Local Wire

Ra Ra Riot

When guitarist Milo Bonacci started Ra Ra Riot at Syracuse University in 2006, he was looking to put together a classical-tinged rock band that could stir up dramatic moods but also get a dance party started. On its just-released debut, The Rhumb Line, Ra Ra Riot strikes a fine balance between both and also straddles the line between indie rock aesthetics and pop hooks. Cellist/vocalist Alexandra Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller, in particular, provide an array of inventive touches that are, by turns, up-front, subtle, piercing, dark and bright. Meanwhile, drummer Cameron Wisch adds sparkling new dimensions to disco-styled rock drumming by recalling the classic work of U2's Larry Mullen while adding his own unique flair. Like Mullen, Wisch does far more than just keep the beat. He provides complex, crafted drum parts that become essential to the song and even contain hooks unto themselves. Finally, vocalist Wesley Miles underscores the various moods with obvious references to Morrissey and Television's Tom Verlaine yet still manages to give the music a strikingly original feel.