Audition Alert! (5)

More groups are auditioning around the country as the new academic year get well underway.

Firstly, we must apologise for missing out on the auditions for Leeds group 95 Keys and Exeter group Semi-Toned – it’s not only their first few weeks back at university, but ours too, and as such we have been swamped with a host of work from over-keen lecturers. We hope these auditions went extremely well for the two groups involved, and we look forward to seeing the results in the near future.

Meanwhile, the University of Birmingham is stepping it up a gear in terms of recruitment, with auditions for all three of their groups happening all at once. The University of Birmingham A Cappella Network (UBAN) is holding auditions this Thursday and Friday for people who wish to join either The Sons of Pitches, The Uptone Girls or Voice Versa. Auditions are being held from 5pm-8pm at the Beorma Bar at the Guild of Students in Birmingham, and you would be mad to miss out on becoming a part of one of the UK’s fastest growing hubs of a cappella.

More information on the auditions can be found here.

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The Refrains are Recruiting – Male Singers Wanted!

Although not technically university a cappella, we at the blog like to look after our groups’ alumni because, well, a lot of us are alumni ourselves. And so we were delighted to hear that one of the UK’s newest alumni-based groups, The Refrains, are not only gigging very soon, but are also looking for new meat to join their ranks.

‘Please Refrain from Smokin” is a joint gig between The Refrains and fellow London-based group In The Smoke, two of the most exciting young groups on the thriving London scene, and it is happening this Friday. As in, tomorrow. Don’t miss out on your chance to see these groups by clicking ‘Join’ on the Event Page to find out where to buy your tickets.

More importantly, perhaps, is the auditions. The Refrains are packed full of uni group alums, and so are the perfect group to join if you’ve just graduated from university and haven’t quite filled that a cappella-sized hole that you’ve been left with. They are only looking for boys, though, at least one tenor and one bass, so lads, if you fancy it, click here to find out more and keep up to date with how to audition. Auditions are taking place week beginning October 8th, so keep your eyes peeled for more information.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy seeing the groups in action tomorrow night!

Audition Alert! (4)

The audition opportunities keep on coming. We have news of three groups recruiting to tell you about right now, stretching from all corners of the country.

Rounding off the groups at the University of St Andrews, The Hummingbirds, St Andrews’ newest all-female a cappella group, are holding auditions this Tuesday and Wednesday the 18th and 19th of September during the evenings. For more information about how to audition, you can contact the group on hummingsbirdssta@gmail.com, look up their Facebook Event Page or find them on Facebook.

Heading south of the border, fresh from their successful Fringe run, The Oxford Gargoyles are also advertising for new members. They will be holding the auditions from 7th-9th October from 9am-6pm at Worcester College, and in order to book a timeslot, you should email auditions.oxfordgargoyles@gmail.com, or comment on the wall of the Facebook Event. For more information about the group, you can find them on Facebook or on their Official Website.

Finally, UK collegiate champions All the King’s Men are also recruiting. Their auditions will be held from 23rd-25th September at Strand Campus, room TBC, from 6-10pm. For more information about the auditions, check out the Facebook Event, and for more information about the group, try their Facebook Page.

Album Review: Music Up!

Music Up! is Out of the Blue’s eleventh studio album, and was mixed and mastered by the likes of Bill Hare and Dave Sperandio.

Music Up! is Out of the Blue’s eleventh studio album and the group’s self-proclaimed ‘largest scale record ever attempted’, with production taking place in four different time zones. Of all the albums I purchased at the Edinburgh Festival in August (and believe me, there were a lot of them), this is by far the one I listen to the most, and great credit must be given to the boys, especially Musical Director Nick Barstow, for producing yet another album that is filled with fun, character and musical precision which is again ridiculously easy to listen to.

I have expressed my appreciation of Laurie Cottam’s skyscraping tenor previously, and so to hear him taking the lead on the opening song, The Beatles’ Got To Get You Into My Life, which remains my favourite on the entire album, made me very happy. This is one of those numbers which you can turn up loud in your car and sing along to shamelessly, not giving a damn about the odd glares that passers-by give you along the way. The arrangement itself is busy and energetic, but while the merge into Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely works well as a refreshing change up, that particular section isn’t quite as musically interesting at the previous song. Still, it’s my most played song on my iTunes this month, so the boys must be doing something right.

There are many highlights on this album: the wall of sound that hits you on the opening of Fat Bottomed Girls; the goosebump-inducing With Or Without You, which is magnificently and purely sung in two octaves; the mash-up of the Spice Girls’ Stop and 5ive’s Keep On Movin’ which, for a 90s kid like me, is a welcome blast from the past; the lively VF-UK arrangement of Jessie J’s Domino, sung by Nick Barstow with real emotion and character; and the musically superb California Girls, which is mashed-up from start to finish in a real triumph of originality. Oh, and the beatboxing in the bridges of the latter is frankly astounding. In fact, I could quite easily make a positive comment about every single track on this album, such is the quality of arrangement and execution of every single number.

There were few negatives. I’m still not won over by their Lippy Kids arrangement – I’m not sure why. It’s minimalistc, but still requires precise timing for the majority of the backing parts, which comes off well, but the number just doesn’t make me feel anything. It doesn’t make me tap my foot, nor does it appeal to my emotions. It’s musically flawless but I can’t help but listen with disinterest when it comes on. Their arrangement of Skinny Love is good, but does seem a little fast and again leads to a slight loss of emotion that the original otherwise provides. However, the dual solo section and the build up towards the climax at the end is phenomenal.

These are very churlish, personal criticisms on what is otherwise a very, very impressive album. I think the real triumph of this album is how different and unique all the arrangements are. While the boys do have a distinct sound and image, they are still able to distinguish between soul, pop, rock and hip hop, and inject the relevant elements of each genre into their music. Equally impressive is that at times I find their arrangements to be better than the originals, which, for a student a cappella group, is extraordinary.

Buy this album. You won’t regret it.

Audition Alert! (3)

A trend has emerged around Scotland over the past week. As universities fill up with new Freshers, audition slots for the Scottish-based groups are opening up left, right and centre.

Following The Alleycats and The Accidentals into audition mode are VF-UK 2012 Finalists The Other Guys, who will be having their auditions on Wednesday 19th September. In order to book an audition time, it is necessary to email tw25@st-andrews.ac.uk. The auditions will be held at St Leonard’s Chapel throughout the day.

Excitingly, a group from a university outside of St Andrews are also holding auditions. Choral Stimulation, based in Glasgow, have come on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years, and are also on the lookout for new members. Their auditions will be held on Tuesday 25th September in the Glasgow University Union, from 5pm-8pm. The group is looking for male and female singers of all ranges, so all you Glasgow Freshers out there – get yourselves involved!

For more information about the events, check out The Other Guys’ Auditions Facebook Event or Choral Stimulation’s Auditions Facebook Event.

Audition Alert! (2)

As the new academic term starts in Scotland, groups at the main hub in the Great North are preparing in earnest for new members to join them. The Alleycats are now followed by one of the two all-female ensembles at the university, The Accidentals, who are hoping to fill a number of spaces in their group.

Fresh from their debut Fringe run, the girls are holding auditions from 18th-20th September from 5-7pm in Younger Hall on North Street, and are encouraging auditionees to ‘sing anything you like that shows off your voice’, while advising that candidates should come with a couple of songs prepared, just in case.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in a cappella, so we here encourage all you feisty girls out there to try out for the girl group with the most attitude around.

More information about the auditions can be found here. To find out more about the group itself, try their Facebook Page.

Tours Galore as Out of the Blue and The Techtonics Jet Off

Two groups are joining or have already joined All the King’s Men on the tour circuit this September, as The Techtonics from Imperial College London and Out of the Blue from the University of Oxford head off to opposite ends of the globe to further increase their fanbases.

Out of the Blue set off for their tour to Japan a couple of days ago, and arrived just about 24 hours ago. They will be performing across the country, having performed their first show in a Tokyo Girl’s High School earlier today. For full updates on their performances, keep an eye on their Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, The Techtonics are heading off to the United States, and according to the group’s Facebook page, they will be touring for 12 days in 2 cars, travelling 1500 miles through 5 states and 8 cities – quite the program of events! The boys will be updating their fans from their USA Blog.