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Boston College Acoustics

Boston College

Perpetual Breakfast (2001)


September 18, 2001

Tuning / Blend 4.0
Energy / Intensity 4.0
Innovation / Creativity 3.7
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.3
Repeat Listenability 4.0
1 Bye Bye Bye 3.7
2 Smooth 3.7
3 Silence 4.3
4 Can't Take My Eyes Off You 4.0
5 Father Figure 4.0
6 Pearl 4.0
7 Mona Lisa 4.3
8 Alone 4.0
9 Sell Out 4.3
10 Happy Home 4.0
11 ...Baby One More Time 3.7
12 Criminal 4.0
13 Living on the Edge 4.0

Recorded 2000 – 2001
Total time: 56:54, 13 songs

Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
1 Bye Bye Bye 4
2 Smooth 4
3 Silence 4
4 Can't Take My Eyes Off You 4
5 Father Figure 4
6 Pearl 4
7 Mona Lisa 4
8 Alone 4
9 Sell Out 4
10 Happy Home 4
11 ...Baby One More Time 4
12 Criminal 4
13 Living on the Edge 4

The Boston College Acoustics' latest album, Perpetual Breakfast, is a collection of pop hits released within the past two or three years. The group thinks like a lot of other collegiate groups and has chosen many of the same songs that many other groups are doing (i.e. Bye Bye Bye, ...Baby One More Time, Smooth, Can't Take My Eyes Off of You). The reason so many a cappella groups are performing these cover tunes are because they translate well to the a cappella sound. They were all hits, so we all know and love them. I do commend them on their choice of track #7, Mona Lisa by Boston-originated band Guster. I've been a huge Guster fan for years now, and I just love that groups all across the country have begun covering Guster tunes.

The overall sound of the album is very good. The group's pitch and blend are pretty solid. The arrangements, as well, are quite good. All of the soloists sound great; not too many weak links there. The vocal percussion is all passable; nothing amazing, but it isn't bad.

I think the production quality as a whole is good. There's a little too much reverb at times. The group sounds a little far off to me. It's nothing that hurts the album, just something I've noticed. I would like to feel a little more energy from the group as a whole. The soloists sound energetic, but sometimes the backups are not as punchy and enthusiastic as they could be. Track #2, Smooth, was a good example of this problem. I want to hear more excitement in the song. It was a little slow and mellow for my taste. It can stay at the same tempo with more punchiness to it, or maybe they could pick up the tempo a bunch.

I like that The Acoustics didn't feel the need to supplement their recording with a "hidden track" of goofy outtakes. To the group: if you guys fought over this decision before releasing the album, the people who were all for leaving out the hidden track were the smart ones. With its thirteen tracks of solid songs, no jokes, and no attempts at humor, I think The Acoustics made out as winners with this album.

Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
1 Bye Bye Bye 2
2 Smooth 2
3 Silence 4
4 Can't Take My Eyes Off You 4
5 Father Figure 3
6 Pearl 3
7 Mona Lisa 4
8 Alone 3
9 Sell Out 4
10 Happy Home 3
11 ...Baby One More Time 3
12 Criminal 3
13 Living on the Edge 3

When my college a cappella group began recording our first CD, a music industry veteran gave us some advice: no matter what you do, he said, always, always put the best track first.

It's a shame The Boston College Acoustics had not heard this advice before they decided to open Perpetual Breakfast with Bye Bye Bye. Don't get me wrong, I love the song, and it was, after all, the number one radio single of 2000. But the 'N Sync version had a dirty, punchy, poppy sound that's almost impossible to replicate, a cappella or otherwise. In putting that song first, The Acoustics, like most groups covering today's pop, come off sounding weak and empty.

So my hopes weren't high for the rest of the album, and I drifted off...until the third track, Silence, that dancey, trippy import with Sarah McLachlan on lead, which the Acoustics just nail. Soloist, arrangement, and production all come together. It's a winner.

The rest of the album was full of highlights: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You, skillfully arranged, was nicely covered by soloist Anna Padilla, and Jon Geldart does a respectable George Michael on his own arrangement of Father Figure.

My favorite track was Guster's Mona Lisa (I have yet to see a Boston-area group that doesn't cover a Guster song), which achieves that all-too-rare Holy Grail of college a cappella — emotional intensity that actually grabs the listener. The arrangement was almost too simple, but The Acoustics found a groove, added a little reverb, and the effect was magical. It wasn't just dynamics (Happy Home has the same dynamic contrasts but lacked the overall effect), but rather that intangible something that made the song "pop".

That something would have been nice to hear first. The Acoustics manage to show us what they can do — it just takes them too long to do it.

Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
1 Bye Bye Bye 5
2 Smooth 5
3 Silence 5
4 Can't Take My Eyes Off You 4
5 Father Figure 5
6 Pearl 5
7 Mona Lisa 5
8 Alone 5
9 Sell Out 5
10 Happy Home 5
11 ...Baby One More Time 4
12 Criminal 5
13 Living on the Edge 5

The best things about this album (in order): soloists, background singers, duets, vocal percussion, production, arrangements... (No, let me try again...)

Soloists, production, vocal percussion, arrangements, background singers... (No, let me try ...)

Soloists... Duets... Arrangements... (Let me start again...)

This is a CD to add to your music collection, even if you don't like a cappella groups! (Let me try it another way...)

This CD was so good, I am not going to mention the things I usually do...use of dynamic range, tuning, tools, techniques...all of that was left behind in the rehearsals. This is music. This CD cooks! (OK, Just tell them the straight and skinny...)

The Boston Acoustics' CD Perpetual Breakfast was an absolute pleasure to listen to. It is as close to perfect as I ever expect to hear from a college group. They have put all the pieces where they need to be. (This works!)

They started with good to excellent arrangements. They rehearsed until I'm sure they all hated each other's guts. Years ago, the soloists began learning how to use their voices and how to manipulate them just so. They found the right person to sing each duet so that the blend of the two voices created the exact edge that they wanted. Finally...finally...they chose the right production crew to capture and enhance what they had. It is very good CD.

Were there some things that were not perfect? Of course. But there are always some things you can improve on: a little flat note here or there; tracks without quite the energy and aggressiveness of the rest; maybe, just maybe, a song that could have been tweaked one more time. But you know what? These students created music. And when you do that, the little tiny things that you might focus on disappear.

Every participant shines: Soloists, duet singers, background vocals, vocal percussion, production staff, arrangers. I even expect the person that ran out for pizza performed in a superior manner — just the right amount of the right toppings.

When the final effort is evaluated, this CD cooks!!! The Boston College Acoustics brought all the sizzle to the table for Perpetual Breakfast. Now go buy it.

Postscript to The BC Acoustics: I'm sure that cut 4, Can't Take My Eyes Off of You, is a cover of Lauryn Hill's version. But you know what? She was covering the original gold-selling 1967 hit by Frankie Valli. Find a copy of the original. You'll enjoy it. Great job.

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