From left to right: Janson Borowko, Anthony Plueo Jr and Zenon Nieduzak singing Hawkapella at the ICCA Quarterfinal Performance at Tufts University last February. (Courtesy of UML Hawkapella)
Hawkapella, UMass Lowell’s premier all-male a cappella group, recently released their first studio EP. Titled “Hatched,” the collection consists of six covers of songs from various genres.
The first song and lead single is a cover of Fall Out Boy’s hit “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up).” Hawkapella beautifully captures the various elements of the song all while utilizing only their voices. Christopher Kelleher provides the lead vocals for this track and does a stellar job of mirroring Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump’s vocal style in the original song. The supporting vocals and beats add energy and a distinctive tone to the song. The speed of the track is impressive, with the beats gradually picking up the pace.
The next track slows things down with a calm and emotional rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Gabriel Paradis provides impressive lead vocals and the supporting singers follow the typical a cappella layered style to give the song a classic feel.
Panic! At the Disco’s “This is Gospel” features lead vocals from Luis Enrique Diaz and John Kelley. The tone is slow at times, but the contrasting vocals do a great job of reflecting the pace of the supporting sounds. The vocal percussion elements from Graham Allen are so detailed that it is hard to believe the sounds were all created vocally.
Another slower track, a cover of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down,” is stylistically similar to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in terms of the backing elements. It is fairly simple, yet still full of emotion and strength. Almost halfway into the song, some beats and backing vocals are added to bring more energy to the song.
“Jessie’s Girl” utilizes the fantastic beats found throughout the EP. Although there is nothing too detailed about this song, it is still a solid example of the group’s skills.
A sixth bonus track, a cover of Dexys Midnight Runner’s “Come on Eileen,” is included on the EP. Again, it is not the most complex track, but it is still enjoyable and features excellent vocals from Allen.
With songs from various generations, Hawkapella does an excellent job of utilizing the talents of all its members, which is evident in the arrangements of the tracks. While the more current songs tend to be a bit stronger, the older ones are just as pleasing.
The vocal percussion beats are some of the best features of the EP and the supporting vocals harmonize well with the lead vocalist to create an astounding set of songs.