Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New music from Paper Route :: Ben Folds :: Metric

Finally, finally! Paper Route's album Absence is out today, and you can listen to the whole thing on MySpace (scroll down for the player). The Nashville band's mix of laptops and real instruments makes for full-sounding arrangements that are warmer than using machines alone. Absence opens with "Enemy Among Us," showcasing the trademark vocals done an octave apart, synth and samplers. There's also "Carousel," which has been lurking in the background of MTV's "The City" as a soundtrack to heartache, dreams, angst or restlessness. "Are We All Forgotten" fits that bill too, with lyrics like "Don't you break my heart / Don't you break my heart again." Paper Route will be in Denver very, very soon, 5/5, at the Marquis Theatre. $10 day of show.


Barbershop quartets and Sweet Adelines abound, but in college, it's all about a cappella groups and the pop songs they inevitably cover. After noticing that more than a few liked covering his songs, Ben Folds decided to put together a greatest hits album of sorts with university a cappella groups covering them. Groups submitted 250 YouTube videos, and Folds whittled that down to 14 for Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella. Then he, his wife and an engineer traveled around the country for two months to record the tracks.

The University of Colorado's CU Buffoons made it on to the album with their version of "Landed." The group's music director Misha Levental says a Buffoon alum told the group know about Folds' a cappella competition, and it wasn't too hard to decide to enter the competition since the group already had a YouTube video of it from a fall 2008 concert. Levental, a Denver School of the Arts grad now studying finance at CU, arranged the song for the group. "When I first joined the Buffoons, I realized that there was really no contemporary music (2000s +) in the repertoire. I decided to take it upon myself to arrange "Landed," a Ben Folds piece that I thought would lend itself great to a cappella for its melodies, harmonies and popularity," he said in an e-mail.

The Buffoons were getting ready to post a new video of the song when they got an e-mail that said it was from Ben Folds himself about his new album. The group ended up submitting a video for the contest and was among 18 groups chosen to record a song for Folds, who offered Levental some input on the arrangement. "He said to tone down the first verse so that it could really open up into the chorus. Before, the verse had some melodic parts that synced up with the solo. Folds wanted to change it to simple chords. Otherwise, he told me to leave the arrangement the way it was," Levental said.
The Buffoons recorded 10 takes at Landed at Coupe Studios in Boulder. Of the 18 groups that recorded, only 14 made it on the final album, including the Buffoons.

Folds did his own a cappella tracks _ of "Boxing" and "Effington" _ for the album. 5th Elements from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is on here too singing "Fair," and their arrangement completely captures the spirit of the original. There's also a high school group from Newton, Mass. The recording captures how the group would sound live, not under heavy production, so you might hear a couple off notes. Some tracks were recorded in studios, but the University of Chicago's Voices In Your Head recorded in a living room. Some groups recorded in recital halls on their campuses.

Here's a YouTube video of the CU Buffoons performing "Landed."


Check out Metric's new album too. Here's the single, "Help I'm Alive."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

speaking of a capella, check out the end credits of The Simpsons, "Father Knows Worst"