Review: Ra Ra Riot – Superbloom

Ra Ra Riot - Superbloom

When preparing for their fifth studio album, Superbloom, Ra Ra Riot mentioned in several interviews their intention to create an album worthy of lasting impact and an enjoyable listening experience. Front-man Wes Miles co-wrote two of the twelve songs with former Vampire Weekend guitarist Rostam Batmanglij, and in doing so, helped expand Ra Ra Riot’s repertoire and sound in general. Miles mentioned in an interview that the band wanted a “DIY, demo mindset” to many of these songs, yet Miles decided these demos that were recorded in his parents’ house were strong enough to be considered the final versions.

One of the first things listeners will notice on Superbloom is how the simple song structures and sounds make for a great experience. This breezy collection of twelve songs are all well thought out, and make a lot of sense cohesively as an album.

Slipknot Top the Charts

Slipknot have the number one album in the country this week:

Slipknot scores its third No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart as the rock band’s We Are Not Your Kind bows in the top slot. The album earned 118,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Aug. 15, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 102,000 were in album sales.

New ‘He-Man’ Series Coming to Netflix

Kevin Smith has announced he’s working on a new anime He-Man series for Netflix.

The new series, titled “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” will take place in the Mattel toy inspired world and will focus on some of the unresolved storylines of the classic ‘80s show. Smith will serve as showrunner and executive producer.

“I’m Eternia-ly grateful to Mattel TV and Netflix for entrusting me with not only the secrets of Grayskull, but also their entire Universe,” Smith said. “In ‘Revelation,’ we pick up right where the classic era left off to tell an epic tale of what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor! Brought to life with the most metal character designs Powerhouse Animation can contain in the frame, this is the Masters of the Universe story you always wanted to see as a kid!”

Liner Notes (August 16th, 2019)

This was a fun one.

In this week’s newsletter, I offer first impressions on new albums from The Early November, Somos, Grayscale, and Refused. There are also some comments on a bunch of other music, my weekly media diet rundown, and the usual random other thoughts. And, we close out with a playlist of ten songs I loved this week. (If Somos were out on streaming services right now, I’d probably have led with “Iron Heel.”) This week’s supporter Q&A post can be found here.

If you’d like this newsletter delivered to your inbox each week (it’s free and available to everyone), you can sign up here.

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Review: Oso Oso – Basking in the Glow

Oso Oso Album Art

My first thought when I heard “The View” – the second track on Basking in the Glow but first in earnest, with a full band and a chorus (the latter of which will prove to be very important on this record) – was that it sounds like it’s from 2003. A pop-punk song from 2003; from a major label band, and a song that would have stuck. We’d still know all the words today.

I guess whether this is a compliment or not depends on your feelings about 00s mall punk, but I absolutely mean it as one. More importantly, it seems that Jade Lilitri – the man behind Oso Oso – would take it as one, or at least isn’t afraid of hearing it. The harmonies, the bouncy chorus, the bridge that drops into half-time, they all feel crafted with such deliberate nostalgia, reverence even, for that era of punk. That’s the common musical thread of the record, all the way through – I hear, at different times, flashes of Dashboard Confessional, Saves The Day, All-American Rejects. (These are less cool influences than the ones I’ve seen critics assign to Oso Oso in the past, like Death Cab For Cutie and Built To Spill; then again, the way that nostalgia cycles means a whole generation listening to this is probably more attracted to the former than the latter.) Perhaps oxymoronically, though, it doesn’t feel like we’ve heard it before – it’s not a copycat, and most of the time you can’t pin it down to whom exactly it sounds like. It would have been an entry in the canon of that time in its own right, and it deserves the same in its own time too.