San Francisco post-punk outfit Rip Room has emerged with a charismatic and alluringly unpredictable debut full-length record, Alight and Resound. With the fervor of Unwound, Hüsker Dü, Sleater-Kinney, and Fugazi, Rip Room spews out propulsive rhythms and piercing lyrics wrapped in a buoyant glee. “Wolves in sheep’s clothing,” they say.
Prospering in the Bay Area is no minor feat for a modern-day band grappling with stiff competition, closing venues, and rising rents. The band predicts that all these challenges will also usher in an increased desire for more authenticity in art. They firmly believe in the power of seeking to audaciously dive headlong into creativity over any banal stagnation or status quo platitudes.
“Complication”, the latest single from the album, is about the failure of society to do meaningful things, and the lack of imagination that’s doomed humanity to repeat the same mistakes over and over.
“Why isn’t there equitable treatment of all people? Why is there still war? Why can’t the richest country in the history of the world provide healthcare for all of its citizens? So many questions with seemingly the same answer from our so-called leaders: it’s complicated,” says vocalist/guitarist John Reed. Complication takes things back to basics, boasting the raw, authentic lightning-in-a-bottle dynamic of a live performance. “I wanted to be in a fun, high-energy band, but with a math-y, prog edge,” says Reed.
“We’re always looking to capture our live sound, and with this record, we wanted that plus a little more to emphasize some ideas or sonic feelings,” adds bassist/vocalist Sarah McKinney. “The subject matter is pretty heavy, but the execution is sometimes a bit more lighthearted and dance-y which I think balances it out well. Our sound was once described as ‘dance music for people who don’t like to dance,’ which I don’t agree with — I’d say it’s ‘dance music for people who like to dance but are also bummed out’.”
Bombastic with its earnestness, “Complication” is as playful as it is acerbic, with a rhythmic whirl of guitars and bass overlaid with old-school firecracker vocals, that strip down all pretensions.
After successfully self-releasing and touring on two EPs (Self-Titled; Monsters), Rip Room returned to Louder Studios to reunite with engineer Tim Green (Melvins, Bikini Kill, Sebadoh). Green contributed some less canonical sounds and recording approaches: stylophone, car fender clanking, and skilled tape manipulation.
Pre-order Alight and Resound here.
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