Eight Beat Measure
Scream - Single (2013)
Review By Patrick Hockberger
July 4, 2013
I don't know Eight Beat Measure personally, but I wish I did. Scream is the best song I've reviewed this year, surpassing even the best tracks on the group's previous album Heatin' Up. Andrew Athias and Rich Toro absolutely shred the lead. And the arrangement and mixing improve upon the strengths of the original song.
Arranging dance music can be challenging because the songs are often musically simple and repetitive. Arranger Rohit Crasta deals with this by compartmentalizing the dance feel with just two parts, bass and vocal percussion, leaving him with total freedom in writing for the other voices. And he fully capitalizes on this by writing them new, dynamic parts that are as interesting as the solo. Listen to the first ten seconds of the chorus, 1:04-1:14 — there is nothing as expressive or beautiful as that swell in the whole of Usher's version.
As an Usher dance track, the mixing of the original song pushes both Usher and the beat forward (also because that's pretty much all the song is). 8 Beat pushes the lead and the backs forward (the voices that sound like voices rather than imitating instruments) and keeps the beat further back. This is a great thing; the group was able to identify changes to the arrangement and mixing to make a version that is less about the beat and more about great singing and great music.
After listening to Eight Beat Measure, Usher sounds dull. The group has reappropriated the song to make a version that is more interesting and effective for most situations. RARB reviewers are often disappointed to find that a group has followed up a good album with one that takes a step backwards. But Scream smartly builds on the success of Heatin' Up and puts any such concerns to rest. I greatly anticipate listening to Eight Beat Measure's next album — which is the goal of a single, right?