Whenever I get frustrated with how slow things seem to happen on the internet – getting an email back, or trying to download something, I try to remind myself how slow things used to happen – when hearing about the music scene in California used to mean waiting for a record to get mailed across the country, or waiting for someone to put together a zine, whatever – point is, sounds and musical ideas now move with such lightning speed that it’s almost meaningless to say “This is California punk” or “This is NYC garage” – the world’s so instantly accessible to us, what does it matter to say that a thing’s from ‘here’ and not ‘there?’
The question’s relevant, especially faced with the rise of a certain musical melting pot class, of which Austin’s Rayon Beach is a member. This 3 piece plays a brand of music that seems to me to be an amalgamation of a lot of things that are very ‘now’, and they blend it together in a good way. To put it down on paper, this is fairly laid-back garage punk, but the secret weapon is Rachel Scherr’s keyboards, which lift Rayon Beach above a sea of faceless similar bands. The keys shimmer and subtly add to the mix, notably altering the music, but not steping on anyone – deployed excellently on “Where Are The Cities” and “I Have No Body.” Tracks like the latter bring out the strongest strand in Rayon Beach’s musical heritage – the wave of Aussie punk that seems to be invading the entire world right now. “I Have No Body” cruises on a TOTAL CONTROL vibe, the track which follows feels like a souped-up version of UV RACE who can probably tie their shoes without fucking up.
The vibe of the Aussie sound is tweaked slightly – there’s a bit more energy on “This Looks Serious,” but this LP is still equally suitable for rocking out or eating breakfast. It’s probably most at home in your car’s tape deck when you’re cruising around on a hot summer day with nowhere important to go. It’s not all good vibes, though – the seasick “Airplane With Tits” showcases RB’s range; they can be snotty when the situation arises. There’s an interesting new-wavey quasi-gothy vibe to some of these tracks, the chugging, almost dancey pace, combined with the droning keyboards makes me think this could be equally well received by fans of Sisters of Mercy as it will be by BLACK LIPS fanboys. What makes this record so interesting is the moments like the guitar solo on “Staring Out Of An Apartment” – chorus, delayed, who knows, but the strange guitar texture mixes with the keys to create this cool pulsing sound – this band is lo-fi certainly, but it’s almost a shame that they are – at a time when any sonic dedication to anything but fuzz and noise is passe, it’s refreshing to encounter bands that actually want to produce interesting sounds.
“This Looks Serious” stands out as a…well, serious release – it’s not only good in and of itself, but it’s an excellent encapsulation of where things are at, circa 2012. They’re not an Austin band anymore than they’re a ‘band of anywhere else.’ It’s all just music at this point, and this is some damn good music. Rayon Beach seems to have a remarkably strong grasp of their own sound for such a new band; if this is their first offering, I can only imagine where they’ll be in a few years – watch these guys, folks.