Best of 2008: #9, Ra Ra Riot

Rank: #9
Album: The Rhumb Line
Artist: Ra Ra Riot
Label: Barsuk

Coming in at #9 on the countdown is Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line.  For a band's debut LP, The Rhumb Line displays a very strong concept of melody and presence, one which sets them up for what should be continued success in the future.  I saw them live at Syracuse University (their alma mater) this past September at an outdoor show, and let me tell you, in no way do they disappoint.  Their fun brand of strings-infused indie pop fills the air whether live or on headphones and grabs your attention immediately.  Obviously, I'm not the only one who's taken notice, as they've received favorable reviews all across the web and music magazines, as well as getting an appearance on Letterman.

The entire record keeps it upbeat and lively, never allowing the words or strings to drown the tempo.  Wesley Miles' soaring vocal and keyboard work also keeps the songs, as well as the band, moving throughout.  Continuity is another big key hear, as each track sounds like it belongs in the sequence it was placed, keeping the same theme and key elements intact throughout.  It will be interesting to see how the follow-up sounds without the songwriting contributions of their late drummer, John Pike.  Though the record was made after his unfortunate death in summer of 2007, most of the tracks had already been written earlier that year, and he was a large part of those.  Even though every song is appealing here, the moving "Ghost Under Rocks," poppy "Dying is Fine" and regretful "Can You Tell" stand out above the others.  The band's cover of Kate Bush's "Suspended in Gaffa" also fits right in amongst their original work.  Similar artists may include The Walkmen, Vampire Weekend and Rogue Wave

Best Track: "Dying Is Fine"

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