Off the Beat "Kenophobia"

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Off the Beat "Kenophobia"

Postby harry » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:36 pm

Great new cd from OTB! Follows similar production patterns to Float, but I think I like this one even more (and i only knew a few of the songs beforehand). Great energy. Great percussion. Solos are strong throughout--none as amazing as Morgan McOwen's were (but not much is) and the standouts include soloists on "When We are One" "Breathe Me" and the amazing imitation of Coldplay on "Fix You."

The complex arrangement and energy on "The Crowing" is ridiculous!! Should win some CARAs.

Favorite songs are "Question," "Lights and Sounds" "When We are One" "The Crowing" and "Hide and Seek."

Anyone else hear the CD yet? thoughts?
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Postby J Fi » Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:24 pm

Now that it's actually been reviewed, I'd like to bring this one up for discussion. What'd did everyone think?
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Postby acageek » Fri May 25, 2007 8:02 pm

I was very surprised to see such little discussion about this album, as Off The Beat generally stirs up so much attention.

After listening to this album I have to agree somewhat with Dave Tredler's observation that Off The Beat is beginning to sound the same on every album.

Don't get me wrong, Off The Beat is one of those groups that has always been well known, even when a cappella in general was not. I think that they were one of the first groups I was exposed to when friends asked if I listened to a cappella and provided me with some of my first tastes of this kind of music.

What surprised me about the review, was that even with Dave's observation, which I suppose at least some others share, they still managed to score a 4.7, which makes me wonder whether or not the scoring of albums is somewhat skewed by the popularity and past success of the group. I’d be curious to hear what others think about this.

Do albums truly stand on their own, reviewed from an objective viewpoint, or is there any indication that reviews tend to be more favorable toward groups that have produced good results in the past? After all, Dave still gave them a fairly high score, even though he voiced displeasure with their "consistency in sound."

Again, I think Off The Beat is an amazing collection of talent, and they are constantly producing top-notch work. I too, however, feel that something new from them would be awesome.
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Postby Chris » Fri May 25, 2007 8:22 pm

acageek wrote:which makes me wonder whether or not the scoring of albums is somewhat skewed by the popularity and past success of the group. I’d be curious to hear what others think about this.

As for the scoring, I wouldn't want it to be skewed up or down due to the group's previous albums. I'd want them all scored on the same scale (which they are supposed to be). If I was a potential buyer, and I'm trying to decide between choosing last year's album and this year's album, I'm probably going to buy the one with a higher score, and I want that to mean it's better, whether it's older or newer. And if I already have last year's album, and this year's album is just as good but no better, the same score would be most helpful to me.

Yes, comments are the place to put all your thoughts, but one of the reasons for scores is to be able to easily compare one album to another (at least scores from the same reviewer).

(That's the short answer. The longer answer is that overall scores for the same quality will drift down, as overall recording quality for all a-c albums gradually improves. But this is drift is likely very slow, and you probably wouldn't see it from one year to the next.)
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Postby J Fi » Sun May 27, 2007 12:38 pm

I'd have to agree with what's being said about something new from OTB. I really looked up to them and what they do for a couple of albums, but after "Burn Like a Roman Candle," they lost me with all the jin-jo-no's and nods at random songs in their arrangements. Float, for as much recognition as it got, didn't impress me for these reasons, and Kenophobia has accomplished the same thing. There are moments in Kenophobia when they have me (most of Question!, for instance... except for the "jo jah no no question of a jo jah no no system of a"). But then there were things that just threw me off. I couldn't get myself into pressure with the blatant use of lyrics as syllables and... and this really threw me off... the "Sweetness" reference in what should be a really cool space break in that song. Basically what I'm saying is OTB has the talent to do so much more than they are doing. They're taking on this shape that is starting to be boring when they have the ability to be unpredictable and spontaneous and succeed at that.

I don't mean to say it was a bad album. For what they do, it was well done and all. I just think they need to do something different. I vote out with the old and in with the new, whatever that "new" might be[/quote]
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Postby ajg55 » Mon May 28, 2007 12:18 am

I don't post often, but I'm stuck alone in Ithaca for a few days with nothing to do.

I greatly enjoy about half of this album. The energy on "Question," "The Crowing," and "Lights and Sounds" is incredible, I love the selection/arrangement of "When We Are One," and I don't see how anyone could dislike the latter portion of "Ghost of You"... just some fine background singing. I agree that some of the syllable choices and overlays on this album can be a bit tiresome (worst offenders - "Pressure," "All These Things That I've Done," "Because of You" - 3 of the weaker songs I can recall from them), but I still believe that the jin-jin-jo stuff works very well when used correctly. I was also really surprised that "Tymps" received the CARA nod for best mixed arrangement, considering the only noteworthy thing about it is the use of "Fiona" as a syllable choice.

After seeing both Off The Beat shows this year in which they performed (I think) 26 new songs in total (13 in each semester), I am even more surprised that some of these weak arrangements/song choices made the cut. Surely there must have been some stronger candidates.

I was extremely impressed with OTB at both concerts for their song selection and their sound considering how few men they had in the fall. For a group that performs an entirely new repertoire each semester, there were only a few that sounded sparse or underthought to me. I am very excited for the next CD.

I have read a lot of comments here about OTB needing to do something "new." I personally think it's a bit much to ask of them - how many times must they reinvent the wheel? Hell, they invented the wheel (for what it's worth, it seems like OTB is starting to rely heavier on words as background syllables to create energy than their standard syllables - I witnessed a lot of the style used in "Question" and in the intro to "Lights and Sounds" during the two concerts). From my perspective, I still haven't heard any groups really challenge OTB in terms of band-like energy and conviction. This is not to say I haven't heard a lot of stellar a cappella music, but OTB's style is still very distinct.

I can understand the comments on the similarities between the recent albums, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. For me, the syllables, while similar/even identical across albums, still work. What it comes down to is the song selection, which I didn't think was entirely great on "Kenophobia." If OTB chooses more interesting songs (which I think new MD Jonah Platt accomplished this year), I'd be more than content with the barrage of "jin jin jo."

Now that I've said all that stuff that may or may not be some terrible English (somehow it's 4 AM), I just want to throw in how amazing soprano Rina Goncalves was to watch in concert. I was not a fan of her sound on "Because of You," but now I get the impression that it was put on CD because of her live performance abilities. She nailed all of her solos this year (my personal favorite being "Surface" by Denali), but truly shined in the backgrounds, effortlessly belting out high soprano lines one minute and using her gorgeous head voice the next to sing notes I probably wouldn't have the balls to arrange for live performance the next. Very impressive stuff.
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