Showing posts with label hurray for the riff raff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hurray for the riff raff. Show all posts

Thursday, January 4, 2018

the top 50 songs of 2017 (VIDEO)

And there we go. Massive videos, really proud with how they turned out - enjoy!

the top 50 best songs of 2017

I said on Twitter a few months ago that of all of my year-end lists, this one is always the most complicated - because it's by far the most personal. With the constraint of a list of hits or talking about records in aggregate, you've manufactured some distance - but if you're just going through the list of the songs that spoke the most to you regardless of whether they were a single or not, there's no separation or barrier.

And when you add to the fact that 2017 was a tumultuous year - not just for me but for most of the world, although I did have my own share of trying times - it's a little unnerving to go through the cutting process and realize how dark it truly got. There isn't much escapism in this top 50, and what escapism does show up is very much colored by consequences waiting in the wings. I'm not saying it's downbeat - in comparison to the melancholy that colored a lot of last year, there are more pronounced moments of joy and triumph - but it is by far the most unsettled, pulling the least punches and ultimately producing a psychological profile of my year in 2017 I'm still not quite sure what to do with. But hey, all of these came from albums I covered this year, and I wouldn't have spent a month pruning this list to its form now if I didn't have faith in it - even though I can guarantee there'll be a fair few conspicuous entries that aren't here if you're comparing to other critical lists. So let's get this started...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

video review: 'the navigator' by hurray for the riff raff

Yes, I'm way too late to talk about this, but still, I'm happy it got up the schedule because it was most certainly worth it.

And yet, in something more timely... well, I'm excited. Stay tuned!

album review: 'the navigator' by hurray for the riff raff

I always feel a little at a loss when talking about Hurray For The Riff Raff. The main project of Puerto Rican-American Alynda Segarra, I was first asked to cover her way back in 2014, and after an extended delay I finally got to dig into the back catalog and their debut on ATO Small Town Heroes, which I may have miscategorized as a major label instead of just being one of the larger indie labels. But to some extent it wasn't an unfair categorization - before Small Town Heroes there was a much more ragged and disheveled character to the production that I found powerfully organic and really charming, the sort of rougher tones that felt potent and authentic in the best possible way, something that the smoother, cleaner pickups didn't quite flatter. And what got frustrating is that it wasn't the ballads that suffered, but the more upbeat songs with greater rollick - which of course wasn't a terrible thing, as the restraint allowed the really strong songwriting to shine through, but it also meant that many of my fonder memories of Small Town Heroes are slower and more melancholic rather than of the real edge Segarra could bring.

And yet that looked to be changing in a big way on The Navigator, an album that has won Hurray For The Riff Raff real critical acclaim for venturing back to the roots - and when I say that I mean Segarra's Puerto Rican roots on a full-fledged two part concept album, both in the sound and writing. Which yes, is a bold step for a record barely over forty minutes, but that could reflect a level of rough tightness that I missed from before she signed with ATO. And when I heard this record was digging more deeply into the social themes that colored 'The Body Electric' and 'Small Town Heroes', I was all the more intrigued... but just like last time, I'm late to the punch with this one. But given that I'm the only person who has ever reviewed this group on YouTube, what did we find on The Navigator?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

video review: 'small town heroes' by hurray for the riff raff (RETRO REVIEW)

Finally glad to get this out. Very good album, by the way, definitely worth your time.

So, apparently that last Special Comment went 'tumblr viral', as it was. Kind of cool, I guess.

Okay, next up is The Arkells, who I just discovered dropped a new album! Stay tuned!

album review: 'small town heroes' by hurray for the riff raff (RETRO REVIEW)

You know, for being the only country music critic on YouTube, I haven't covered a true country record in quite some time. Hell, I haven't even really talked about the state of bro-country in a while, which used to be part of my general purview!

Well, believe it or not, there's a reason for that: mostly because country music seems to be in a profoundly confused place right now. The leading acts in the bro-country wave seem to be running as fast as they can back towards something close to neotraditional country while those that are sticking around seem to be actively getting more belligerent and worse. And while I do mostly like Maggie & Tae's 'Girl In A Country Song' for its wit, you can tell they're being pushed by Big Machine in order to play both sides of the equation. And that's not even touching on the more electronic-inspired edges creeping into country music courtesy of Jason Aldean and Sam Hunt, none of which sound remotely cohesive or close to good. It's gotten to the point where 'Hope You Get Lonely', arguably the worst song from Cole Swindell's self-titled album - an album which is on my short list of the worst albums of the year - is starting to rise up the charts.

So on second thought, let's completely ignore whatever's happening in the mainstream and talk about a country record that I've gotten a couple of requests for that came out earlier this year, from an act that's the furthest thing from mainstream polish. This band is called Hurray For The Riff Raff, a stripped-down borderline-acoustic folk and southern gothic-inspired group who gathered a fair bit of buzz after their very solid 2012 release Look Out Mama, which I really liked for its grimy mix and the exposed edges in the production. But while the band might have some traditional elements in its instrumentation and frontwoman Alynda Lee Segarra's voice, Hurray For The Riff Raff lies significantly further to the left side of any political spectrum, both in promoting a queer image and singing about some loaded political subjects in their material. That, if anything was enough to attract my interest, even if it took me far too long to get to them.

Anyway, after releasing a Kickstarter-funded album of covers titled My Dearest Darkest Neighbor, they released a new album and their major label debut titled Small Town Heroes earlier this year, so I finally took the time to check it out: how is it?