Duke Out of the Blue - "Flywheel"

All things Recorded A Cappella Review Board.

Postby vocalmark » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:10 pm

Matt Emery wrote:Blah blah blah blah, all this is well and good.

And then I look at how you gave the Brown Derbies better scores for their terrrrrrrrrrrrrrible album (given ZERO 4's or 5's from the other reviewers, and rated mostly 1's and 2's at that), and a) the above logic makes absolutely no sense and b) your credence as a reviewer takes another hit.

I mean, come on dude. "Semi-Charmed Life" was already obnoxious 13 years ago...


Ouch.

Agreed, though.

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Postby brianhaverkate » Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:52 am

RnBMrE wrote:
brianhaverkate wrote:I'm wondering what everyone's feelings would have been if you could give half scores and they looked like so:

Overall: 4.5
Tuning/blend: 4.5
Energy/intensity: 4.5
Innovation/creativity: 3.5
Sound/production: 5
Repeat listenability: 4.5
Soloists: 4.5

Really, that's where I felt they were on the album but didn't feel their performances qualified a true 5.0 in the categories (or 4.0 in creativity) so I rounded down.

I think RARB can serve several purposes (this is just my opinion):
1) Publicity/awareness of the recording
2) A learning tool for the group

If I rounded all the scores upwards, the group might have thought, "Great. We're a 5.0. We have nowhere to go from here (future albums and musical adventures aside)." Maybe they wouldn't have, but I have to score the album how it reflects in my eyes and from what I hear.

In the end, I think the overall average scores from all the reviewers reflects the album pretty well which came out as:

Average scores:
Overall: 4.7
Tuning/blend: 4.3
Energy/intensity: 4.3
Innovation/creativity: 4.3
Sound/production: 5.0
Repeat listenability: 4.3
Soloists: 4.3


Blah blah blah blah, all this is well and good.

And then I look at how you gave the Brown Derbies better scores for their terrrrrrrrrrrrrrible album (given ZERO 4's or 5's from the other reviewers, and rated mostly 1's and 2's at that), and a) the above logic makes absolutely no sense and b) your credence as a reviewer takes another hit.

I mean, come on dude. "Semi-Charmed Life" was already obnoxious 13 years ago...


Matt,

Did you do any research before you posted this or did you just find the one review that supported your argument? I think you'll find that my reviews are pretty much in line with everyone else at RARB when you look at my reviewing history in its entirety.

That aside, I'll admit I probably liked the Derbies album more than I should have. I also don't think it deserved 1's and 2's either as the other reviewers scored it. We're all human.

I think sometimes reviewers credit an album too much if it's in line with all the bells and whistles of current technology (ie: failing to look closely at categories like creativity), and on the flip side I think reviewers discredit an album if it's more like a year-book album in recording quality (failing to credit the creativity or quality singing that might exist). Sure, the year-book albums should be rated lower in sound/production but not at the expense of other categories. I'm not sure if it's subconscious or not. I have to constantly force myself to wade through the auto-tune and rhythm maps to accurately rate the non-production categories and not just give those categories a pass because the gloss sounds so great.

I'm not sure what "Semi-Charmed Life" has to do with scoring an album. Does the album get 1's and 2's because the group covered that song. How about "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"? I didn't know these rules existed.

If you want to point out an album where you think I missed the mark (which I admit I did to some degree) and place that as your level for argument, that's fine. However, I think that says more about you than it does me. That in combination with the fact you went/go to Duke might lessen your credibility when complaining about an album's scores from a group from that school.
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Postby RnBMrE » Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:06 am

First of all...

Image

(Because let's be honest: it's the controversies that make this forum interesting these days...)

brianhaverkate wrote:Did you do any research before you posted this or did you just find the one review that supported your argument? I think you'll find that my reviews are pretty much in line with everyone else at RARB when you look at my reviewing history in its entirety.


Fair point about your full reviewing history. Everyone knows that it's the anomalies which give the best insight, though. Particularly, in this case, the places where you gave 5's.

Because you went into great detail in the last thread about why you didn't give OOTB a 5, I thought it'd be interesting to find those groups where you gave said score despite the possibility that a group might think they had "nowhere to go from here". That's what sparked my search, and I have to say that I was surprised by the two most recent examples (and the only ones from the past year and a half, at that): Onoscatopoeia and the Derbies. Derbies, and your opinion on the album, specifically, had been previously discussed on the forums (and is a stronger example), so I chose to bring that one up for the sakes of continuity and relevance.

There are a couple other examples, too (Lilli Lewis comes to mind), but the conversation deteriorates further and further into "my opinion on a few of your opinions" as it progresses. And that's just not very interesting conversation, is it? :)

I'm also curious to know: do you think OOTB's last album "Red" was better/worse/the same as the current one? I know that you reviewed the previous one... and also gave it a 4 Overall (and a 3 for Innovation/Creativity, heh!). I'd certainly say that the new one is substantially improved, both in comparison to the group's last effort and as related to the collective body of contemporary a cappella, all-female or otherwise.

brianhaverkate wrote:That aside, I'll admit I probably liked the Derbies album more than I should have. I also don't think it deserved 1's and 2's either as the other reviewers scored it. We're all human.


Are we human... or are we dancer?

brianhaverkate wrote:I think sometimes reviewers credit an album too much if it's in line with all the bells and whistles of current technology (ie: failing to look closely at categories like creativity), and on the flip side I think reviewers discredit an album if it's more like a year-book album in recording quality (failing to credit the creativity or quality singing that might exist). Sure, the year-book albums should be rated lower in sound/production but not at the expense of other categories. I'm not sure if it's subconscious or not. I have to constantly force myself to wade through the auto-tune and rhythm maps to accurately rate the non-production categories and not just give those categories a pass because the gloss sounds so great.


Nice. I appreciate that perspective and the additional attention you give to those details.

brianhaverkate wrote:I'm not sure what "Semi-Charmed Life" has to do with scoring an album. Does the album get 1's and 2's because the group covered that song. How about "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"? I didn't know these rules existed.


Well, yeah. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29 :P

brianhaverkate wrote:If you want to point out an album where you think I missed the mark (which I admit I did to some degree) and place that as your level for argument, that's fine. However, I think that says more about you than it does me. That in combination with the fact you went/go to Duke might lessen your credibility when complaining about an album's scores from a group from that school.


Maybe. I do have a few friends who were in OOTB. They graduated between 2005 and 2007 (when I graduated), though. I don't know that it has much bearing on how I feel about the group's current album, especially considering I thought the ones that came out during/just after my time at Duke were significantly less compelling as compared to the most recent.

No matter, though. Since my objectivity is now in question here, I suppose that I should re-frame the main point of my argument (and, perhaps, start what could be a great conversation to have):

Name, with supporting arguments, any better all-female album than Flywheel. Curious to know your (Brian) thoughts, as well as others'.

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Postby dave sperandio » Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:11 pm

brianhaverkate wrote:I'm not sure what "Semi-Charmed Life" has to do with scoring an album.


Houston, we have a problem.

brianhaverkate wrote:Does the album get 1's and 2's because the group covered that song. How about "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"?


I'd reply with an unequivocal yes. Unless they've remade it a la Sonos with "I Want You Back", or the like. If their album has more than one or two of these type of songs, any chance of more than a 3 in Innovation/Creativity should be out the window.

Was this a sarcastic question, or did you really mean this? I suppose I shouldn't assume....I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt!

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Postby crazy4music3 » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:12 pm

1st of all...rofl, I read it all
second of all...im still trying to find out how off the beat got mechanical license for ELM.
3rd...I was always heartbroken in high school state solo ensemble when I'd miss points, therefore keeping me out of a "best in center" category...dang you elusive score of 36! that TOTALLY defined my musical career and individual biases for the next 4 years of my life! I could never trust my own musical interpretation of the works of Gerald Finzi or (in small group setting) Biebl ever again to be at the top tier of one panel of judges' minds.
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Postby vocalmark » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:41 am

diovoce wrote:
brianhaverkate wrote:I'm not sure what "Semi-Charmed Life" has to do with scoring an album.


Houston, we have a problem.


ZOMFGROFLMFAO

This started off my day better than I could have ever hoped.

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Postby RnBMrE » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:31 am

MarkHines wrote:
diovoce wrote:
brianhaverkate wrote:I'm not sure what "Semi-Charmed Life" has to do with scoring an album.


Houston, we have a problem.


ZOMFGROFLMFAO

This started off my day better than I could have ever hoped.


Ditto times one million.

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Postby phollens » Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:18 pm

wow this thread is just wow.
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Postby Chris » Sun May 02, 2010 3:13 am

diovoce wrote:I would submit that holding a college group (and I'm just going to go ahead and say it - especially a recorded female a cappella college group - just in terms of the body of work that similar groups have put out) up to the standards of Firedrill! and Cadence is not productive nor realistic, in the way that you think it is.


RARB reviewers are instructed to score all groups on the same scale, whether they're a pro group or a high school group. That way, the reader knows that a reviewer thinks an album they gave a 4 to is better than an album they gave a 2 to, regardless of what kind of group it is. One could argue that that's not fair to a high school group, but having a multitude of different scoring systems- one for each different type of group- would make it more difficult for readers to interpret and compare scores. Also, a pro group might feel it's unfair for them to get a lower score even though their album is better.
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Postby dave sperandio » Mon May 03, 2010 5:13 am

Chris wrote:RARB reviewers are instructed to score all groups on the same scale, whether they're a pro group or a high school group.


Those may be the marching orders, but I'd submit that most reviewers don't follow them and/or are not consistent in this practice. The Brown Derbies review (based on the clips I have heard at least, and with no disrespect intended towards the Derbies) would seem to be a terrific example of this, but there are scores of others.

And again, it's one thing (and understandable, even if one disagrees with the scoring or the premise) to say that "Flywheel" did not merit a 5 in Innovation/Creativity - as compared to Firedrill! or Cadence - it's another thing entirely to say that on that same scale, the album ranked a 3 in that category, merely average.

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Postby RnBMrE » Sun May 09, 2010 12:14 pm

RnBMrE wrote:Name, with supporting arguments, any better all-female album than Flywheel. Curious to know your (Brian) thoughts, as well as others'.


Bump.

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Postby tekay » Sun May 09, 2010 5:17 pm

RnBMrE wrote:
RnBMrE wrote:Name, with supporting arguments, any better all-female album than Flywheel. Curious to know your (Brian) thoughts, as well as others'.


Bump.


Can't do all of the arguments, but in my subjective opinion i liked
    Jackson Jills "Full Swing"
    medlz "aufgetaucht"
    Loreleis' 116 Chauncey Street (though that could be because they name-dropped thv in the title)
    Sirens "Surreal" and "Nectar and Ambrosia"
    Sweet Honey in the Rock "Live at Carnegie Hall", "Still on the Journey" and "...twenty five..."
    Jezebel
    Dilemma
    10fm

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Postby brianhaverkate » Wed May 19, 2010 3:21 pm

RnBMrE wrote:
RnBMrE wrote:Name, with supporting arguments, any better all-female album than Flywheel. Curious to know your (Brian) thoughts, as well as others'.


Bump.


Sorry guys. Been busy with some other job-related duties.

I agree with both of you (Matt and Dave) that Flywheel is better than most of current female a cappella. Apart from a few groups, they're equal or top-notch in my book. As noted by Seth, we have to judge each album based on the entirety of a cappella out there (pro, high school, college, etc.). That said, I hold to my scores.

However, if RARB reviews were organized into categories (male collegiate, professional jazz, etc.), I would probably judge differently in relation to the whole of that category.

Personally, since at RARB my scoring scales are constantly shifting (slightly or otherwise) based on my view of the entirety of a cappella. What is a 5 today may not be tomorrow. This puts reviewers in a tight spot based on what they believe is the whole of a cappella recordings. So be it.

All of us here at RARB have different experiences as a participant and listener of a cappella music. I think that's what makes it great. I think I have a voice to contribute that may not be reflected in the other reviewers being a high school choral teacher, someone who helped start two different groups at two different colleges (one of which was featured on BOCA and the other making ICCA finals several times), an ICHSA and ICCA judge, and someone who's participated in two different Contemporary A Cappella League groups. You may not agree with my opinion (that's okay), but please don't discredit it because I have the courage to say what I believe to be true.

I think both of you guys are great for a cappella, but don't expect me to just give groups a pass on creativity because the recording gloss on their album sounds so great. In the end we'll probably just have to agree to disagree. As I learned long ago, that's okay too.
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Postby brianhaverkate » Wed May 19, 2010 3:48 pm

diovoce wrote:
brianhaverkate wrote:I'm not sure what "Semi-Charmed Life" has to do with scoring an album.


Houston, we have a problem.

brianhaverkate wrote:Does the album get 1's and 2's because the group covered that song. How about "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"?


I'd reply with an unequivocal yes. Unless they've remade it a la Sonos with "I Want You Back", or the like. If their album has more than one or two of these type of songs, any chance of more than a 3 in Innovation/Creativity should be out the window.

Was this a sarcastic question, or did you really mean this? I suppose I shouldn't assume....I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt!


Dave,

I don't care what a group records. I judge the recording based on the merits of the track. The same old, same old on Lion Sleeps Tonght is equivalent to the same in (insert overdone pop song here) in terms of scoring. A group doesn't have to go above and beyond on the Lion Sleeps Tonight just to get out of the basement while a similar group is given the benefit of the doubt on (insert obscure indie song). That doesn't even make sense. A cappella is mostly a cover-song genre. It's what you do to said cover song to make it unique that sets you apart. It's nice to pick songs that aren't done very much (or original tunes for sure), but I don't think it makes a group more creative than another because they picked a lesser-known cover song. They are covering another artist's song. Both cases are unoriginal in song choice.
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Postby brianhaverkate » Wed May 19, 2010 3:57 pm

RnBMrE wrote:
Name, with supporting arguments, any better all-female album than Flywheel. Curious to know your (Brian) thoughts, as well as others'.


That's a good question if I'm comparing it to female a cappella, but I have to compare it to all of a cappella as stated here at RARB. I don't necessarily agree with this policy, but until it changes I'll score accordingly.
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