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The Penny Loafers


(self-released; US: Sep 2006; UK: Available as import)

Wow!  Just last year, the Penny Loafers, longtime a cappella also-rans from the University of Pennsylvania, were riding the wave of their previous album (the overwhelmingly mediocre Side A) into… well, into the arms of their long-time supporters, anyway.  A mere year following the release of that album, they have released another collection of covers called Quicksand, and you know what?  This may be it—this may be the one that puts them back on track toward some serious national recognition.  The choice of songs is even more off the beaten path than the typical Penny Loafers disc, the production has seen another bump in quality (in part, though not entirely, due to the engineering presence of a cappella all-star Bill Hare on two tracks) and the soloists do a mostly fabulous job of filling in for their mostly alt-rock counterparts.  Both Snow Patrol songs (“Chocolate” and “Run”) sound fantastic, with soloists who mercifully eschew Gary Lightbody’s distracting vocal tics, the over-the-top production on Beck’s “Girl” is perfect, and somehow, they even make Coldplay’s rather dreary “Swallowed in the Sea” sound somewhat appealing.  Quicksand is not a perfect album—a perfect album wouldn’t need two tracks each from the aforementioned Snow Patrol and Kelly Clarkson, and a perfect album would have a true power-soloist or two (the lack of which is regrettably pointed out on the cover of Clarkson’s “Because of You”, the solo of which is on-key but nowhere near the necessary oomph)—but it’s cleanly tuned, smoothly polished, and unflinchingly pleasant.  With this sort of trajectory, the next Penny Loafers album could well be a classic.


Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.

The Penny Loafers - Swallowed in the Sea
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