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Last Red Ransom - Snubnose

Last Red Ransom - CD Review




CD Info
Self released,
10 tracks,
English lyrics

I may have mentioned on occasion that Hot’lanta has been ground zero for more than one part in my life. And the city has one of the more vibrant music scenes in the good ol’ US of A. Of course, these days, that includes a lot of rap and country western which doesn’t exactly float my boat but they have other styles too, this is just too big a city to be tied down with one style of music. And, a lot of my friends in the area are more than a little interested in sounds that go in more interesting directions. Back in the day, Atlanta may have been the music capital of the country, the Skynyrd boys, the Allman Brothers and others pretty much calling it home. Today you can get pretty much whatever captures your fancy somewhere in town, whether it’s Buckhead, DeKalb County, Peachtree City or the ever popular Underground. This is a massive city, I use to take my Harley Sportster over 50 miles to visit friends across town. And there was a lot of music to listen to no matter where you went.

Last Red Ransom is one of a number of sounds that meet the requirements of coverage on this site, and this release is no let down within the genre. I first met LRR in Chicago, at Dame Nation. Robin Stryker introduced them to me and their set was as good as anything I’d heard in a long time. C.K., the femme part of the band, or, at least up until this release, was a thoroughly entertaining lead vocalist who also played guitar and keys, did both harsh and clean vocals. A dynamo on stage, a bit of a wall flower, if a very attractive wall flower, off stage. Husband Andrew does guitars and straight male vocals. He’s not a wall flower. And you get to see a little of this in the Official Video for the release here.

Well, their last release was more than a little entertaining. This one is too, but with some significant changes. I’ve read a couple reviews, seen some video reviews, they like to talk about the release as being “industrial”. Now, nobody likes Rammstein more than I do but I just don’t hear it on this release. I asked C.K. about it, she seemed to agree, “We would think industrial only describes a piece of the music, not all. Looking forward to hearing your take on it!”. Well, Gothic is my specialty but, if this is industrial, I’m gonna have to change my interpretation of that genre. When you gonna cover “Du Hast”? To my thinking, this begins to approach some of the more contemporary European electric sounds like Jamie Lee-Smitt’s latest or Elyose. This is dance music for a large part of the time, and that electronic sound is featured throughout.

So, this is different from previous material. Maybe a bit more accessible given the times. People want a beat, they want something to move to, they want an interesting theme but they want to have it take them to the dance floor. And, being a dance floor mechanic myself, I have no problem with that. So with this one we drop the harsh vocals and replace them with a femme vocal that is a bit more in line with the European continental sound, often positioned against Andrews vocals for a nice combination. The beat is provided by a pounding drum with guitars doing what needs to be done but there’s probably more electronics than we might expect from previous LRR material. The lyrics are interesting, they were on previous material as well, we’ll talk about some of them. But, there is another component that must be addressed. You see, C.K. had some other priorities at the time this material was developed and recorded. As in baby Ava. That can seriously influence any musical production. C.K. talked about that involvement, “This record was written and recorded before Ava was born. The change in sound for this album was purely a result of our new interests and goals. Speaking with listeners of the last album, Sleep Well Sweet Vanity, they were supportive when we asked for feedback about possibly going this direction. Our personal tastes had us wanting to write something different this time. We hope that the new direction will capture our current listeners while gaining support from those that haven't listened to us before. Ava is amazing and has been only an inspiration as we finalized Snubnose. I know Andrew already mentioned that she makes an appearance on the album- have you noticed where, yet? She has already been sitting in the studio with us and loves watching and listening to us play at home.” Well, I listened about 20 times and missed Ava, I kept thinking she’d do the harsh vocals but I couldn’t capture it. I’ll provide the final clue to that mystery shortly.

So, the music begins with The Electric Sky (Digital Sunrise), and, damn, this is electric. The French have nothing on this, you could work Nord Pas de Calais with this, no problem. You want well developed dance hall music, this is it. Even my cat is working overtime to this one, and he’s 16 and doesn’t need to lose weight. I do and I’m putting it on my Speedo sound system so I can do laps to it. The second track is Burning Buildings. Again, sounds to take us to the dance floor, maybe not as directly but you’ll get there eventually. Andrew starts the vocals here, we get both vocalists on this one, mainly over a pounding drum. Lyrics are probably not substantial, but they’re adequate for the direction this track takes. You’re more interested in what the drums are doing, the vocals just add substance to the material.

The third track takes us to something that comes dangerously close to the Gothic. It’s called Been Dead Before and C.K. goes pretty dark here. This damn sure ain’t industrial. It’s a haunting tone, still some electronic, but in a Gothic way. C.K. has the pipes to do this justice, and the lyrics work for my world:

It likes to linger in the corners of my heart, but I wear it like a shark-skin suit, because I’ve been dead before.
I’ve been dead before.
It comes to counsel in the small, dark hours; whispering without a sound.
It’s always been here. It hovers over my head, but I wear it like a crown, because I’ve been dead before.

Etch takes us into new territory, I mean REALLY new territory. Even if it has the same lyrics as the previous track. This is one of the tracks that is most representative of the release as a whole. You get some symphonic material that sets up the principle direction. C.K. works the vocals and works them nicely. But, at the end we get a rather interesting beat, one that really seems to put an exclamation point on the track. Well, that beat is actually the heart beat of baby Ava, BEFORE she was born. Now, I gotta ask you, when’s the last time you heard music from a musician BEFORE they were born. This is new territory; I believe I’ll have another hit of the Russian medicine. Give this beautiful little girl a few years and she just may be doing the harsh vocals, she sure has the beat.

Another track of interest is Welcome to America. Andrew takes the lead on this one. And, it’s a fairly slashing shot across the bow of good ol ‘merika. You can probably interpret the lyrics multiple ways, but the background music leads little to misinterpretation. Lyrically, we get:

There’s money changing hands. There’s a lot of long, long lines.
If you want it, you can get it. If you want it, you can get it here.
Welcome to America
There are lines in the sand. There’s a lot of sleeping giants.
If you want it, you can get it. If you want it, you can get it here.

Ain’t that the damn truth.

Well, LRR has provided us with an interesting sound here, one that has a little for everyone. And, you can damn sure dance to it. But, beyond that, how long do we have to wait for a full vocal presentation from baby Ava. Stay tuned.