By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Syracuse, New York, is famous for a few things: basketball, the college that has the basketball and, according to my viewing of a recent Syracuse-focused 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.
Likeminded touring indie-pop acts Villagers and Givers open.