They’re the latest Brooklyn based band to carve out a niche for themselves in that idiosyncratic indie scene—a five-man ensemble forged from an elusive winter’s night “locking themselves in an isolated cabin” and reemerging with their own collage-genre of rock, dream pop, and punk. Yes, Rann dove into those well-visited depths of trippy psychedelia and in-your-face, garage-band angst, but managed to pull it off without merely repackaging the greats (and kudos to them for that). As for where they fall on the spectrum, think Phoenix with a touch more grit, or The Strokes draped in synth.
Their latest album, Yellowgun, is a mesh of hard-edged and hazy jams—as if CBGB’s and Woodstock merged into a venue located somewhere off the L line. There would be a lot of head banging and body swaying all at once (and I for one, would be into it).
To start with one of the album’s more amped-up tracks, there’s "Cellophane (Do You Wanna Know?)," which first appeared as a standalone single a few months prior (ditto for Yellowgun’s opener "Sunset"). With a stormy intro, healthy dose of reverb, and frontman Apoena Frota’s sandpapery vocals, "Cellophane" definitely draws you in with a sultry kind of seduction. Listening through, you feel the kind of wary hypnotism that pulses through the relationship of Rann’s description, introducing us with the lines, “You tried to love me with cellophane / Because I saw it through and stretched the truth / Now I’m awake.”
If this song were to morph into an old adage, it would be “careful not to play with fire.” Because, through the spiraling (and impressive) guitar solos and unwavering percussion, you get the sense that a power dynamic has shifted. As Frota sings, “I’m in control in your role today / Suddenly your crystal ball goes back to cellophane,” we're left to wonder what triggered the switch, with the chorus taunting, “Do you really wanna know?”
And we do. But, Rann is clever enough to let that linger, unknown. And, rather than continue with a play-by-play of (clearly) one of my favorite tracks, I’ll take a cue from this quintet and simply say—see for yourself.
Then, when you're in the mood for Yellowgun’s softer side, one of the go-to tracks would be "Darkest Eyes." It’s a smooth, daydream kind of melody, with high-rising, feather-light synths and soft, whispery vocals that murmur, “Feel our fingers interlace / Let me be the chance you take,” giving us a sweet little ditty that isn't too saccharine. It’s easy to close your eyes and get lost in. And lastly, for a song that’s sure to evoke crowd sways and lighters held overhead, there’s the album finale, "Reset." It’s accented with an underlying staccato guitar strumming, and keeps up with the trance-like vibe of "Darkest Eyes," but perhaps with an even softer touch.
This deft braiding of punk and pop-rock reminds us that while the band is young, Rann’s members are on top of their shit, musically. And, now a year after they left that cabin, they’ve got an album and our attention.
Time to get better acquainted.