The RA-6600 - A Unique Piano / Percussion Duo

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into The RA-6600, a unique duo between Daniel Olivas and Mark Medley. There is a particularly interesting dichotomy between the two performers since they’ve elected a piano and percussion combination for their act, something that isn’t typically done. Hey, that’s what we said in 1999 when we first say the White Stripes, though. I’m open to a revamping of the duo-concept!

The duo explains their act as ‘lo-fi pop bursts,’ something akin to early, accessible pop back in the heyday of two and a half minute, wham, bam, thank you, ma’am pop songs. The two veteran performers met in the Nashville music scene five years ago, and the group has been propelling forward ever since. Their namesake is that of a high wattage 1970s eight-track stereo, something they feel common ties to. Let’s listen in on some of their songs.

True to their endeavor, the five track offering the duo put out this year clocks in at less than twelve minutes. Right off of the bat, there’s something both positive and negative about the sound. Sound wise, the production is lacking. It isn’t EQ’d properly and as a result, I had to crank my studio monitors to hear it at a decent volume. The lead vocals also get buried in a muddied production and the piano gets distorted and lost in translation at times. Instrumentally, though, the combination of the two instruments is every bit as unique as I thought it would be. ‘Pretty Face’ is probably one of the more catchy and well-written songs in the collection to exhibit that.

The soulful ‘Before You Leave Her’ is one of the best songs as well, a song where the two seem to be in sync perfectly. The album gets off to a bit of a rough start: ‘Robert Wagner’s Lawyer’ feels a bit disconjointed and hectic. ‘Before You Leave Her’ cleans up the band’s act immensely and provides a stark contrast to the first two tracks. ‘Nonversation’ is also quite a good track, one that gets the vocal mix out of the instrumentation much better. ‘Partiac’ sounds compelling, but the live production quality is so shot I can’t discern what’s going on in it.

The RA-6600 have a lot of potential. This potential is somewhat wasted in a very poor production. There isn’t one element of their mix that sounds the way it should: it’s way too soft, distorted, discombulated, and mastered awkwardly, if at all. I am complimentary, however, of their idea, and their delivery. There is something worthwhile buried underneath that production, they just need a better studio job to unearth it.