The Ransom Notes are a co-ed group out of The University of Texas at Austin that has been singing since 1996. To my recollection, this is first I had heard from, so I was pretty interested to hear what they would bring to the table in Falling From The Sky.
For a goodly portion of my mid-twenties, I was a huge fan of The Legwarmers.
This summer, Dan Purcell and the guys from Ithacappella unveiled Stages, a short film based on the a cappella group’s music. Mark Farnum and Josh Toomey share writing credits with Purcell; Farnum and Green Street Productions are credited as producers.
We live in an age when a cappella groups are consistently evolving their presentation. Whether its seamless competition sets that weave songs together continuously, albums with pristine production, or professional grade music videos, the bar has risen for groups aiming to make waves on the national scene. Remarkably enough, in a time when it may seem as though everything has been done, Stages reveals new layers of potential for what a cappella music can do and be.
As the album title suggests, the album offers up a healthy dose of nostalgia, featuring Queen classic “Somebody To Love,” a cross-generational mashup called “Stayin’ Hot,” plus a trip back to the earlier days of the Foo Fighters catalog with “Learn to Fly,” and Alicia Keys’s 2003 hit, “If I Ain’t Got You.” Most of the album skews more contemporary, though, with tracks from the likes of Bruno Mars, Jessie J, and Ed Sheeran.
I’d like to spend the rest of this review drilling down to how this film landed for the a cappella community, and what I felt it really stood for in that context.
In that context, I loved this movie.
Proof of Purchase is a co-ed group out of the Rochester Institute of Technology, and they recently released their latest EP, titled Quintessential. I suspect the album title pulled double duty for both naming an album that boils down the group’s identity and, as the quint-prefix suggests, features five tracks. The album was produced by the good folks at A Cappella Productions who did an excellent job of assembling a CD that sounds clean and lets the vocals shine on their own merits.
This winter, Forte, out of Centreville High School released an all original album titled Uncharted Heart. A cappella fans might remember that Forte put out another all-original album in 2012--Life’s So Lyrical. And fans may be encouraged to hear that this album is no less carefully constructed, creative, and musically brilliant. Carefully recorded by Plaid Productions, mixed by Ed Boyer, and mastered by Dave Sperandio, this group has compiled another dazzler of an album.
This winter, The Boston University Treblemakers released The Teal Album, a five-track EP. I’m pleased to report that this is one of the most pleasantly surprising recordings I’ve come across in quite some time.