REVIEW: Rika – "How to Draw a River, Step by Step"

My first exposure to Rika was via their extremely great split with Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate). Their song on that split was a very promising song. Being an Austrian band, I was very surprised how adept the band was at making music that sounds like mid-90s Midwest emo. They had a very Mineral-ish thing going on. There wasn’t a bad thing about them.

How to Draw a River, Step by Step is very interesting, because Rika has stepped out of the shadow of their influences. You can still hear the post-indie emo sound in there, but they have expanded their sound to allow for some other influences that don’t usually show up in this kind of music. They remind me of the local bands I was seeing around 10 years ago when I was in high school. Ostensibly emo bands, but so much more. This record feels like an emo record filtered through some great atmospheric post-rock and some indie.
Musically, this record paints a beautiful landscape. The guitars are strong, the vocal harmonies are amazing, and the addition of violins and piano really makes this record a great listen. It’s easy to pigeon hole this record as just another emo revival record. That wouldn’t be fair. This band has a lot to offer.
Rika continues to mature and advance their sound. I’m not sure how much of a foothold this band has outside of Europe, but they could be a great staple band in this genre. If this record is any indication, there is going to be some great things coming int he future.
Buy It (CYLS – US)
Buy It (Goddamn – Europe)

REVIEW: The Dandelion War – "We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes"

It seems like the longer I do this blog, the farther I get away from what people would consider “punk.” I deal with a whole bunch of post-(insert genre) bands and records. I find most of these releases to be more interesting than a lot of other things. The Dandelion War is one such band.

We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes is a fine example of, I guess, post-rock. It is full of lush instrumentation. It is a record of space. Instead of coming at the listener, it invites the listener to get lost in the atmosphere. This is the strongest part of it. The Dandelion War provide an escape. Everyday life is full of distractions and a million things happening at once, so there is a lot to be said for getting lost in the music.

While it would be easy to pigeon hole this band as one of many genres, it doesn’t quite seem fair. There is a pop sensibility, but dream pop doesn’t quite work. There are plenty of effects, but it doesn’t get as dense as shoegaze. In the same way that Sigur Rós can mix and match, so too does this band. If you pull out your ambient rock bingo card, there is a little bit of everything involved.

All genre buzzwords aside, this album is great. Emphasis on album. While most bands are content to throw 13 potential singles together and call it a full length, The Dandelion War have clearly worked to make this a cohesive album. This might make it hard to single out a few songs as standouts, but it makes the end product so much better. Even coming in just this side of an hour, We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes never overstays it’s welcome. It is ambient, inviting, and moving.

The Dandelion War
Deep Elm
Stream/Buy It (Bandcamp)
Buy It (Physical)