steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The RavenMasters

"Painkillers" CDR-EP

Ionik Records

Genres: indie pop, indie rock

Ionik Records
1634 Lombard St., 2nd floor
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Feb 10 - 16 2003

Ionik Records' releases always come in these delightful slimline cases.  Whenever I get one I can't help but be excited.  Not only are they cute in stature, but they're always so darn good!  So clearly, expectations were high for The RavenMasters' debut ep, Painkillers.  After all, this seemed like the first record Ionik had released from outside of the American local scene (The RavenMasters live in Verona, Italy) - why would they have chosen it if it wasn't a real find?

Painkillers is a collection of five songs, each one a catchy little pop tune.  Aside from guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, the band has decided to spice things up with the addition of a few other instruments, including some nice strings, as well as samplers, moogs, organs, pianos, and others.  The sound they've produced is a nice one, with influences ranging from modern day acts like Radiohead and Nick Cave to classic giants like The Beatles and The Smiths.

For example, "Meaningless" starts off like a regular Beatles pop tune and then introduces Giovanni Massari's vocals, which add a more modern feel to it.  Later we're treated to a nice sixties psychedelic moment in the track when the vocals are given that neat "underwater feeling" that the Fab Four used a lot.  All in all, it's a very catchy track.

Meanwhile, "Self-Portrait," which starts the album off, is another affair.  Starting off with a sample of what sounds like a really old Edison Cylinder or something, the track then adds in some synthesized drums and a bunch of electronic sounds, only to blow it all out of the water with an onslaught of guitars and vocals.  The mixture owes something to punk just as much as it does to pop - Giovanni's vocals are as snotty as possible, and the vibrant, distorted guitars are blasting as hard as the lo-fi recording technology will let them.  Nice.

"The Reminder Man" is also a notable tune - its hushed guitars and emotional vocals offer a sensitive side to the album.  Strings are added to further enhance the effect - the results are endearing. 

Altogether, The RavenMasters are an odd catch for Ionik Records.  Italian bands aren't really a big part of the North American world, though this ep is a nice reminder of what we're missing.  I can't wait for the full-length.


Fun Fact: As if the clear Beatles influences weren't enough, The RavenMasters also pay homage to the Fab Four in recording process - the album was produced in Giovanni's studio, called "Strawberry Fields."

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 5 songs, distributed by the label, released 2002]