Posts Tagged ‘Raven Mahon’

Rat Columns

One of the joys of following David West’s evolution as Rat Columns has been his incredible ability to absorb styles and genres and constantly shift the idea of what defines the band’s sound. The early records were dark and sheltered, a far cry from 2017’s excellent, and hard to pin down Candle Power. With just a quick EP in between, the new record shifts once again, jettisoning the focus on jangle-pop and synth-pop poles in favor of a larger power pop sound. If anything, though, Pacific Kiss is one of the most concise and consistent records West has ever done, outside of his solo LP from a few years back.

The guitars are brought out into the sunshine to glow and purr under the dawn. There’s a rather fun immediacy to the new record that comes through in the keys supplied by Joey Fishman. HIs touches give the LP a resplendent pop shimmer, aided and abetted by the background vocals of Amber Gempton and Raven Mahon (The Green Child). That’s not to say that the moodiness of West’s past has gone completely by the wayside. When he skews melancholy there’s still the draped emotionality that has long marked his songwriting, just dressed up a bit in production and punch. This is West at his best, picking out the gilded pieces of his past few records and melting them down into the polished pop geodes that populate the new record.



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Raven Mahon on Roland Blinn – Rosebud

When writing up The Green Child this week I mentioned that they’re mining some real fun off-kilter synth pop tendencies, finding blending The Creatures and Strawberry Switchblade with jangled touches. One thing I’ve long learned, though, is that while there may be some scars inherent in a record that by no means dictates an artist’s current obsessions. Raven Mahon might be familiar here from her work in The Green Child, but perhaps more so as a member of Grass Widow. The band was long a favorite from the beginning of the last decade, mining post-punk and jangle pop with a carefree flair. I’d asked Raven for a Hidden Gems pick and she’s found an offbeat chem that certainly meets up to the overlooked part of the equation. Check out her take on Canadian songwriter Roland Blinn’s LP Rosebud.

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The Green Child

Closing the gap in their long-distance music project and crystalizing the scope of their radiant, baroque strain of synth-pop, Raven Mahon (Grass Widow) and Mikey Young (Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Total Control) return as The Green Child. The sophomore LP has smoothed many of the discordant edges off of their recordings, without losing any of their brand of warbled weirdness. Propulsive, but staggering slightly, the songs on Shimmering Basset aren’t beholden to many of the ‘80s touchstones that normally bubble up when synth-pop is at play. The pair’s wide array of past endeavors and likely deep shelf record collections may be at the heart of the schism here, and we’re all the better for it. While Total Control is a decidedly more caustic branch of synthesizer storm, a good deal of the band’s tendency towards squirm-addled sounds makes its way into the formula on The Green Child’s sophomore outing. Likewise, while Raven’s vocals add a perfectly icy air that’s throwing the fantasy dreampop of Strawberry Switchblade into a stainless steel vortex with Siouxsie’s offshoot The Creatures, and perhaps a whiff of Altered Images.

Though they’re less straightforward than those influences might lead one to believe, the same spirit of taking pop and letting it warp nicely in the sun appears to be at work. They let their baked Flexi vibes infect the album completely, with a slight psychedelic sheen forming. It can feel as if their songs are born from beaming 8mm videos of the band playing through a wall of prisms, letting the melodies through in blurred brilliance, haloed by rainbow ripples dancing into view. The blending of jangle n’ strum with the pound of electronic pop is tightened on the new album, letting their obsessions bleed into one another as symbiotic forces rather than song to song impulses. The record is darker, with its nails dug deeper into the railing than ever before, this album opens itself wider with each relisten. It’s by no means an immediate catch — the “grower”-type of album in true form. Yet, once the band’s under your skin its hard to extract their grip from your heart nor their silvered hooks from your head.



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The Green Child – “Fashion Light”

The pieces of this new album from The Green Child (Raven Mahon & Mikey Young) are dripping out and their blurred vision of synth pop swims up from the subconscious desires of dreams. The synths defuse through the barrier of sleep on “Fashion Light” with Young adding a restraint swipe of guitar and Raven laying on a glaze of sax. While there are many who are content to simply dig into the past and recycle, The Green Child is creating a sound that could have easily sat between the shelf with Strawberry Switchblade and The Creatures. The band’s truly refined their sound since the first album and that’s in no small part due to this one being put together together in Young’s studio rather than cross continents. The pair don’t play to the expectations of their past bands, creating a gauzy universe within the bounds of these few minutes.

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The Green Child – “Low Desk : High Shelf”

It’s a good week for RSTB faves around here. After a nice entry to the ongoing series over at Looking Glass The Green Child, the duo of Raven Mahon (Grass Widow) and Mikey Young (Total Control, ECSR), are back with a sophomore LP that’s strengthening their sound into something more concrete than their debut. Done trading demos from California to Australia, the pair are now both based in the Aussie seaside town of Rye with access to Mikey’s studio and more time to concentrate on reverse engineering dreampop. “Low Desk : High Shelf” is a propulsive synth-pop cut that’s more than it lets on. With themes cut from Camus’ The Stranger revolving around our ingrained perspective and the absurdity of the angles we find ourselves perched and perceiving the litany of life, its hardly . Raven’s vocals poke through a waft of haze, though the track is decidedly pulsing along on bubbled synth strains and a shimmer of guitar.

The accompanying video attempts to contextualize the themes with a contemporary note from the director, Nemali Hypolite, who sums it up, “When directing this video, I kept one thought in my conceptual orbit; the pursuit of happiness. In the year 2020, it seems irrefutably obvious that racism and its disciples continue to ride on our coattails. An unwelcome guest whose presence rewards only those willing to condemn their brothers and sisters to a life of defeat. If at the root of it all, we’re all sentient beings seeking happiness, who’s to say some of us are less deserved than others? I wanted to experiment with the soft whimsical notes of this song, it’s lyrical depth, and my own indignant interpretation of the insider’s club we call the pursuit of happiness. Thus created a calculated, narrative visual piece. One that employs obvious metaphors, basic colour aesthetics, and tacky gore, but perhaps evokes a more metacognitive reflection.” The LP, Shimmering Basset is out Oct 9th on Upset The Rhythm. Check the video and get this in rotation.



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