If you’re looking for something new in 2015, we’ve found it.
Yeah, I know we’ve given you lists and lists of top tips for the new year already, but these guys are so good they deserve their own article. Meet Rakunk, a not quite rock band who claim to be more upfront and aggressive than your average, middle of the road indie group. They’ve had a pretty easy time booking shows, which is unsurprising as they’re incredibly talented. They’ve faced a little friction though, frontman Jonathan McIntire tells me, as they’ve been “sort of neglected” by the more “eclectic” venues. The band thinks this is because they “don’t fit into a particular scene, and probably never will”, and aren’t “defined” easily. This may be true, as Jonathan (guitar, vocals), Tames (McTigue, guitar), Taylor (Briggs, bass), and Thomas (Benko, drums) have declared their intention to make “huge, interesting rock songs with huge hooks”, and break out of the proverbial background.
Jonathan’s written around 2-3 albums worth of songs in the last 2 years, and Rakunk’s self-titled EP is the first we’ll hear of it. The EP was engineered by Mike Hagler (Wilco’s Summerteeth), and mastered by Steve Fallone (Die Antwoord, TV on the Radio, etc.), and is intended to be released on January 27th. I had the privilege thanks to an instagram-based conversation, of receiving the 4 track EP pre-release. Continue reading to see what I thought of it.
The EP starts strong with “Writing With a Knife”, a drum-heavy, almost electronic track. Jonathan’s Oklahoma accent peeks through the fairly simplistic but hard-hitting lyrics, with just enough repetition to become easily memorable. Towards the end of the song, the vocals give way to demonstrate the talent of the band’s guitarists with a solo that left my heart pounding, before closing up with the line the title was taken from. One song in and Rakunk have already implanted themselves in my brain, beginning to secure their position as one of the most talented new bands.
Track two, “Wicked Bible”, also kicks off with a sudden drum-beat but this time it’s without the electronic vibe. Classic guitar riffs precede the vocals, generating an almost punk rock vibe through the combination of tradition and grit. Midway through another instrumental interlude occurs, again demonstrating the prowess of the two guitarists. The instrumental ability of every single member of the band is incredible, and “Wicked Bible” is like a throwback to real, harsh rock, but it still manages to retain a more modern flair.
“About to See the Light” begins with nostalgic vocals, instruments creeping in under the constant strength of Jonathan’s voice. Almost ballad like, the track seems at once hopeful and lost before suddenly undergoing a genre switch with the arrival of crashing guitar riffs. Rakunk know how to combine electronic vibes with rock and a little pop, masterfully switching and mixing genres all in under 4 minutes.
The last song of the EP, “Banged Up”, reverts to a drum-based opening, complemented by harsh riffs and half-sung, half-shouted vocals with a slight country bent. Playful, a little dangerous, and ridiculously talented, the quartet pummel yet another mix of styles into a cheery, grimy, sun-filled track. As the song calms a little, fading into a somehow personal ending, suddenly the EP’s over and I’m left feeling a bit cheated. How can you make such excellent music and release only 4 tracks? How? It’s just not fair!
Regardless of the brevity of the EP, I’m filled with a huge amount of hope for Rakunk. The mix of genres they’ve created is no mean feat, and I expect that the other 2 years worth of songwriting we have left to hear will produce songs that are just as spectacular. I see great, great things on the horizon for Rakunk, I just hope they release a full album soon so I have a little more to write about.
Take a listen to the album preview below and then order your copy on iTunes here