot like they're just going through the motions. Interesting choice to make this a "clean" version, blurring out "motherf*%#in'" into something like "motherfloatin'" — kind of cute.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    Basses need to find their rhythm on Beat 1, not beat 6....so does the percussionist, although in his case it's only during the fills... The song is REALLY fun...and this has the capability to really sell the group well as a finisher...they just need a little more time to smooth over the (in this case) glaring rhythmic problems. I like the interchange between the soloists a lot.
    Rating: 7

    Benjamin Stevens

    Led by a somewhat cheesy VP opening, this song gets better. Background vocals are kept unobtrusive to let the soloist do his work, which he does well. Some tuning problems occur near the end, in the breakdown. Not my favorite song normally, but done decently here.
    Rating: 7

  9. Come My Way (4.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ooh, nice solo on this one by berkowitz, supertenor style. oh god, i should just try to ignore the bad pitch. but i can't. i don't care what kind of group you are, i don't care what kind of songs you like, i don't care if all your soloists bite, i don't care if you have 3000 people at every campus show, i don't care if you have incredible art, i don't care if you rehearse 300 times a week, i don't care how incredible your arrangements are, if you can't get your group to sing together on pitch, stop what you're doing and practice really hard, try really really really really hard to sing a one four five progression with really really really tight pitch, so tight it hurts. YOU MUST HAVE GOOD PITCH BEFORE YOU CAN GO ON LIVING.
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    What a standard to compete with; taking a Rockapella song! The soloist is sharp but doesn't seem to realize it! It's never fixed. When they're all singing the words during the faster section; it's really sloppy. Really sloppy. The basses/percussionist are what keeps this song from falling part.
    Rating: 3

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    They settle into this Rockapella tune and really have some fun with the harmonies. The basses distractingly reach their lower limit during the middle section, but otherwise this is a pretty seamless tune. It's just nice.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    FINALLY...a Rockapella cover of something OTHER than "Zombie", "Long Cool Woman" "My Home" and a half-dozen other oft-covered Rockapella songs. They do it in a more understated way, and it really comes through for what they do....cause if they had tried to do it exactly like Rockapella, I shudder to think of the results. A solid effort.
    Rating: 7

    Benjamin Stevens

    Sadly, the worst track on the album. Plagued by strange problems with tempo throughout, this just doesn't seem to get off the ground. I suspect the boys were really trying very hard (and it's true that with Rockapella as your model, you _need_ to), but they just don't seem to get there. The soloist is a little reedy, and the backing vocals are thin. Everyone sounds as if they aren't sure about the tempo: literally everyone is behind, and the strange pauses between verses are very jarring. I do have to applaud the bass for getting down so low, even if only with glottal fry.
    Rating: 4

  10. Notorious (6.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    these guys like their effects, and they use them quite well, i think. another cool arrangement by chakrabarti which fails in the performance (what's the password? pitch...). rhythm? rhythm? rhythm? the dudes singing falsetto are, uh, kinda funny sounding, they make me feel kinda funny inside. the lead and duet dude are pretty good, and are quite tight with each other.
    Rating: 4

    Randi Sherman

    There's a couple of rhythm problems with transitions. They make great use of studio effects again. Since the parts are pretty repetitive, there's not the usual problem of too much going on at once. This is definitely the best the tune on the album.
    Rating: 8

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The intro is really cool and true to the cheesy '80s original, and exhibits some more of the fun with studio effects. The verses seem to lose the edge of the intro a little, but they get it back during the choruses. Some weird rhythms they put in the chorus make that part seem a little jerky, but overall it's a pretty cool version of this song.
    Rating: 6

    Shawn Pearce

    Good level of funk on this song...the background evokes the original very well...as does the soloist (arguably the most effective solo on the album). This song really shows off what this group can be in a few years if they keep working. Again, the rhythm shakiness is what holds this back from being a classic.
    Rating: 8

    Benjamin Stevens

    Good VP is my favorite part of this song. Other than that, the soloist is tame and the backing sort of uninteresting. Not badly done, just not really worth doing.
    Rating: 7

  11. Mack the Knife (6.2)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    yup. mack the knife. bom bom bom bom bom. jazzy jazz jazz. when they modulate at each passing verse you can't really tell. funny backup stuff between the lines. basses all over the fucking place pitchwise doin the walkin bass thang. whee...
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    I wish the group would decide to either go with pop/rock music or stick to the oldies/barbershop style. They're much better at the latter. Good arrangements with lots of different vowels intermixed with words. The key changes are good as well. The best part- the soloist has a great "lounge singer" quality to his voice. Amazing that he was the "screamer" on "You Can Have Her".
    Rating: 8

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    This is a truly interesting arrangement of the Bobby Darin classic which tends to work pretty well. It's driven by the solo and bass line with intermittent bursts of harmony by the rest of the group. The soloist does an admirable Bobby Darin, but he could stand to let loose a bit more in a few parts. This is a really fun way to go overall — they make it new, but it holds the essence of the original.
    Rating: 7

    Shawn Pearce

    Groovy, baby. They treat this classic with the proper amount of cheese... pity it didn't match it with the musicality...VERY sloppy rhythms, tuning is shaky..and the cute stuff wasn't funny enough to make up for it. Soloist, however, matches Darin well.
    Rating: 5

    Benjamin Stevens

    Good soloist (the same as on "You Can Have Her") leads a progressively fuller background into musical triumph. A solid walking bass dances around as the others do their best to emulate the big-band feel of the original. The soloist, as on his other tune, shows some good soul. Nice.
    Rating: 8

  12. Sloop John B (3.6)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    hey! another cool live track at house of screaming college kids! this is definitely the right soloist, this berkowitz dude from tracks 1 and 9. high tenor stuff, i like the way he sounds in general, but the pitchiness of the backups, well, is typical i guess. uh oh, as soon as berkowitz starts turning up the volume, the pitch turns up as well and so does the quality of his voice. anyway. yow yow yow yow. where's the compressor when you need it?
    Rating: 3

    Randi Sherman

    Should be "sloppy" John B (sorry- I couldn't help it). The beginning is rough, and the "bum-bums" that are through most of the song bounce all over the place for pitch. The pitch overall loses it the longer they sing, and the soloist is mostly responsible. The "dum-digga-dums" that the basses do sound like a rodeo, not the Beach Boys. I thought this song was arranged poorly, performed poorly, and would've been better kept off the album.
    Rating: 1

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    So? That's all I have to say. Well, not really. This song screams, "Hi - we're a male a cappella group!" And the soloist pretty much screams throughout the whole tune as well. And it's yet another example of how men like to say "ooga chacka" at any opportunity, especially in front of a crowd who eats it up. Nothing new here.
    Rating: 4

    Shawn Pearce

    Another live track....maybe it's just me...but unless you can back up what you do in a studio live, you shouldn't do live tracks, no matter how neat you think it is. The soloist over-emotes to the point of agony, and is generally nasal throughout. The background was better than in the other live tracks...but why show off the fact that you sound better produced than "in the raw"? To me, that hurts the overall product.
    Rating: 4

    Benjamin Stevens

    This sounds almost hastily put together, as if lifted from the instrumental parts without considering how the shift to a cappella might affect the sound. As such, it doesn't come together, with somehow everyone standing out. Backing syllables are cheesy (I know it is a Beach Boys' song, but even so...). I get no real sense of the dynamics of the original, especially in the bridge (a cappella in the original) where VoiceMale just keeps singing on through.
    Rating: 6

  13. Dancing Nancies (5.8)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    dave matthews got totally weird on this one. on one hand i feel like there're too many good songs in the world to cover ones that aren't so great, and on the other i admire voicemale for choosing a song that's not as popular and trying to bring it to an audience. well. whatever. this one's fine, and actually the pitch of the group is unusually solid here. competent soloing and percussion and arrangement. the song itself is kinda boring, though though though though though.
    Rating: 4

    Randi Sherman

    The voices on the same parts need to listen to each other! The "oohs" are out of sync. When the song changes to my favorite part "look up at the sky" the chord was simply wrong. Just arranged wrong. What solidifies this song is the soloist, the basses, and the percussionist. The rest is thrown in.
    Rating: 3

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    Nice arrangement, nice variety, nice movement. The soloist keeps that Dave Matthews' quirkiness but does his own thing — and he obviously has a good feel for the song since he was the arranger as well. I wanted a little more oomph in the arrangement from the "Look up at the sky" part, since that's the part of the original song that really gets me going, but overall there's a lot to recommend in this song.
    Rating: 8

    Shawn Pearce

    Interesting song....good vocal maneuvering in the arrangement, and it finds an infectious groove fairly early. Soloist delivers in an understated way that fits the arrangement well. This song displays the strengths of this group, and then some...the rhythm of this song is much better than in other song. A very solid song....could be better with some better dynamics.
    Rating: 8

    Benjamin Stevens

    Cool opening from the backing voices in this song, setting up a good atmosphere. The drums come in, everything's rolling ... and then a change happens, to a different sort of song! What happened?! Decent, but the beginning was the most exciting part, and it takes a serious drop from there.
    Rating: 6

  14. The Letter (4.4)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    time. it's all about time. time, rhythm, groove, whateveryouwannacallit, you gotta have it. no matter what you do. it's called pop music, and it's based upon the groove. it goes back many many years. 99% of pop songs have got a groove. you must try to match this groove, or you lose. they throw in the bridge from the red hots' aeroplane here for some reason. ok. ok soloist, ok arrangement, bad groove, bad falsetto part at the end.
    Rating: 2

    Randi Sherman

    Where's the beat in the beginning? The criticism here goes more to Joe Cocker and the fact that they picked this song. I think it's boring, and there's no confidence in the background vocals. There repetition of "my baby wrote me a letter" seems to change every time they say it.
    Rating: 3

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    The solo here is nice — a good level of intensity balanced by more subtle parts. The arrangement is pretty busy and tends to sound repetitious from verse to verse even though they change little things (mostly syllables) each time around. They put this weird part in the middle that finishes up with an almost Chili Pepper-ish exclamation — I don't know where that came from at all. More of the repetition, then the album's over...
    Rating: 5

    Shawn Pearce

    Unfortunately, the rhythmic inconsistencies are back in force....which is a shame, cause otherwise the arrangment grooves...decent soloist, good arrangement...but the rhythm is so erratic it's distracting. Also, the high-voiced "My baby wrote me a letter"s were POORLY out of tune... and didn't add to the arrangement at all. In short, nice try.
    Rating: 6

    Benjamin Stevens

    A nice jazzy feel for this song, but the solo sounds too young for this kind of work. Not very interesting, but done pretty well.
    Rating: 6

  15. Mama Said Knock You Out (5.0)
    Gabriel Shabbtai Rutman

    ll. my man ll. this features four of voicemale. actually, the rapper's pretty cool. actually, the whole track is pretty cool, actually it's the best track on the album, and i'm not even joking. they crack up in the middle, they're having a great time, there's no need for pitch (the one dude that sings the little musical thing is on, actually), and they're totally pumped. it's good. they call it garbage. i call it the only thing that hints at passion and musical excitement on the album.
    Rating: 5

    Randi Sherman

    I don't know why this is a hidden track- but they obviously wanted to have some fun.
    Rating: none

    Sarah Andrews Cook

    Or is it? There'd be nothing wrong with working this up a bit and making it a regular track. Closing it with "This is garbage" seems to indicate that they think it's a joke, but it's more interesting than a lot of the standard a cappella stuff they put on this album. But since they don't take it seriously, and it's not really fully finished, I'll give it no rating.
    Rating: none

    Shawn Pearce


    Rating: none

    Benjamin Stevens

    Skip this silly rap at the very end of the last track ... mama said don't sing rap.
    Rating: none

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