RA

"Black Sun" (Sahaja Music Records; 2008)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This is Ra's third album. You might have missed it since many retailers didn't carry it due to some distribution problems. You can still find it on iTunes or through their MySpace account. It's worth the digital download.

Ra has been releasing albums since 2002. "From One" had driving guitars and great vocals. "Black Sun" still sounds like Ra but they have mellowed a bit. A song will start with some power but then they put the cruise control on for a bit. However, they will then put the hammer down to finish out a song. The formula is Nu-Metal and it works for Ra.

The most intriguing part about Ra is the guitar. It can be acoustic and hard rock with heavy crunchy rhythms all within a song. You never know what you are going to get in the guitar department but it sounds so good it's worth the listen. You might get a guitar solo, you might not, but you will get some driving rhythms nonetheless. Toward the end of the disc they lean toward a more progressive sound.

Sahaj Ticotin has a great voice and when he stays in the same mood as a song he will have you singing along. He does have some rap core stuff happening on a few tracks. It’s a different style but he makes it work because his range is so high. On the third track, "The First Step," Sahaj holds a note for about twenty-eight seconds ... that's pretty good if you ask me. The song "I Believe Again" on this disc is a continuation from the song "I Believe" on "From One." (That's just some useless trivia for your music arsenal.)

One more different feature that Ra offers on each song is an original opening. Each song is its own creation and the intro is always a little weird. It might go with the song but, then again, it might not. I listen for just that reason. There is something exotic about them and I guess that's why I'm drawn. They also have a Middle Eastern sound on some songs and, if you like harmony with your rock, then Ra will deliver like the sun does every morning.

Download these (since that's about the only way to get them): "Broken Hearted Soul," "Faulty Information," "Don't Turn Away," "Lost Along The Way," and "Genocide."

Ra: Andy Ryan - (drums); Sahaj Ticotin - (guitar, vox, keyboards, producer); P. J. Farley - (bass); Ben Carroll - (guitar, programming).

For more information, check out http://www.ra-band.net or http://www.myspace.com/ramusic.

"Raw" (Cement Shoes / Homebass; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What makes "Raw" by Ra a cool live album is that it sounds like a bootleg CD with really killer sound quality. In other words, it doesn't sound like a live album that's been virtually re-recorded with layer after layer of studio additions until the live sound is completely buried. Instead, "Raw" is ... well, raw. It sounds as though it were captured as it was played live. 

I might be wrong about that, of course. It might just be that "Raw" was PowerTooled to perfection. But it doesn't sound that way to me. It's got the kind of sound you remember hearing from music played live in a venue. You know, that amplified-in-a-big-space sound that you only hear at a live show or in a genuine live recording. 

The band certainly doesn't give anything away. There are no obvious errors or shortcut cheats that might identify "Raw" as the product of a studio rather than a live setting. Instead, Ra deliver a charismatic performance, with songs from both their "Duality" and "From One" CDs, with terrific musical ability and real energy. Like all great live albums, "Raw" sounds like the band is having fun on stage and the positive audience response captured here only enhances the live sound. 

The CD also features a new studio recording of "Don't Turn Away," which starts out sounding a little like The Police(!) before morphing into the harder rock sound of Ra. Like many of the tracks captured in the live portion of this CD, "Don't Turn Away" has the melody and the power to become a minor radio hit.

Ra fans will definitely enjoy the live versions of some of their favorite songs found on "Raw" while those new to the band can use the CD as sort of a "greatest hits" compilation. 

For more information, check out http://www.raband.net or http://www.myspace.com/ramusic

"Duality" (Republic / Universal; 2005)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Ra’s debut CD, “From One,” peaked my interest because the vocals weren’t growling or reverse squealing. I need good vocals when listening to music. Ra satisfies the urge for those who like their music with a heavy helping of strong guitars and a melodic voice. The drums are good in that they combine with the bass to create a solid alternative sound. Filing their first release within the rock bin, “Duality” has a rock sound but also leans toward alternative; it’s still a great disc.

After listening to both discs, a vapor of an Egyptian sound is cleverly placed within their song construction. Ra (being the sun god) helps convey their point. I like it when a band names themselves and takes on the mode and not just the moniker. Because Ra's song structure is not as predictable as you might expect, it adds a certain mysticism to their music. A little different mindset is a prerequisite when listening to Ra.

their sound does has a dramatic element, it’s never campy. The songs are about relationships, struggles and the usual loss of something. The band has noted that they are influenced by King’s X. Take that as a good sign.

The song “The Only One” borrows a line from their previously released song, “Do You Call My Name.” I encourage you to listen and see if you can find the repeat. “Superman” has a certain hint of spirituality to it; the lyrics deserve a read along. Ra covers The Police tune “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” Like Disturbed, who cover one tune on each disc, I would like to see Ra do the same thing. I think they have the talent to pull it off.

This disc really doesn’t slow down with any ballads that don’t at least have some crunchy guitar in them as to keep your attention. The latter part of this disc ... actually, more like the last two songs ... are acoustic flavored but the sound is rich and strong. The music stays strong and it puts Sajah Ticotin's vocals on a clean course to finish up the CD.

Ra: Sahaj Ticotin - guitars, vocals, drums; Skoota Warner - drums; Ben Carroll - guitars, backing vocals; Sean Corcoran - bass, backing vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.raband.net or http://www.myspace.com/ramusic

"From One" (Republic / Universal; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

RA is probably going to sell a shitload of records. But for every person who loves them, there's going to be someone else that hates them. Like Creed, Ra is melodic hard rock that can kick your ass while singing sweetly to you at the same time. It's the kind of stuff that radio rock is made of and the kind of stuff that makes for mucho airplay on MTV. That alone will generate an army of anti-Ra's throughout the music world.

Ra reminds me of a combination of Godsmack, Disturbed and Creed. If you think that sounds strange, give the band a listen yourself and see if you don't disagree. Ra's songs have a rougher edge than the stuff that Creed is famous for and yet never veer to far away from that commercially successful sound.

I'm not saying that Ra are writing and performing songs strictly for radio exposure. I don't believe that's the case. The band's songwriting shows considerably more, well, adventure, than others in their genre, choosing not to sound - as I've heard Creed and others described on local rock radio - as Pearl Jam Lite. Ra truly has their own sound. It just happens to fit in the same genre as those other new bands. 

For my money, Ra is at their best when they put the pedal to the metal. "Do You Call My Name" has some heavy guitars throbbing behind it for the most part (along with some funky ones, that is). "Fallen Rock Zone" has a great rock drive behind it. "Parole" is loaded with rough edged fury.

The weaker songs are just stuff we've heard before. "On My Side" is tolerable but will probably have you reaching for the "next" button. "Skorn" begins with a bizarre falsetto and never really recovers although there are some great, chunky guitars therein. "Walking and Thinking" is a slow, atmospheric number that's short on atmosphere.

Overall, Ra's "From One" is a pretty solid album, if you like this particular genre of nu-metal (i.e. Disturbed et al). If that's not your bag, Ra probably isn't either.

Ra: Sahaj - guitars, vocals, drums; Skoota Warner - drums; Ben Carroll - guitars, backing vocals; Sean Corcoran - bass, backing vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.raband.net or http://www.myspace.com/ramusic

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 08 Oct 2017 14:06:06 -0400.