Friday, October 17, 2008
Ra Ra Riot- The Rhumb Line
Ra Ra Riot, a five-piece band hailing from Syracuse, New York, first made some waves with their 2006 appearance at the CMJ Festival in New York City. Critics praised their live performance, christening them the next big thing in high profile publications such as Spin and Pitchfork. They were approached by several labels and were on their way to bigger things.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck when drummer and founding member John Pike drowned in Massachusetts following a show in June of 2007. After a long period of grieving, the remaining members decided to move forward with Ra Ra Riot, knowing that Pike would have wanted them to continue. In fact, Pike co-wrote about half of the tunes that appear on "The Rhumb Line."
"The Rhumb Line" is a jangly, infectious blend of tunes, bringing to mind Spoon, Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend, without being derivative. Opener "Ghost Under Rocks" gets things going with staccato drum lines and mournful string parts, kicking into an upbeat chorus where singer Wes Miles sings, "Here you are, you are breathing like little ghosts under rocks, like notes found in pockets..."
"Winter '05," a complex, sorrowful number showcasing cellist Alexandra Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller, brings to mind the passing of friend and bandmate John Pike: "If you were here, winter wouldn't pass quite so slow." The strings really add an element of originality and depth to Ra Ra Riot's music, not only on this song, but on all the others as well.
"Can You Tell" is immediately danceable, with Milo Bonacci's cascading guitar lines pairing beautifully with Miles' catchy vocals.
In "Suspended in Gaffa," the second to the last song, Miles asks "Can I have it all?" Yes, you can. Throughout its entirety, this album emanates a fresh and original sound, with not one disappointing song on the album.