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Tuesday, 29 January 2013 10:50

Charting the Music: Ra Ra Riot, 'Beta Love'

Charting the Music: Ra Ra Riot, 'Beta Love'
Written by Travis Dettmann
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A little less Arcade Fire and a little more Passion Pit, Ra Ra Riot leaves the cellist behind and travels into synth territory with "Beta Love."

"Beta Love" commands heavier use in electronics and sequencing, creating compositions likely to be remixed for dance clubs. Whether these 11 songs are the sound of the band's progression or an effort to hit the mainstream, Ra Ra Riot clearly has no intent on looking to the past for guidance.

88.1 KDHX Chart Position: #3 CMJ Top 30 for the week of January 22, 2013.

Record label, release date and producer: Barsuk Records released "Beta Love," produced by Dennis Herring, on January 22, 2013.

Can be heard on: Coin-Operated Radio with Ryan, Train of Thought with Nick Cowan and Gold Soundz with Chris Bay.

RIYL: Vampire Weekend, Discovery and Tokyo Police Club

Hometown: Syracuse, N.Y.

Standout Tracks: Body movement is inevitable when engulfed in the melodies of "For Once." The minimal track "When I Dream" allows the violin to breathe with lengthier bow use as opposed to the short, sweet strokes adopted on most of the album. "I Shut Off" could easily be mistaken for a modern take on an '80s classic.

About the artist: In 2006, six Syracuse college students creatively fashioned indie/chamber pop band Ra Ra Riot. Within two years, the sextet relocated to New York City and signed with Barsuk Records, releasing their debut LP "The Rhumb Line." After two full-lengths, cellist Alexandra Lawn separated from the pack in 2012. Ra Ra Riot's third venture, "Beta Love," oozes with sythpop, a clear reflection and embracement of the lineup disturbance.

About producer: Dennis Herring has been an avid contributor in the music industry since the 1980s. He began working as a studio six stringer in Los Angeles, soloing with likes of the Temptations, the Pointer Sisters and Neil Diamond. In recent years, Herring has produced and/or engineered albums for contemporary acts such as Wavves, the Hives and Ben Folds.

This label: Seattle's Barsuk Records was initiated by Christopher Possanza and Josh Rosenfeld from the indie-rock band This Busy Monster as a medium to release their music. Barsuk was the name of Christopher's black Labrador. Death Cab for Cutie, Mates of State and Nada Surf have graced Barsuk's catalog.

Play it while: Perusing the mall for the latest and hottest garments.

What the critics say: "With Beta Love, New York indie-rock band Ra Ra Riot joins the ranks of crafty young pop acts indulging an affection for the synth-washed '80s. On Ra Ra Riot’s first two albums—2008's 'The Rhumb Line' and 2010's 'The Orchard' -- the band combined peppy rhythms with dreamy strings and frontman Wes Miles' high croon to produce something light and likeable, if not exactly cutting-edge. On 'Beta Love,' the guitars and violins are overridden by keyboards, while Miles’ already-strong voice picks up some studio enhancements, making it sound like another electronic element in the mix. The album is big, busy and mainstream-friendly -- ideal for a marketplace dominated by the likes of Fun., Gotye, Passion Pit and Carly Rae Jepsen." – Noel Murray, A.V. Club.

KDHX coverage: Will Kyle covered Ra Ra Riot's in-studio session in 2011, complete with audio and video. The title track to the new album was recently featured as KDHX's "Song of the Day."

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