by Will Phoenix

Ray & Remora’s new release Start it Up is an exceptional, evocative dose of dream-pop. But first, for those who are not yet familiar with the performing pair, Ray & Remora is a Los Angeles, California-based act consisting of musician Dan Crane (Nous Non Plus, Calamine) and singer-songwriter Amanda “Remora” Walker (Glen Parks). The band also currently includes keyboardist Jeff Liffman and drummer Damon Kellard who share co-writing duties and reportedly “helped shape”the original material here.

The indie pop music on this 11-track album has been said by early online critics to be comparable at times to such other artists as Camera Obscura, Florence & the Machine, HAIM, Ms Mr, Saint Etienne and at times Yo La Tengo. The album opener is titled “The Happening”. It is a new track obviously reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian.

The second selection is “Hearts Do Change”. It’s a synth-driven pop piece that holds the listener’s attention sufficiently to take us to “It’s Just”. “It’s Just” solidifies their signature sound early on here with production that is different yet not at all foreign.

“Startle It Up” is the title track that holds obvious sway over both the artists and the audience. It displays the band’s consistency and is highlighted by both the percussion and ever so slightly sharper vocals. “Soft Brown Heart” follows here standing as yet another example of the artists’ assorted abilities.

The sixth selection is “Don’t Shoot Me Down”. They change it up a little bit here. It’s got a nice built in beat and it’s even somehow sexy.

“Histories” somehow seamlessly fits into the overall feel and thematic sense of the album. On “Honey Beware” the vocals fall just short of being overly ethereal and everything works as the signature sound remains intact. “Creep Up” also has a nice intro with a bit of acoustic work.

The project begins to wind down with “Skinned Knees” although the performance levels remain the same. The closing cut is “Baby Please”. The vocals here seem tinged with emotion on a cut that works well as the album endnote.

Overall, this new release seems to offer a healthy sampling of the band’s original audio offerings. It’s got everything from head-nodding pop and synth-based ballads. So check out Ray & Remora’s Startle It Up. If you don’t, well, “It’s Just” possible you’ll miss something cool.

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