HomeRecording Review: UGA Accidentals' "Imprint"

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The UGA Accidentals’ recently released album "Imprint" is a crowd pleaser. It starts out by getting the listener pumped and ready with an upbeat rendition of Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway”. While it’s not the most musically impressive track, it certainly is fun to listen to.  I picture eight college guys sitting in a dorm room just jamming out and having fun when I hear this song. It harkens to back in the day when collegiate groups did this stuff just to do it, instead of being so competition focused.

The rest of the album kind of follows this same note, except for a few stand-out performances.  With songs like Guster’s “Barrel of a Gun” and Gym Class Heros’ “Cupid’s Chokehold”, the Accidentals didn’t move the a cappella world anywhere, but they did sound like they were having a blast, and that’s really why college groups record, isn’t it?  The track list is chock full of popular artists of today—Maroon 5, Michael Buble, and Justin Timberlake, to name a few. They really play to their audience in their song choices.

Most of this CD is good—but some not so good. Let’s talk about the not-so-good first.  I’m willing to bet this month’s rent money that when these guys perform Justin Timberlake’s “Lovestoned” live, their audience dies.  But when I hear it recorded, I want more. Their stage presence and charm unfortunately do not accompany the CD.  Plus the bass line is too staccato and “dm”-y.  There’s no feeling—no swagger to it. It’s exactly like the original, but that’s why we have arrangers: to make it our own and better than JT’s version.  The bridge is where this song really starts to open up and grow. The bass line changes to steady eighth notes and drops about an octave, VP becomes more dynamic and striking, and for the first time the backing supports the soloist in what he is trying to do. The song ends shortly after the bridge. It started on a sour note but ended rather sweetly, hitting some high notes along the way.

There’s something about the backing vocals in almost every song that bothers me. Maybe it’s that with every syllable, I’m reminded that I’m listening to voices instead of instruments. Every once in awhile, I do like the illusion of studio effects.  Or maybe it’s the way that every “dm” is so enunciated that it’s as if they were learning their parts as they recorded. For this reason, I find that my favorite songs are the ballads—the beautiful slow songs that are all on moving “ah”s and “oo”s.

Josh Groban’s “Lullaby” is the last we hear from the UGA Accidentals. The group’s vocals are to die for. Their musicality and dynamic contrast bring out this chilling warmness to the lyrics (if you have the CD, check out the section at 1:45 and you’ll know what I’m talking about). The arrangement is flawless, mostly consisting of harmonies on lyrics creating some complicated chord structure that is executed perfectly by the group. The one thing about this song that does not pull me in is the soloist. There’s something about his tone and intense vibrato that makes it sound like he’s trying to be Josh Groban as opposed to performing his own version of a Josh Groban tune.

Overall, the Accidentals delivered a fun CD to their audience. This is an album that will probably live in my car’s CD player for a couple weeks so that I can jam out to it to and from school, or it’ll find its way onto a playlist on my iPod. While it’s not amazing, it is a better-than-most CD. My only wish is that the group’s soloists would find their own artistic expression of the songs—do something different with your solo.  Cooper Kitching (soloist for “On a Night Like This”) sounds absolutely nothing like the original artist: I think he sounds leaps and bounds better. It’s hard to sound like Josh Groban or Justin Timberlake.  Make it your own and you might end up making it better.

http://accidentals.squarespace.com/

About the author:
Jill Clark has been involved in music since age 5, singing, playing guitar, drums and piano. She is a member of UNC-G Sapphires, who were the 1st place competition winners at SoJam 2008. Clark also won Best Vocal Percussion at SoJam '07 and '08 for VP within the group.

Comments

A well considered review,

A well considered review, Jill, as always.  I couldn't agree more that the album is fun, and any listener can tell the group had a blast while recording it.  The Accidentals really are that way, and I think that aspect of the group is well represented on this album.

For anyone looking for another (largely similar!) take on this album, complete with illustrative clips, you can check out the Oct. 11 episode of Mouth Off here: http://www.mouthoffshow.com/2009/10/mouth-off-10-11-09/

--Dave Brown

now: Mouth Off host | ICCA & CARA Judge

then: CASA president, CASAcademy director, CASA Bd of Directors | BYU Vocal Point | Noteworthy co-foun

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