Ready Fire Aim This Changes Nothing
CD Review by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter


Track listing
1. End Of Over 2. Wannabe Your 3. Beautiful Thing 4. Welcome Home 5. So Fine
6. As If It Were That Easy 7. I Would For You 8. Laff It Up 9. Happy Love Song
10. Shouldn't Oughta 11. Better You Than Me 12. Lush, But Dark

Label: Expansion Team / Release Date: May 27, 2008

New York City is a place that ignites a few distinct sounds and images. I think about the legendary acts that graced the sacred doorstep of CBGB's; bands like Blondie, The Ramones, and The Talking Heads. In the early days of punk, it was The Big Apple that so many of the legends called home. In the decades to follow, New York has gained the reputation of having an "in your face" attitude with the music that it breeds. Bands like Anthrax thrashed with a large attitude, while The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy lit up the lyrical lip service of the rap genre. But for some reason, you can always tell when a band hails from New York. There's that certain something. Now let me tell you that Ready Fire Aim does not have that "certain something," and that's just one reason to worship at their feet. RFA are a band made up of singer/poet/actor/author/you name it Sage Rader and DJ/producer Shaun Morris (a.k.a. Stakka). That's right, this is electronica, and it's straight outta Brooklyn.

Set in the same style as, perhaps, Depeche Mode or New Order, RFA set the genre on fire without the thick English accent. It's always seemed to me that the pop songwriting side of the electronica genre (Depeche Mode, New Order) was always left to the British artists, and the heavy rock side of the genre (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson) gave the Americans their voice. There have, of course, been some crossover artists, but the general pop styles have primarily come from England. When I asked DJ/producer Shaun Morris about any difficulties the band might have getting gigs and being accepted in New York playing their style of electronic pop he commented, "I guess that's yet to be seen, we are debuting the live show at Southpaw in Brooklyn on May 16th (2008). We've been taking our time turning it into a live show as Ready Fire Aim, like lots of electronic music, started in the studio. The live show is heavier on the guitars than the record so maybe we will be able to walk a fine line and appeal to both sides?"

The record, "This Changes Nothing," is a fantastic trip through some brilliant pop hooks as well as being a deep, intrinsic peek at what is bound to be the new face of American electronic music. Rather than getting caught up in the experimental sound possibilities that the genre typically has to offer, RFA stays focused on the songwriting aspect of their music, and that very fact alone keeps all of these songs structured and solid from end to end. Singer Sage Rader told me about his acting experience in the film "Beyond The Ocean," and how that role came to influence the sound of "This Changes Nothing." "'Beyond the Ocean' was a surreal happy accident. I love the entire process of filmmaking and have been fortunate enough to get to do that. As a result of 'Beyond the Ocean,' I ended up being introduced to the whole Glitch style of music that was being pioneered by Christian Fennez and this whole Swiss crew. When it came to making the record, both Shaun and I had a real feel for the artifacts and glitches that we wanted and where we wanted them. It was a whole process of working and reworking the sounds until the right one emerged. We got a little crazy with the processing part. It was actually a lot of fun." Most of this record is filled with heavy groove pop hooks that are brought to life by amazing, razor sharp synth beats. The production is absolutely perfect, which makes the overall package irresistible. While hearing the expected Depeche Mode and New Order influence throughout the disc, I also stumbled upon something that reminded me of 80's popsters A-ha ("As If It Were That Easy"), as well as an exquisite cover of Jane's Addiction's "I Would For You." Those of you that grew up in the 80's and still love that happy, keyboard-driven pop sound, this is a record that has much to offer you. But oddly enough, the record does have a dark side that is reminiscent of the Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails sound. Songs like "Lush But Dark," "Welcome Home" and "Laff It Up" all touch upon some similar sounds that you might hear on a Nine Inch Nails disc. But I guess it's not very odd to hear some of these dark and heavier tones after hearing singer Sage Rader's thoughts on who he might like to tour with in the future. "Marilyn Manson. I think he puts on one of the best shows running, and I love the idea of playing to the shadowy side of things. I find comfort in the shadows."

an·thro·po·mor·phic adjective ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things.
Singer Sage Rader's one word to describe Ready Fire Aim.

Right now, RFA can be found on the independent record label, Expansion Team Records. When I asked producer Shaun Morris about moving on to a major label, he had this to say: "Indie is where it's at. They are more passionate than the majors. Most of them are in the business of music for different reasons. In my opinion, majors exist to make money, rarely pioneering anything or sticking with artists that they believe in - and that's not appealing to most artists." But he did add a glimmer of hope for some of you major label record execs out there by adding, "Unless, of course, this offer were to come with a ridiculous advance, and then I'd be saying 'How high would you like me to jump, sir?'"

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