Rusty Pipes succeed in studio album

It’s that time of year again. You need to actually start that semester-long project. You need to get an A on that final exam to pass the class. And what about presents? Can you actually get your mother another lame Santa statue? What about supporting RPI’s own Rusty Pipes and buying their latest CD, Cantavimus? If you’ve been to many RPI events, you’ve probably developed a healthy appreciation of a cappella, and if you’ve been out in public in the last decade you’ve heard at least some of the songs on the new CD. This collection is full of old favorites with new twists.

In addition to that, the album cover is visually beautiful. An unexpected treat and a testament to RPI’s Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication program, the cover art, done by Greg White ’12 and Brian Lewis ’11, is something you will want to keep on your bookshelf.

The album opens strong with sounds that I can hardly believe are being made with human voices. The cover of Rihanna and Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around in Rehab” showcases not only the Pipes’ talented soloists Shawn Jiles ’09 and Amy Latten ’09, but also the beautiful harmonies created by the whole group.

My favorite track on the album is “Move Along,” originally by the All-American Rejects. Soloist Bianca Zongrone ’10 has an excellent voice and shines even in this group of talented performers. One thing I enjoy about the Rusty Pipes’ live performances is how much fun the group has and how this energy radiates to the audience. I didn’t know if this would translate into the recording, but this track is an excellent example of how music is more than just saying the right words and hitting the notes.

The crowning achievement of this project is the final track, “Shadow of the Day,” which was selected to be included in a “Best of College A Cappella 2010” compilation album. White, the soloist on the track, should be proud to represent RPI in this way.

The Rusty Pipes are characterized by taking an a cappella spin on current pop songs. This CD has a wide selection of hits, allowing each performer to show off his or her own strengths. Kate Dannheim ’09 sweetly laments, “these foolish games are tearing me apart,” breaking the listener’s heart right before Taylor Pruitt ’10 keeps up with the strong spirit of “Wine Red,” reminding us that, “this is the time and this is the place to be alive.”

A review of this CD would not be complete without mentioning the vocal percussion. Poorna Shankar ’10 and Nick Meyer ’11 elevate the experience from good voices and fun lyrics to a cohesive piece of music. “Many the Miles,” originally by Sara Bareilles, and “Shattered,” performed by O.A.R. were strong tracks in this regard.

The CD is in the same price range as CDs by major record labels, but consider it for your finals survival kit or holiday gifts, because it is fresh and new. The only weakness is that, because of the expensive recording equipment, some of the tracks sound overly processed and lack the clean feeling of a live a cappella performance. The Phantom of the Opera’s “All I Ask of You” performed by Anna Cardillo ’09 and Tony Nguyen ’11 falls victim to this more than any other track.

The CD will soon be available online at http://www.rustypipes.com/, or better yet, go to Pipeathon the XIII in DCC 308 this Saturday, December 12 at 7 pm and buy the CD at the show.

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