Reviewer's note: Octopella is the album I was excited to listen to, only because I was (and am) SUCH a huge fan of the 2002-2003 Octet. I still love this Oldtet, I have, however, gained a huge respect for the other Oldtet/current Octet as well. I have so much respect to every man who has sung in this group.
1999-2000 Members: Ryan Antonelli, Steve Chu, Phillip Dwelle, Matt Johnson, Kevin Lamb, David Martinez, Benjamin Park
Beyond the Sea - Big, bold 40's style song, reminiscent of of crooners and bass and brass.
Baby One More Time - A classic (if you're a 90's baby.) The arrangement is complex and one of the few a cappella numbers I've heard that is easily danced to.
Because - This song is almost hypnotically repetitive, and kinda trippy. The tenors blend their voices well, in another Beatles classic.
Them There Eyes - Big and Bold, I can almost see these men performing this song as a chorus line. It's mind blowing!
I Got Rhythm - Playful. The comically mis-sung vocalizations and rhythmic harmonizing of the word "doors' is a treat. Another great number.
2000-2001 Members: Aaron Azelton, Andrew Bundy, Toby Jaw, Rob Liebermann, David Martinez, Neil Orlina, David Sloan, Richard Wood, Howard Wu
Fight For California - Cal Song, always good to lift the spirit of students.
McDonald’s Girl - I didn't realize this was a real song until I did a little research. The arrangement was done by someone who was a part of the Harvard Din and Tonics. (you can search for their video, it's exactly the same arrangement.) Rick Wood, the soloist, sings most of the song in falsetto, as an adolescent boy who has a mad crush on a girl working at Micky-D's. At the end, he' goes full bass and unloads all sorts of McDonald's inspired corny puns.
Baby Got Back - Arranged by Rick Wood, this is a similar version to the one on YouTube. It doesn't have the big bravado opening, though.
Uptown Girl - This is a song I grew up with. It's very similar to the original. Very enjoyable, 80's rockabilly.
Please - It's the best break-up song I've heard. Beautiful and sentimental.
That Don’t Impress Me Much - This is a parody of Shania Twain's hit. (Hint: the backs sing "Shania" throughout the song.
2001-2002 Members: Aaron Azelton, Andrew Bundy, Jason Mabie, David Martinez, Jerome M-C, Benjamin Sae-Tang, David Sloan, Brandon Swansfeger,
Share Your Love With Me - This song ripped out my heart and then refused to cuddle with me afterwards. I love it so much. The arrangement, the soloist and the backs go perfectly together.
With Or Without You - U2's Hit song, It's alive, and spiritual and searching. Beautifully performed.
Perfidia - I enjoyed this WASP-y version of the song with it's corny jokes. They dedicate the song to their friends south of the border, "With no further adobe". Playful.
2002-2003 Members: Kenny Kamrin, Jason Mabie, Jerome M-C, Jordan Meyer, Benjamin Sae-Tang, Parkers Sims, Brandon Swansfeger, Richard Wood
Beauty’s Only Skin Deep - (arr. & solo by Jerome M-C)
A backhanded love song in bass. The delivery of the spoken part of the song is slightly changed, but after a few listens, it works.
Blackbird - (arr. by Jerome M-C, solo by Ben Sae-Tang)
Dark yet hopeful Beatle's classic. The backs are restrained and murmur soft. This song does not need to be anything but subtle. The whistled portion by Rick Wood is different than in the 2003 concert, but after a few listens, it works well.
Lumberjack Song - (arr. by Jerome M-C, solo by Kenny Kamrin.)
Monty Python style humor, to a northern Californian audience. Kamrin does well in his spoken introduction, introducing himself and why he wants to be a lumberjack. Kenny's delivery is humorous and confident. The backs are done in a strong and manly way. I love this song so much.
Not Pretty Enough - (arr by Jerome M-C, solo by Rick Wood)
Slight difference from the original, but overall, it's effective. This is one of my favorites because this is the first Octet songs I ever heard. Some of the lyrics are different, because there is not spoken intro, as in the 2003 Spring show.
Come Go With Me - (solo by Brandon Swansfeger)
Brandon is the guy everyone asks about in the YouTube video. Classic Octet, well sung. Spoken portion of the song is well delivered: "Stupid Frat Guys" makes me chuckle every time.
Let’s Stay Together - (arr by Jerome M-C, solo by Jordan Meyer)
Masterful solo by Jordan Meyer, excellent backs by the rest. A bit more relaxed than the Spring show delivery. I love to listen to this while I'm getting ready to drift off to sleep. It's very relaxing.
Liar Medley - (transcribed by Jerome M-C) Old time, man's man song.
Octet humor through and through. Some of the visual humor is lost, but not much.
Nirvana Medley (hidden track) - (arranged by Jerome M-C, solo by Jason Mabie)
This is a very intricate song. You're not going to get all of the subtleties of the song from the YouTube video, so I added a clip.
I think that the overall reaction I get from this album is how much these men love music, and how fun music can be to play with.
I also noticed, with this album, that I can hear the singers take a breath. That's a really refreshing experience when most of the music nowadays has been mastered, remixed and auto-tuned into lifelessness.
Oh my gosh, I am such a procrastinator! Why do I do that? I can't believe how annoying procrastinating is. And this review isn't the only thing I've procrastinated on. In fact, I'm using this review as a tool to procrastinate on ANOTHER project I'm working on. Yay me! Anyway, onto...
05-06 Octet: Zachary Bernstein, Patrick Cento, Josh Chang, Paul Formaker, Nasir Khan, Danny Park & Glenn Steinbaum
Loves Me Like a Rock- soloist - Nasir Khan - Light, bouncy, solid rendition of a classic.
Don't Stop Believin' - soloist - Patrick Cento: Arranged by Brian Boshes; perfectly represents 80's stadium rock, right down to the extended and slightly pitchy (for effect, I'm sure) vocalization. "their shadows searching in the ni-ee-ight!". There are also funny little comments in the backs.
Collide - soloist Danny Park: The backs are different from what I've heard before. Maybe I just don't know the music enough. This was my first experience with Collide. Beautifully sung.
Silent Night - group: Simple. The song starts with 4 soloists each singing the first four phrases of Silent Night, and then the voices come and blend to finish the song. The second part isn't the traditional song. However, it's beautifully and solemnly sung.
I'll Be - soloist - Jonathan Yee: This is a desperate (in a good way) love song.The harmonies are so wonderful. The song is a little sad, but beautiful.
Runaround Sue - soloist - Zachary Bernstein: Kind of a rocky version, with the backs playing it for laughs.
Hail To California - group: It's a school song. Nice blending. T1 and Bass kill it (in a good way).
Mr. Grinch - soloist - Glenn Steinbaum: This one is a Christmas classic, and Steinbaum and the guys do it justice. Good voice acting in this version!
'04-'05 Octet: Zachary Bernstein, Brian Boshes, Robin Kong, Jamie Pinedo, John Shumway, Glenn Steinbaum & Jonathan Yee
Lion King Medley - group: Crystal clear version of the YouTube Lion King Medley video. If you've seen the video and have thought: What did he say? Stupid audience! I wish they'd shut up! The CD Version is pristine, and the guys sound awesome! In fact, it's funnier than the YouTube video, because if you could hear what the guys said, you'd be laughing! Really. (P.S. I'm all for that audience having fun and laughing, but the cd had me questioning it.) Really, the cd is the best $16.00+shipping I've ever spent in my life.
Is She Really Going Out With Him - soloist - Brian Boshes: Again, like the video without the laughter, and some of the backing humor. A fun song.
Always Something There To Remind Me - soloist - John Shumway: Another Octet video which can be found on YouTube. I kind of miss the guys dancing in the video, but there's nothing wrong with the song.
Fight For California - group - school song. Go Bears. Solid.
I Just Wanna Make Love To You - soloist - Jamie Pinedo: Bass love! After the smooth opening with Etta James's "At Last" the voices start low and get even lower! As one YouTuber put it. "This is baby makin' music."
Walking My Baby Back Home - soloists - Robin Kong, John Shumway: O my gosh, this is such a great song! It is kind of old-timey (which I've become accustomed to, as I spent about a year listening to old time radio shows.) The best part of the song is the sort of scatting breakdown (I don't know what else to call it) which gives it some great new life. It's kind of the musical version of a palate cleanser, and it's really cool.
'03-'04 Octet: Brian Boshes, Josh Chang, Max Cowan, Rafael de Leon, Robin Kong, Jordan Meyer & Parker Sims
Put Your Head On My Shoulder - soloist - Rafael de Leon: Old school. Rafael has a beautiful voice.
Just My Imagination - soloists - Jordan Meyer, Parker Sims, Josh Chang: Great and funny parody of the Temptaions "Just My Imagination". But their imaginations tend to skew towards collegiate life.
Papa Was a Rolling Stone/Who Is He (group): This is probably my favorite song on this cd. It's cool, bad, sharp and the vocals cut me to the soul. More great T1 & Bass love.
The Scientist - soloist -Josh Chang: Another YouTube favorite. Smooth and soothing like chamomile tea. Excellent blending in the backs.
I'm Too Sexy - soloist - Max Cowan: This is one of the funniest things I've ever heard. I hit repeat on this so many times. More bass love!
My Girl - soloists - Robin Kong, Parker Sims, Rafael de Leon Another YouTube hit on this cd. The only difference is that Jason Mabie's rocky ending is replaced by Rafael de Leon's more melidic one.
Finally, I'd like to apologize for how long it took to get this review out. I was having internet connection problems.
I have to say, though, that in preperation for this review, I listened to the cd about 800 thousand times. I listened to it on the road trip to Oktoberfest, and I listened to it every night before going to bed, and anytime I had to travel anywhere, I had my mp3 player playing the music over and over again. I even turned the music WAY up because I wanted it in my BRAIN. I'll probably go deaf from listening to these songs over and over agian, but it was worth it.
Also, I'm not sure if the review did the cd justice. I did the best that I could I really loved the cd, and I'm glad I finally got it.
(It's $16.00 + $2.00 shipping in the US. Not sure about overseas.)