#8: The Raveonettes
Who: Sune Rose Wagner, Sharin Foo.
Why: There’s been an influx in sunny, super-fuzzy indie-pop from American shores in recent years. Equal parts influenced by the biting haze of The Velvet Underground, the summery melodrama of 60’s girl-group pop and the leather jacket tough of 50’s rock & roll, the sudden revival of this melange of sounds can be traced to an unlikely source – Denmark. Amidst the mumbling slacker hipness of the post-Strokes scene, the ice-cool girl/boy duo that make up The Raveonettes cut an uncompromising swathe through the mediocrity, their amp-shredding scree, pulsating drum machines and catchy harmonies sounding at once timeless, fresh and thrilling. Taking cues from The Jesus & Mary Chain before them, they were hardly re-inventing the wheel, but their catchy yet cutting interpretation of the rock & roll myth was the perfect escape from the rut that guitar music had shambled itself into.
Close, echoing harmonies, taut with sexual tension, perfectly complemented their wild, overdriven blitz, an irresistible car-crash of teenage lust, whiplash guitar and morbid melodrama. Initial EP Attack of the Ghostriders set the underground aflame with its breathy Spectoral vocals, brain-melting tones and semi-comprehensible pulpy ‘Death Disc’ tales of biker gangs, bed-hopping and heartbreak. But it was on debut full-length Chain Gang of Love that the couple truly found their feet; thirteen tracks of short, jagged B flat major power that refined their opposing obsessions with bubblegum pop and fizzing noise succinctly. The violent yet dreamy vibe of each 3 minute blur carried the same strange beauty and uneasiness as that scene in ‘Twin Peaks’ where James records ‘Just You and I’ with Donna and Maddy, or the queer merging of poppy soundtrack and mind-searing imagery in Kenneth Anger’s ‘Scorpio Rising’. While most tracks rode on a bullet hail of pop hooks and candy-sweet choruses, the band would never let you get comfy, with a wall of opaque white noise always threatening to unleash itself.
Later releases would further this mission statement, and attract guest spots from the band’s heroes, with Martin Rev of Suicide, Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes and Mo Tucker of The Velvet Underground all rallying to lend a hand with their retro-pop sophomore effort, Pretty In Black. Despite such high-profile collaborators, the band continue to languish in relative obscurity, yet it seems as though a select gang of musicians were paying attention. It’s hard not to see the similarity between the Raveonettes’ signature sound and Glasvegas’ emotional crooning and Wall Of Sound guitars, or the jailbird pop of Dum Dum Girls (whose recent LP was produced by Sune himself). And in case you thought that black leather, Ray-Ban wayfarers and burnt down cigarettes weren’t Christmassy, they released the Wishing You a Rave Christmas EP in 2008, so spin that while you drive your motorcycle into the Christmas tree in a melodramatic fashion.
Influences: Buddy Holly, The Ronettes, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Suicide, The Everly Brothers.
Influenced: Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls, Glasvegas, Crocodiles, The Drums.
Sample Lyric: ‘If the atom bomb should end us both / I’ll be happy to go to the stars with you’.
Which Record: Chain Gang Of Love (Sony, 2003)