Etown Phalanx Home-Grown Reviews

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Etown Phalanx Home-Grown Reviews

Postby Neil » Tue Jul 22, 2003 10:15 am

Alright, I'm in the mood to talk, and I know at least a couple of us have this disc, so I'm going to open the argument here.

First discussion: How did you like it?

Personally, I'm closer to Jonathan Minkoff's sentiment and Guang Ming Easlon's grade for the album. I thought the album was solid from beginning to end, with a couple of songs (I'm Still Always Here For You, Pride, Black Sheep) really doing it for me and bringing easy 5 grades. I think that the comparison to Code Red by Ms. Easlon was unfair, because if you compare it to any album but that one, I'd say it stands on the same level. An analogy... in high school art class, you have Claude Monet, and twenty talented high school artists. This'd be like saying 'this student's ability doesn't match Mr. Monet's' even though he stood out as strong amongst his peers. Anyway, small detail. I just wanted to say that the polish and precision was right with that of most every album I've ever heard. I love this album, and I'd give it a grade somewhere between 4 and 5, making it a 4 if I had to give a grade with no decimals.

Second discussion: The difference in grades

The basis for this discussion is not what you might normally think. I can go along with different grades ranging from 3 to 5 overall. However, I saw these three numbers and almost choked:

Energy/intensity:
Minkoff - 5
Easlon - 4
Czerwinski - 1

Now, I understand that you can disagree with the relative quality of a CD, but I don't know how the energy ratings can be so different on the same disc. Either the energy was there or it wasn't - not a very subjective rating. Now, my personal opinion is with Mr. Minkoff, here, but that's not the point. Do you guys think it's possible to have that big a difference in opinion as to the energy shown on a disc?

Feel free to chime in.... I might add my review (or a portion thereof) later in the thread, I'm not sure.
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Postby ariel » Tue Jul 22, 2003 11:06 am

I have this disc, and I really enjoyed it. I would also give it about a 4 or a little more. The energy thing really confuses me too, Neil, because I thought that besides a couple songs, the energy was really top notch. It was the first thing I noticed, and I've listened to it a bunch of times because I'm peer reviewing it for them. I'm also not sure why there was such a big discrepancy on that score. Otherwise I thought that Guang Ming and Jonathan were pretty close to what I thought as well about most of the disc.
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Re: Etown Phalanx Home-Grown Reviews

Postby tekay » Tue Jul 22, 2003 11:32 am

Neil - No Southern Accent wrote: I think that the comparison to Code Red by Ms. Easlon was unfair, because if you compare it to any album but that one, I'd say it stands on the same level.


But that's exactly what we HAVE to do. We're given the assignment to compare the album to the body of a cappella recordings available to listeners. And since GM was a CODE RED reviewer, it was even more pertinent for her to mention that it did/didnot stack up against said album.

I haven't listened to either one in its entirety, nor have i read the recent reviews so I cannot comment any further.

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Postby Chris -- Shir Appeal » Tue Jul 22, 2003 11:34 am

In re Part 2:

If it's not subjective, then why bother asking different people for ratings at all? :P

Tom gave a poor Energy score because, to him, it sounded like the human voices were drained of energy by the autotuning and other processing.

Is it energetic if I record a perfect "din" and then sample it to play an entire song? (Not that this happened on Homegrown.) It depends on what you view as energy, I suppose...

In the above example, if the completely artificial sampled song had a great hook and a nice beat, maybe I would give it a high energy score because it excites me. On the other hand, maybe I would give it a one, because it sounds pretty damn soulless.

Personally, maybe a one is a little harsh for the album. Even if you hate the backgrounds, the solos still have some decent energy -- and the autotuning on them is even less apparent to my ear than on the vaunted Code Red.
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Re: Etown Phalanx Home-Grown Reviews

Postby Neil » Tue Jul 22, 2003 11:53 am

tekay wrote:But that's exactly what we HAVE to do. We're given the assignment to compare the album to the body of a cappella recordings available to listeners. And since GM was a CODE RED reviewer, it was even more pertinent for her to mention that it did/didnot stack up against said album.

I haven't listened to either one in its entirety, nor have i read the recent reviews so I cannot comment any further.


Sorry, understandable:) It's just that I find comparing anything to Code Red... let me just express how much I'm smiling over here:) My overall point is that her statement was along the lines that it didn't stack up in precision and polish to 'other studio-made albums,' and used Code Red as an example of these other studio albums - I don't think CR is an example of anything. It's a league of its own, and I don't think you could point to another studio album and say Home-Grown doesn't stack up. I mean, maybe she could, but Code Red still isn't one of many like it... that's what I had the problem with. You can say it doesn't stack up to CR, absolutely.

I still don't know if I'm expressing what I mean... but I'm going to leave that paragraph alone.

GME wrote:Home-Grown lacks some of the polish and precision of entirely studio albums (such as The 'Bubs' recent and amazing album Code Red).


There ya go. Not that it doesn't match the 'Bubs' album specifically, but that it doesn't match studio albums (which I personally don't agree with, but not the point), and the 'Bubs are an example of all these albums it doesn't match in quality. Sorry for not making it clearer earlier:)

If it's not subjective, then why bother asking different people for ratings at all? :P

Tom gave a poor Energy score because, to him, it sounded like the human voices were drained of energy by the autotuning and other processing.

Is it energetic if I record a perfect "din" and then sample it to play an entire song? (Not that this happened on Homegrown.) It depends on what you view as energy, I suppose...

In the above example, if the completely artificial sampled song had a great hook and a nice beat, maybe I would give it a high energy score because it excites me. On the other hand, maybe I would give it a one, because it sounds pretty damn soulless.

Personally, maybe a one is a little harsh for the album. Even if you hate the backgrounds, the solos still have some decent energy -- and the autotuning on them is even less apparent to my ear than on the vaunted Code Red.


Sorry, I agree that it's subjective. I don't know about a 1 to 5 swing of subjective, though. I mean, wouldn't you have serious reservations if an overall rating swung from 1 to 5? *shrug* And I agree, there's a ton more soul on this album than CR but that's not my problem with the review. I'll just put these two ratings into words...

Minkoff: 'This has excellent energy, on par with any album I've reviewed.'

Czerwinski: 'This has little to no energy, and is substandard when compared to any other album I've heard.'

I'm sorry for putting words in your respective mouths, guys. Just for the purposes of discussion, of course. Anyway, it's just amazing to me that two people could have this large of a difference between them.

I think I may just have a harder time giving a 1 to someone in any category... obviously Tom has no problem with giving a 1 when he means it. Probably why he's a reviewer and I'm not;)

One last edit - Tom, we're so coming up to ATL this year. You have no idea how much it sucked for us last year to miss both ATL and UGApalooza. I-75, here we come!
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Postby Jordan » Tue Jul 22, 2003 12:58 pm

I would first like to thank RARB for taking the time to review this CD. I have been a constant veiwer of this site for over a year, and i always love what they have to say. Concerning our recent review of Home-grown, I can't say that i am disappointed with the points that any of the reviewers made. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and (i can't believe i am gonna quote Nicolas Cage but) without defeat you cannot appreciate victory. The negative comments only make you better if you choose to learn from them. What i am a little disappointed in was I felt the reveiws were empty. I have read reviews of albums that were song by song, sometimes line by line critiques, and I am being selfish by saying this, but i wish I could have seen that about our CD. I wish I could have seen more of what they felt about the different songs, and selections we did. Neil your peer review was awesome. Although i didn't agree with every little thing you said, I at loved the time that you put into the review. That being said, I know that all of you give us what you can and God bless you for doing it cause...hell I couldn't do it.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your opinions, every little bit helps and gives me something to do when i am on line.

Keep up the good work RARB
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Postby quidlat » Tue Jul 22, 2003 1:00 pm

another way to look at it is that Tom's review may be the most unbiased and most objective, with respect to evaluating solely on each individual criterion. For example, while he gave a 1 on energy, he gave a 5 on intonation, and a 4 on innovation/creativity. to me, this shows that his evaluation for one criterion is not influenced by any other.

often times, when one is partial to the album/group, he/she unintentionally tends to evaluate collectively/comprehensively, even though one is supposed to be scoring separate and rather discrete criteria. hence, a reviewer can find the soloist to a song to be absolutely stunning that he/she might be influenced into scoring the "energy" category high. I noticed that Tom scored Homegrown almost the same way he did with NU Purple Haze's latest album (great tuning, low energy). I've actually listened to Homegrown (all its tracks) back when it first came out, and I can understand (though not necessarily agree with) the way he scored Homegrown.

The one thing that stuck out of this album were Joe's solos and Adam on Broken Wings. mmmmmm. real style and belting skillzzzz. possible cara nominees? which brings me to my next question: has there been cara nominees (solos) from the same album in one year? is it fair? (i think so)

chris

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Postby Neil » Tue Jul 22, 2003 1:07 pm

quiddy wrote:this shows that his evaluation for one criterion is not influenced by any other.

often times, when one is partial to the album/group, he/she unintentionally tends to evaluate collectively/comprehensively, even though one is supposed to be scoring separate and rather discrete criteria. hence, a reviewer can find the soloist to a song to be absolutely stunning that he/she might be influenced into scoring the "energy" category high. I noticed that Tom scored Homegrown almost the same way he did with NU Purple Haze's latest album (great tuning, low energy). I've actually listened to Homegrown (all its tracks) back when it first came out, and I can understand (though not necessarily agree with) the way he scored Homegrown.


Very good point... you're right, that many people tend to grade all the categories based on the overall impression of the disc. I'd be very interested in Tom's take on Code Red, after reading his thoughts on this disc.


I wanted to edit to add: I agree with the thought the reviewers were kind of terse this time around. I, too, have read plenty of reviews that went through and made opinions on a song-by-song basis, almost, identifying parts of arrangements that stood out, etc. Now, I know that sometimes you just don't have much to say about a particular CD, but is this maybe a side effect of people trying to get reviews turned out quicker? (LOL at 'dio's away message the other night) Not to point fingers:)
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Thanks for everything

Postby broph5215 » Tue Jul 22, 2003 2:45 pm

I would first like to introduce myself. I was the Phalanx's Mouth Drummer and President during the creation of this record. I would like to say that I am flattered that our record can stir up this much commotion. Also, to be compared to the Bub's...in any forum is quite an accomplishment that I am personally terribly proud of. I am to too concerned with the reviewer’s personal opinions, however I take every one of them to heart and take it as a learning experience. I am greatly thankful for everyone who has had kind words about the record we worked so hard on. I am also grateful for those who did not agree and disliked the record. Honesty is the most important part to these reviews. I am glad that nothing was sugar coated. That would only upset me more.

I would like to ask that all the discussion about this record continue in such a way that is constructive as it has been and that disagreements remain only as disagreements do not become personal. Too many times in RARB do people take offense to these reviews. It is ok to disagree even to agree to disagree. We are all here to get better and without RARB and people who feel differently we will never grow.

So now that the rant is over, thanks again for all of your responses and I look forward to learning more from our a cappella peers.

With thanks and appreciation,
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Miscellanea

Postby Mouthdrummer » Tue Jul 22, 2003 7:04 pm

To quiddy - I'm too lazy to look it up, but I remember multiple CARA nominees from the same album. I know it's happened for OTB with arrangements and possibly solos, and on the male front I seem to recall multiple nominees (who were winner and runner up in some cases) from Bubs, Middlebury D8, or Brown Derbies - but not in the last couple of years (there may have been a multiple nod for Jericho, I'm really not sure). The btradth of the field just seems to keep increasing, and I'll bear personal witness to that having listened to a lot of good recent college discs.

To Neil - ever since the thread went up I've been having the same thought about wanting to get Tom's take on Code Red.

I'm not going to try to critique the album myself, having only heard it a few times at work, but I will say that I hold a special appreciation for Pride. It is so, so nice to hear a good recording of it with an arrangement other than Samrat's. Don't get me wrong, I love that version, but after hearing 4 or 5 different groups record the same damn arrangement, it was a breath of fresh air with a bit of a harder edge. It's always good to hear innovative versions of stuff that's never been done, but in some ways I think it's harder to record with distinction something that's been done many times before. Now I'm waiting for a fresh take on Insomniac. Anyone?

Oh, and major kudos to Brophy for the percussion.
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Re: Miscellanea

Postby jsdiamant » Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:21 am

Mouthdrummer wrote:Now I'm waiting for a fresh take on Insomniac. Anyone?


The SoCal VoCals did a nice job updating "Insomniac" for the 21st century on their latest CD, V3: Previously Unreleased. True, they used the Virginia Gentlemen arrangement as a blueprint, but they did some very cool and creative things with it, and Gabe's production rocks my world. Check it out.

Joshua S. Diamant RARB '02-'05

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