The Raveonettes – “Z-Boys”

The boys and girls of summer are packing away their sun-bleached memories, and dragging their feet into a new semester of institutionalized learning. They eagerly wait for the school bell, an alarm that means freedom for a few fleeting moments. Waiting and waiting, for another moment to soak in the summer sun. Enjoy.


Read more about The Raveonettes, and catch their new album Pe’ahi out now! I was going to review it, but didn’t! It’s good though.

Pulling a Beyoncé: Why are artists releasing “surprise” albums?

Beyoncé. Wolfmother. Death Grips. The Raveonettes. Kid Cudi. Skrillex. 
A seemingly arbitrary list of artists, differing in both genre and status, are among a growing population of musicians who have chosen to release an entire album with absolutely no warning or promotion. This trend received its unofficial title of “pulling a Beyoncé,” after BB releasing her unannounced self-titled album on December 13, 2013. The Internet was driven towards hysteria. In its first three days, having no prior release date or singles, Beyoncé sold almost 800,000 copies. Although Beyoncé was not the first to try this unorthodox release, her great success using it has inspired others to do so. But, is it really all “About the Money,” or do artists have their own reasons behind the “surprise” album? Why is “surprise” in quotation marks? Enjoy.

beyonce

One thing that is for sure, fans, myself included, go absolutely nuts when one of their favorite artists pulls a card out of Mrs. Carter’s playbook. Even the press seems to be intoxicated by these mass influxes of new material. While doing research for this article I ran across posts about: who should release a surprise albumwho shouldn’t release surprise albumwho is most likely to release a surprise album; and whether or not this approach even works. Sorry Wolfmother, for you, it does not.

So, we know that in most cases fans flip over surprise albums. And perhaps artists see the unexpected release as a gift to their supporters. Everyone knows waiting for an album to drop can be torture. Maybe musicians reward fans by attempting to break up the monotony that is the typical year long cycle of an album’s campaign. It’s a tried and true method that never ends: tease first single, release single, announce album release date, tease single’s music video, release video, debut more new tracks, appears on Fallon promoting the single, video, and album, so on and so forth. Instead of months spent digesting how much they need to hear the album, the listener can actually hear the album. Different. Weird. Exciting.

This brings me to my next point: releasing a surprise album has proven to make a musician or band more reputable. It’s simple. By abstracting the norm, the action appears defiant. When experimental hip hop outfit Death Grips was dropped from Epic Records for leaking their second album No Love Deep Web, they came off looking like fucking renegades. So much so, that they did so with both their third and fourth albums. This group was about music! Their label was standing in the way of them delivering music to the fans, so they said “Fuck it. We can do it ourselves.” Now, doesn’t releasing an album without any release date or promotional campaign seem like rebellious thing to do?

deathgrips

But, I will give it to Death Grips. They were an authentic act. But this is where the surprise ends. Lets take Beyoncé for example. Beyoncé is on Columbia Records. Columbia is the largest flagship label owned by Sony Music, a company worth almost $5 billion. With Beyoncé being one of their highest-grossing artists, do you really think Sony would be happy if just one day she said, “I think I’ll release my album today.”? An album that cost millions of dollars to record? Try looking at Kid Cudi and Skrillex. Both are on huge record labels. Do you think their bosses – and yes, they have bosses – would be okay if they decided to release an album with zero promotion, and not consult them?

There is no surprise. The release of a “surprise” album is just as calculated as the typical promotion cycle. The story is that there was none. The resulting media frenzy is promotion enough, and the artist appears more genuine for doing something “different.” The record label executives ride the independent wave right to the bank. The action appears nice, but the thought behind it is corrupt. They capitalize on the actions taken by artists like Death Grips, artists who actually want fans to experience their art. This greed could eventually lead to diminished feelings towards these pure artists. One day their actions may appear more calculated and less authentic.

But what do you think? Why are artists releasing “surprise” albums? These are just my opinions. I’d enjoy hearing yours.

New Year/New Music: The Raveonettes

Today on The Vinyl Warhol, we have The Raveonettes. I’ve been a fan of The Raveonettes for about 2 years now, and I think they’re one of the most underrated bands in the indie rock scene. They’re the perfect soundtrack to the cold weather we’ve been having, so I’m here to share them with you. Enjoy.

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If you missed Part 1 of New Year/New Music check it out!

Let’s Rave On.

Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, the Danish duo who make up The Raveonettes, have been blending indie rock, post-punk, and garage rock since their 2002 EP Whip It On. The sounds on Whip It On meld together in a dark haze. This, along with a thick blanket of fuzz, make “Attack of the Ghost Riders” feel haunting. Picture the energy of The Cramps with the melodies of The Cure. The little sample that pops in during “Do You Believe Her?” is so satisfying. “HONEY!” Our introduction to the The Raveonettes’ was their most bombastic to date, and in 2003 they followed suit with Chain Gang of Love.

One of the biggest things that draws me to The Raveonettes is some of the bands they evoke. A decent chunk of their material reminds me of releases from the gritty 60’s New York bands. After all, they’ve worked with members of The Velvet Underground and Television. Working with artists that have been highly regarded in the underground music scene of the last 10 or so years, gives The Raveonettes some level of creditably as a band. One of band’s biggest triumphs is how they can sound so fresh while drawing heavily on their influences. Like The Kills, The Raveonettes take trick from today and update the music of yesteryear.

What I love about The Raveonettes is Sune Rose Wagner’s, who does all the song writing and composing, ear for melody. These songs have crazy hooks. Listen to “Love in a Trashcan” off Pretty in Black. The guitar riff pulls you in, the verses sit on top of the songs so nicely, this track is like a sockhop in a graveyard. Another solid moment on Pretty in Black is a cover of The Angels 1963 hit “My Boyfriend’s Back”. It again evokes the doo-wop Happy Days period, only staring the kids who hang out behind the bleachers and smoke. Sharin Foo’s vocals are so sweet, as with all of her vocals, they keep me coming back every time.

The Raveonettes have six full-lengths and five EPs out so there’s a lot of material to dive into. In and Out of Control is a pretty decent release. It’s not my favorite, but tracks like “Bang!,” “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed),” “Suicide,” and “D.R.U.G.S.” are incredible. They have some of the best choruses The Raveonettes have ever produce, but stick out in their catalog as having some of the darkest subject matter.

My favorite two releases from The Raveonettes are the two most recent: 2012’s Into the Night and Observator. Into the Night is my winner by small margin favorite, which might not be fair because of it’s short four track length, but the four songs that make up Into the Night are easily some of the band’s best output. The title-track is by far my favorite track ever by The Raveonettes. Don’t ask me why because it’s hard for me to convey why I love “Into the Night” so much. Simply put, it’s the essence of night. “Night Comes Out,” “Too Close to Heartbreak,” and “Bad Ghosts” are all great, listen to this EP!

The Raveonettes other release of 2013 Observator came out right when I was getting heavily into the band, and it marked some great additions to their sound. “Observations” is almost totally piano driven, and is one of The Raveonettes most somber tunes to date. On Observator, Wagner and Foo sing individually, which makes for an interesting distinction between melodies. The Raveonettes recorded the album in California, which  bleeds through on “Sinking with the Sun”. The track doused with these surf rock waves, but keeps it’s somber attitude.

More recently, the band is back in the studio recording a follow-up to Observator. I can only hope it’s released this year, and that they tour Florida soon. Stay gold everyone.

And look another playlist!