Friday, November 7, 2008

THE RHUMB LINE-Ra Ra Riot


The Rhumb Line-
Ra Ra Riot
Status-Out as of 2008
Label-Barsuk
Rating-4 Feathers

After the release of their Ra Ra Riot EP, Ra Ra Riot toured the U.S., on their own, which in my opinion, is pretty good. June of last year however, saw the death of drummer/lyricist John Pike. Shortly after, the band decided to continue on and later that year they got signed. In August of this year, they released their first album, ‘The Rhumb Line’. Though describing their sound as ‘A frothing cauldron of gruel’, this album is anything but. ‘Ghost Under Rocks’ pounds of the record with a pulsing bassline. It’s the perfect way to start it because it’s unbelievably epic, similar to that of ‘The Map of the Probelmatique’ by Muse, but it’s got a subtle hint of desperation too. This song really haunts me, especially the lines ‘here you are you are breathing life into ghosts under rocks like notes found in pocket’. The sheer power of this song certainly doesn’t dwarf the integrity of ‘Each Year’. It’s has a fast paced, yet mellow sound that keeps your attention. The strings really compliment the guitar giving it a classic indie feel. ‘St. Peter’s Day Festival’ is a nice slow paced rest from the last two. The vocals give the song life, but the obscure drum/string arrangements force you to listen that much closer. ‘Winter ‘05’ is really soothing. It reminds you of nice times: A soft winter day, a snow covered field, etc. The muffled drums, strings, and slight jingle bells are pure genius. It’s like a softer, subdued ‘M79’ by Vampire Weekend. ‘Dying is Fine’ kicks in like a pile of bricks. It’s nice bubbly feel gives the album a little kick. Even though half way through it goes into a melancholy string piece, the general aura is that of joy, but slight despair. The lines ‘You know that dying is fine but maybe, I wouldn’t like death if death were good, not even if death were good’ are also very haunting. ‘Can You Tell’ is a sappy love song, set to an indie beat. It’s not too noticeable, but it’s overall not hard on the ears. ‘Too Too Too Fast’ is quite the annoying one. The synths are absurdly irritating. All the weird electronica vocal and keyboard things they do are very terribly irksome. The song is only mildly saved when the sound of the strings take over what the synths were doing, but the song is just extremely tedious to listen to. ‘La Oh’ is alright; generally a little tired. My attention waned about a minute in, but atleast Alexandra and Rebecca really have the whole cello/violin thing down. ‘Suspended In Gaffa’ is a nice change to the last two. When he goes into the falsetto range, it’s very comical. Though I don’t know what Kate Bush’s version is like, you can still get the feeling that this is a very sound cover. I can imagine them conquerring an old-english loch area and I can see them afterwards parading through the streets in medieval garb playing this song. ‘Run My Mouth’ ceases the album a little disappointingly. It’s a bland type of sound, not too mellow, not too firey. It’s not really that bang you hope they’d go out with being that the introduction to the album was so powerful. They kinda save it by climaxing at the end, but it wasn’t really effective. The album was a very nice debut. The first couple of songs were very appealing, but as the album went on, it got a little worn out. The general sound is that of winter: there’s not really another proper way to describe it. Seeing as what the band went through and that they’ve managed to create their own sound while having actual band members playing the string section, they’re destined to have a strong career ahead of them.
"Mathieu and Allie both deferred their studies on their own accord. I'm pretty sure they were both waiting for the slightest excuse to leave school...and when things with the band started to pick up a little bit, they were happy to re-direct their attention."-Milo Bonacci


Video for Ghost Under Rocks

Recommendations: Ghost Under Rocks, Winter '05, Dying is Fine
Ra Ra Riot's Official Website
Note: Hey, I told you I was gonna post this, and I did! I plan to keep with this schedule of 2 reviews and a Friday Thing once a week, atleast. Expect Thenewno2, Oasis, Darker My Love, and the like sooner or later. Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments.

5 comments:

lisak said...

Doesn't seem to be for me,but your review is terrif. Keep it up Double Hawk.

Double Hawk said...

Lisa K: Thank you for your lovely comment. I didn't like them too much whilst reviewing the CD but there was enough sound stuff in there that I gave 'em a four and they've grown on me.

Ian France said...

Ghost Under Rocks IS truly epic, and so is the video. Fantastic album - especially for the fact that it was their first, AND the drummer died. Great review too.

Double Hawk said...

Arnie: I dunno why, Ra Ra Riot really grew on me, you know? That line in GUR still is eerie to me because of John, but they are very infectious.

Double Hawk said...

Arnie: I just realized I said the grew on me thing about the other comment too!