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Rat Wakes Red


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Altfolk/altpop

Status:

Most recent release, Acres (2010)

See also:

Rat Disk site/Rat Wakes Red site (both sites have the same content)

Rat Wakes Red's Facebook page

Comparisons:

Hard call: first album kind of Nick Drake meets Simon and Garfunkel with the dark, urgent touch of his friend Hannah Fury; second reminiscent of the altpop/rock of Emm Gryner. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own with occasional covers

General comments:

The press describes this as "acoustic alternative experimental folk/pop," which yes, does describe it. I would add that it's lively, energetic, emotional, and melodic. Interesting harmonies which work with the melancholy nature of the songs, almost Simon and Garfunkel-like (hard to believe this is all self-harmonizing but it is). Lovely and heart-wrenching, lush, dark, yearning, a hint of the Gothic. The latter album is more indierock, but with touches of the previous sound. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

Your choice: Dizzy on Daddy is more unusual, Horizon Drops more mainstream

Recordings:


Dizzy on Daddy

Release info:

1998—Rat Disk—Rat Disk 7-6658

Availability:

See Rat Disk site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of harmonic pop

Group members:

James Raftery—vocals, guitar, keyboard, sounds
Jeral Benjamin—viola

Produced by:

Jeral Benjamin

Comments:

Dreamy, often empassioned, full of vocal interplay and interesting harmonies. The harmonies often have an rushing, almost head-long feel, as in "Dead Ringer" and "Ecstasy", which gives a powerful sense of emotion and urgency. The songs are all short and move swiftly into new ones, so there's a strong sense of connections between them, that each song is a slightly different angle of looking at the world. The lyrics are allusive and intriguing, with references to all kinds of other artists: Joni Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Nick Drake, Kate Bush...but this music doesn't seem to owe much to any of them, having its own unique size and shape. The only suggestion I would make to improve this album is that it wouldn't have hurt for a few tracks to have been saved for another album—because the songs and short and urgent it would have been more powerful with fewer of them, even though it's not a very long album at 47 minutes. In any case, I highly recommend this album—it has power, emotion, and a sense of hard-earned wisdom. (Neile)

Horizon Drops

Release info:

2006—Rat Disk.—Rat Disk 003

Availability:

See Rat Disk site

Ecto priority:

Recommended for indierock/indiepop fans

Group members:

James Raftery—vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards

Guest artists:

Christy Davis—drums
John Werner—electric guitar on 2 tracks

Produced by:

Jeral Benjamin

Comments:

The first song, "Powderkeg" is far more rocking and mainstream indierock sounding than anything on Dizzy on Daddy and I had a moment's dismay, thinking that this individual-sounding artist had decided to follow the currently too-well-trodden path of angsty boy indie rock that has been everywhere for the last few years. In several places this collection reminds me of the altpop/rock of Emm Gryner and may appeal to the same audience. There are moments, in for example "Wheels" and "Ground" and especially "Thin Black Line" and "Behemoth" where Raftery blends that indierock sound with the harmonics of Dizzy on Daddy to make something lively and individual, but overall I find Rat Wakes Red's direction here less to my personal tastes, even though it's more like a shift than a transformation. Likely this album will probably gain a wider audience but at the cost of sounding more like others currently out there. (Neile)

I'm not familiar with the band's previous record, but this seems like a nice disc in the alternative rock fashion. There are enough individual touches for it to stand out. The vocals are sensitive and strong, especially on "Wheels" one of the album's best songs. "Galaxy" is catchy and reminds me of Lemonheads at their nineties best. The harmonies are stunning. The folk of "Lovely invalid" is a truly original sound for the band.
     Most of the songs are short, and the album is half an hour long, but it still makes an impression on me. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Energy Garage

Release info:

2007—Rat Disk—004

Availability:

See Rat Disk site

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

James Raftery—vocals, electric guitar, keyboards

Guest artists:

Christy Davis—drums,
John Werner—electric guitar (1)
Jeral Benjamin—violas (2)

Produced by:

Jeral Benjamin

Comments:

Rat Wakes Red returns with a folksy and intriguing ep, only four songs but they really hit the mark. "Energy garage" itself is soft folk with a superlative vocal. "You" is dreamy and reminds me of Red House Painters, in its slow hush. The ep is over way too soon and whets the appetite for a new album. The DVD has a video for the last song which is neat without being spectacular. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Acres

Release info:

2010—Rat Disk site—005

Availability:

See Rat Disk site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

James Raftery—vocals, guitar, piano, synths, organ, tin whistle
Jeral Benjamin—violas, string and wind arrangements
Matt Raftery—drums

Guest artists:

Hannah Fury—vocals (1)
Heather McLean—bassoon
Brandon Blankenship—clarinet, bassoon
Erin Deininger—French horn

Produced by:

Jeral Benjamin

Comments:

Rat Wakes Red returns with a more folksy set than their last one, and it's utterly gorgeous. Hannah Fury guests on the opener and adds her unmistakable harmonies. The sound on "Come Over" is lush and intricate, and the vocal drop dead beautiful. "Forestry" is another lovely moment, Raftery's vocals being especially evocative. "Lights Out" is a very Red House Painter-like song and of course that works fine. It's one of those magical albums that seems to lack flaws. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Further info:

Email info @ ratdisk.com; write: P.O. Box 474, New York, NY 10024, U.S.A.


Thanks to stjarnell@yahoo.com for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-06-14 17:04:18.
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