Likeable albums

Discuss our reviews or just talk about any old album.

Likeable albums

Postby aballard » Fri Oct 01, 2004 11:13 am

Maybe this is just the trend as of late, but it seems to me that every thread going on this forum is full of negativity. Everyone talking about what they DON'T like about this-or-that album, or group, or recording method, and many people are up-in-arms about things like money, production, studio enhancement, and trends (either real or perceived) in RARB reviews.

Since, last time I checked, this is the community REVIEWS forum (not the community BITCHFEST forum), I thought maybe we could start some threads that get things a little more enjoyable around here. Certainly, one of the best things about this forum is getting to hear others' opinions, but could we maybe put a more amiable spin on things? Also, let’s bring albums to the table that we’ve actually listened to, instead of just speculating about their merits and downfalls (honestly, how many people have actually listened to “Soundproof” or “Bulletproof”?)

How about a thread where we talk about albums that we actually ENJOY listening to (and why we enjoy them)? And I don't necessarily mean technically perfect or technologically advanced albums.... What are some of the albums out there that people would score a 5 in terms of their so-called “likeability”? Here are some of mine:

Tufts Amalgamates, "Hat Sale, Get Mama!"

I bought this album in the fall of my freshman year, when I was a brand-new member of the Dartmouth Aires, after seeing the Mates live. The group and the album got me enormously excited about what could be done with a cappella (before the Mates, the only college groups I’d ever heard were the Duke’s Men and the Whiffenpoofs), so in some ways I love this album for almost sentimental reasons. But I also love the group’s immediately recognizable sound – the way the voice parts are deployed is consistent throughout, so by the end of the album I had the feeling of being familiar with the group. Even the flops on the album are catchy to me. The dreadful cover of “Everlasting Love” is so corny that I can’t help but chuckle (instead of cringe) when I listen to it. Also includes the fantastic tracks “Mermaid” and “Man in the Mirror” – I think the latter track remains today one of the most successful a cappella covers yet recorded. Love the soloist on those tracks, too…..can’t remember her name.

USC Socal Vocals, "This 2 Shall Rock"

In all honesty, this album annoyed my pants off when I first heard it. I thought the group had a rather grating, pushy sound. But the energy they bring to the table is so overwhelming that you have to just let it in. Gotta appreciate a group that brings so much to the table. Most important, though, is that you know this group is having FUN when they’re singing; it doesn’t matter that they’re singing that insipid Natalie Imbruglia song when they pull it off with such enthusiasm. The live cut of the “Footloose Medley” is great. A primer in infusing a recording with spirit.

The King's Singers, "The Beatles Connection"

This is just classic. I don’t really know what to say about this one…. If you’re a fan of the genre that is music (pop music in particular), how can you NOT like the Beatles? And if you’re a fan of the genre that is a cappella music, how can you not appreciate a group like the King’s Singers? Some great creative twists on some classic tunes, too.

Toby Twining, “Shaman”

Pushes the limits of what the voice is capable of, but never sounds forced or processed. Strange, beautiful, not like a cappella I've really heard elsewhere.

Anyway, those are some of mine… Anyone else got anything?
Adam Ballard
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Postby jpchip » Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:22 pm

I can't tell you how many times I've listened to the Binghamton Crosbys' "Songs in the Key of Nishole". The song choices and arrangement executions are just fantastic. and "101" might as well be "Nishole Mark II".

(Would post a longer review, but, well, I don't have time right now and anyway they've been reviewed by RARB a long time ago.)
John "Johns" Sullivan

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Postby ariel » Sat Oct 02, 2004 7:26 am

I love listening to Awaken's Dysfunktional Family Album. At first I didn't care for it, but it really grew on me because it's just so damn enthusiastic. Plus, Gravity is an unbelievable track.
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Postby bstevens » Wed Oct 06, 2004 6:39 am

I still enjoy the Brown Derbies' "Night Cap" (old) and Stanford Mixed Company's "Unanimous" (way old). I've been listening over and over to Bjork's "Medulla", but I'm not sure it's 'likeable' so much as 'interesting'.

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Postby billhare » Wed Oct 06, 2004 8:04 am

bstevens wrote:Stanford Mixed Company's "Unanimous" (way old).

"WAY old"?? Oh, Ben - you've really been scoring points lately on the "making ME feel old" scale... but it's nice to hear that album mentioned again, one of my faves too.

bstevens wrote:I've been listening over and over to Bjork's "Medulla", but I'm not sure it's 'likeable' so much as 'interesting'.

Yeah, I've only been able to get through it once - there are a couple of really nice things going on, but the rest doesn't do a whole lot for me.


Bill Hare Some dude who records and mixes people who can't play instruments.

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Postby brianhaverkate » Wed Oct 06, 2004 12:34 pm

Amazin' Blue's "Raising the Bar" is one of my absolute favorite collegiate albums of all time. Out of 16 tracks....13 of them are wonderful candidates for recording awards of any kind. Although "Milenium" was chosen for BOCA from that album, you have GOT to hear their version of the Indigo Girls' "Ghost". *sigh* I really enjoy their use of the studio on this album. Nothing overbearing...just enhancing what's already there.

Rockapella's "Primer" was truly a thought-provoking album at the time in terms of what a cappella could be.

The Blenders "From the Mouth" and "Totally Whipped" have had and STILL have a lasting effect on me. I saw these guys perform live once and it was unbelievable to me how frickin' GOOD they sound live. The best part? Their bass ran the mixing board as they performed! :) 4-man a cappella doesn't get any better than these two albums. It's too bad they retired....... :(
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Postby blevin » Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:38 am

my first true love in the world of a cappella recordings:

otb - when mama's not around. i mean, really, the album still blows me away (or, it would, had i not lost my copy a little over a year ago; any otbers want to shoot me a copy? i swear i bought it the first time around). shows just how far you can go with amazing arrangements and sheer vocal chops.

i probably listen to talisman (passage and watch me fly) more than any other a cappella.

zap mama....ok, so even though their first album, adventures in afropea vol. 1, isn't completely a cappella (there are hand drums), it is sublime. then try 7 on for size (now you start getting other non-voice instruments in there). check out a ma zone and the most recent release, ancestry in progress, to see the glories that came about with the hip-hop fusion. and then go take a listen to sabsylma for some of their more experimental older material. really, i can't get over how marie daulne and zap mama have changed my outlook on music.
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