Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CD Review: THE RAYLENES - Let The Wild Rumpus Start (Half A Cow)

Monday, June 04, 2007 

The barely contained thrill within a track like Fallen Down off The Raylenes' debut album is something you rarely stumble across; that dry vocal and pitch-perfect melody, tumbling drums and mad descending rush from the guitars, all over in two and a half minutes - gold. That this discovery is from a little known but up and coming local band only adds to the excitement. The Raylenes live somewhere between 60s London, 80s Dunedin and right now, so these transmissions, under the title Let The Wild Rumpus Start, should be only increasing the profile of these cats. As befits an album named after a quote from Maurice Sendak, there is a playfulness and hint of vast imagination at work here. Songs like airplay-friendly Something Monsterous and the Withnail-referencing Never Play The Dane give away their influences but these are melded together in such a fun and carefree way (yet with spot-on arrangements and harmonies that could never be accidental) you can hardly believe that it's still got the garage band backing that got your attention in the first place.

Dave Rogers described The Raylenes as "soul music for the over-educated" and, in the spirit of much of the New Zealand scene that 4/5ths of the band hail from, there were probably tens of thousands of cumulative rainy days indoors that fostered the aforementioned imagination and daydreams that are realised with this release. It's no surprise that Half A Cow snapped these guys up and they should be thrilled with this opening effort. John Palmer's wordsmithery - with characters such as frustrated thespian Hilary "six years on where is she now? / she works the calls but just inbound" from Never Play The Dane as effective as any Murdoch creation. The clincher being the way the soundscape of the music reinforces the story being told in a clever yet obvious way. Priceless drumming from Jamie Power urge the tracks forward (must have been hard for The Brunettes to replace him) and really comes into it's own on songs like Fallen Down and Getting Young. Mexico let's co-vocalist Katie Jacobs and Palmer play with the Nancy and Lee comparisons to great effect. There are many influences you can spot, and none detract from the way they've been assembled and arranged which is with an wholly original hand (and crystalline production), ensuring the result doesn't disappoint.

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