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The Penny Loafers

Side A

(self-released; US: Nov 2005; UK: Available as import)

I’m not sure exactly what it is about the University of Pennsylvania that makes it such a hotbed of college a cappella talent, but the school has no less than three groups that have garnered some degree of national acclaim:  Off the Beat, famous for their incredible recorded output, the Counterparts, famous for being the jumping-off point for John Legend (forgive my reductivity, UPenn-ers), and this group, the Penny Loafers.  The Penny Loafers, for their part, have always displayed more rough edges than the other two groups, particularly in their studio output, and their latest album Side A is no exception.  Admittedly, the rough edges give the Penny Loafers’ output much of its appeal—even as they obviously know their way around a studio (witness the gated, distorted vocal guitar backing up the opening cover of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”), most of these songs have a driving, live sound to them.  Unfortunately, a little more studio polish might have helped, as tuning issues on the first section of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” and Coldplay’s “Warning Sign” (the soloist for which, Andrew Dalzell, still makes a welcome replacement for Chris Martin) distract from the overall product.  Still, you have to admire the moxie required to take on songs by The Postal Service and The Strokes, despite the misguided decision to include a pointlessly profane take on “The Rainbow Connection” as a secret track.  In the end, Side A isn’t impressive enough to deflect the attention from the other Pennsylvania groups, but it’s not bad, and will be a fabulous little yearbook for the group’s existing campus-wide fanbase.

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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.


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This may be it -- this may be the album that puts the Penny Loafers back on track toward some serious national recognition.
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