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What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

4.4 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

What We Saw From The Cheap Seats was recorded over an eight week period during the summer of 2011 in Los Angeles. Spektor wrote each of the 11 tracks on the album. She arrived at the session with a collection of new compositions, but others were pulled from earlier periods. She and Elizondo fleshed out instrumentation and sought to make each of the songs stand alone sonically. Most of the songs were recorded live with Spektor on piano and vocals, while additional instrumentation was added to these original takes. Of working with Spektor, Elizondo says Regina Spektor is that rare artist that continues to surprise. Just when you think you have her figured out, she knocks you out with something completely different. It s that spirit that drives this record. Each song takes you on a journey that only Regina is capable of providing. She has truly outdone herself.



Spektor studied classical piano and garnered a loyal live following in New York before self- releasing two albums. Her breakthrough album, Soviet Kitsch, was released by Sire Records in 2004 followed by Begin to Hope in 2006. The album included worldwide fan favorites "Fidelity," "Samson," "On The Radio" and "Better" and is certified gold in the U.S. Spektor followed up with far (2009) and Live from London (2010), which was recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo Theater during the far tour.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 29, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sire
  • ASIN: B007MDQW3W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,585 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

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Regina Spektor's last album, 2009's Far, found the singer-songwriter at her most accessible. This move seemed to put off long-time fans; Spektor's appeal before finding her way to VH1 was her offkilter songwriting. With WHAT WE SAW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS, Spektor has returned to the fun, strange songwriting that initially brought her into the spotlight. This album was produced by Mike Elizondo (who also worked on FAR): perhaps most well known for taking Fiona Apple's EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE and giving it a streamlined and focused spin.

WHAT WE SAW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS is hard to predict. Not only do songs range in tempo, tone, and mood from one song to the next, these shifts can happen mid-song (notably in the album opener "Small Town Moon.") Listeners can, however, expect the impulse-driven piano pop that mixes blends of genre, nonsense, and convention. The changes in style never feel like Spektor is aping a genre or playing the chameleon; instead, it feels as if Spektor's imagination is running wild in the studio. The result is an interesting, fun album.

The opening "Small Town Moon" begins as a conventional piano pop song, but it soon gives way to typical Spektor mannerisms (starts, stops, repetition, etc...) before ultimately opening up into a stomping chant of "Everybody not so nice, nice." It's hard to really describe it, but it's great fun to experience. "Oh Marcello" is similar in its unpredictability, ranging from wild falsettos to beatboxing from Spektor. This is followed by "Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)," a song that incorporates hints of tropical music with horns and a Russian chorus.
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"What We Saw" is an excellent continuation of Regina's unique approach to her craft. If you're a fan of her quirks and eccentricities, her guttural stops and starts are still here, although to a lesser extent than is found in the previous efforts "Far" and "Begin to Hope". The same could be said about her playfulness at the piano, which appears toned down (reined in?) here as the songs take on a more traditional structure. That's not to say that the songs are flat, each contains Regina's unique vocal delivery. Her vocal impressions (impersonations?) are still abundant. On "Far" Spektor infamously impersonated a dolphin, but on "What We Saw" she limits her impersonations to staccato percussion on "Oh Marcello" as well as on the frantic, rollicking "All the Rowboats". On "The Party", Spektor does her best impression of a trumpet.

There are several standouts, beginning with the album's opening track, "Small Town Moon", a song that sounds as if it would easily have been at home on her excellent "Begin to Hope" album, at least that is until the song changes tone and goes off in a new (and not unpleasant) direction 90 seconds in, before returning. Equally strong are "All the Rowboats", "Ballad of a Politician" and "Firewood", which wasn't originally a favorite of mine until one lyric really stood out. Many songs deal with aging/getting older, and the verse "You'll want to go back, You'll wish you were small, Nothing can slow the crying, You'll take the clock off of your wall, And you'll wish it was lying" certainly resonates, but it is a preceding line that really conjures up mental images, and it made me smile while listening to it: "Someday you'll wake up and feel a great pain, And you'll miss every toy you ever owned". Sweet, bittersweet and heartbreaking all at once.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I first noticed Regina Spektor on the Letterman show, and she blew me away.
Her music was infectious, the words so original and descriptive. Her expressions surprising and her delivery superb. And, then I listened to her interview on NPR's 'Fresh Air'and was captivated by her style and originality. I purchased her CD and listened many times.

First of all, Regina's voice is one of the most distinctive out there. She can go from musing and romantic to silly and fun, but never frivolous. Her words and their music are too serious. Regina immigrated from Russian as a small child. She and her parents lived in New York City where she was introduced to music everyday, the Beatles, classic rock, folk songs and classical music. She studied music as a small child and then moved from classical music to her now eclectic style. She is well known for her originality and her style. Many television shows use her music, and now she has become recognized. Regina Skeptor is a classic.

Her latest CD is exciting. My favorite is the song about museums and the paintings wanting to jump off the walls, 'All The Rowboats', with her distinctive vocalizations. Then 'Ballad Of A Politician', with it's superb satire, "shaking, shaking hand; Shake It, Shake It Baby'. The other tunes fall into place and deserve a place of their own.

Regina has a constant discussion with her piano tuners about the loudness and banging that occurs. She wants a smoother, more soothing style, and, she has to let them know this is her style, this is who she is. She is a romantic unusual stylist with a voice that overcomes any singular complaint. She is superb, what more can be said?

Highly Recommended. prisrob 09-06-12

My Dear Acquaintance [A Happy New Year]

Far
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