HomeBlogsDekeSharon's blogRandom Thoughts After Listening To 100 College Albums

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  • Frontload albums, people! Best 3 or 4 songs first, unless you have some kind of a through line/story that dictates a different order, or if every song is excellent. This is true for everyone. People pop in a CD and want to hear the best stuff. By song five, people are surfing the net, making phone calls, cooking dinner. I know it’s not easy to tell what others will like, ask around and take your best guess.
  • Whoever designed the standard jewel case should be given a series of paper cuts: nothing terribly painful, just annoying. One out of every three ends up cracked, leaving little shards of plastic like a digital Hansel and Gretel. Perhaps digipaks will become more popular before CD’s go the way of the 8-track.
  • Just when you thought it was safe, out come the puns! Best so far: “99 problems but a pitch ain’t one.”
  • Good production can’t hide sloppy singing. Amazing production perhaps can, but it gets really, really expensive, and in the end you have a clean but uninspired track. No one can make a bored soloist sound engaging.
  • Singing out of tune is not the end of the world. Listen to Motown or the Persuasions. Please don’t “overtune” soloists, unless you really want a super-sheen sound and it serves the overall song (perhaps Coldplay). Then again, I did hear one track where the backs were ultra-tuned and the solo untouched, which didn’t exactly work. So, I guess what I’m saying is to be careful of over tuning, or if you’ve tuned some elements, be careful not to "undertune" others.
  • Speaking of Coldplay, if we put “Fix You” on this disc, will you guys please stop recording it? 99 Fix You’s and this bitch is done.
  • There was a time when “neer/jow” guitars were the only thing people knew. Then they became a sign of a group who were behind the times. Now groups are reincorporating them, like thin ties or retro lingo.
  • I hate passing on albums when I hear a young group who obviously poured their hearts into the project. I hope no one takes the decision not to include them as a failure.
  • Ooh - nice production on this track! Hello, James Gammon. Welcome to the round table. If there’s anything we can get you during your stay, just call the front desk.
  • With current technology and art majors at most schools, it really shouldn’t be hard or expensive to create excellent album art.
  • It’s refreshing to hear a re-visioning of a tune, even if it’s something simple (a texture change, a different tempo).
  • Much as they may be cool, we’re probably not going to green light any medleys, as their length and additional clearance expense are problematic. Not impossible, just unlikely.
  • The Amalgamates are essentially above reproach, turning out superlative albums for the past 15 years. Nonetheless, I gotta ask: why don’t they record and mix with John Clark, who is an alum?!? He’s one of the world’s premier a cappella engineers, and he’s just a couple miles from them! That could be an album for the ages.
  • Ever heard of Suffolk U? The Ramifications? Well, you will now, thanks in part to Mr. Clark. You’ll own this debut album within a month if you know what’s good for you. I already know the Back Row, making this my surprise album of the year.
  • Hello, John Clark. Welcome back to the round table. If there’s anything we can get you during your stay, just call the front desk.
  • When a group like Fifth Element has a great sound with just six guys, and then their live tracks sound this good, it means one thing: they’re on track to pull a Chapter 6. Same goes for the Limestones. Perhaps this is a new trend?
  • New trend alert: having individuals listed as sponsors in the liner notes and/or having them sponsor specific tracks. An interesting idea for a cash strapped group.
  • Note to Jeff Thacher: Love you, love your work, love your legacy. But can you notch down the VP tracks a bit in your production? Not everyone is Jeff Thacher!
  • It’s always a pleasure to hear a women’s group that takes care with their recording and production, and yet doesn’t shy away from sounding like a women’s group. Yes, I mean you, Stanford. Great women’s contemporary a cappella (both collegiate and pro) is the new hot growth industry: invest early; invest often.
  • Hello again, Bill, Freddie, Dio, Gabe. Welcome back to the round table. You can have your usual seats. If there’s anything you need during your stay, just get it yourself.
  • What’s with all the covers of “I Wish” lately? I guess there are just a bunch of nappy-headed college students out there who need to look back.

    Coming next week: something actually coherent. Perhaps.