The RA-6600 – Alien Planet – EP Review
Always cool to see someone, some artist, some band, pop-up from the Hembot Records label. If anything – I’ve learned to expect the unexpected from them…but at the same time, like many labels out there, they’ve definitely also defined themselves with uplifting, pleasantly-textured tunes tending to come out on the records they produce. In today’s case – no exception – the sweet-sounds of The RA-6600 are here to entertain and welcome your ears into another all-new, highly-melodic experience in unique indie-pop/rock.
Alien Planet begins with “What’s Life” and if you can resist the pop-sensibilities of these hooks, you’re much stronger than I am…I instantly fell in love with this melody from the moment it started to play. Piano, bass, absolutely-awesome & wild drums, and all with beautifully-sweet & innocent sounding vocals & harmonies that make this whole track sound like a bunch of grown-ass kids having a ton of fun. The hooks are solid and really genuine…and they continue on in that gorgeous-vein into “You’re Not Sorry.” Similar to the fun and innocent approach you can hear on the early Weezer records and music from Architecture In Helsinki – “You’re Not Sorry” has a tremendously smart hook to it; and that real, raw-sound of musicians letting themselves free to their own devices. The RA-6600 come out winning big-time with a sound this authentic and honest on their second tune of the record – this is an absolutely addicting hook, style, delivery & sound – this is delicious! The rough-edges to the vocal-melody is 100% part of, if not all-of the magic to “You’re Not Sorry” – love, love, love this tune.
There is a real spark at work here in The RA-6600. Largely inspired by the wicked mix and performance of the drums throughout the record, “Gone Forever” is a rambunctious groove that never settles down – you can’t stop a groove like this! Starting it out smoothly and snapping into a pounding snare-beat as the vocals weave, wind & layer themselves throughout the song. Somewhere in the middle of their signature style of indie-pop/rock and straight-up punk-music – “Gone Forever” heads to a sweet-aggression almost instantly and the energy consumes you from the moment it starts.
Even though I felt like I wasn’t a massive fan of the chorus of “Play Thing” – I certainly loved the verse and really thought it was one of the stronger melodies they’ve written on this record. The opening tones are absolutely spectacular…great tones to the vocals, the piano is sweet…it all sounds great; the chorus heads into a rapid-fire drumbeat – it works well enough…just wasn’t quite my thing or I suppose what I was hoping for in after the opening. BUT…with that being said…it can certain be said that the sheer amount of twists & turns and directions The RA-6600 are able to head in within the span of songs sometimes just over a minute in length like “Play Thing” is…well…what can I say – it’s truly commendable. Each of these songs on Alien Planet are quite short – and the resulting effect more often than not is the instant desire to repeat and hear-again what you just heard…and you gotta love that!
No dead-spots; there is always something happening, always something going on. “Maybe Not” puts one of their highlights forth with their clever vocals purposely stumbling and harmonizing all-over each other in layers and mumbles of wonderful tones – it’s as playful as it is heartbreaking through the lyrics…but again, that Hembot-reliable sound/style of bright melodies works wonders and the music of The RA-6600 continues to sound uplifting, bold and sweet.
All within these short time-frames, The RA-6600 finds incredible ways to be creative and versatile; one of the best examples comes right at the very end on “Can’t Change For You.” I found this last tune seemed to find its way eventually, but those first listens took a couple spins to truly get my head around this one. Compared with the rest of the Alien Planet EP, they’ve definitely chosen to end the record with their least accessible tune; it’s not without melody…but the looseness of the transitions in this particular song sound a little too separated from each other – somewhat similar to the feeling & reaction I had to “Play Thing” earlier on. But also like that tune – there are plenty of redeeming qualities in the sweetness and earnest-nature of the lyrics and music of “Can’t Change For You” – I just can’t see it not being the hardest one for people to latch onto given the extremely invitational melodies that we’ve heard all the way throughout the record. This final tune almost works the opposite way; its strongest threads and melodies come along a little further down the road in “Can’t Change For You” as opposed to the instant-gratification we’ve been blessed with every step of the way on Alien Planet.
But overall…a creative & innovative effort that’s pretty damn tough to complain about. There are ideas, textures and structures here that are far beyond their years…and The RA-6600 is finding exciting new ways to have the music flow into your ears and brain-holes with a unique twist on song-writing, performance and overall-attitude that is sure to keep you coming back for more.
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