Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 50

That's Christmas to Me by Pentatonix

I know you've all been waiting for it, so here it is: a Christmas album. 

Say what you will about a cappella groups, especially given their FOTW popularity spike in the last years, but I like 'em. 



This release from arguably the most popular group of the since winning The Sing-Off, features several traditional Christmas songs, re-arranged rather nontraditionally.

The first track is a gospel-infused "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Sounds good, feels good, and makes me wanna stand up and drop some Amens. Mission accomplished.

Next is the not-often-heard "White Winter Hymnal." This one is gorgeous. Mellow, smooth, intricate, and complex, all at the time. If I'm not mistaken, the below music video has been pretty popular of late...

Following "Hymnal" is the funkiest version of "Sleigh Ride" I've ever heard. Now, it may be because I've played "Sleigh Ride" in band/orchestra about a zillion times, but this one just ain't doin' it for me. It sounds good, has a cool groove, and some sweet retro backup vocals. But, I still skip it most of the time. Oh well.

The fourth track is probably this album's most recognized track, "Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry" featuring Tori Kelly. I'll be the first to put my teenage girl hand up and admit that this one is my jam. Avi's funky bass line, the boys tasty harmonies, and K.O.'s killer beatboxing make this one way all-too-easy to bob your head to. If you can't get down on this arrangement, then you need to hit up the doc-in-a-box!

Next up is the album's title track. This one took me a few listens to appreciate, but just like most of the stuff these guys have done, listening to it makes me want a cup of hot chocolate, a fire place, and a 5'6" brunette with a dazzling smile (got that one covered). Love the fact that every member gets a chance to shine on this one. Have a listen yourself.

"Mary Did You Know" follows the above and it's a nice contrast. Scott's and Mitch's haunting vocals on this one are almost scary at times. But then again that's what good art should do sometimes. We'd never grow from it if it didn't shake us up now and then. Highly inspired and recommended.

The next two tracks are excellent arrangements, but if I'm being honest, lackluster tracks. They're just conservative compared to the rest of the album. "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" is very impressive, especially when you remember that every sound on that song is made by the human voice. But it's still "Sugarplum." Then "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" comes along and in much the same fashion as "Sleigh Ride," is a funky and unique arrangement. But... it still doesn't do a lot for me. There's plenty to appreciate, but I still don't like it. Boom.

Three songs from the end, we get the funkiest "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" in the history of that song's arrangements. And this time... I like it. 

Penultimate (sort of) track: "Silent Night." Beautiful, delicate, tender, and reverent. The exact adjectives that this hymn deserves. Much love to PTX for not slicing and dicing this one. 

I guess I should mention that there is a bonus track on the album, but you've probably heard it already. Because I'm only gonna let me inner sixth-grade girl out once on a review, I'll just link the vid and you can check it out yourself.

Overall, this is a great album to add to your Christmas collection, whether you like a cappella singing or not. The arrangements are a little 'out-of-the-box' at times, but to these ears, they're never over the top or tasteless. Many thanks to a young group not trying to reinvent the wheel here. Give it a listen people!

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