Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Rah Rah- Breaking Hearts
Sophomore albums are a tricky thing. For the most part I have found them very interesting to discover, especially when they are from a familiar band I have lost track of for a few years. During my senior year of high school, my best friend Danny was raving about this Canadian alternative/ indie rock band that he absolutely loved. When he played me the band I was intrigued and wanted to hear more, which he gladly obliged. That band was Rah Rah.
Fast forward to 2008 when they released their debut album Going Steady, which received great praise, especially from my friend Danny. Shortly thereafter they were named “Best New Canadian Band” and “Best New Alternative Band” by iTunes in 2009. Now their sophomore album, Breaking Hearts, is being re-released in the United States by Hidden Pony Records after being released last year in Canada.
Two weeks ago I received a package from the Ripple Effect staff filled with CDs and EPs. Every time I open one of these beauties there is something remarkable in them. This time was no exception and I actually freaked out for the very first time when I saw Rah Rah. Was this a dream? Immediately I opened the CD and started playing it non-stop. Even when I left to attend a business meeting that day I brought the CD with me and listened to it twice more on the drive there and back. After listening to it two more times I realized I can’t be selfish, but need to write about this remarkable band and help spread the word.
Rah Rah is composed of Marshall Burns (vocals, guitar, bass), Erin Passmore (drums, vocals, keys, bass and guitar), Joel Passmore (bass, vocals, drums and guitar), Leif Thorseth (vocals, guitar), Vanessa Benson (vocals, keys, bass) and Kristina Hedlund (violin, accordion, keys, confetti canons, piñatas). On Breaking Hearts, Samra Sahlu played keys and did back up / harmony vocals before leaving for college and has since been replaced.
For the past decade, Canada has emerged as a powerhouse with introducing imaginative indie rock bands like Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Tokyo Police Club, Wolf Parade, The New Pornographers and now Rah Rah to mainstream audiences. Rah Rah’s latest effort is an album worth discovering and one of the year’s best albums.
Breaking Hearts opens up with the delightful “Arrows.” The lyrics are exactly what I want in a song: sweet and simple. “Somewhere amidst these ashes/I got a hold of your hand/We pushed through the tall boulders/To Cohen’s ‘I’m Your Man’/Now with the bright skies above us/The wind singing your name/I feel just like an arrow/Shooting high and away.”
This songs shoots right to your heart and moves you with the fun and infectious chorus “I feel just like an arrow/I feel just like an arrow/Shooting high, shooting high and away.” The sincerity sung throughout this song and on the remainder of this album is remarkable. “Arrow” is the perfect first track to start this amazing and astonishing album.
The sweet “Ghosts” and “Henry” follows. The song “Henry” is the kind of song I love hearing and seems totally reminiscent of The New Pornographers. There is a diverse variety of styles showcased on Breaking Hearts like “Beaches,” which seems eerily similar to something like a Warpaint song, probably because of the drumming techniques, whereas other songs seem like The New Pornographers and others Wolf Parade.
“Arrows” is arguably my favorite song on Breaking Hearts, but a song that I enjoy almost as much is “Communist Man.” Immediately once the song starts with the ukulele, the irresistible, infectious musical accompaniment hooks you. Then the lyrics keep you begging for more as it’s the shortest song featured on the album. I find it fascinating and can’t put my finger on it so I have included the entire songs’ lyrics below:
“Don’t tell Nietzsche
Found God alive
In a noble lie
Found God alive
Don’t tell the church, Don’t tell my mother
They killed him…or her
And I’m in love with a communist man
I won’t marry you
I’ll only marry a pansychist
The sky it is blue and the oceans like you
And I don’t care
And you my friend are the mistress of
A pagan cult, killed myself with all the capitalists.”
“Salty Cities” is a song that breaks your heart, but with the melodic male/female vocals featured you absolutely fall in love with Rah Rah. Another one of my favorite songs, “Joey” is a slow, sleek song that mentions Joey Ramone. How cool is that? Not only has Nietzsche, Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Picasso, God and Giorgio de Chirico been previously mentioned in other songs, it honestly doesn’t get cooler than to mention one of the most influential and awesome artists of all time, Joey Ramone.
The last song I want to mention is the titular track “Breaking Hearts.” Maybe it’s just me, but it’s been awhile since I have even heard a titular track. Fortunately, “Breaking Hearts” appears like a hidden gem buried deep into this modest, yet memorable album. The song starts of slow, but blows my mind once it hits the chorus, “Amidst these breaking hearts/You know the truth comes through/Amidst these breaking hearts.”
Rah Rah’s Breaking Hearts is a youthful, stylized album that is a must hear. If you like bands like Minus the Bear, Holy Fuck, Mother Mother, Boxer the Horse, We Are The City or any of the other bands listed earlier in the article, Rah Rah is well worth checking out.