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The Rhumb Line [Vinyl]

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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The Rhumb Line
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Vinyl, September 2, 2008
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$16.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 20 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by in easy-to-open packaging. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Last summer, not long after Ra Ra Riot released a promising EP, their drummer, John Ryan Pike, drowned in the ocean after a show in Massachusetts. His death weighs heavily on their excellent full-length debut, much of which he co-wrote. Taking its name from a bar close to Pike's home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, The Rhumb Line abounds with death and water imagery, vividly evoking loss in a seaside town. But if the music is funereal, it's also triumphant: Ra Ra Riot combine Arcade Fire's orchestral reveries with Vampire Weekend's pop sensibility for an album that's both effervescent and heartbreaking. ''Ghost Under Rocks'' starts as a mournful cello reverie, then boils over into a punchy industrial groove with stuttering drums. ''St. Peter's Day Festival'' banks on jumpy dub rhythms as Wesley Miles sings, ''If I go to Gloucester, I will wait there for you.'' ''Can You Tell'' folds organs and explosive strings into a Sixties girl-group beat. (Vampire Weekend keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij co-wrote an earlier version of the song.) Even the macabre ''Dying Is Fine'' sounds optimistic when Miles coos a few lines from an E.E. Cummings poem over a power-pop melody: ''Dying is fine/But maybe I wouldn't like death . . . even if death were good.'' Part of what makes The Rhumb Line so engaging is that it's ultimately life-affirming: It's not only a requiem for a lost friend, it's a tribute to the ones who stuck around through the worst times. As Miles sings on ''Oh, La,'' ''We've got a lot to learn from each other/We've got to stick together.'' By the album's end, he's declaring, ''I've discovered all I've got to do'' - a simple but compelling reason for moving on. --Rolling Stone
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (September 2, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Barsuk
  • ASIN: B001CVCB4O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,404 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It's a shame. Ra Ra Riot is likely to remain in the shadow of Vampire Weekend because they released their debut full length second. There are similarities with Ra Ra Riot and Vampire Weekend and most of it stems from both lead singers sounding identical. The shame from that is that Ra Ra Riot is so much better than the comparable Vampire Weekend. Their production is more sound. Their songwriting is deeper and more meaningful. Their execution is flawless. Their album is more consistent and cohesive. Regardless, for those who take notice of this wonderful band and their debut LP, "The Rhumb Line," will no doubt benefit from their clement symphonies.

The album starts of proper with "Ghosts Under Rocks." This is my personal favorite song of the album from all the "oooohs", the frantic guitar strumming and the melancholy violins. The vocals are enchanting and the drumming is not slighted. "Dying Is Fine" shows everyone Ra Ra Riots obvious post-punk scene influence which is native to their hometown state, New York. A sound similar to The Strokes, albeit much more diverse and subsequently more interesting. On "Oh, La" there are more pounding drums and melancholy violins which take possession of the listeners free will and paralyze any attempt to divert attention from its beauty.

If I've mentioned violins and drums in one song then I've mentioned the essence of all the songs from this album. Every song is latent with violins, guitars, wonderful drums, sometimes with cellos and sometimes with obos. Don't dare let that repetitious proclamation deter you. This album never tires from beginning to end. Every song is a good listen and it's fairly easy to find some songs that stand out greater than others. This album definitely stands out more than others in this wonderful year of indie music.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been following this young band from Syracuse since their initial demo EP. Two years of endless touring have helped to fine tune their catalog of songs into genuine gems. Even tracks that previously surfaced on their self-titled EP like "Can You Tell" have been transformed here with stronger arrangements and an added emphasis on backing vocals from string player Alexandra Lawn (who compliments the lead vocals by Wes Miles perfectly on several cuts).

Ra Ra Riot have had some extreme ups and downs over the past few years, but every experience, good and bad, has given depth to their musicianship and helped to inform the spirit of this incredible debut. It's an impressive collection of songs and I look forward to following them for many years to come.
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Format: Audio CD
On Ra Ra Riot's debut album, "The Rhumb Line," the band plumbs the depths of indie music's oldest and newest influences. The record sounds something like a mix of Vampire Weekend and The Cure with some of the rock-oriented production values of Wolf Parade. As the other reviewer stated, the album will likely be stuck under the shadow of Vampire Weekend's successful debut self-titled LP, simply due to the fact that it came out first, and indie music fans are often the first to cry copy-cat. However, "The Rhumb Line" is a varied and engaging listen, and though the similarities are certainly there between Ra Ra Riot and Vampire Weekend, calling this a mere clone would not do the band justice.

The first track opens with some of that Wolf Parade flair mentioned at the beginning of this review, but quickly opens into a sweeping arrangement of strings, building tension as the drums create a frantic, harried pace. The second track apes a very specific Cure sound in the guitar tone, but lyrically and stylistically, the song is unique and fun, finding a good blend of symphonic pop and new-wave swagger. The album addresses the typical moods of a love-lorn indie frontman, and so while the lyrics may have little new to say on the subject, they don't detract from the music or the album as a whole.

All in all, it's a record of lovely, heartfelt pop, and there's nothing wrong with that.
2 Comments 7 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
It has been an interesting phenomenon to see the emergence of the popularity of alternative instruments in the typical rock band format - not just as a novelty act, and mere ear candy like you get in studio albums and such - but alternative instruments becoming solid members of the band. For example, with groups like Arcade Fire, DeVotchka, Matt Pond PA, and the Decemberists, instruments like harps, violins, cellos, accordions, etc. are helping to expand on the archetypal rock sound.

A group out of Syracuse, NY, and contemporaries of the popular group Vampire Weekend, Ra Ra Riot is the newest Chamber Pop Rock group to hit the mainstream market. The upstate New York Quintet recently released their first full length album 'The Rhumb Line' on August 19, 2008 to a generally welcoming reception. The album is full of nautical and dark themes such as death and water, but never gets too bogged down in depression, and has some light upbeat moments to help balance out the album.

I personally have to admit that I'm a sucker for groups which incorporate strings into their ranks, and as for Ra Ra Riot, the co-ed band has a cellist (Alexandra Lawn) and violinist (Rebecca Zeller). This supplementation adds a darker, more lush layer of sound to the group, which proves to be their secret weapon to their success. The song 'Too Too Too Fast' on the album strangely enough doesn't feature Rebecca or Alexandra playing prominently, and proves to be the dullest, and weakest track on the album. Without the prominence of the strings, the track begins to sound like a poor 80's covers, laden too thick with synthesizers to help cover up the lack of the strings.
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The Rhumb Line [Vinyl]
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