Alt-Nation: Roz and the Rice Cakes’ Latest

Roz and the Rice Cakes – Devotion

With Devotion, Roz and the Rice Cakes continue to push themselves and build on a reputation for experimental, cerebral music. The trio, consisting of Roz Raskin (piano, vocals), Casey Belisle (drums, vocals) and Justin Foster (bass), has been playing in its current form for nine years, carving out their own place in the scene. According to the band, “Devotion sonically seeks to place the listener in a cosmic bubble, questioning the relationship between human lives and the ever-expanding universe.”

A cosmic bubble it definitely is. It’s more of an electronic, spacey take on things than their last full-length, Need to Feed, and reminds me of like Dirty Projectors mixed with Beach House-style dream pop, and owes a lot to the excellent production, which the band did themselves. They use minimalism well, and give everything space to breathe.Roz

It’s refreshing that they’re not afraid of odd time and messing with song structures. “Open Eyes” builds off of a cool, off-kilter groove in 7, and then cuts to a half-time breakdown. Needless to say, slouch musicians wouldn’t last a second in a band like R&tRC. “Somebody” starts with minimal drums and vocals, and builds up to a triumphant cacophony. “East Coast” is their version of a ballad, a captivating tune that sounds like it’s being played from a tin can.

Maybe I’m just being stodgy, but I find some of it a little too abstract and spacey, and sometimes I have trouble accessing things under so many layers of production. A song like “Do You” doesn’t have quite enough there for me to grab on to. It may not provide the uncut dopamine rush you’d get from a three chord rock song, but you have to respect a group so willing to plumb the depths of their own creativity.

Give this challenging listen a chance, as it doesn’t sound much like anything else. Roz and the Rice Cakes are definitely RI originals, with a true devotion to artistic expression, one might say.

Devotion can be purchased at Roz and the Rice Cakes’ Bandcamp:

And now, a few shows to take all of your off whatever disconcerting news I assume just came out of Washington.

The Wood Brothers: A Love Letter

This Saturday, The Wood Brothers come to the Columbus Theater. Many people I know have probably listened to me drone on ad nauseam about how great these guys are. I realize this sounds dramatic, but I think they include elements of everything I love about music – earnest, smart songwriting; a great mix of styles and expert musicianship without being heavy-handed (nobody likes a 20-minute song).

The band consists primarily of brothers Oliver (guitar and vocals) and Chris (bass) Wood. Jazz fans may know bassist Chris Wood from Medeski Martin & Wood. They manage to mix country, blues, folk and country with a groovy edge, and be endlessly entertaining.

Their first few albums, beginning with 2006’s Loaded, featured the brothers as a duo, and in recent years they’ve added drummer/multi-instrumentalist wizard Jano Rix. As far as a primer, just throw on any of their albums, live or studio. They continue to crank out LPs that are just as good as the first few.

I’ve been going to see these guys for about a decade, and they’re one of the acts that I try my hardest to catch every time. At this writing, there are some tickets left, so get there if at all possible.

The Wood Brothers are at The Columbus on Nov 4.

As220 Brings the Heat — Nov 9 and 10

Dan Deacon

Next weekend should be an interesting one at AS220. First up on Friday is Dan Deacon, described as an “electronic-music iconoclast,” apparently known for epic, interactive live shows. I can’t claim to be a fan of electronic music, but it might be worth it for the pure spectacle. I remember hearing from multiple people in college about his legendary performances. Lazy Magnet opens the show.

Dan Deacon takes the stage on Nov 9 at 9pm. 

Then on Saturday is a bill headlined by something called “An Alien Adventure starring Zoink Zulag and the Galactic Shag,” which seems to be an alien rock band.

What really caught my eye here is Roadhouse: the Musical. I saw the movie years ago, and from what I can remember, this cheesy flick is ripe for musical parody. I can only assume it will feature musical numbers with names like “Swayze Kicks Major Ass,” Parts I and II, and “Shirtless Training Exercises.” The show is supported by alt-rockers Bochek and power-popper Wayne Cabral.

The action happens on Nov 10 at 9pm. 

Deer Tick Rollin’ In

Hometown crew Deer Tick comes to town at the end of the month in support of their recent Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 releases (see previous Alt-Nation column and watch this space for more Deer Tick news), just in time to jolt you out of your post-turkey coma. Like most local music fanboys, I look forward to seeing DT all year. These guys have built their reputation in large part on their live performances for a reason. According to a recent online setlist from Chicago, they played a 31-song set, complete with two Tom Petty covers and capped off with Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful.”

I’m particularly excited for the entirely electric night at The Met, as Vol. 2 includes a few of their heaviest tunes to-date (“Look How Clean I Am,” “It’s a Whale”). The acoustic-only set on the Friday should also be interesting, because I don’t remember guitarists Ian O’Neill or John McCauley so much as touching an acoustic guitar at a regular Tick show.

This does present a difficult conundrum, however, as the Nov 25  show is the same night as David Rawlings (Columbus) and Sarah Borges and the Silks (Narrows), which are also excellent choices. Tough times.

Deer Tick rolls into the Columbus on Nov 24, and The Met on Nov 25 and 26. Unsurprisingly, the electric set on Nov 25 is sold out.

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