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Album Review
Ra Ra Riot  - The Orchard Album Cover

Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard

Reviewed by
7.5
Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard
Record Label - Barsuk Records
Release Date - August 24, 2010
Musically, this past year has been a learning experience for me. 2010 is the first year I’ve really challenged myself enough to consistently go out of my comfort zone and listen to music regardless of genre. This result is it being extremely difficult for me to craft a top 5/10/15 list, because albums are constantly flying out of left and right field that give my sure favorite a run for the money. I love refining my tastes and straying away from the usual as much as possible now, but man, come December, I’m going to have a hell of a time putting that list together. Ra Ra Riot is responsible for some of that trouble…I think.

Now, I normally don’t post first impressions, because they’re usually something inconsequential like this: ‘this sucks,’ ‘this is bad,’ ‘this rocks,’ ‘this is good.’ Not this time, oh, no. I get about 10 seconds into the title track/opener, and I’m thinking, ‘Can I get somebody to turn this bass down? Seriously, who do I talk do about getting this bass turned down? I think there’s music in there somewhere, but I can’t really hear it.’ It was similar to when I tried beer for the first time, but instead of wanting to spit it out, I just wanted to remove my headphones. I powered through, and then ‘Boy’ came on. Damn, that bass is loud.

Needless to say, my first listen through The Orchard didn’t heed positive results. Going into this solely off enjoying the artwork & having no knowledge of their previous releases, I saw Ra Ra Riot as a fledgling band trying to be overly unique with their debut album. Then it started to grow as I listened again. The next thing that stuck out to me was most definitely positive. I put the bass on the back burner as best I could, and I listened with more detail: bowed instruments. Played by two extremely talented (and attractive) women, the cello and the violin are used in heavy amounts throughout a majority of the album in very upbeat ways, and it really adds to the experience.

Then something struck me as odd my second or third time through this record: when broken down, each member of this group is very talented and isn’t afraid to do eccentric or inaccessible things through their instruments. However, when I reconstructed it in my mind, I constantly found myself drawing similarities to other bands. I couldn’t keep enjoying this band for who they were. It turned into one giant Vampire Weekend/Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin/Tokyo Police Club b-side b-side. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as most of the music was still crafted beautifully. To everyone out there saying I contradicted myself, I’m aware. I just can’t think of a better way to phrase that.

I’ve never been confused by an album like this before. I think that’s why I personally feel this review is subpar. Is it? I’m not sure. I’ve had the hardest time touching on specific things, because I feel there’s something bigger here, in a wider sense; so I’ll try to write about that. Then I’ll catch something intricate and under the surface that really intrigues me. It’s constantly back and forth, and I feel I never accomplish anything. What that says about the band, I don’t quite know. I'm not really sure about any part of this review anymore. I mean, I’ve written it about three times now. I think it’s one of those things where it will maybe never feel completely done. Everybody has this happen at some point in his or her life with an album. For whatever reason, they just can’t wrap their brain around it. So just go listen to this album, and formulate your opinion that way, because my head is starting to hurt.

Recommended If You LikeSomeone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin; Vampire Weekend; Tokyo Police Club; Me poorly describing this record


Track Listing1. The Orchard – 3:29
2. Boy – 3:10
3. Too Dramatic – 3:04
4. Foolish – 4:01
5. Massachusetts – 5:38
6. You And I Know – 4:34
7. Shadowcasting – 3:40
8. Do You Remember – 3:31
9. Kansai – 4:13
10. Keep It Quiet – 3:46
This review is a user submitted review from Cody Nelson. You can see all of Cody Nelson's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
07:41 PM on 09/13/10
#2
Wake Up
█▓▒░░
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*gasp*
07:46 PM on 09/13/10
#3
a nocturnal day
this ain't a game
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I think it's just one of those albums that take a long time to grow on you. It doesn't immediately "hit" like an AOTY would, but with a few listens, it's definently a nice listen. Nothing mind blowing, but a nice listen none the less. "You And I Know" is probably one of my top twenty songs this year. Shame there isn't more like it on the album.
07:54 PM on 09/13/10
#4
OdourlessHobo
woop woop woop
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you seem a little confused the album is a fun listen and one that they should be very proud of, 'boy' is such a damn good song and is my favorite off the record.

Its been a good year for music.

Edit: oh and I really like the bit in your review where you mentioned that each member of the group is talented and isn't afraid to do anything peculiar with their instrument.
08:39 PM on 09/13/10
#5
dash64
This Is My Design
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Hm, I might have to give this another listen. On first listen it just seemed average.
09:55 PM on 09/13/10
#6
midkay
i've found a new way
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This is a really lame review. Don't mean that in a rude way, but you spent the first couple paragraphs giving us background on your own listening habits, and the remaining three saying "well, I don't really know how I feel about this album." That's fine for a blog or a first impressions post, but do you really think this passes for a "review"?

I mean, reviews are supposed to evaluate the album. If you haven't formulated an opinion on it, then it kind of goes without saying that you shouldn't review it.
11:13 PM on 09/13/10
#7
JuneJuly
Allez l'OL
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isn't it just, Ra Ra Riot?
11:43 PM on 09/13/10
#8
wecanbeheroes
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This is a really lame review. Don't mean that in a rude way, but you spent the first couple paragraphs giving us background on your own listening habits, and the remaining three saying "well, I don't really know how I feel about this album." That's fine for a blog or a first impressions post, but do you really think this passes for a "review"?

I mean, reviews are supposed to evaluate the album. If you haven't formulated an opinion on it, then it kind of goes without saying that you shouldn't review it.
i agree with midkay, what's the point of your indecisive review.
10:59 AM on 09/14/10
#9
collideoscopic
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I actually think this is a stellar album for them whereas I thought their EP and "The Rhumb Line" were ok and left me wanting more. I wouldn't necessarily say it sounds like Somoene Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Vampire Weekend, or Tokyo Police Club, but i would say that if you like any of those bands' latest records you will most likely like this as well.

"Boy" and "Shadowcasting" are the outstanding tracks for me, but i definitely think the whole album is worthy of more than a few spins.
01:09 PM on 06/21/13
Searos
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Just got into this band and this was the album I picked up first as a result of hearing boy. Their 2013 album is a bet meh but this and the The Rumble Line are awesome. Personally find this to be the better of those 2.

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