Raw Geronimo – [Album]

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

I first saw Raw Geronimo in a packed, hot performance space in Echo Park on my birthday; they were performing on a bill with a friend’s band, Jail Weddings. Some readers might be interested to get that background on how I cam upon the band but, really, it's completely irrelevant; what matters is that I was floored by the energy and complexity of their music. “Prog-punk,” I thought to myself. “Or is it punk-prog?” Either way, they played prog structured songs with the energy of punk.

Raw Geronimo is the brainchild of Leana Geronimo, daughter of the late Alan Myers of Devo. But Geronimo is very much her own musical creature; she is a vocalist unafraid to use her entire range, and showcases it whenever it suits the song. At times she reminds me of Bjork, Kate Bush and Siouxsie, though she can also blast out straight ahead punk vocals when she wants to. Some reader might get excited on the basis of that summation alone, but Raw Geronimo is not just a showcase for the singer's voice, it is very much a band. They are at once hard rocking and nuanced, layered but direct.

Dream Fever is their first album. While it can’t completely capture the energy of their live show, at times, such as the propulsive punk of “Lose My Mind” and “Bitched,” or the tribal beat of “Pep Rally,” it comes close. But it also allows the more subtle, complex aspects of their sound to come through. “I Wouldn’t Mind” starts out as an ethereal ballad with slide guitar atmospherics, then builds in intensity to an almost panicked vocal turn, then retreats back to quietude. “Fruit Tree” is basic punk song, until throws in what sounds like a marimba break in the middle. “Van Gogh Baby” combines their soft and hard, starting out ethereal, and then building, accelerating into a manic rush finish. They close things out with “Magnetic Love,” certainly their most melodic, prettiest song.

It is also their most hopeful. Geronimo covers a lot of lyrical territory here, from the purely snarky “Bitched” and “Manic Cruiser,” to the more humorous “Chinatown.” But there is a recurring theme of philosophical searching, and the risks it brings. This is especially true on “Faustine,” with lines like “the quest for knowledge brings many ills.” But “Magnetic Love” offers some hope, “For what it’s worth/ the world seems a brighter place/ when I look to your smiling face/ I see hope for the human race.” Yet in the end, she realizes love may not save the human race, just ourselves.

It took one show to make me a Raw Geronimo fan. Hopefully Dream Fever will enable many others to discover them.



Dream Fever
is out now. Buy it here from Neurotic Yell Records.

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