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Artist of the Week [10/4/13]: Ra

Named after the Egyptian sun god, hard rock band Ra has been around for over a decade. Ra used to be somewhat of a household name for hard rock bands, but have since seemed to go off the map.  They are currently in the process of making their comeback.  Their new, fan-funded album, Critical Mass, is slated for an October 15th release.  The band previously released the album’s first single, “SuperMegaDubstep.”

Having owned all of Ra’s releases, with the exception of 2009’s digitally released B-side compilation, Black Sheep, since 2005 or so, it can be said that Ra’s music is well worth the financial investment.

It is very unfortunate that Ra essentially lost the fame they had gained over the lengthy span of their music careers.  However, it looks like they will fight for it back, and anyone who wants to win a war against the current state of the music industry should enlist on Ra’s side.

Anyway, the band is comprised of four very talented musicians, two of whom have kept very busy during Ra’s downtime.  Lead singer and band founder, Sahaj [Ticotin] released a solo record in 2012, titled Another Minute.  It was much softer and calmer than a lot of Ra’s material.  It leaned more toward singer/songwriter acoustic rock rather than hard rock/alternative metal. Sahaj also acts as a record producer, having recently worked with up-and-coming hard rockers Downstait.  As for the other members of Ra, guitarist Ben Carroll has his own side project called The Hollow Glow, who have seen moderate success among the underground rock scene.

Ra incorporate a variety of styles into their music, allowing for a diverse fan base.  For instance, on “Faulty Information,” from 2008’s Black Sun, Sahaj spits a brief rap during the bridge. They also provide an excellent cover of Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” on 2005’s Duality. With Sahaj’s unique and versatile vocals, Ra will be unstoppable once they resurface.  This should not be a problem, now that the original lineup is back in action together.

Fans of Shinedown, Alter Bridge, and Seether should definitely check out Ra.  Key focus tracks include “Faulty Information,” “Easier Than This,” “On My Side,” “Got Me Going,” and Ra’s cover of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”  The first two tracks are off of Black Sun, “On My Side” is from 2002’s From One, and the last two are featured on Duality.

For more information on Ra, visit their website and/or Facebook page.


Cover Song of the Month: April 2013

Ronnie James Dio is known by many as one of the best metal vocalists of all time.  He was the lead singer for many groups, most notably of which were Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell, Elf, and his solo band, Dio.  Dio is the prime example of a musician working his way from the absolute bottom to the insurmountable sky of success.  Songs from his doo-wop days can be found on iTunes.

Anyway, Dio left behind a legacy when he lost his battle to cancer on May 16, 2010.  Modern hard rockers Downstait have honored that legacy with their cover of Dio’s “The Last In Line,” featured on their latest album, With You In Mind.

As Dio had a one-of-a-kind voice, Downstait lead vocalist Daren Zack Call and guest vocalist Sahaj Ticotin, of Ra, stick with their own vocal ranges.  As expressed in previous articles, it is always better to personalize a cover song with your own brand and style.  Your fans will appreciate when you do not deviate from your own sound simply to pay tribute.  More importantly, if you do a good job on a personalized cover, you may acquire some new fans.

This was definitely a ballsy decision, but Downstait pulled it off.  While still respecting the original version, they transformed it into a song that fit in perfectly with the rest of the material on the CD.  With the addition of Sahaj’s smoother, more versatile vocals, Downstait’s cover of “The Last In Line” is a respectable tribute to the great Ronnie James Dio.

It may not have Dio’s voice or fit into the category of heavy metal, but it is a great cover.  Sahaj’s voice both by itself and in harmony with that of Call makes it work vocally.  Combined with the spot-on guitar work, especially including the near-perfect solo, this version is worth at least two listens.

Check it out here: 

Dio’s version: 

With You In Mind was released on April 23, 2013.  For more information on Downstait, check out the band’s Facebook page.

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