CD Review: ‘Any Other Way’ by RxGF
Style: Indie, Dark Wave, Electro, Alternative
Reviewed by Randy Radic
RxGF hails from Seattle. RxGF is short-hand for Radioactive X Girlfriend, which sounds like something out of a bad 1950s sci-fi flick. And RxGF’s music would definitely work as the soundtrack for a sci-fi movie, although it would necessarily be much more modern, like Blade Runner or Minority Report; some dark and surreally futuristic movie by Philip K. Dick, because there is a dark edge to RxGF’s sound, along with a strong Space Opera essence. The best way to describe is like this: Nine Inch Nails does electro-pop, which sounds pretty strange but it works.
RxGF’s new album is called Any Other Way. It’s their third album, and has been nominated for a number of awards.
Reviewers tend to compare RxGF to Siouxie and the Banshees, which is an apt analogy. Angeline Schaaf, who sings lead vocals for RxGF, sounds similar to Siouxie Sioux. Schaaf’s voice has the same too-many-cigarettes, whiskey-soaked quality to it. According to rumor, John Morgan Reilly, who is the creative spirit behind RxGF, spent an entire year auditioning vocalists before he stumbled upon Schaaf’s gravelly tones. It’s one of those voices that prove the analogous aesthetic doctrine: the tighter the discipline of an art form, the more subjective the criteria of taste. In other words, there’s a harsh-texture energy to Schaaf’s voice that should disqualify it, but doesn’t. In fact, just the opposite. For some inexplicable reason, her voice is agreeable and entertaining.
The album’s title track shoulders influences from both Gothic and mechanical rock, plunging forward with guitars and synthesizers that provide a grainy tension. Schaaf’s voice rides over the music with a rasping quixotic quality that is delightful and superb. The tarnish in her voice stretches the musical canvas, leaving it taut with advantage.
The other tracks on the album demonstrate still other influences, which allow RxGF to avoid the isolating dungeon of monotony. “How to Make It” is nothing short of heavy industrialized rock n’ roll; the kind engineered to thump and pound with metallic undertones. Dark Wave sways through “We Will Not be Denied” and “Flesh and Bone,” while “Never Felt So Good” affects a pulsing, tinny electro-pop inspiration.
The drumming on the album, which is live and not a machine, deserves mention. Reilly plays the drums and his style is bellicose and uncompromising. It’s the hard-hitting, techno-pop version of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin fame. The combination of Reilly’s throbbing drums and Schaaf’s alcohol-soaked tones produce anomalous responses that are complementary – the perfect union of two distinct sounds: drums and voice.
Any Other Way should more than satisfy the most discriminating listener even those put off by electro-pop will find tracks worth their time. RxGF has delivered an inventive album that is modern without straying too far out of the mainstream.