It’s no surprise that the recent release from our nationally acclaimed a cappella group, the Midnight Ramblers, is able to captivate the most diverse audience, reaching out to others beyond the usual “a cappella whores.” “The Blue Album,” implying no allusions to Weezer’s first LP, “plays off the Metallica album ‘The Black Album,'” Business Manager and sophomore Matt Roe said. “Also, the cover is white, and we were trying to be funny – You know, blue album, white cover? Maybe it didn’t work.” Whether or not listeners rejoice in the irony of the album’s title, the Ramblers’ playful nature, exuded during live performances, beams throughout “The Blue Album.” The combination of strong percussion, background vocals and solos, in conjunction with their humorous antics, creates an energetic and addictive album. Styx’s “Renegade” opens “The Blue Album, whose pulse carries the listener back and forth between the song’s low and high energy. The percussion by senior Tom Kraus is the most impressive contribution to the track, as it is able to form the song into an enticing opening, setting the precedent for the rest of the album. The third song, “When She Loved Me,” featuring sophomore Jeff Le, demonstrates typical a cappella in the best way possible – the background vocals create a soothing texture for Le to calmly lure the audience into the song.”When She Loved Me” transitions well into Steve Winwood’s “Gimme Some Lovin’,” as the isolated percussion allows the listener to adjust to the song without pausing to question its introduction. Junior Tony Vargas illustrates his impressive vocal ability, as his urgent and excited tone reels in the listener, captivating them for the duration of the short song. Furthermore, the use of Spanish in the later portion of the song adds to its energy, while extending its appeal to a more diverse audience. In “Tribute,” by Tenacious D, soloist Roe adopts Jack Black’s comical and ecstatic character almost too well. His voice sounds remarkably similar to Black’s, while his playful improvisational sounds near the end of the track are reminiscent of Black’s “special” nature. The addition of playful lyrics, such as “like Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms,” which supports Roe’s previous lyric “magic,” further illustrates the fact the Ramblers like to have fun in their music. The Elvis Medley, composed of “All Shook Up,” Hound Dog” and “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” featuring soloists junior Adam Fetzer, Vargas and senior Dan Israel respectively, effectively maintain the high energy that “Tribute” helped propagate. Although the next song, Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” is well executed and engulfs the listener, it does not seem fitting for this album. Its eerie tone disturbs the convertibleness in “The Blue Album” and alienates the listener. The song further impedes the general light-heartedness of the album, as it attempts to transition into a comical Nickelodeon Medley, making it difficult for the audience to become immediately involved in it.The Ramblers urge the listener to return to their childhood during the medley’s second song, an exciting version of the theme song from “Doug.” They further connect with their audience by saying, “sing along, you know you want to” – and you know what, I really did want to. The pulse created through Kraus’ percussion in “Renegade” ends with the album’s final song “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” by The Darkness. The background vocals are just as enticing as Roe’s wide vocal range and seeming adoption of a British accent, as they support Roe by singing, “oh please touch me,” adding to the completeness of the song. By the end of the song, and consequently the end of the album, the listener is left with a feeling of cohesion and a sense of awe for the art of a cappella. You can catch the Ramblers at their spring show, “The Real World,” on April 2 at 8 p.m. in Strong Auditorium. Tickets are available for $5 at the Common Market or at the door. “The Blue Album” will also be sold for $12 at the show. Katz can be reached at jkatz@campustimes.org.



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