And now for something completely different:
As regular followers of the ACR blog know, I’m a huge fan of a cappella that pushes the boundaries of our sound beyond the local mostly-empty dorm stairwell (you know, the one with the sweet reverb) or the nearest dining hall between peak meal times (notably less-good acoustics, there). In a genre where the dominant image is a bunch of guys in jackets and ties, I’m always drawn to edgier sounds that remain a cappella while still managing to thumb their sonic noses at the established stereotype. I may not always get the best looks here in the office for cranking up the volume before noon, but I feel that it’s important to remember that a cappella comes in many, many flavors.
That, and I really like trolling the guys I work with.
However, I’m also incredibly interested in the history of a cappella, and the various components that gave rise to our community in its present form. For both these reasons, it’s my pleasure to recommend “Rant“, the newest album from British post-punk band, The Futureheads. Not only is it the first major a cappella album to be released by a band typically thought of as a punk act, but it takes a remarkably thorough cross-section of the genesis of a cappella from an English point of view. Clearly, the band has an impressive knowledge of musical history. My favorite surprise was the “oldest” track on the album, hidden away in the middle tracks. “Sumer Is Icumen In” dates back to at least 1225 A.D. and is typically more at home at a Renaissance Faire than on a punk album. Nevertheless, the boys from Sunderland breathe a new life into the old crotchets, in my opinion performing the old tune in the rough style it was designed for.
Of course, being an a cappella album, the album also contains plenty of covers of modern favorites, both prior hits from the band and covers by acts like Kelis and the Black Eyed Peas. It’s important to note that not a single one of the tracks is an attempt to sound like the original band. One of my favorite things about “Rant” is that it interprets each and every song in a new way.
A Cappella Records is proud to be the American distributor for “Rant”, and I encourage you to check it out, not only to hear a cappella done in a different way, but also to discover the lessons in musical history and artistry hidden within the crafty selections and interpretations.
Not to mention you can enjoy it with a good pint. Even if the bar’s on fire.