Recommending Ra Ra Riot, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Fitz & Tantrums

New Ra Ra Riot album will establish them as big-leaguers

Ra Ra RiotThe Orchard…After a promising debut in 2008, this band seemed in danger of getting lost in the “short attention-span shuffle”, but they’ve emerged with a stellar sophomore outing.   It has a clean sound with pretty melodies and crisp vocals.  Classically influenced strings permeate throughout.  If you sense a Vampire Weekend influence, it’s at least somwhat due to VW’s Rostam having collaborated with RRR, and he produced the track “Do You Remember”.  I also recommend “Boy”, “The Orchard”, and “Too Dramatic”.

!!!StrangeWeather, Isn’t It?…These Brooklyn peeps traveled to Berlin to record their fourth album.  Their mid-tempo funky vibe remains, and the focus is on consistent grooves and texture.  It isn’t too melodic, but the overall feel really works.  More accessible tracks include my favorite “AM/FM” as well as “Heart of Hearts”.

Fitz & the TantrumsFitz & the Tantrums…This LA band has been playing locally and gaining tastemaker approval over the past few months.  Fitz blends a punk feel with blue-eyed retro soul.  While the album leans closer to pop than to rock, this dude can sing and I’m really liking the backing tracks.  The entire album is compelling.  On “Dear Mr. President”, they have some coaching for Obama.  My faves are “Breakin’ the Chains of Love”, “MoneyGrabber”, and “Don’t Gotta Work It Out”.

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