Kassey Key & The Raindoggs: One Armed Bandits

Bio (from raindoggs.com):
Rob Porta (AKA Raindogg), Brent Cagle & Rob Huntley became friends in 2011 while playing in a Tom Waits tribute band. Although the tribute band didn’t work out, the three would later go on to form The Raindoggs.  The Raindoggs met singer/songwriter Ali Holder through Michael Prohaska (Trumpet) who played with Ali in ‘Ali Holder and Train Robbin Whiskey’. The Raindoggs released their first album Red to Black in August 2011 and played their first show at J.Lorraine Ghost Town, Manor TX, on Halloween weekend. The Raindoggs first single Stuck in RED was recently featured in the Dodge Dart song writing competition.  With Ali Holder returning to The Broken Hearted, the Dogg’s found themselves searching for a new pack leader. Larisa Montanaro joined The Raindoggs in November of 2011, and released their first single (remake of Snoop Dogg’s My Medicine) two months later. The Raindoggs single was named “Spotify Song of the Day” by soundofus.com. My Medicine” also appeared on the 2012 compilation album Zap! Azul by BandSoup.com.  In July of 2012, their second album One Armed Bandits was released under  “We Don’t Suck Productions”.  Larisa & the Raindoggs parted ways in July of 2012.  Kassy Key joined The Raindoggs in July of 2012, and released their first video “Sleight of Hand” that following September.

Kassey Key (Vocals), Dom (Percussion / Vocals), Dane Sadler (Guitar), Raindogg (Bass), Phil Plata (Drums), Brent Cagle (Saxophone), Michael Barasch (Trumpet), also featuring Ali Holder (Vocals on “Stuck in Red,” “But You’re Mine” and “Ain’t the Madonna…”), Larisa Montanaro (Vocals on “My Medicine,” “Be My Man,” “Don’t Wanna Be Cool,” “Daddy May I,” “Was It Necessary,” “What Have You Done”)

Kassey Key & The Raindoggs’ ONE ARMED BANDITS is an odd album to review.  First off, Kassey Key only sings on one track, “Sleight of Hand,” which is a little weird for a band that has her name in it.  Secondly, the Raindoggs’ style is really hard to place.  With most albums I review, I am able to give you some comparisons of what a band sounds like, but with OAB, I really can’t do that very easily at all.  And finally, to add to the “odd” content, OAB includes cover songs originally by Snoop Dogg and Alan Jackson, which really: could you get much further apart in the musical spectrum than Alan Jackson and Snoop Dogg???

The Raindoggs have gone through some lineup changes through their existence, which explains why there are three different lead singers on OAB.  As weird as it is to say though, all three sound very much alike; if the press kit didn’t tell me there were three different people singing on this album I might not never have known.  Kassey Key, the newest lead singer, only appears on one track, but I guess is the new focal point of the band since they have changed their name from “The Raindoggs” to “Kassey Key & The Raindoggs.”  So that explains the first question I had about OAB.

Raindogg wants you to hear what he has to say

Secondly, the style.  Hmm.  Well, they list themselves as Neo-Soul, and I guess that is as appropriate as any genre you could place on OAB.  Some songs have horns and uplifting rhythms; others are more down and remind me of Massive Attack more than anything else (“Daddy May I”).  There is a definite jazz influence that runs through all of the tracks, as well as a soul feel to the songs, and also a bit of 50’s/60’s dirty underbelly.  The original release of the album that was sent to me – when they were still just called “The Raindoggs” – had tracks that made me think if burlesque dancers and pin-up models.  As to exactly WHY those images came to mind, I don’t know, but that’s what the feel of OAB invoked for me.  The newer version still has a little bit of that dirty-but-not-quite-filthy feel to it, but also feels a bit more rock and a bit more widely influenced. Musically, The Raindoggs are a talented bunch of people, from the vocals to the guitar and bass work, to the horns.  The percussion is pretty much just there to keep the beat, there is nothing special on OAB as far as the drums go.

There are some songs I really like on OAB, and others I really just can’t get into.  My personal standout is the aforementioned “Daddy May I,” which has a very downtempo, a very trip-hop groove to it, and feels a bit different than anything else on OAB.  I also enjoyed the horn work in “Sleight of Hand,” which has an overall party feel and I’m sure would be a great live track.  The instrumental tracks, “Black,” and “Boerum Hill” were both very enjoyable overall as well.  There were some tracks that were ok (“Be My Man,” “What Have You Done”), and then some I just couldn’t get into, most especially “My Medicine.”  I understand that “My Medicine” is a Snoop cover, and it’s got some automatic hipster cool by taking a hip-hop track and making it a soul/rock fusion track, but the way that Raindoggs plays it the song comes off sounding like an ode to heroin.

Kassey Key and Raindogg

Overall, I enjoyed OAB, but I just couldn’t figure out exactly what to think of most of it.  It sounds like music that would be a great soundtrack to a movie about a 60’s spy in Middle America, or a flick about a burlesque dancer falling from grace to a drug addict.  There is a definite “theatrical” feel to the music, as well as an impression that it would be fun to see the band live.  I enjoyed OAB, but as a whole it really wasn’t my style of music.  I think that there is a definite audience for OAB that would truly love this album above all others, it’s just not me; for me it was varying levels of good, not bad, and not great… there was nothing that I felt was horrible, but there just wasn’t anything that really grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.  I am interested to see how they evolve now that they seem to have settled on one singer, and I think that they are certainly talented enough to make music that could be widely enjoyed by a lot of people.  For me though, OAB just wasn’t quite it.

Overall 6.5 / 10

OAB for sale: http://raindoggs.bandcamp.com/

OAB site: http://raindoggs.com

Kassey Key & The Raindoggs: One Armed Bandits



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