Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Rat Wakes Red's ghostly melancholy is best experienced whole

August 14, 2011

I don’t often sit back and chill, as I usually relax by reading or writing poetry. But the dreamy simplicity of Acres by Rat Wakes Red makes just being a very pleasant experience indeed.

RWR creates intimate, melodic tunes reminiscent of old-school Iron and Wine. Songwriter James Raftery plays more piano than Sam Beam did, and his sketches tend more toward ghostly melancholy than the bearded wonder’s. Raftery’s voice has soothing reverb on it, giving the tunes an even more ethereal air. Gentle synths and strings make appearances, capping off the tunes.

Raftery’s tightly-defined production leads to the make-or-break point of Acres: the eighteen songs tend to run together when listened to in one sitting. Barely a song steps outside the guitar/piano/vocals/auxiliary instrument oeuvre he sets up.

As a result, the overall effect is not song-driven; the album is best experienced as an un-dissected document. In an ADHD era, this is a liability in attempts to gain casual listeners; there is no single here. But for those who love the experience of setting an album on and blissing out to the mood it creates, this is a treasure trove. Fans of Other Lives, Elliott Smith, Sigur Ros and Joshua Radin will find much to love in Rat Wakes Red’s Acres.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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