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items tagged with Redstone Room

Finding an Easy Oddity: Ragaman, “And Other Anagrams”
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-03-22 12:31:30

Ragaman

My first listens to And Other Anagrams, the full-length debut of the Quad Cities trio Ragaman, brought to mind something Andrew Bird said to me in a 2007 interview: “I don’t know what a bass line is supposed to do.” The context was finding collaborators who didn’t play “stock footage,” who fight pop formulas in the creation of pop music.

Bird and Ragaman share an endearing softness and a natural aversion to subjugating intelligence, and both seem constitutionally incapable of conventional approaches, from instrumentation to style to structure. Ragaman employs the sitar as the lead on “Everyone You Know,” for example, and it’s the perfect essential detail: Taking the traditional rock role of the electric guitar, the instrument is comfortable yet foreign, and its chattiness anchors the song. The break of “Ankle Bells” features what sound like kazoos and trumpets – although I suspect some of that is mouth-mimicry.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Lars Rehnberg, bassist/engineer Gordon Pickering, and percussionist Leif Rehnberg make up Ragaman – an anagram of “anagram,” a joke referenced in the album’s title. Their style is a pop stew with distinct flavors – jazz, funk, and world music intermingle and take turns dominating. But it’s unified enough by its ambition, its breezy texture, and the vocals and playing of Lars Rehnberg – a former co-worker at the River Cities’ Reader.


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Meeting in the Middle: Kaivama, March 10 at the Redstone Room
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-02-29 12:27:22

The Minnesota-based Finnish-American instrumental folk duo Kaivama – performing at the River Music Experience on March 10 – has been around for less than two years, and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rundman acknowledges that “the whole band has kind of happened in reverse. We got a gig before we existed as a group. So we had to form the band in order to play the gig.”

And its self-titled debut album came out less than a year after the group’s genesis – before it had even toured.

Rundman attributes this to demand. The Finnish-American population, he said in a phone interview last month, is small but active, and that audience frankly doesn’t have many options when it comes to traditional music from its ancestral home.“It’s a niche,” he said. “We’re some of the only choices they have as far as that goes.

“But apart from the demographics, I think it’s because Nordic music is really beautiful. I don’t say that because we’re such a great band; I say that because ... it’s just beautiful music. ... It’s just undeniably gorgeous music. ... The raw material is wonderful.”

He’s right, but also too modest. With roughly the same number of traditional tunes and originals, Kaivama is expertly poised between the old and new – aged melodies adorned by modern flourishes. A warm, jaunty keyboard, for example, matches Sara Pajunen’s coolly nimble fiddle on opening track “Schottische 150.”


Read More About Meeting In The Middle: Kaivama, March 10 At The Redstone Room...


Radical Optimism: The Cerny Brothers, December 23 at the Redstone Room
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-12-06 11:26:29

The Cerny Brothers

In an interview, Robert and Scott Cerny – who will be playing as the Cerny Brothers on December 23 at the Redstone Room – said their album Dream grew out of one song: “I Want You to Run.” The record’s second track, it fuses elements of country, folk, and bluegrass with polished vocal and lyrical stylings that sound more like pop.

Starting at an ambling pace, “I Want You to Run” mixes a simple drum and high-hat beat supporting steel and acoustic accompaniment that rolls into the first verse: “I want you to run / Past your childhood home / To the great unknown.”

This verse embodies the major thematic element of the album – that yearning to leave, that desire to take a chance and have someone else come along to share the experience. The writing here has a simple elegance and unforced honesty that work with the intricate pick work to create a sense of urgency. Here there’s a radical optimism that’s at the core of the entire album, a refusal to believe that dreams are better deferred than pursued.


Read More About Radical Optimism: The Cerny Brothers, December 23 At The Redstone Room...


Confidently, Accessibly Experimental: The Envy Corps, December 16 at the Redstone Room
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-12-05 20:47:55

The Envy Corps. Photo by Seth Warrick.

The Envy Corps sell a T-shirt that proclaims the Iowa- and Nebraska-based band is “Radiohead for Coldplay Fans.”

Vocalist and bassist Luke Pettipoole said in an interview last week that he came up with the idea with his tongue in cheek, and that he’s been surprised how receptive fans have been. “People really seem to enjoy it,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re making fun of us, or we’re making fun of Coldplay, or what.”

But it’s possible there’s no mockery involved at all. After a one-record stint on major-label imprint Vertigo (which released 2008’s Dwell), the Envy Corps returned this fall with the self-released full-length It Culls You. Beyond the way Pettipoole’s phrasing and frequent falsetto bring to mind Thom Yorke (“I sing the way I sing,” he said), the album sounds like the child of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief – and in the best way possible. Spacious yet full, odd yet alluring, the parentage is obvious but It Culls You never feels like you’re listening to a clone. If Coldplay figures in, it’s in the way the Envy Corps favors accessibility over alienation.


Read More About Confidently, Accessibly Experimental: The Envy Corps, December 16 At The Redstone Room...


Out of the Holding Pattern: Rachael Yamagata, November 12 at the Redstone Room
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-11-04 01:20:37

Rachael Yamagata. Photo by Laura Crosta.

After singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata was freed from her contract with Warner Bros., she called producer John Alagia about making her third album. She didn’t send him songs to consider, and they didn’t discuss material. The next day, they were making arrangements to get equipment and musicians to his house in Maryland.

“Within a few weeks, we were ... actually doing it,” Yamagata said in a phone interview this week, promoting her November 12 performance at the Redstone Room.

Moving quickly was a response to “several years of kind of being in this holding-pattern experiment with major record labels,” she said. “It was a lot of leap-before-you-look scenarios. I just knew that if you got the right people in the room, we could make it work.”

And the right people wanted to help. “I think people look at me maybe as an underdog of sorts, always wanting good things for me,” she said. “A lot of my peers I think have felt the frustration with me about ‘Where’s your next record?’ or ‘Why aren’t you on the road?’”


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