Ramblin’ Along with the Riff Raff

14 May

Today, we focus our attention on a peripatetic quartet called Hurray for the Riff Raff. While the band’s crowded palette of melodious Americana beauty and bayou folk is enjoyable in itself, Hurray for the Riff Raff is really the story of the lead singer whose twangy tune, southern flair, and attractive vocalizations elevate the honky-tonk conglomeration to a musical diversity that would be lacking without her.

The singer (front and a little left in the image above) is Alynda lee Segarra, a mid-20’s Puerto Rican from the Bronx whose young nomadic ways led her to New Orleans where she pursued music and released two records in 2008 and 2010. In 2011, the UK record label Loose Music released Hurray for the Riff Raff which compiled the best songs from her first two records. Alynda met a folk outlet called the Tumbleweeds and they latched on to her and formed Hurray for the Riff Raff. Their first album, Look Out Mama, was released May 1.

Hurray for the Riff Raff features a bounty of influences. It’s expansive folk sound is commodious and comfortable, and Alynda’s sweet croon jumps out at listeners like Florence Welch’s voice did at first listen. In some way, the voices are alike. Florence’s voice is more operatic, powerful, indie, and British, while Alynda’s is smoky and bluesy with this dark rust analogous with true, inspired Americana. It seems like an odd choice of description but if I was to describe Alynda’s voice it would be American.

“Look out Mama,” the title track, is the perfect example of this. Alynda’s voice complements the fiddle with this sincere acoustic simplicity that mentally transports listeners to a mixture between cornfields and sticky swamps. The song itself is blues/folk at its finest, infectious, and, come on, an impromptu yodel sneaks into the ending. How cool is that? I mean, really, that is awesome. I apologize for my boyish enthusiasm, but subdued yodeling can bring that out of me, I guess.

“Lake of Fire,” track six on the record, plays a little differently than “Look out Mama.” The full range of the band is heard. The piece is a throwback. It is a combination between 60’s SoCal surf and upbeat pop/blues. It’s a good example of how diverse the band’s sound is, and it also demonstrates the range of Alynda’s voice.

The last piece I have for you is not on the album, but I just think it is an excellent cover of a song by my idol, John Lennon. Alynda’s mutual love for Mr. Lennon can be deciphered through her piece “Ode to John and Yoko,” a Beatles-inspired song on the album. Here is Alynda performing “Jealous Guy”

Minimalistic, relaxed, and well done.

Check out Hurray for the Riff Raff’s:

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