At some point a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon the website Noisetrade. It’s main purpose for existing is to help under-the-radar bands get their music out to the masses.
The site provides free downloads of albums or samplers. (Of course, it gives listeners the opportunity to donate a few bucks when they download the music — but how many people out there actually cave to the pressure?)
After my first download, I started getting several emails a week trumpeting various bands who had music available on the site. Generally, I’ll skim through the emails, see the descriptions of the bands and decide it’s not worth the time or effort to download the music.
But, on occasion, I’ll see a description that piques my interest. And that’s how I came to recently discover the band Rah Rah.
In this particular email, at the end of a brief, boastful band bio, there was this:
“For fans of: Wilco, Built To Spill, Best Coast, Arcade Fire, Neil Young and Crazy Horse”
While the comparisons were enticing, they were also false. There’s the occasional hint of Built To Spill and maybe some Arcade Fire and Wilco. But Rah Rah’s real contemporaries would be bands such as fellow Canadians Broken Social Scene and New Pornographers and British acts Los Campesinos! and Noah and the Whale.
The above link provides a download that includes a mix of songs from all three of Rah Rah’s three albums, including The Poet’s Dead, which officially hits record stores next week and is already out in digital form.
On the three albums, which include 2008’s Going Steady and 2010’s Breaking Hearts, listeners will discover a band full of solid musicianship, energetic male-female harmonies, enduring lyrics and catchy indie-pop/rock tunes.
The above song comes from the debut album and is a great example of everything Rah Rah bring to the table. The album is mostly upbeat and makes the band’s name seem very apt. There are some slower/darker points on the album, but even those moments are delivered in a way that still seems upbeat.
Other strong tracks include “Betrayal Pt. 1”, “Duet For Emmylou and the Grievous Angel”, “Our Hearts Don’t Match Up” and “Cuba/Peru”, which will likely be stuck in your head after the first listen.
Breaking Hearts is similarly upbeat, but the band displays a tighter sound throughout. It also takes things to a slightly heavier level. All of the songs are solid, but the only real standout is the opener, “Arrows”.
The Poet’s Dead is clearly Rah Rah‘s strongest effort to date. They’re still energetic, but gone are the constant six-piece harmonies. More often, the vocals are focused on one or two singers. But since everyone in the band can sing, it results in a more eclectic mix of songs.
The standout is “Prairie Girl”, which sounds like something that belongs on one of Feist’s albums.
Other songs of note include “Dead Men”, “Run” and the title track.
Rah Rah will be in New York this week for the CMJ Festival, then head west for a quick tour through the States before heading to the Great White North for several shows.
They’ll be an opening act when they stop in Chicago at the Double Door next week. Alas, I won’t be able to attend the show. My guess is, by the time they return to the Windy City, they’ll be the top band on the marquee.