Hurray For The Riff Raff - Hurray For The Riff Raff
Tiffany Daniels 08/02/2011
Hurray for the Riff Raff are about to embark on a full tour of the Southern Belt, including some of the states' most notorious haunts and dives. Such an expedition couldn't be more fittings - their self-titled album is steeped in the sound of their hometown, New Orleans.
From the onset opener 'Slow Walk' and following song 'Daniella' are littered with gypsy guitars and handclaps, and could easily be mistaken for the work of a travelling hoard. In truth the band's line up is far more modest; Alynda Lee Segarra and Yosi Perlstein are the only permanent members. From their fingertips weep the carefully practiced chords of Townes Van Zandt, The Carter Family, Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground.
When influences are solemnly worn on the sleeve, there's a danger a band can become so preoccupied with the past they forget to find their own direction. Unfortunately Hurray for the Riff Raff fall victim to this threat. Most of this album merges into one long dedication. The tracks that lean against the threshold of their self-imposed boundary don't push hard enough to merit any kind of highlight. Instead, Hurray for the Riff Raff's saving grace is that individually the tracks don't call to mind one specific song. Segarra and Perstein do not plagiarise.
In instances like this it's important to remember that (very) occasionally a record can embody a pre-existing sound without falling victim to it. Take for example those countless examples of 'traditional folk'. As a genre common to the British Isles, acts that consume themselves within the scene are accepted for what they are, regardless of whether they fundamentally write songs like everyone else in the bracket. Hurray for the Riff Raff are to gypsy-swing what Mumford & Sons are to folk music. They're no Fleetwood Mac, but they can whistle the tune better than most.