Syracuse is famed for a few things: basketball, the college that has the basketball, and, according to my viewing of a Syracuse-based episode of Man vs. Food, hearty American grub. Those pop-rockers with a hint of chamber, Ra Ra Riot, formed there, too, and took off during the East Coast prep-wave unleashed by Vampire Weekend. Lumped into the same brainy, eclectic, made-up genre, and having a collaborative side project called Discovery (involving members from both bands), it's difficult not to compare the two. Both Ra Ra Riot and Vampire Weekend released sophomore full-length albums this year, The Orchard and Contra, respectively. The latter has had a heck of a lot more traction. Perhaps it's because Ra Ra Riot decided this time around to do something different, with a pointedly more expansive and less energetic album. It's not necessarily a bad move, but doesn't guarantee über-success. Or maybe their name is too hard to inject into conversations, leaving fans unable to do valuable word-of-mouthing because they feel like that guy in the Got Milk ad whose mouth is filled with peanut butter. (Aaron Burr, anyone?) I'm not sure, but I welcome other theories regarding the diaspora.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.