Oakland band Rays return with their second album, You Can Get There From Here, their first release since their eponymous Trouble In Mind debut in 2016. You Can Get There From Here represents a turning point for the band, angling their scrappy, post-punk fury into a more refined & melodic pop sensibility, drawing inspiration from UK DIY pop & punk like Dolly Mixture, Cleaners From Venus& Television Personalities. Songs like "Fallen Stars" & "The Garden" temper their sonic crunch ever so slightly, relying more on the harmonic wallop of a solid hook than the sheer volume of guitars. This is urgent, chiming guitar pop that clangs with a sonorous melancholy & a ramshackle grace. Rays can still lay it down with the rest of 'em; tunes like "Subway" &"Work of Art" shuffle & stumble forward, skirting chaos in a flurry of strums, recalling antipodean groups like UV Race or Dick Diver who cull inspiration from idiosyncratic UK greats like Mark E. Smith or Robyn Hitchcock. The new album findsthe core group of Stanley Martinez, Eva Hannan, Troy Hewitt & Alexa Pantalone augmented by new member & keyboardist Britta Leijonflycht, whose synth flourishes add melodic embellishments, sonic heft or psychedelic swirl where needed.
The 'Otherness' is the latest album from New Zealand's experimental-alternative pop connoisseur Grayson Gilmour. This album is Grayson's third record with Flying Nun and follows on from the 2014 release 'Infinite Life!'. Over a 15 year music career, Grayson has built himself a dedicated fan base and admiration from music critics across New Zealand and internationally for not just his solo work but his band So So Modern and his more recent film and TV work.
On RAYS' debut album the band spins eleven tunes of wiry, urgent post-punk, one foot planted firmly in the nihilistic apathy of 70 & 80's punk (Wire, Electric Eels, Pere Ubu, Eno, Television The Fall), Australian punk past & present (UV Race, Terry, Victims, Babeez), and the addictive strum of 80's & 90's New Zealand/Flying Nun pop; all of whom have found their own way to meld the ferocity & thuggery of punk with a singular melodic voice. RAYS are no different; the swirling jangle of "Attic" starts the album off, sardonically extolling the joy of 'attic life' with Hannan's monotone conveying an underlying sense of dread & isolation. "Dead Man's Curve", with it's hook-filled, organ-laden chorus plays like a lost teenage tragedy song, celebrating the desperation & angst of reckless youth.
Elsewhere, tunes like "Theatre of Lunacy", "Made of Shadows" & "Drop Dead" rage with a desperate fire, speaking to the absurdities of everyday life, but with a wry smile. Shit is fucked, but the members of RAYS seem intent on finding humor within the world's everyday desperation, because sometimes that's the only way to stay sane. "Pain & Sorrow", "Back Downtown" all speak to these truths. The album ends with Hannon's "Over and Over", it's sweet melody belying a derisive outlook on the necessity of modern life & the repetition it requires. Throughout it all, RAYS' debut never feels angry, Recorded by Bay-area stalwart Kelley Stoltz & mastered by Australian tone-genius Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring) RAYS is a joyous album packed with weird new-wave swirls and sugar-sticky hooks.