A cappella is not for everyone. Some people don’t like the overly-peppy feel. Some people think a cappella ruins their favorite songs. Some people simply prefer to keep their “dows” in the stock exchange and their “joos” in the synagogue. But regardless of whether you love, like, or even appreciate a cappella music, you should seriously listen to “Rock Paper Shotgun,” the 4th studio album from Northwestern University’s Undertones.
The Undertones provide a selection of eleven unique, but cohesive songs. Each song brings something new, innovative, and
orally aurally pleasing, and yet each song maintains a remarkable level of technical skill, musicality, and soul. Each arrangement was clearly crafted with a wealth of expertise, thought, and vision; each soloist sings with emotion and finesse; each song fits the pieces together perfectly.
The album starts with the smooth, intriguing voice of Eliza Palasz, the soloist on “Plain Gold Ring,” originally performed by the offbeat and weird-as-shit Kimbra. Her voice is soon complimented a rich alto section and etherial hums in the male sections. The song, though starting out serene and mysterious, reaches some impressive dynamic peaks, giving way to the soloist’s breathtaking high-range belt, which she casually whips out like Lyndon Johnson at a press conference. The track comes again to a soft close, ending with a reiteration of a clever recurring tribute to “Settle Down,” another one of Kimbra’s songs. Overall, this opening track showcases top-notch musicality and attention to detail, as well as an uncanny ability to create an atmosphere for a song that draws the listener in immediately. Continue reading