Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

A Rhumb Line, in navigation, is a line crossing all meridians at the same angle, not an easy feat. Ra Ra Riot have had more than their fair share of troubled waters in recent time with the tragic loss of drummer, lyricist and inspiration John Pike in June 2007.

Fast forward to 2008 and the six piece from Syracuse, NY have made what can only be described as the perfect tribute. The Rhumb Line is, with three months to go, my vote for album of the year. With tracks like opener “Ghost Under Rocks” with the haunting bass, violin, cello and backing vocals and the upbeat sounding despite its subject “Dying Is Fine” on board, which would grace any critically acclaimed album in history.

As a band Ra Ra Riot check all the correct boxes. Lead singer Wesley Miles vocals sound soft but with a hidden power behind them. The string section of the band Rebecca Zeller on violin and Alexandra Lawn on cello provide the back bone to many of the songs. The cello is such an underrated musical instrument and when played well invokes strong emotions. Or is that just me? The band does have a guitar and bass too which Milo Bonacci and Mathieu Santos play to perfection both on the album and live.

Early tracks “Each Year” and “St. Peters Day Festival” show the happier side of the band before “Winter 05” slows things down with the strings, particularly the cello, along with the drums, creating even more haunting song of missing people.

With other tracks such as the fast paced “Too Too Too Fast” complete with its 80’s sounding keyboard. “Can You Tell” has the tough task of following the awesome “Dying Is Fine” but keeps you from deviating off course. The interestingly titled “Oh, La”, “Suspended in Gaffa” with its crashing drums and “Run My Mouth” round off the 37 minute album perfectly, if too soon.

Without doubt Ra Ra Riot are going to be huge. They are supporting Vampire Weekend on their upcoming UK tour in October and will be, fingers crossed, playing some headline gigs of their own too.

I can not stop playing this album, morning, noon or night, I am in love!