In a Rebecca Black world, The Raveonettes are a rare under-the-radar delight
In this high-tech age of instant celebrity — where teenagers who have barely perfected a few guitar chords in the garage are sniffed out and signed to play the Warped Tour and one-time shower singers find themselves auditioning for JLo and S-Ty on American Idol — The Raveonettes are something of an endangered species.
The are a buzz band. A hidden delight to be enjoyed only by noise-pop audiophiles who have been lucky enough to stumble upon them.
Once cultivated freely on the plains of MTV and alt-rock radio, the buzz band has virtually been flushed from the Earth due to overexposure by predators like MySpace, Facebook and the ever-virulent YouTube. With these cache killers looking to expose any warm heartbeat that can carry a tune, even a marginal teen talent like Rebecca Black can get her ode-to-the-weekend video, "Friday," seen by nearly 100 million people.
With that sort of high-volume scrutiny, super-talents like Sune Rose Walker and Sharin Foo of The Raveonettes had only one chance of staying relatively underground over the course of five albums recorded in the last decade. The had to be from Copenhagen, Denmark. Only in a land best known for Hans Christian Anderson, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and LEGOs could they run free without fear of high-volume pirated downloads of their music.
Of course, that could change with the release of new album, Raven In The Grave. The signature sound of The Raveonettes is best described as taking the close-laced two-part harmonies of The Everly Brothers and warping it in the sun until the guitar and vocals haunt the ears like a Joy Division or Bauhaus dirge. Turn the volume up to a decibel range equaling that of a 747 running over an air horn. .. and enjoy.
"Raven In the Grave" is even more brooding and ambient than past single success like "Attack of the Ghostriders" and "The Great Love Sound" (Trust me, these songs were huuuuuge in Denmark). When attending a concert by The Raveonettes, half the fun is finding the candy-coated pop song hidden under layer-upon-layer of dissonance. The first time I saw them at SXSW nearly a decade ago, it took me half-a-song before I realized that, between feedback blasts and minor chord rips, I was hearing their rendering of Buddy Holly's, "Everyday."
(And it took two days before my hearing recovered from the sheer volume of their set.)
Bottom line: The last great "under-the-radar" band I saw at venue this small in Houston was The White Stripes at Rudyard's. That was back in 2001 and videos of it still exist on YouTube.
This show by The Raveonettes on Wednesday night at Fitzgerald's has the potential to be a night we talk about for the next decade.
The Raveonettes, 9 p.m. Wednesday at Fitzgerald's