Music/Popular Culture

TunesDay: and now, a little something that the Gleeks might have missed

There’s been an interesting upsurge in decidedly old-fashioned chorale-style music of late. Perhaps we should have seen it coming a few years ago with the emergence of the upbeat, multi-layered harmonies of The Polyphonic Spree, but now the trend is upon us in full throat, if you will. A capella is big enough that it spawned a TV show, The Sing-Off, won by the outstanding Puerto Rican ensemble Nota. The involvement of Ben Folds added instant credibility to the tournament, although perhaps not enough to fully overcome the incoherent involvement of Nicole Scherzinger (who’s dumb as fried dirt and carries a tune about as elegantly as a free bleeder carries a rabid tomcat).

Then, of course, there’s the over-the-top success of Glee, which actually makes show choir cool.

The baffling revival of vocal ensembles has been oddly validating for me. As a kid I’d get up on Sunday mornings to listen to the gospel quartets on Channel 12 before church, and I was singing in the adult choir by the time I was 14 (bouncing back and forth between bass and tenor, depending on what we were short on in a given week). I passed on choir in high school, though, mainly because the director was three times more shrew than I was interested in dealing with.

So for this week’s TunesDay I found myself thinking back to one of 2007’s best CDs, the self-titled offering from The Choir Practice. TCP isn’t a group so much as it is a collection of indie artists from various Canadian bands who apparently enjoy getting together and singing chorale music (one of the members is Kurt Dahle of the critically adored New Pornographers, in fact).

In a nutshell, this project answers the question “what if your school choir was really cool and indie?” My favorite moment on the disc is the choir’s cover of The New Pornographers’ “Failsafe.”

This live take of “Running On” would be far more wonderful if the assholes in the crowd would, you know, shut the fuck up.

(BTW, one of these days some jackass you know is going to be in a club yammering on like a monkey with Tourette’s and the bald guy in front of him is going to snap, turn around and punch him into the middle of the parking lot. You’re welcome in advance. I know this is wholly inconsistent with the spiritual experience of art in general, but so is yammering on like a monkey with Tourette’s – nobody paid to hear you, you inconsiderate asshat.)

[ahem]

So for those of you who enjoy the pure magic of human voices working in harmony, give The Choir Practice a listen. And I’ll try to contain the more redneck of my impulses….

2 replies »

  1. Great post! As someone who have been doing choral singing for most of my life (which means longer than most of you have been alive), I’m just delighted to see all this activity. Singing is good for you! You live longer! And you’re happier! I don’t actually have any facts to back this up, but it’s the sort of thing that I just know is true. I’ll happily look for this–any excuse to listen to more music!

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