Total time: 58:47, 16 songs
Effort. Energy. Integrity. Screw tempo. That should be the motto of the Mosaic Whispers. Maybe it is. This album really captures the Mosaic Whispers' style and energy. It also shows their propensity to be a bit chaotic, especially when it comes to tempo. Pretty much every song has some kind of problem with tempo, whether minor or major. However, you learn to forget that and enjoy the album for lots of other reasons. Their energy (a word I will use many times in this review) really drives the whole thing. That and their fearless repertoire! The word Mosaic is definitely appropriate. These folks will try any kind of song if they want to... and they do. From R&B pop to cheesy musical tunes to Nine Inch Nails, they tackle it all. Some people may find this irritating, but odds are you won't because there is bound to be something you like — and there are some gems lurking in this album, like their epic Mr. Roboto (probably the best song on the album).
They don't have the best blend of voices, which becomes amplified by their style of arranging. They tend to be busy, cacophonous arrangements that are nonetheless ambitious. Backgrounds get messy and choppy form the way they like to put a lot of words into the parts. And for a group plagued by tempo problems, they sure like to try some complex rhythmic things in a few of the songs — things (experiments, I like to call them) they don't necessarily pull off successfully.
Overall the album was well recorded, with a good balance and a clean,
clear sound. No glaring tuning problems anywhere. But seamless is
not a word that one would use to describe their sound. Sometimes
though, that is not a bad thing. And like I said before, the Mosaic
Whispers' energy keeps things refreshing.
Rating: 7 (6.3)
This is actually a rather sad sophomore album from the old
Whispers, because they seem to have lost their a cappella innocence,
which was charming in a completely idiosyncratic,
raised-by-Manhattan-Transfer-in-the-Midwest kind of way, and traded it
in for a much less interesting 8th-generation-MIT-Chorallaries
imitation. Their ensemble work is more consistent, but consistently
worse, on this album — blend in particular suffers. The sopranos are
one big headachey vibrato, and I don't hear much from the altos, ever.
Tenors and basses are likewise barely registered, which makes them
sound almost like an all-female group with a few token men at times.
Also the production of this album is so much worse than their debut,
in fact almost sounding raw in spots, that it makes the flaws stand
out more. While the Whispers of
Watercolors could achieve
things they almost weren't trying to do, the Whispers of
3 A.M. and Nowhere to Go are trying a lot
harder and getting much less out of it. Even though they obviously
lost a lot of their better members, they're still not completely out
of talent. Unfortunately this album doesn't put it to better use.
While the good songs on this album are arguably as good as the ones
from Watercolors, the bad ones are worse,
and the middle range isn't nearly as bearable.
Rating: 2 (3.4)
i find mosaic whispers' song choices to be totally
eclectic, and not in a necessarily positive way. nine
inch nails, charlie and the chocolate factory,
lisa loeb, broadway,
beatles, bach, these are all
fantastic things in their own rights, but i don't exactly get it. i
suppose they enjoy the variety, but my documented opinion on the
subject is that if you don't succeed in all genres, choose the one you
like best and perfect it. the stuff i like the best on this album is
actual alternative music. like, the real kind, like
concrete blonde and juliana
hatfield, and i guess you could say nin. they
do these songs with feeling and understanding, whereas many of the
other tracks seem like forays into genres unknown. the arranging is
solid, the singing is decent to good, and the production is average.
but check it out! liz bagby percusses! and arranges! hooooorah for
Rating: 5 (4.4)
I liked their debut album (I was reviewer number 5), and I like this one. They've tightened and focused their performances between albums. The last album had some duds on it. This one isn't perfect, but when it's off the mark, it isn't extremely off. On the flip side, the great tracks on this album aren't quite as good as the top numbers from their debut. But overall, this is a much more consistent album.
The Whispers sound is defined by clever arrangements that never get
overcrowded, a brisk and straight ahead singing style, and some really
nice blend. The vocal percussion is tastefully done and kept to a
minimum. When they're at their best, they perform with drive and
spirit. Though they do some alternative music, they never seem to be
doing it just for the sake of doing it. This is a very approachable
Rating: 7 (7.0)
The song selection on this CD wasn't extremely consistent,
because I wasn't sure if the group was trying to convey what kind of
music they do. Most of their upbeat songs are executed very well, yet
I'm glad that the entire album isn't upbeat. There are some beautiful
ballads as well, such as "Tomorrow, Wendy" and
"What More Can I Say?" The style keeps the listener
interested, and almost none of the songs are your typical a cappella
tunes. The Mosaic Whispers are a solid, well balanced group, but the
two things I think they need to work on most are dynamics (many songs
don't have any!) and more creative syllables. Sometimes the style
that the soloist is performing the song doesn't really blend with the
arrangement. However, one song on this album definitely tackled these
concepts: Mr. Roboto. This song is terrific; enough
said. There really aren't any major flaws with the entire album, but
perhaps the group simply picked songs that shouldn't be done
Rating: 7 (6.6)
Good opener! This song is infused the trademark Mosaic Whispers energy.
A busy, engaging arrangement that only gets slightly sloppy in the
second half of the song. I have not heard the original song by George
Michael, but I had no problem recognizing his particular style. This was
fun to listen to.
Bizarre arrangement that's overly choppy for the song.
The female solo is much better than the male — she should have sung
the whole thing. But neither of them has a style that's even remotely
appropriate for a George Michael song — they sound like the last
George Michael they listened to was Wham!. Twittering sopranos and
boppy baritones predominate. The two trios are only mildly
solid opening to the album. great pitch throughout. i liked the triple
tracked lead vocals, that was definitely cool, and the leads, spread
throughout the group, were very well done. what i find slightly strange is
the use of bop, bah, doo, dit, doot, dop, and dow in what was originally a
slammin' dance track from george michael's sex shop. not that this is a
bad track, but it's kind of typical of "a cappella versions" of
contemporary music. i don't know, nothing bad, for sure, lotsa energy,
solid arranging (NOT BORING! YAY!), good solos, this is a good track.
This is a great arrangement, rich but never overdone. Every note is
clear and distinct — none of the usual sonic blur that marks so many
college arrangements. The dual soloists (is that an oxymoron?) are
in strong voice, the bass section gives the song some real drive.
Excellent harmonies on the midrange stuff. There is one section where
they go too far and their normally crisp delivery morphs into a stiff
performance on two lines. Other than that, this is everything an
album opener should be. In a word — engaging.
This was an excellent choice to start their CD. It's upbeat and not
extremely well known, so it doesn't fall under the category of "so many
groups do this song!" Mixed groups have the advantage of a huge pitch
range, and they take this aspect and use it well. The fast rhythm of the
basses during the entire song moves it along with very little percussion
needed — a hard thing to do for some groups. The best part of this song is
the soloists. A male and female who sound so much alike, it's difficult to
tell them apart. They blend very well. The one thing I'd like to see the
group add is a little more dynamic variation, since the song has such a
bright, brassy quality to it.
Here is that Lisa Loeb song every a cappella group wants to do, but not
every group should try. The Mosaic Whispers do a passable job of it. An
interesting arrangement, but it makes the backgrounds clunky-sounding
and out of balance with the rest of the group. It was also a quick take
of the song... they sounded like they rushed through it. The really
pretty quality that the original touts is only in evidence here at the
very beginning and the very end. The rest of it was like listening to a
drum: bang, bang, bang. Where was that strident/gripping part in the
middle that makes your heart soar?
Solo is _marginally_ less whiny than Lisa Loeb on the
verses, but equally coy, and she chops up all the phrases, loses it on
the chorus, and gets completely out of control and awful on the
bridge, which is the only decent part of the song. The arrangement is
at once chirpy and choral, and it emphasizes the stop-and-go nature of
the song to ill effect. Bad, bad syllables ("ma ma ma"). The end is
this arrangement is up really high, the women's parts are way up in their
ranges, the men are in their falsettos (except for the basses) often.
also, there's an overwhelming amount of the syllable ma, which i thought
was kind of an unusual choice. otherwise, mara levin's arrangement is
nice, with good changes throughout, and her direct harmonies on the solo
are performed well. the lead is a little youthful, but i suppose that's
what lisa loeb sounds like too, so i guess that's not a helpful criticism.
performance by the group was again solid on this track. what this song
lacks is a little energy; it could've used the percussion that helps the
I love the original, but I know that others were getting sick of it
and had problems with Lisa Loeb's voice. If you're in that camp,
don't worry — the lead here has a much more agreeable voice. I will
give you this warning though: What made the original so good was the
tension in the music. The melody sounded like it wanted to rush
ahead, but was holding itself back for some reason. Tricky stuff.
Sometimes the whispers seem to be fighting to hold their version
together rhythmically, as if they were on the verge of getting off
tempo. They never lose control, but it always feels like they're
The soloist on this song has a great tone quality for this Lisa Loeb song.
However, she sings it too straightforwardly; it's just a series of notes and
doesn't have much phrasing. Fortunately, the rest of the group handles the
phrasing quite well. They do tend to rush slightly during the chorus of the
song, and it seems to "run away" a little bit. Although the background
accompaniment is repetitive, that isn't necessarily the fault of the group.
It's probably due to the fact that it's simply a boring song. They perform
it well, but it's not the best song to do a cappella.
What an energetic song... seems like a harder-rockin version than the
original Peter Gabriel song I remember. The soloist Jeff Gordon is
intense, and the low men's voices buzz and grab you right at the
beginning. This has got that staccato background arranging style that
the Whispers love to do. Cool song.
This could have been a halfway decent
rendition of the song if it weren't for the soloist, who sounds as if
he's about to pop a vein, which is (needless to say) unattractive and
renders the song soulless. He also speeds up rather noticeably before
the bridge. This is not helped by the background which is too boppy
and fast to begin with — although the percussion is decent, and at a
few points the arrangement descends into awful syllables but then
ok, there's a dude, i guess the soloist, who yells a g at the top of his
lungs through the entire intro to this song. it's really incredible.
after listening to the whole song, i suppose i understand why it's there
(as far as i can tell it's a reference to the bridge, where the solo wails
for many bars on a high g or an a flat or something), but i must say, i
don't think it's a particularly cool effect, & it's completely
incomprehensible until about three quarters of the way through the tune, by
which point it's lost any impact it might have had. besides this part the
solo is fine, albeit slightly melodramatic. pitch falls noticeably at the
start of this tune. jeff gordon and others in the mosaic whispers have
learned a valuable lesson in arranging from somewhere; their arrangements
are quite varied throughout, never simply repeating the same verse or
whatever, but i can't say that i love this arrangement regardless.
The lead is a little to blunt for this number. He has a rough, almost
violent passion. He'd probably be great elsewhere, but this song
calls for a little more restraint. In particular, the opening is too
abrasive. I respect the guy's long notes, but his initial attack is
off-putting. The clear, precise attacks that define the Mosaic
Whispers as a group are overdone here. It's as if they're bonking
every note on the head with a whack-a-mole hammer. Close, but not
I know this is a Peter Gabriel song, so I thought perhaps the "scream"
that the soloist does in the beginning would serve some purpose. He sounds
better during the rest of the song, but it really sounds like he's doing
damage. I feel it's an immediate turn-off to the song, because his tone
quality is fuzzy and harsh. The percussion is terrific in this piece; it's
just loud enough to be noticed and move the song along, but not overdone.
Their transitions between sections are very smooth, but they occasionally
Willie Wonka. What a sappy, high school jazz sounding arrangement. You
know, the cool singing group in high school used to do these complex
jazz arrangements (usually something from Robert Shaw... blech) and you
used to think they were soooooo cool. Not anymore. Sounded like high school,
and I did not need the flashback.
This song, albeit cheesy, could have worked
if it were more sensitively sung. The style certainly suits them
better than most of the songs on this album. But mediocre blend and
some sour chords in the middle don't help, plus what sounds like just
allow me to take a moment to mention the fact that i love charlie and the
chocolate factory. ah, and now that the moment has passed, let me mention
that this album has the most eclectic selection of tunes that i've ever
seen on a college a cappella disc. nin, beatles, sophie b hawkins, bach,
and willy wonka. uh, ok... this is a jazz version of the main tune from
the movie, has some nice changes, some good jazz techniques in the
arrangement, but suffers from bad pitch in many places, and is just kinda
longwinded and bored...
A wonderful song from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I've
secretly been waiting for someone to do this a cappella for years.
This is well performed, but not what I was hoping for. The
arrangement is very choral. The song is so simple and sincere, such a
celebration of creativity — perfect material to bring out the best in a
soloist. But without a lead singer the whole thing becomes very
impersonal and inexpressive. The overall sound here is like the
chorus from the soundtrack to an old Disney movie.
I like the choice of this song. Not a typical college a
cappella tune, so
it caught my attention immediately. The imitation of "bells" is crystal
clear and lyrical. A tempo change from 4/4 to 3/4 is smooth and well
executed, and the diction is solid. There isn't much dynamic variation in
this piece, which would've been an easy way to make a close-harmony piece
beautiful. Even though the chords are well in tune, without dynamics it
becomes a little monotonous.
That Annie Lennox song! Hmmmm... not bad, not special. Some of the
backgrounds were messy and just did not jive right with me, especially
in the choruses. The soloist did not sound very comfortable in the
higher stuff. And what was with that tempo/rhythm experiment towards the
end? Energetic though.
Inappropriate arrangement that carries the wrong
lines and makes others piping. It has none of the drive and power of
the original. The chorus is so random that it almost sounds as if the
background is singing a different song than the solo, who is far too
fragile to carry this song — she's tolerable on the verses but way too
girly on the chorus. For God's sake, where is the percussion?! They
must be completely insane to attempt this song without it. It's not
even too fast but it sounds like it, because the arrangement is so
opens with a lot of energy, which might be the cause of the basses' slight
sharpness at the top. later on we realize, however, that the basses
actually are the anchors on which jon krivitzky's arrangement is founded,
and they move quite well and are quite solid for the most part. i like the
insertion of lyrics in the parts up until about 3:15, and then jon goes a
little nuts and changes the time signature and goes madrigal and everyone's
singing the lyrics and then it's jazz and aaaaagggh! craziness. too much
sensory input, i feel like jon had a ton of good ideas but unfortunately he
threw in ALL of them. soloist is quite tame for this tune, might've been
better suited for lisa loeb or something, but not annie lennox, diva.
Hey, a college group did Annie Lennox and didn't botch it! Instead of
trying for (and failing to create) a lush sound, they just gave the
song some breathing room and let the song cheerfully bounce along it's
merry way. The lead is a little thin on the choruses, but still
secure enough of a singer so that you don't even think to compare her
to Annie Lennox (not a contest Annie is used to losing). There are
some sloppy tempos toward the end but the basses are (once again)
The accompaniment that the men do on this song consists of many "fa-fa-fa"
syllables, and the "f" slows the tempo down and drags. It's nice when
a cappella groups use words from the song in the background, but here it
sounds messy because of lack of diction. The soloist has great diction, but
her high notes are unsettled. There's a part in the middle of the song
where the sopranos sound like they're trying to imitate bird wings, but it
is out of tune. The basses could have used more variation.
I was wondering if anyone would attempt this song. The Mosaic Whispers
did. It was GREAT! A fun, busy, MOVING arrangement that captured all of
the frenetic, mechanical energy the original 80's epic by Styx _ever_
had. In fact, I think it I may like this a bit better because it was
such a refreshingly different way of hearing it! I loved that "Domo
arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo, domo" part. Gave me chills. Sharp ending. Fun
all around. It worked. It rocked.
By far the most atmospheric song on the album,
which is odd, to say the least. The solo sounds a lot like Thomas
Dolby (which is a good thing in my book). He actually does a decent
job, although in the end things get a little bit ugly. The
percussion, while amateurishly recorded/mixed, has the right idea.
The sopranos are too bad to be this prominent in the arrangement.
Could use a _lot_ more bass — the few spots where they come in at all
low just show up the gaping lack of it in the rest of the song. This
and "Eleanor Rigby" are the best songs on this album, though.
when i was a kid i would sit by the radio and wait for this tune to come on
so i could write down the lyrics and look real cool as i sang along
whenever it came on again. ah, horrible, horrible adolescence.
great opening, pretty cool arrangement by brad eisenberg who employs tight
rhythmic lines and echoes and running operatic lines and beeps and boops
and slides and all kinds of good arranging techniques. WHOA there, all of
a sudden in the bridge we speed up like crazy and the soloist goes inSANE.
this is WAY to high for him, unfortunately. he's also mixed kinda low
through the whole track, possibly because he's a bass singing a song most
tenors wouldn't even dare attempt, so he sounds a little pinched?
then in the mellow verse we're back at tempo 1, a really abrupt change
which closes with a relatively wussy little drum fill. i don't know, i
don't know. i loved the beginning, but the parts of the song i love in the
original didn't seem to come through for me here.
Did I lie? No, I didn't. The soloist who I trashed from track 3 is
back and he does much better with different material. This strange
Styx high concept piece is rather bombastic. The lead's "damn the
torpedoes" attitude and unchained energy is perfectly suited to this
The beginning of this song amazed me, and the rest of it fell nothing
short of excellent. The sopranos sound exactly like a flute, and it's
haunting with the synthesized sounds that the group produced. Another
commendable quality of this song is simply its arrangement. It completely
speaks for itself, and it keeps the computerized 80's sound that the
original has. There are so many different sections, and other than the
chorus, there is little repetition. It's impossible to get bored listening
to this song, because there's always a new part to pick out.
Hey, it's that Sophie B. Hawkins sap-fest that every a cappella group
wants to do, but not every group should try. (Am I repeating myself?)
The Mosaic Whispers do a decent job of this one too: nothing bad,
nothing special. Kind of boring, just like the original.
They rush the changes on the verses, the
percussion/ bass combo is good at points, arrangement would be good if
it weren't for the bad (Muppet-like) syllables, the high sopranos are
good. Solo is not _much_ worse than Sophie B., but that's still
saying something. The bridge is too chopped up, but for once they
didn't make the whole song choppy. I actually almost like the
interpolation of "Pachelbel's Canon" — cheesy but no more so than "As
I Lay Me Down" is by itself.
here's one of those young white girl solos (sophie b. hawkins), performed
pretty well, except for the high notes (which aren't so high) which suffers
from the dreaded flatness disease afflicting millions of a cappella youths.
the bass line is too low for the basses in many parts. the percussion is
nice, tasteful and tight. the arrangement is also very nice, building from
a simple beginning to a full ending. ok. now thrill me.
Okay, I know some other reviewers were less than fond of Spur of the
Moment's last CD, and I also know I'm not considered to be impartial
(since I designed the packaging for them), but I still say that it was
a good album and that their version is far superior to this one. I do
like the soloist on the Whispers' version, and they do have some
intriguing, deep harmonies, but they're a little out of their area of
expertise with this arrangement. It's one of those wall to wall
arrangements that groups like "Off the Beat" are so good at. It's a
new approach to arranging for the group and they have problems
performing it. They have a hard time agreeing on a tempo. A strong
start, but they hold it together after the first verse.
The soloist on this song tends to scoop under the pitches, which takes
away from the light texture of the song. She sounds uninterested, and the
words aren't believable. My favorite part of the song is where other women
join the soloist on the verse where the words begin at "and it felt like
church bells." A simple harmonic structure followed by unison singing into
the chorus was almost like a lullaby. Throwing a bit of Pachebel's Canon
towards the end was nice, but not necessarily that creative of an arrangement.
Was that the Beatles I heard? I think it was... If
you expect this to sound anything like the original,
think again. If I thought that the little lyrical
rhythm experiment in Little
Bird is kind of wacky, this one was much
wackier. Doing it just to do it? I guess. There was a
snippet of Tears For Fears right at the end that made
me smile after the "tempo test" made me wince.
The arrangement sounds like something that
would be done by a choir of 200, with _all_ of the women singing the
high part of the harmony, and the men coming in at random intervals.
Of all songs to get that horrifying treatment, this one really doesn't
deserve it — even _aside_ from the fact that it destroys every bit of
the rhythm/pop sensibility which the original was so richly endowed
with, it renders the entire _point_ of the song cheesy and stupid by
making it sung by large groups of people instead of two
songwriters/egos. In short, I absolutely loathe, despise and in fact
take offense at the mere existence of this arrangement. This
performance of it isn't that bad, but it's certainly not great, and
the serious lack of taste on the Whispers' part is appalling.
the beatles never started with bah bop bow ever before. this is a jazzy
little arrangement by steve bogart (not in the group), which transforms the
mosaic whispers into a "jazzy little group." it's funny, the whispers have
a way of coming up with arrangements that take songs to a different place,
like jazzing up the beatles or just plain singing pure imagination or
throwing in unusual time signatures into what have always been 4/4 tunes.
i have no problem with that conceptually, and it definitely makes this
album interesting (god, i can't imagine what's gonna happen with head like
a hole), but i can say for sure that i never wanted to hear the beatles
A wonderfully brisk start, full of harmony without ever compromising
the drive. But then they start rushing and making the song more
complicated than it needs to be. The poor song never knew what hit it.
This song has a lot of problems with consistency. The beginning is too
choppy without any phrasing. The verses seem to runaway rhythmically, and
there's too much repetition. The high soprano who sings part of the solo
(with other harmonies) really needs to blend.
It is the "everybody-have-a-solo" song in the repertoire. Tempo problems
abound in this song that has
"Come-on-up-here-alumni-and-have-your-swan-song" written all over it.
Like I have said before and I will say again: Not bad, not good. Just.
Oooh, an original. Are we sure this isn't
secretly from a musical, like the one after it? It certainly sounds
like it. There sure are a lot of quavery sopranos in this year's
group, and every one of them gets her own line, as well as some
semi-resonant tenors/baris. No basses worth mentioning of course, but
that's not surprising. The song itself would be hard put to get any
cheesier, but I suppose I have to give it a point for originality
(what there is of it). Overall not a particularly compelling
an original song? for shame! seriously, i was very excited to hear this
one, i haven't seen an original tune on a college album since fleet street.
hey, this isn't bad! this is pretty good! a little on the eighties
"fame" tip, if this tune had a kickin' drum beat it'd be instantly
transported closer to this decade. seriously, it's a nice song, sounds a
little dated, but the sentiment is very nice.
Nope, it's not Lean on ME, it's an ORIGINAL! The Whispers impressed
me on their last album (their debut) by having some original material
(even though I wasn't overly fond of the music they wrote), and again
they get an A for effort. But don't let that distract you from the
fact that they (okay, Kareah Garrison) wrote a fine song, and they
sing it well to boot.
I liked the group's approach to letting a different person sing on each
phrase of the song, because it really plays on the lyrics. It's a very
original approach. The biggest problem with this, however, is that the song
is in 4/4, and the melody is based around triplets; every soloist's rhythm
isn't always consistent with the one preceding it. I would have liked to
hear the group do some more complicated rhythm during the verses instead of
the walking bass line while the rest of the group just simply says "baa."
(However, the rhythm that they have moves the song along well.) Again, not
much dynamic variation at all on this song.
A brash soloist and predictable arrangement make me wonder: High School
musical? Kinda like other musicals that nobody but theater majors have
heard of. Guess this must have been the lead female solo. I bet it is
nostalgic for those who know it... makes me wonder though how anyone has
heard of it. Especially with lyrics like " I halt, I stammer, I sing a
rondolet" or how about "... its so swell, dammit! Even I'm surprised".
Penalty: 5 yards, insipid lyrics, 4th down. Gotta punt this one.
Talk about quavery sopranos — whoa.
This woman really needs to be singing Verdi or something — when you
have too much vibrato even for a musical, you know you're in trouble.
This type of song is so much my nemesis that it's hard to judge it
objectively, but the arrangement certainly isn't helping the
stop-and-go nature of the song. The blend is actually noticeably
better though than on many of the other songs, but this fact is
counteracted by her somewhat frightening voice. Even if one _liked_
musicals, one would have to conclude that she's overdoing it.
broadway? i guess so... uh, this just ain't my cup'o'T. there're serious
pitch problems throughout, although laura weidt's solo is quite solid. i
think i'd've even appreciated the arrangement if it wasn't obscured by the
crazy changes and pitch imperfections. that said, this kind of music is
always extremely difficult to sing, and even more difficult to sing well.
maybe it's better left unsung...
Interesting song choice — it's a showtune. This torch song sounds like it's going to break into "My Way" any second. As long as were talking about showtunes...
Attention All College Groups: Since you seem to be rediscovering showtunes, I'd like to make two requests: 1. Please don't do anything from Rent. If harm any of the wonderful songs from that show, I will be forced to kill you. 2. Would someone please give a listen to Simple Joys from Pippin? Am I crazy, or should would that be perfect a cappella (particularly in a production)?
I now return you to your regularly scheduled review.
The color of the soloist's interpretation and the accompaniment match very
well together, but they overpower her at times. She expresses the words she
sings very well. Here's a case where a simple arrangement is fitting to a
simple melody, and the piece remains beautiful. Except for a few unsettled
chords (right around the key change) the piece is pleasant to listen to
several times. Without the listener even knowing, it's obvious that this is
a showtune. Therefore, they keep the style appropriate.
A fun, cute, clean arrangement of a sorta-goofy song. I found myself
singing this one for days, it was so infectious and cute. They even did
the radio edit where they don't sing the bad word! Too damn cute!
I can't believe that this is a Juliana
Hatfield song. It sounds like a long-lost Peter, Paul and Mary
classic or something. Not having heard the original, it's hard to
comment on the strangely twee arrangement, but I feel certain that it
can't be that appropriate. That said, it's not bad — the syllables
don't horrify, the solo is trying and has a decent voice with a bit of
richness to it, and overall it evokes _something_, I'm just not sure
that it's what they intended.
cooly cooly beginning in bruce darrow's (not in the group) arrangement.
soloist mara has balls, which rules. actually she reminds me of poe's
singer, you know, "johnny, angry johnny," cool altoness. ooh, did she say
fuck? oh, FUCK! they edited it out (tastefully though, no beep, just
muted the track). i like this one. ooh yeah. could definitely have stood
for it to kick a little more ass by the end, but it's nice and short and
sweet and well sung and no probs.
This song embodies everything I like about the Whispers. Great solos.
Great blend. Crystal clear arrangements. Bright and spirited
performances. What more do you want?
I really like the rhythm of the "ba-na-na's" in the background. It keeps
a steady, consistent, flowing tempo to the song. I found this a great song
to sing along to, even if they went out of tune a little bit. It's great to
listen to a song and know, without even seeing the group, that they enjoy
performing this song. The percussion on the bridge adds just enough rhythm
without overbearing. It also has a great balance of parts in the
Somber. I like it. I am not sure why, but I do. Maybe it's
This song is actually almost perfect Whispers
material — choral yet pop, sort of. Although that aspect of it is
almost wrecked by the solo, who can't seem to sing the chorus right to
save his life. This is actually a tolerable arrangement, though, by
the same guy who did "Mr. Roboto" (thus proving that the Whispers
don't _have_ to sound lame, they just choose to) — nice background
lines in the end, nice high soprano bit, decent syllables (with the
glaring exception of the "jin"'s on the second verse). They have a
nice lush sound on this one, and this arrangement, in stark contrast
to that of "We Can Work It Out" , actually reflects a hint of the
power and depth of the original.
again, another tight, sweet opening. i like the choppiness here,
appropriate well sung. good syllable choices change with the passing
verses, lovely little echoes and soaring lines in and out and around the
solo. speaking of the solo, he's very good, but he's mixed a little low
for my taste. they succeed in this song because a. brad eisenberg's
arrangement is very solid and b. it's not too long... ah, look at all the
other tracks; why do they all go long?
The staccato string section makes this Beatles song well suited to the
Whispers. A very faithful interpretation. Much better than any of
the crappy King Singers-esq madrigal versions you keep running into.
The best part of this song are the details that the group pays attention.
The sopranos do this haunting octave jump, and I think the recording was
edited slightly, because it sounds unreal. Each verse is different, and
they take a "theme and variation" approach. The first verse is the
simplest, and each verse adds a totally new element, but it never sounds too
"crowded." Some of the transitions are a little rough on the edges, but
nothing to be terribly picky about. The range of different syllables, such
as "jin", "ba" and "bum" do so much to change the piece at different times.
A great song!
Bach? OK. The whole thing? OK. Cool. How many other groups would try the
whole damn thing? Not many. This was just really cool to listen to, and
the Mosaic Whispers do a good job at it, too. Mind you, this is not some
gorgeous thing like the Fleet Street recording of Biebl's "Ave Maria"
everybody knows from the BOCA I album. It does not have all the effects,
either. The Whispers don't sound choral, which I think makes this
arrangement that much more interesting. They changed vowels and sounds
all the time, which made the feeling of all the different instruments of
a great symphony going at it more apparent. Sounded like they had fun
with this. The little whistling snippet they threw in was great. Not
choral. Not perfect. More fun that way.
Here's a tip — when doing a
classical song (which means that all ears will be on them, so to
speak), do NOT choose even remotely bad syllables. In my book, "ba na
na" qualifies as bad syllables. Other than that, there's nothing all
that wrong with this song. They pull off the complex parts fairly
well, and the whistling bit is nice (dreadful though that may sound).
The other syllables are standard-issue classical vocalese, for what
it's worth, and overall a fairly solid performance.
i don't like this track for several reasons. syllable choice (i like ba na
na myself, but i don't think it quite works for, well, bach). pitch is off
in many places. the arrangement has some interesting things in it, lines
that meld from one part into another, occasional other neat ideas, but
overall, it doesn't warrant the length of this track. it's probably kinda
fun to sing, but the syllables just kill me; classical music was not meant
to have "bing" and endless ba na na and na ma na and bm, i just think it's
wrongo the songo and mucho too longo.
I think they're doing this just to show that they can. You have to give
it a few minutes before it becomes interesting, but it's rather
listenable. They never embarrass themselves, which is impressive.
There's a nice, lush section towards the end. Is the whistling bit
interesting, or just shrill?
The color of this piece is unsettling to me. They sing most of it on
"ba-na-na" which isn't exactly original syllables for them. Using a very
bright "ah" sound eliminates the original sound of the piece, which is a
much richer, darker color. A hard piece to do, since no one person (or
voice part) is always on a melody, hence, a fugue. (duh!) I have to give
them credit for doing this piece, but the "baa"s throughout the piece get
annoying at times. You can tell they worked really hard on this piece,
because there is so much syncopation per part, and they do it well. The
whistling is great towards the end. I would've liked to hear the whole
piece done like this. Just kidding.
What a cheesy song! Hey, if some group called 'Wet Wet Wet' did this
arrangement, you know it's Velveeta. This is one of those 80's
disco/dance hall love songs. The backgrounds got a bit sloppy towards
the end, but the energy was appropriate.
Is this the song as done by a chorus of
birds, with the Everly Brothers' (even) wimpier younger brothers for
soloists? Or did the original mysteriously lack any parts written
below the middle of the treble clef? Maybe it's just my faulty
memory, but I barely recognize the song. It's literally all peeping
and tootling sopranos, except for a few random mid-range parts — it
sounds as if they're trying to parody the song by pretending it's
scored for a Baroque a cappella group, a la Monty Python. I almost
hope that they did mean it to sound this way, but somehow I don't
think so. Insane is really the only word for the final product.
wet wet wet. interesting, the altos sing bass in this song, and the men do
direct harmonies and backup stuff behind the soloist. there are certainly
some beautiful, thick chords, but towards the end the women's parts get
overly complex unnecessarily, and the song, again, goes a little long. i
always felt like the lead was on the verge of just missing, although he
never did, which i must say i was happy about. having the women sing bass
and the men just do backup vocal type stuff is interesting, but i think
it's problematic, kinda like having the bass player and guitar drop out for
one song on an album and let the treble clef instruments have a day in the
The lead, a baritone, has one of those great voices that give the
impression of harmony even when they're singing solo. Androgynous,
but talented. More great blending from the rest of the group.
The notes that the soloist holds at the end of each phrase are almost
always out of tune. But, I really like the bright sound the group produces
by having very little bass in the song. There's a couple of out of tune
notes that really stick out in this song. The second verse sounds a little
messy, because too much is going on that starts to clash after a few
seconds. It's simply too many syllables. I think a simple percussion line
could have done this song a lot of justice.
I give the Whispers points for trying this. Who else would try this
Concrete Blonde song about a dying woman? I have to admit that I was
afraid to hear this song, because I love the original. But I was
impressed — not by its perfect musical sound (it did not have one), but
rather by the feeling it invoked. The soloist did not have the same
rough edge that Johnette Napolitano has, but I did not care. The whole
group gave me the goose bumps. Also a song that had no noticeable tempo
problems. Just add a little polish to this song and you have a real gem.
If Johnette Napolitano sang this song any
higher than a full octave lower than the soloist sings it here, I'll
eat something large and mechanical. Kind of a ridiculous-sounding
arrangement choice, especially when she sings the part about God
getting his ass kicked in her oh-so-dulcet tones. The arrangement
doesn't help, considering it's so choral it would choke a coloratura,
not to mention liberally infested with bad syllables. On the one part
where the background attempts to go about kicking some ass of its own,
it becomes simply a teensy bit less lame. Although the percussion
actually isn't bad, the sopranos are still painful.
ah, finally some good vocal production. this is one of the only songs on
the album where you can really hear the soloist. mara's lead is totally
dry, no reverb, no crap, a great contrast to the rest of the group's sound
here, and she really performs well. also, a very cool song, relatively
unknown, but cool. this is theirs. liz bagby's arrangement is restrained
and fitting, very pretty, very simple. unfortunately when the group really
kicks in we lose a little bit of the solo in terms of volume, and the
percussion misses relatively often. ooh, and the bass part at the end is a
little odd (they sing a melodic thing WAY low). again, goes too long i
think, but this might be the best track on the disc.
This arrangement, like "As I Lay Me Down", is a departure from their
typical, open and highly articulated style. Except this time it
works. I don't like the men in the background doing the falsetto
right before the big crescendo, but the rest is solid. It sounds very
"Off the Beat" (Penn's ass kickin' coed group. A nickel says Gabe
really likes this song.). A beautiful finish with great bass vox.
The first time I listened to this song, I got the chills. I got them the
second time, too. There is beauty in the soloist's voice, and there's also
anger when it's needed. The biggest turn-off about this song is when the
infamous "ba-na-na" syllables returned. I think they can explore their
outlet of creativity and pick a new one. It's completely the arranger's
choice, but I would have cut the ending shorter. It sounds like the
a cappella accompaniment was recorded, and the soloist did her solo
separately. A strange sounding mix of recording — There's almost two minutes
of music after the last verse, and I was waiting for more words, not just
another variation on "Tomorrow Wendy's going to die". But, these are the
only elements that keep the song from getting a higher score. It really is
a sad song to listen to, but there is musical greatness despite the lyrics.
Nine Inch Nails? OK. These people aren't afraid of anything! And they
didn't cheapen the attempt by putting lots of effects all over it. It
misses the huge, driving beat of the original, but the arrangement is
pretty good considering the material. This was full of energy, which it
really has to be to make it work. In the end though, you kind of have to
be an a cappella fan to really appreciate the effort, otherwise it's
kind of stupid to try. But SCREW IT! I'm an a cappella fan!
Once I recovered from the massive coronary
brought on by the mere _idea_ of the Whispers doing this song, I was
still capable of being amused by the reality of it. Even aside from
the expected Mormon Tabernacle Choir effect of the whole group singing
"Bow down before the one you serve", the solo is freshly hysterical -
with a _lot_ of reverb he actually sounds less embarrassing than he
could on the verses, but on the chorus he turns into a whining
3-year-old (a not entirely inappropriate fate for Trent R., but
still). The percussion is flaccid, the background (what else?)
choral, but the overall effect, though bizarre, is not as bad as it
could have been.
opens with kickin percussion and a sweet women's part, this immediately
sounds totally different than anything on the album, more heavily produced
in terms of effect on the lead and percussion. when the lead starts
wailing in the chorus he's a little pinched, and the percussion is often
imprecise. i like liz's arrangement quite a bit, nice contrapuntal stuff
everywhere, then the end comes out of nowhere and, while it's nice that
this tune doesn't go too long like so many of the others, it seems totally
sudden and is unexpected. what i don't understand is why liz's
arrangements are shoved to the end of the album. if i'd've been making
that decision i'd've stuck tomorrow, wendy and head like a hole right out
front to kick the album off with a jam. oh well.
The soloist is the same guy from track 14 (and he's definitely a GUY
on this one!). Once again, he's a captivating singer. The intro to
this track is off: on the "Bow down before the one you serve!" line
they sound a little too much like Queen. It tries to be hardcore, but
it just isn't sincere. They should have flipped the order of this and
Hmmm — Nine Inch Nails goes a cappella. I really like the percussion
breakdown in the beginning of the song. You can tell there are a lot of
effects used in this song to get echoes, etc. I have to give them some
credit for going out on a limb and doing this song, but I don't think it's a
good song to end the album and to leave the listener with. I humbly state
that this shouldn't be done a cappella, unless they were to completely
change the style of the song. It sounds like the song doesn't belong with
the rest of the album. I did like the humor of the ending of the song where
the soloist sings "There's nothing left".