baSix - Christmastime Review

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baSix - Christmastime Review

Postby billhare » Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:11 am

While I am thrilled (and fully expected) the album to get a score of 5.0, I have some points to make about the Christmastime review:

The copy of the album that was reviewed was actually last year's pre-release of the album. Official release of the album will be November 14, 2005. The final version has two more songs on it, as well as some changes to the existing songs. We sent the other two songs to the reviewers in hopes that they could be caught up to the review, but it was wishful thinking to get it changed after the reviews were written - they have enough work to get the rest of the "waiting to be edited" reviews up than to have to catch that monkey wrench we threw into the gears! :-)


Elie wrote:Dare I say that Deke Sharon and Brett Quentin not returning as consulting producers on this album (as they were on Embodiment) may be partially to blame?


You could say that in one way - the point of Embodiment, as listed on the liner notes, is that they wanted a sound like some of their American influences, so getting Deke, Britt, Jay, and myself on the project made sense. Christmastime was my third project with baSix since Embodiment (the last two were for Danish/Euro market things) and I've also come to understand and appreciate more of the Scandinavian taste and warmth. This album was never meant to be "Embodiment II".

Elie wrote:Speaking of Bill, his work here is excellent as always but I do worry that these guys have fallen a bit too much in love with the polish that a studio wizard like Bill offers them.


Thanks for the positive nod, Elie, but let me also say when it comes to "studio wizardry", I am a musician and producer first and formost - knob twiddling and effects-mongering come way behind that! Sometimes there's not a lot we can do about pronunciation, or even lyrics after a song is recorded, though I did have them change one or two lyrics where meanings were unclear (i.e. I think I had John change "making secrets" to "keeping secrets" - stuff like that... though maybe I didn't help much - I think it really should have been "telling secrets"!)

Sean wrote:Christmastime has a dualistic nature that I'm not sure baSix planned but is nevertheless well received. Usually, when something is referred to as "background music", it conjures images of tacky elevator muzak. In this case it's part of Christmastime's strength. You could put this on during a quiet night and enjoy the complexity of it or play it during Christmas dinner; it's subtle enough to enjoy to without distracting from conversation. I probably won't touch it again until December, but it has earned a spot on the regular rotation for then.


Again, it's just that Scandinavian warmth coming through. I think the album came out in the way it was planned, but the tastes are a bit different up there than in the US contemporary aca community.

Elie wrote:Certainly the CARA for Best Religious Song for Santa Claus Is Coming To Town was a no-brainer


Actually, they didn't have anything in the Religious category, it was for Best Holiday Song, and the tune was "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen". I would, however, be VERY entertained to see "Santa Claus" win in the Religious Category. We'd be just like the Grammy Awards!

TeKay wrote:The "Repeat Listenability" score is totally based on the fact that I barely like to listen to holiday music at Christmastime, let alone trying to listen and appreciate it six months later.


Just a general RARB question on this one - is this sort of bias fair when it comes to scoring? When the other numbers relate to "general body of A Cappella work" comparisons, and such biases have gotten people in trouble before when it comes to score, is the "Repeat Listenability" score based on the same criterion? That it brings the overall score of that category down to 3.3 when the rest of the main scoring panel has higher numbers implies there is somthing wrong with the album to people just reading the numbers (which many do.) I think it's fine for TeKay to say in his notes that he doesn't like listening to Holiday Music, but skewing the overall score because of this (especially for people who won't read the explanation) I don't think is fair. How would a group like to lose a competition by 1 point because one judge had a bad experience with the color blue as a child, and since some in the group were wearing blue they got a few points knocked off their overall score?

Just curious on that one - I'd make a bigger deal of it had Elie not given legitimate reasons for his "3" score in this category.

Anyway, just thought I'd add my 7 cents as usual! :-)

Thanks for listening!
-B
Last edited by billhare on Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby billhare » Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:04 pm

Wow, that guy sounds like a jerk. That's what I get for staying up all night and writing a RARB post the next morning!

Hopefully no one took this post wrong, I just read the review and started blabbering, mainly to avoid working! I personally love this album (and my very dear friends in baSix!), so just wanted to get all the info out there!

-B



Image
Me with baSix in Aarhus, Denmark, June 27, 2005

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Postby lcmike » Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:37 pm

Haha, Bill, I wouldn't worry about it - you put up with other people's rants on a daily basis. Besides, you didn't say anything offensive.


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Postby vkolko » Fri Sep 02, 2005 10:12 am

Image

I don't think I've ever seen so many guys in man-pris in one place! :) Bill, where are your short pants?

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Postby billhare » Fri Sep 02, 2005 10:59 am

Valerie wrote:I don't think I've ever seen so many guys in man-pris in one place! :) Bill, where are your short pants?
Val


Hahaha...with my "studio tan" I needed to cover up from the brutal Danish sunshine! ;-P

Actually, interesting trivia point - that picture was taken at 10 O'Clock at night, and you see us all squinting into the bright sun!

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Re: baSix - Christmastime Review

Postby seth » Mon Sep 05, 2005 4:27 pm

billhare wrote:I think it's fine for TeKay to say in his notes that he doesn't like listening to Holiday Music, but skewing the overall score because of this (especially for people who won't read the explanation) I don't think is fair.


My reading was that he dinged it not because he doesn't like the style, but because it's seasonal. That's not the same thing, and it's not due to some freakish personal circumstance that won't apply to people reading the review. Listening to December music in July is pretty uncommon for everyone, not just TeKay.

Whether it's appropriate to factor in the limited appropriateness of an album into that score category is a different matter.
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Postby playdeep » Mon Sep 05, 2005 5:56 pm

I am obviously biased, since i love everything the BaSix does. But i do think this is a great album that everyone who likes Christmas music should pick up. I really like how their arrangements and sound brings out that thye are singers first. I am not sure i am articlulating this clearly, but i enjoy how they have such a solid vocal sound before the effects or wizardry even comes into play("the Grass" is my fav album to this day). They remind me in many ways of the Blenders and they obviously sound great based on the influences of the great Neri Per Caso. I highly recommend everyone check out their first two discs. I miss Osman and Morten, but these guys continue to impress me everytime i hear something they put out. Kudos....keep up the good work!!!
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Re: baSix - Christmastime Review

Postby billhare » Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:34 pm

Seth wrote:My reading was that he dinged it not because he doesn't like the style, but because it's seasonal. That's not the same thing, and it's not due to some freakish personal circumstance that won't apply to people reading the review. Listening to December music in July is pretty uncommon for everyone, not just TeKay.


Of course - heck, I had to listen to it for many hours last October and this August while mixing it, and I admit that's a weird thing(although I've always done Xmas recordings in the Fall anyway so I'm a bit used to it!)

But time of year of the writing aside, the review itself will still be there in December, and there are other times where general "anti-holiday bias" is freely admitted:
TeKay wrote:Det Er Hvidt Herude would be a song that I would listen to year round, especially since I have no idea what they are saying. I can appreciate it for the great song that it is and not have my pesky anti-holiday bias cloud my judgement.


TeKay wrote: Who knows, maybe if I listen to Christmastime a few hundred more times I won't keep getting coal in my stocking.


Which is fine. This isn't meant to be an attack on my friend TeKay or RARB, but more a question about the scoring of different categories. We've heard the argument before about overall score being based on the complete body of A Cappella work, but if all holiday albums - no matter how good or bad - rate a 1 or 2 from a reviewer in this category, is it fair for that reviewer to add that bias to the overall score?

In all fairness, if I were a reviewer and had to be completely honest about my own repeat listenability habits, ALL albums would get a "1" no matter how good or bad they are - I just don't have a lot of "leisure listening" time - my job is sitting in front of speakers for 12 hours a day - listening to music is something I don't usually do for pleasure after work! So that's my bias...

But also for fairness, I wouldn't let the reader know that, my job as a reviewer is to tell them how often I think THEY will load this thing into their CD player or iPod.

But then we get into the objectivity/subjectivity/relativity/webuiltthiscity thing so I know there's no real answer to this - but asking anyway.

And again, please don't think I'm whining about this, I thought the reviews were great! I'm just wondering about the guidelines for the repeat listenability category because it just looks a little weird to have an album that rates a perfect overall score to have such a "blah" repeat listenability...

Aaaaand again just blathering on when I should be asleep! :-)

-B

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Re: baSix - Christmastime Review

Postby tekay » Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:10 pm

billhare wrote:But time of year of the writing aside, the review itself will still be there in December, and there are other times where general "anti-holiday bias" is freely admitted:
TeKay wrote:Det Er Hvidt Herude would be a song that I would listen to year round, especially since I have no idea what they are saying. I can appreciate it for the great song that it is and not have my pesky anti-holiday bias cloud my judgement.


TeKay wrote: Who knows, maybe if I listen to Christmastime a few hundred more times I won't keep getting coal in my stocking.


Which is fine. This isn't meant to be an attack on my friend TeKay or RARB, but more a question about the scoring of different categories. We've heard the argument before about overall score being based on the complete body of A Cappella work, but if all holiday albums - no matter how good or bad - rate a 1 or 2 from a reviewer in this category, is it fair for that reviewer to add that bias to the overall score?


YAY another of my reviews making people comment. I feel loved!

I think your comments, Bill, sort of counteract each other. I've only reviewed two holiday albums, so using that as the basis for what I'm going to do with my tenure at RARB seems pretty short-sighted. I gave the OVERALL score of the album a 5, so I don't know how that is negatively reflecting on the quality of the album. In fact shouldn't that say more about how good the album is?

If I don't like listening to a lot of holiday music, then how can I score an album to say that you'll want to listen to it over and over again. Unless of course it was/is a truly remarkable album. In judging it against ALL a cappella (and not just HOLIDAY a cappella) which we are charged to do. It can't have a high repeat score from me, because that would be a lie. I'm not going to play this particular album over and over again.

I may be wrong, but I see RL as the category that is MOST personal to the reviewer.

billhare wrote:But also for fairness, I wouldn't let the reader know that, my job as a reviewer is to tell them how often I think THEY will load this thing into their CD player or iPod.

But then we get into the objectivity/subjectivity/relativity/webuiltthiscity thing so I know there's no real answer to this - but asking anyway.


I guess that's where we disagree: I don't think I'm telling them how often they will, but how often I think they should because that's how often I did/will do.

As an example, I think the Harry Potter series is a great collection of books. But I'm probably only going to read them once or twice. But I would still rate them as a 5 in RARB terms.

Whereas I've read the Chronicles of Narnia as a series at least 6 times and counting and most of the O'Keefe series (Maddy L'Engle) that many times as well. So my repeat scores for them would be 4-5.

I would say the quality of each of those series are the same and would encourage people to read them.

And just to let you know, I play "River" and "Candlesong" almost everyday at work. But I haven't listened to the whole album again since I turned in the review.

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Re: baSix - Christmastime Review

Postby Chris » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:16 pm

billhare wrote:In all fairness, if I were a reviewer and had to be completely honest about my own repeat listenability habits, ALL albums would get a "1" no matter how good or bad they are - I just don't have a lot of "leisure listening" time - my job is sitting in front of speakers for 12 hours a day - listening to music is something I don't usually do for pleasure after work! So that's my bias...


Of course, if listening isn't something you do for pleasure after work, then you probably wouldn't WANT to review for RARB.

It's an interesting point- how much do reviewers get burned out on listening to a cappella recordings, and does that burn out affect their repeat listenability scores over time (or all of their scores and comments for that matter)?

billhare wrote:But also for fairness, I wouldn't let the reader know that, my job as a reviewer is to tell them how often I think THEY will load this thing into their CD player or iPod.


This sounds good at first glance, but I don't think it holds water, either for repeat listenability or for the reviews in general. In order to do this, you have to know what your reader likes, and different readers like different things. Depending on who's reading the review, your review would have to change. (Some reviewers take this into account with statements like "If hillbilly barbershop dance remixes is your cup of tea, then grab this album quick!".)

And truthfully, if I were reading your reviews, Bill, I'd want you to tell me what YOU think about the album- that would be far more interesting to me, and far simpler for you. Readers can always look at other album reviews of albums they've heard to see if their tastes match up with a specific reviewer's. And if I still can't figure it out, I can email a reviewer, tell them what I like, and ask them if I'd like this one.

As for repeat listenability of a Christmas album- that's a toughie. I think most people realize that for those who listen to Christmas music, they do it only at the end of the year, so I think a great Christmas album probably would get less spin time in June than a great non-Christmas album with the same repeat listenability score. And I think it's ok to give a low RL score if you hate Christmas music in general and that's why you'd never play it, but I think it would be helpful to have this stated in the review, so people know where you're coming from.

</procrastination>
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Re: baSix - Christmastime Review

Postby billhare » Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:39 pm

tekay wrote:
YAY another of my reviews making people comment. I feel loved!



Of course you are loved! You're Tekay!

tekay wrote:I think your comments, Bill, sort of counteract each other. I've only reviewed two holiday albums, so using that as the basis for what I'm going to do with my tenure at RARB seems pretty short-sighted.


Um, all my posts over the last couple of years counteract each other, it's just what I do! :-)

I wasn't commenting on how many holiday albums you have reviewed, I'm too lazy to do that research! I was just commenting on what was said in that particular review.


tekay wrote: I gave the OVERALL score of the album a 5, so I don't know how that is negatively reflecting on the quality of the album. In fact shouldn't that say more about how good the album is?

If I don't like listening to a lot of holiday music, then how can I score an album to say that you'll want to listen to it over and over again. Unless of course it was/is a truly remarkable album. In judging it against ALL a cappella (and not just HOLIDAY a cappella) which we are charged to do. It can't have a high repeat score from me, because that would be a lie. I'm not going to play this particular album over and over again.

I may be wrong, but I see RL as the category that is MOST personal to the reviewer.


Chris wrote:And truthfully, if I were reading your reviews, Bill, I'd want you to tell me what YOU think about the album- that would be far more interesting to me, and far simpler for you. Readers can always look at other album reviews of albums they've heard to see if their tastes match up with a specific reviewer's. And if I still can't figure it out, I can email a reviewer, tell them what I like, and ask them if I'd like this one.

As for repeat listenability of a Christmas album- that's a toughie.


All good points. But again, when something is personal to a reviewer, making it part of a cumulative scoring system makes that number a little meaningless. The comments tell the whole story, but the numbers mean nothing anymore. This is why in competitions, they throw out the low and high scores. There shouldn't be anything personal in the numerical ratings, that's what the comments are for - maybe the category itself needs to not be rated as a number?

It probably looks, in text, like I am very passionate about this - I'm really not, it's simply just something I noticed - whether that's because it's an album I worked on I don't know, but I really am not complaining at all... just talkin'... :-)

Does anybody see my point? If not, I'll shut up now...

-B

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Re: baSix - Christmastime Review

Postby Chris » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:06 pm

billhare wrote:All good points. But again, when something is personal to a reviewer, making it part of a cumulative scoring system makes that number a little meaningless. The comments tell the whole story, but the numbers mean nothing anymore. This is why in competitions, they throw out the low and high scores. There shouldn't be anything personal in the numerical ratings, that's what the comments are for - maybe the category itself needs to not be rated as a number?


Certainly, putting a number on an opinion can be misleading, making something subjective look objective. This was discussed within RARB for a while, discussing whether to change (again) the scoring system (interestingly, fewer scores would make it seem less of an objective measure, but reviewers seem to wish they had more score levels), or change it to thumbs up/down, or even scrapping scores all together and just go with text of the review. Limiting reviews to the text only makes it clear that it is a subjective review, and not an objective measure. But, in the end, we felt it was helpful to users to have the scoring system. I know it's helpful to me in quickly deciding whether I should look into getting a specific album, without even reading the review text. Seth's addition of score dots in the lists makes scores even more useful.
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Postby dekesharon » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:52 pm

I personally think that scores are flawed, but they also serve a very valuable purpose. They do say more than just text at times, and are valuable to readers who want a "quick glance" reading on an album. The weight of one person's opinion is counterbalanced by the other two.

"Text only" reviews are a different animal, valuable for different reasons, which is why we're gonna test 'em out in the coming months at CASA.org. Set a couple of reviewers loose on a couple albums, see how it goes. Also, casa.org will be able to feature albums that don't get sent in here, which should benefit us all.

We'll see how they're received. Probably some people will love 'em, some hate 'em. Welcome to the world of professional criticism!

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Postby tat-tong » Fri Sep 09, 2005 9:38 pm

Yo Deke, I'd be interested to be a CASA.org reviewer. What do I have to do? :)
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