Monday, January 21st, 2008

Can You Tell

Syracuse’s Ra Ra Riot made the news last Summer for the very worst of reasons – the accidental death of drummer John Pike. That tragedy derailed what had been a bright upward trajectory for the band thanks to the strength of their debut self-titled EP but after taking some time to regroup and recover, Ra Ra Riot is back in gear and rolls into the El Mocambo this Saturday night for their Toronto debut.

The presence of a string section in any band’s lineup usually automatically calls for the use of the adjectives “chamber-” or “orch-” in describing their sound, perhaps with a “stately” or “elegant” chaser. And while there’s aspects of Ra Ra Riot that could be accurately described as thus, it’s the band’s kinetic, New Wave heart that propels this party, all choppy guitars and anxious vocals from singer Wesley Miles overtop song arrangements that are pure pop with maybe a hint of proggish ambition. It’s this blend of crunchy and smooth that makes them immediately appealing while still providing enough substance to remaining engaging over the long term.

Ra Ra Riot spent the latter part of 2007 working on their debut full-length with an eye towards a mid-Spring (April/May) release.

MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Each Year”
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “St Peter’s Day Festival” (Daytrotter Session)
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Each Year” (Daytrotter Session)
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Suspended In Gaffa” (Daytrotter Session)
MP3: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine” (Daytrotter Session)
Video: Ra Ra Riot – “Dying Is Fine”
MySpace: Ra Ra Riot

Also on the bill Saturday are locals The Coast, who have been tapped as a potential breakout band for 2008 by both eye and Exclaim! (online citations elude me, take my word for it). They’ve competed work on their debut full-length, to be titled Expatriate, and will be releasing it in early April to coincide with a cross-Canada tour in support. Been waiting a long time for this one and looking forward to hearing some of the new stuff aired out on Saturday night.

MP3: The Coast – “Circles”
MP3: The Coast – “The Lines Are Cut”
MySpace: The Coast

The final band on the bill is The Virgins, from New York City. Don’t know anything about them.

But if you’re interested in one of, perhaps two or even all three of these acts, then rejoice. Courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the show at the ElMo this Saturday night. To enter, shoot me an email to contests AT with “I want to Ra Ra Riot” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight January 24.

So last night was the “Trivia” episode of CBC’s Test The Nation on which yours truly was participating and, as any sensible person would expect, Team Blogger took the triple crown winning the overall team game as well as boasting the highest individual scorer Rick Spence of Canadian Entrepreneur and top celebrity team captain, Samantha Bee of The Daily Show. By my count, I scored 56 out of 60, good for a respectable 93.3% and just one question short of the overall lead (which was good for a $5000 vacation travel voucher – second place was good for nothing at all). And the ones I got wrong weren’t necessarily ones I didn’t know but just overthought or otherwise brain cramped on. I was also surprised that the actual quiz questions were easier than the sample ones on the website – there, I only scored around 80%.

Being on the show was certainly not a typical experience for me but a lot of fun. In the holding area where we hung out for some four hours before the show began, it was a mish-mash of all the over 200 contestants from the six different teams – bloggers, backpackers, cab drivers, flight crew, chefs and celebrity lookalikes. Naturally, the celebrity impersonators were the most popular for photo ops and gawking, though the quality varied greatly. Some, like KISS and a few of the half-dozen Elvii were great (though mostly costume), others were just “who are you? Really? No, really?”. And a few were genuinely frightening. Everyone was really nice, though, and took the trash talking (mostly coming from the bloggers) in stride. And, unsurprisingly, the bloggers were the most rowdy (read: obnoxious) team when the show began. It was aired live to the Maritimes and on tape delay to the rest of Canada so even after we were done and headed out to a local pub, we were able to watch the end of the show (and our triumph) on the television.

Woot, bloggers. A handful of photos from the goings-on over at my Flickr, better ones and individual portraits of the victors at Photojunkie.

By : Frank Yang at 8:32 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Scott says:

    Test The Nation was fun – but from an early point it became pretty clear the inevitable Blogger victory was set to occur… and with Samantha Bee (clearly the coolest celeb captain) at your helm, things were positive from the outset.

    A lot of fun (didn’t do quite as well as you, though stayed above 80% which was my personal "don’t miss" mark)… so, congrats.