PTX, Vol. III
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Vocal sensations Pentatonix are set to release their 3rd EP PTX Vol. 3 on September 23rd via RCA Records. This third installment of the group's wildly successful EP series continues to mix global pop and indie hits with original tracks, showcasing the quintet's eclectic taste and otherworldly talent. The album will also include a surprise featured guest, as well as a song performed entirely in French.
Having recently eclipsed 6 million subscribers and 520 million cumulative views, the PTXOfficial is currently the 13th most subscribed-to music channel on YouTube, having surpassed the subscriber totals of both Avicii and Beyoncé.
Pentatonix consists of lead vocalists Scott Hoying (22), Kirstie Maldonado (22) and Mitch Grassi (22), vocal bass Avi Kaplan (25) and beatboxer Kevin K.O. Olusola (25). Since their debut in 2011, the quintet has released 3 EP s (PTX Volume 1, PTXmas and PTX Volume 2) selling over 500,000 copies combined.
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So why did I bother saying it?
I put that up so that you'll know that I grew up in a highly musical family, and had 19 years of serious vocal training, singing in front of people at least 6 days a week with various projects. I said it so that when I say that these are five of the most impressive voices I have ever heard, I know what I'm talking about. From all technical perspectives, to sheer creativity, passion and showmanship, Pentatonix is flawless. And I have very high standards.
The first thing I heard of theirs was the cover they did of "Dog Days Are Over" for The Sing-Off. I was floored then, I was floored with PTX Vol. I, I was floored with PTX Vol. II, and I'm still stunned now. A 5 member (any member, really) a capella group is insanely hard to pull off; there are a million tiny things that can go wrong and wreck an entire performance in a split second. It could be technical error, or even reacting to a technical error the wrong way mid-song. It can just as easily fail due to ego. Having any number of people silently believing that THEY should have been given the lead on a song can poison an entire group. To create this level of perfect, cohesive, well-rounded sound while giving a truly great performance on top of it, every member has to set their egos aside and spend the songs listening and adjusting correctly to the others. No part is less important than the lead, and no lead is less important than the parts that give it structure and harmony. And I have never seen a hint of that with Pentatonix.
This group isn't going in any direction but up. Every one of them is so much better than I ever was, and I love that. This kind of music is what I live for.
(And if they come to your town, do yourself a favor and go to one of their concerts. Even though they'd been live on The Sing-Off, I was sure that they'd falter a bit naturally in a two hour long concert, and I certainly wasn't going to mentally dock them any points for that. I was wrong. 100% wrong. Not a single missed beat or sharp note. And on top of it, I can easily say it was one of the most fun concerts I have ever been to. So go. Treat yourself to that.)
So, hey, what is Pentatonix to me? Oboy. Pentatonix is... tight harmonies and mind-blowing arrangements. They're about breaking boundaries and breaking off the vocal dub-step and the techno hip-hop. But then check 'em as they ease back into pop and r&b and whatever else genre. Pentatonix is my losing tons of sleep staying up late into the night clicking on all their YouTube clips, and working the next day dead dog tired but thinking "It's worth it." Pentatonix is the Trio and the Meat & Potatoes and staying humble and accessible to their fans and winning the 3rd season of The Sing-Off, NBC's choir competition show. They're the world's most progressive a capella group or as they style themselves: "choir nerds." Pentatonix is NOT Gregorian chanting, although do you doubt they could kill that should they choose to dabble in it? And PTX Volume III is Pentatonix's continuing mission to spread a capella to the mainstream market. They're nudging us, trying to make us appreciate all over again the one instrument that's of chief concern when it comes to making music but has been so dismissed and undervalued: the human voice. As you may guess, big, big fan here.
So, seven tracks on this ep. Four covers, three original songs, and all of them amazing (but some more amazing than others).
- "Problem" (Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea)
- "La La Latch" (mash-up of Naughty Boy's "La La La" and Disclosure's "Latch," both songs featuring Sam Smith)
- "Rather Be" (Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne)
- "Papaoutai" (Stromae)
- "On My Way Home"
- "See Through"
- "Standing By"
"Problem" is so much fun. It's bass & beatbox driven and capped off by Mitch's Iggy rap. Ariana Grande herself tweeted how much she liked the cover. But then the original artists tend to do that when PTX covers them.
With "On My Way Home" PTX achieves a cool world music vibe and showcases Scott Hoying's high register. This track is chanty and huge parts of it will remind you of The Lion King.
I love "La La Latch" very much. There's so much ear candy here; the harmonies are so sick and intricate. And, awesomely, Kirstie sings the hook.
But "Rather Be," right now, is my favorite cover. It's got this catchy, laid-back groove that just makes you smile and dig your toes in the sand on the beach and help old people cross streets. And, holy crap, Kirstie nabs the lead! Of course she kills it. There's just an easy warmth to Kirstie's performance that hearkens back to how she sang "Stuck Like Glue" in The Sing-Off.
"See Through" is a fun, dancy song with Mitch singing the lead and hitting those high, high notes.
"Papaoutai" is the odd creature here, and may make PTX more popular in France than Jerry Lewis and berets. Word is that they hired a French tutor, and I think it paid off. My high school French learnin' informs me that Scott sounds convincing with his lead vocals. PTX does Stromae justice and, as per norm, there are some serious vocal bells and whistles, with guest artist Lindsey Stirling's violin and Kevin's cello giving the song that extra sizzle.
"Standing By" is the introspective capper. It features Avi Kaplan on rare lead vocals with Scott providing decent (but not as womping as Avi's) basswork.
PTX, Vol. III brings another array of covers and original songs that will completely blow you away. It is difficult to pick a favorite track on this EP. Each song brings something irresistible to it that practically requires putting it on repeat for a good listen. "On My Way Home" and "Rather Be" are high on my current repeat list.
If you are new to Pentatonix, give their other EPs a listen as well. If you think you aren't a fan of a cappella, give them a listen and I bet you will be surprised. Make sure you listen with headphones or a good sound system to get the full effect of Avi's incredible bass. (I think he's an alien.)
Late tip: I wish I had purchased the physical CD and gotten the tracks on Auto-Rip... save some money and have a tangible good. I will probably snag a copy of the CD anyway. Yes, they are that good!
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EXCELLENT GROUP and Awesome Mix - clarity and passion