Ra Ra Riot :: "Dying Is Fine"

This is a hard conversation to have. Ra Ra Riot is a band that I've had an unhealthy thing for since I saw them two winters ago at an ill-conceived industry showcase. Their first proper LP is coming out on August 19 and lead-single "Dying Is Fine" is about to appear at the end of this post. To say I wanted a lot for this record is saying too little. I wanted a lot a lot for this album.

Ra Ra Riot toured with the now super-famous Tokyo Police Club for a big chunk of last year and pretty routinely blew them off the stage. There was even a night in Boston last summer where Ra Ra Riot was sandwiched between Vampire Weekend (OHMYGOD!!) and TPC. Tokyo Police Club had the ink barely dry on their deal with Saddle Creek and Vampire Weekend were about to get with with XL Records. Ra Ra Riot was a few months away from getting in bed with Barsuk. One night defined indie music in 2007 and it was August 12. And the Ra Ra Riot kids stole the show. I mean, just ripped it off like a 2am gas station robbery. No plan, no grand design - just unfiltered larceny.

The point is, Ra Ra Riot was the best live club band in 2006 and 2007. And it wasn't even close. We even tried to forget that they had a few EPs that did little to capture the evocative live experience. So when they signed to Barsuk, the conventional wisdom was: recording budget + quality producer - pressure to get signed = An outstanding album. (Footnote: It worked with TPC. Saddle Creek brought you "Tessellate" and don't get it twisted. TPC never could have done that on their own. Never. Sometimes, you need someone to pick you up to that next level. Everyone needs help.) And thus, the Ra Ra Riot full-length discussion became riddled with expectation. And the album is okay. "Dying Is Fine" sounds a little bigger, mostly the recording mix on the drums and the sort of hanging sheen that says someone knew their way around ProTools. I mean, are we finally using reverb on the vocals? It's a damn miracle.

This is a fantastic live band with really, truly nice kids who make sort of exciting music. The recording just never seems to live up to the show. So go see them live. They'll be blowing some would-be-up-and-comer off the stage with hurricane force. And I promise not too get too hung up on the rest of the details.

Listen :: Ra Ra Riot - Dying Is Fine

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