Rat Wakes Red
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Rat Wakes Red


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"M Music & Musicians"

Who would think that a trio that tags itself Rat Wakes Red would sound so seductive? If the name suggests punkish mischief, the music shatters that suggestion through its dimly lit melodies and sensual settings. The supple addition of violas, synths and keyboards to standard rock regalia makes Acres all the more alluring. - November, 2010, Volume 01, Issue 07

"New Interview with Rat Wakes Red"

James Raftery, along with producer Jeral Benjamin form the creative core behind Rat Wakes Red, and RUST has been taking time to listen to - and enjoy - both their Weekend EP and Acres full-length CD. Somewhere in the deep space between happy and sad, Rat Wakes Red is reminiscent of times past when people had patience for real emotion. It's also very contemporary, relevant, fresh and beautiful. Finding their own sound in their own time, the uniqueness of the project flows from the personalities of James and Jeral. With complex and inspired lyrics being forefront, we wanted to find out more from James about the project, and his creative relationship with Jeral.

RUST: People have been using terms like post-rock and post-punk a lot lately. Your project definitely does not fall into a pre-packaged category, how would you describe it?

JR: I also have a hard time when someone asks me to describe the music. I never really know what to tell them. It's beyond singer/songwriter, it's not quite folk, it has its rock moments, it's definitely indie. One reviewer called it "neo-gothic folk", and one called it "neo-folk with a gothic edge"; one reviewer lamented the poor record store employee who had to decide which section to stock the CDs in. I must say, I agree. Rat Wakes Red is hard to pin down, but I just call it "music so beautiful it hurts".

RUST: Wow, that really does hit it right on the head... for RWR you are credited as songwriter, Jeral is credited as writer for the strings and winds as well as the producer... is this a duo project?

JR: Back in 1998, after I left the world of acting and became possessed by songs that were presenting themselves to me, I conceived of the moniker Rat Wakes Red; partly to remove the pressure of having to sell my own name, but also so it would be expansive in case other members were added. It is everything from a solo project to a full band project and so I consider Rat Wakes Red to be me and whoever is playing with me at the moment. It is definitely a duo project, though, in the sense that Jeral and I have partnered on this endeavor from the beginning as an outlet for the songs I was writing, so whatever serves the material is what is used. I write the songs, sing and play the bulk of the instruments; Jeral has produced all five releases, played the viola, written all the string and wind arrangements, and spent countless hours dealing with promotion and all the goings on behind the scenes.

RUST: Can you describe the working relationship between yourself and Jeral? How early in the process you do work together on songs?

JR: The working relationship between Jeral and I is very close and intense. We both care deeply about the music and making it with high standards. We deal daily with business end of things, and work very much in tandem on everything; sometimes we even finish each other's sentences. As for the song process, usually I will present the finished song and depending on what it needs, Jeral will add her arrangements. We both work very differently, but when we add our parts together, they invariably work out quite well.

RUST: Did you start out with an idea of how you wanted the band to sound, was there a goal to be reached, or did things just flow naturally?

JR: Everything just happened organically. There was no preconceived idea of how the band was to sound, but once we got in the studio everything did flow naturally. We both found out we work well together in the studio and have a lot of the same ideas and love to experiment with sound in the same way; we also both love lots of layers and harmonies. I mean, the songs themselves are what we try to honor, so as long as we let the song live and breath and grow, it becomes its own unique thing.

RUST: You're self-released. Do you think you could make music like this with any other entity - be it a person or label - that had a say in the final product?

JR: I guess you could say we are self-released although Jeral and I look at Rat Disk a fully functioning label. We kind of feel like we are somewhat beyond the description "self-released". That term makes me picture people sending out CDRs. Rat Disk has released 5 albums, 3 of which are full-lengths, and done all the work that any indie label would do to promote and follow through. Each release is a professional product with great packaging. That aside, if some entity wanted to step in and provide a way to get the music to a wider audience, then we would entertain that notion. I would hope that whoever that would be would want to because they love Rat Wakes Red and not some idea of what it should be. But, in this day and age, with artists such as Bon Iver achieving success, I really do think that we could make music like this with someone who had a say in the final product. Of course, it would depend on who that person was.

RUST: You've got several other musicians contributing, can you tell us about them?

JR: Sure. First off, we were very lucky to get Hannah Fury to contribute vocals to the song Always for the album "Acres". She is an incredible singer and songwriter who really took a liking to Rat Wakes Red. I actually wrote this part for her and she accepted. It was a shining moment. My brother, Matt, is the drummer on the album and he is wildy talented. It was great to get to work so closely with him on music. Also, Jeral hooked us up with some incredible woodwind players for that album, too. I wanted to expand the orchestral palette for several of the songs and we were honored that Brandon Blankenship, Heather MacLean and Erin Deininger all gave their time and talent to the project. For Horizon Drops, I had the honor of having Christy Davis on drums and John Werner as guitarist. The incredible bassist, Andy Kuusisto, also was our live bass player for a while. As you can see, Rat Wakes Red is an ever changing ensemble.

RUST: How was working with Andris Balins? What about his personality made him the the right person to engineer Acres?

JR: We had worked with Andris on the earlier Energy Garage EP, and from the moment we both met him we fell in love with him. He is the most down-to-earth, affable, talented, precise, and thoughtful engineer. He just has a warmth and easygoing nature that we both thrived in. He is also incredibly knowledgeable about music and technology and Dryhill Studios where he works is a comfy jewel in rural upstate New York.

RUST: You've done some live appearances, how have those shows gone?

JR: The live shows have been really fun, but quite different than the recording process. I've done shows solo, with Jeral, with cello, with background singers and at one point Rat Wakes Red was a full band with a drummer and bass player (for the Horizon Drops album). Jeral and I used to love playing at the old CBGB's Gallery back in the day, and a couple highlights for me have been opening solo for Bob Mould and for Hayden. We were even on a bill once with Digable Planets! Lately, RWR has been more of a recording project, but that is subject to change.

RUST: This might seem like a small detail, but your CD packaging has complete lyrics printed large enough to read, which is really unusual these days, why was it important to you to include these?

JR: I have always loved a lyric sheet since I was a boy with my LPs. Not that every record needs to have them, but when it came time to put the packaging together it seemed right. The words are such an important aspect of the songs and they can be cryptic or hard to understand, so we thought we should include them. I personally love reading the words while I listen to music and I wanted people to have that opportunity.

RUST: How happy are you with the final release now that it's done? Anything you'd like to revisit... any regrets?

JR: I'm incredibly happy with the way it came out. I guess, as with any work of art, there might be certain tiny little things that I would go back and fix if there were all the time and money in the world, but at some point you just have to move on and let the song live. In fact, some of the best moments came out of the limitations we were up against. It all becomes part of the fabric.

RUST: What's next for Rat Wakes Red?

JR: I finally got around to making two music videos for Acres. We're set on releasing them in the next couple weeks, so I'm excited about that. They are both homemade by me and it was my first foray into directing and editing. It was great to be creative with visuals. I've always admired Joni Mitchell who would paint between albums to rest her ears and feed the visual side of her. I think I understand why now. Beyond that, I'm letting new songs bubble up and will be trying to find them all good homes. - Rust Magazine, March 2012

"The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music."

Rat Wakes Red returns with a more folksy set than their last one, and it's utterly gorgeous. Hannah Fury guests on the opener and adds her unmistakable harmonies. The sound on "Come Over" is lush and intricate, and the vocal drop dead beautiful. "Forestry" is another lovely moment, Raftery's vocals being especially evocative. "Lights Out" is a very Red House Painter-like song and of course that works fine. It's one of those magical albums that seems to lack flaws. - February 12, 2011

"Rat Wakes Red’s Ghostly Melancholy Is Best Experienced Whole"

I don’t often sit back and chill, as I usually relax by reading or writing poetry. But the dreamy simplicity of Acres by Rat Wakes Red makes just being a very pleasant experience indeed.

RWR creates intimate, melodic tunes reminiscent of old-school Iron and Wine. Songwriter James Raftery plays more piano than Sam Beam did, and his sketches tend more toward ghostly melancholy than the bearded wonder’s. Raftery’s voice has soothing reverb on it, giving the tunes an even more ethereal air. Gentle synths and strings make appearances, capping off the tunes.

Raftery’s tightly-defined production leads to the make-or-break point of Acres: the eighteen songs tend to run together when listened to in one sitting. Barely a song steps outside the guitar/piano/vocals/auxiliary instrument oeuvre he sets up.

As a result, the overall effect is not song-driven; the album is best experienced as an un-dissected document. In an ADHD era, this is a liability in attempts to gain casual listeners; there is no single here. But for those who love the experience of setting an album on and blissing out to the mood it creates, this is a treasure trove. Fans of Other Lives, Elliott Smith, Sigur Ros and Joshua Radin will find much to love in Rat Wakes Red’s Acres. - Independent Clauses, August 14, 2011, by Stephen Carradini

"The Big Takeover"

James Raftery, AKA Rat Wakes Red (I still expect a hardcore band with that moniker, not a transcendently beautiful alternafolkie!), is not like modern solo artists with release diarrhea. He takes his time, crafts, plots, plans, processes, and perfects; Acres is only his third LP in 11 years (a couple of modest EPs helped plug the passing years), and together with crucial producer Jeral Benjamin, he bequeaths warm sonic gifts. 1999's more acoustic Dizzy on Daddy and 2005's more electric Horizon Drops were morsels of chamber-pop in the old 4AD aesthetic. This time, RWR has chosen equally resonant, persistent piano as his principal love bomb, plus copious strings (far beyond Benjamin's charming viola on Dizzy) among deep orchestral touches that delight the senses betwixt his earnest voice. Big T favorite Hannah Fury chips in sweet guest harmonies, completing a hell of a record, another lovely affair from this consistent pairing of artist and loyal producer. - Jack Rabid, Issue 66, Spring 2010

"Sentimentalist Magazine"

Rat Wakes Red may sound like the name of a punk band belting out three-chord, angsty anthems, but this act is quite the opposite, and the haunting, charmed surprise is partly what makes RWR, and their latest release, Acres, stand out. Singer/songwriter James Raftery creates orchestral pop with everything from piano swells to strings and viola, all given a crystalline finish by producer Jeral Benjamin. Voices, at the forefront, harmonize in blissed out states, backed with soothing lyricism that revels in its emotional core. Songs like “Crying Chair” stand out with an upbeat tempo and edge that bursts unexpectedly from its neo-classical base, while single “Always”, with added vocals by Hannah Fury, is a poignant toast to taking chances. –Selina S. - Madeline Virbasius, July 11, 2010

"Magnet Magazine"

Rat Wakes Red is the musical project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist James Raftery, who also happened to star in 1993 cult-film Night Owl. The creepy and moody sound he creates is very fitting for someone who once played a murderous vampire. Just take a listen to “Always” and “I Heart” below, which showcases Raftery’s brooding voice while producer Jeral Benjamin’s viola adds a dark ambiance. The two tracks are off Rat Wakes Red’s fifth release, Acres, which is out now via Rat Disk. - September 8, 2010, MP3 At 3PM

"The Big Takeover"

The Big Takeover
Issue 61, Winter 07/08
Jack Rabid
With each release, New Yorker James Raftery impresses more. Although one thinks of him as a modern folkie in the Kristin Hersh "Your Ghost" vein, it's electric guitars that make this quiet sound on the oddly named "Energy Garage". (It's actually more like a nice afternoon nap.) Bouts of guitar texture seem to tumble down from nowhere to add a mournful quality to Raftery's Elliot Smith-like voice. And when producer Jeral Benjamin brings back her violas (regrettably missing from the sophomore Horizon Drops) on "You", it's like your well-thumbed This Mortal Coil records, with light drums and bass to add to a light breeze. Lovely! "Be Kissed" is an incongruous, disjointed punchy, rhythmic number-not sure about that one-but Horizon's familiar "Anyway Now" is a good closer. (That song also appears on the video on the accompanying DVD). Time for LP #3!

The Big Takeover
Issue 59, Winter 2007
Jack Rabid
New York’s own solo alterna-folkie James Raftery soldiers on with his talented female producer Jeral Benjamin. This stopgap EP is a sampler, containing two songs from the forthcoming Horizon Drops (possibly out when you read this), two from the previous debut Dizzy on Daddy (said me: “Acoustic folk guitar and viola, with a whispery, troubled voice? Yes please!”), and one bonus track for completists. The bonus track is a nice acoustic outing, but the two new songs suggest an intriguing, totally new direction, with a drummer added and electric guitars. “Weekend” is like the particular later-‘80’s 4AD period when Ivo Watts-Russell was fixated on Pixies and Throwing Muses, with loopy harsh guitar, beat, and cooed vocal. And “Galaxy” is like that with a bit of what you liked about Weezer’s radio hits. Both good! -Bring on the LP.

The Big Takeover, Issue 58, Spring 2006
Mark Suppanz
Five years after this outfit's attractive, whispery, acoustic/viola-laden debut, Dizzy on Daddy, Rat Wakes Red (AKA James Raftery) finally releases a follow-up. Old fans will be surprised to find a re-vamped beefed-up sound; acoustic guitars have been replaced by electrics, and drummer Christy Davis joins Raftery to further toughen the attack. And while Jeral Benjamin returns to provide typically excellent, warm production, her viola is completely AWOL (pout, pout!). Thankfully, Raftery's multi-tracked, Elliot Smith-like voice still beguiles, ensuring plenty of lovely moments (check out "Galaxy", "Lovely Invalid" and "Anyway Now"). Further, Davis's dynamic stick-work not only adds more of a post-punk edginess and tension, but also allows Raftery to infuse each song with varied and shifting loud/soft moods. Despite the stylistic alterations, Horizon Drops is another modest winner.

The Big Takeover
Issue 48
Jack Rabid
Acoustic folk guitar and viola, with a whispery, troubled voice? Yes please! Rat Wakes Red is a strange moniker for such an exquisite murmur, but James Raftery makes lovely music that has a lot in common with Elliott Smith (in fact, his double-tracked voice is so similar, we might not be able to tell them apart blindfolded!) and Bookends-era Simon & Garfunkel. One could imagine Gus Van Zant or Mike Nichols using these recordings in a film Good Will Hunting or The Graduate-style; they're affecting-nagging in a similar manner. Think of the unhappy Bill Murray diving in the pool and staying submerged to The Kinks' worrisome Kinda Kinks folk-ditty, "Nothin' in the World Will Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl," and that's the pensive mood of meditative musing here. Each time Raftery hits one of his bass strings, it slips into a slice of Jeral Benjamin's hovering viola, and the air is like leaves falling on a fall day. See "Dead Ringer," a pretty song that's a comment about continually making the same romantic mistakes, for an example of this at its best. - Jack Rabid (Issue 61, Issue 59, Issue 48); Mark Suppanz (Issue 58)

"Grave Concerns E-zine, May 5, 2006"

Trading in the viola-laced alterna-folk of their 1998 debut for an indie guitar pop sound with a distinct retro 90s bent, Rat Wakes Red's Horizon Drop is a 12-song, half hour journey into melodic nostalgia. Hints of everyone from The Pixies to Nirvana to Julianna Hatfield bubble beneath the band's sometimes catchy, sometimes dreamy blend of hooks, alt rock dynamics, and nicely layered vocal melodies. From the punchy, energetic "Powderkeg" to the quirky, upbeat indie rock of "Galaxy" and lovely, plodding balladic closer "Anyway Now", the album's set is fairly consistent and noteworthy, perhaps as much for its overall sound and style as its songwriting. The radio-friendly indie pop of "Wheels", both catchy and emotive, is the instant highlight here, while the sinister groove of "Weekend" and quirky group vocals of its chorus provide something of a close
second. Based in well-crafted pop sensibilities, Rat Wakes Red's Horizon Drop is, without a doubt, a significant stylistic departure from the band's previous output, but it's also one that works. Granted, fans particularly set on the sonic formula of their debut may be disappointed, but those with 90s indie rock/pop leanings will find a relatively strong and nicely produced outing with a handful of pop gems.

Delving deep into mellow alterna-folk, Rat Wakes Red's 1998 debut, Dizzy on Daddy, is something of a foray into the duality of light and dark, moody melancholia juxtaposed against airier, more upbeat offerings. With hints of The Red House Painters, the band's mellow sound, based largely in guitar arpeggios and nicely enhanced by viola, is permeated by strong songwriting by central member James Raftery and excellent production from violist Jeral Benjamin that includes some interesting vocal layering. The melancholy "Mad Elegant", complete with a nice lyrical nod to Nina Hagen, the impressive rhythm-guitar-based "Last Gasp", and the dark and lovely "Stoned and Ravished" are the real standouts of the disc's 17 tracks, 3 of which are intro/interlude/outro instrumentals. The slightly more mainstream and more upbeat "Ecstasy" and the cool viola and impressive vocal layering of the moody "Widows Burn" also shine amidst a set that is, as a whole, quite strong. Both emotionally expressive and well written/assembled, Rat Wakes Red's debut is a noteworthy affair. Those with a penchant for dark folk and mellow alternative rock, particularly those with an affinity for strings, should definitely give Dizzy on Daddy a listen. - Joshua Heinrich

"The Ectophiles' Guide"

Rat Wakes Red returns with a folksy and intriguing EP, only four songs but they really hit the mark. "Energy Garage" itself is soft folk with a superlative vocal. "You" is dreamy and reminds me of Red House Painters, in its slow hush. The EP is over way too soon and whets the appetite for a new album. - 04 May 2008

"Reno Gazette-Journal"

The New York duo Rat Wakes Red includes singer-songwriter-guitarist James Raftery and producer-viola player Jeral Benjamin. On "Dizzy on Daddy" (Rat Disk) they play drumless neo-folk songs with a gothic edge that suggests more Cure than Nick Drake. Raftery's expressive voice (often multi-tacked for layered harmonies) spill tales of love lost-and -regained that rarely succumb to cliché. Fans of the darker side of mellowness (or classic 4AD records) should seek it out. It's a self-release available on Amazon and CDNow, too. - Mark Earnest


A superbly crafted release from New York based duo Rat Wakes Red, released on their own label Rat Disk. It's a superbly crafted selection of 17 tracks in total, reminiscent just a little of the music of Simon & Garfunkel, taking you on some amazing journeys of sound, driven largely by acoustic guitar, vocals, keyboards & viola, surprisingly without any percussion throughout. The opening track is simply titled "Intro" & that's exactly what it is, followed by a wonderful vocal performance on "Stoned & Ravished" & "Dead Ringer". The album is stacked full of highlights & it's very hard to pick a clear favourite from the tracklisting here. Other highlights include ""Gold", "Grave Wide Open", "Silverfish" & "Day Haze", but I think "Higher Places" would have to be the clincher for my liking. Every song without exception sees this most interesting of bands make their mark on your mind & it's to their credit that they've stayed with a stripped back sound rather than resorting to technical trickery or high amplification to try & improve their already impressive sound as it's already about as good as it gets. - hEARd Magazine

"Alarm Magazine"

Rat Wakes Red is James Raftery (vocals, guitar, keyboard and other sounds) and Jeral Benjamin (viola). From Raftery we get a voice reminiscent of Elliott Smith, combined with the finger-picking of Nick Drake. As you can imagine, the end result borders on dismal, or what the duo refers to as "odes to longing and loss." Multi-layered harmonies mixed in with strings and keyboards create a wall of sound that enhances the all-encompassing sound of this drumless neo-gothic folk. And Raftery is quite the storyteller, which is part of what breaks your heart, because it often sounds as though he is speaking directly to you. It's a little difficult to take in large doses, since the down-trodden feeling you get from hearing it will put you in tears or curled up in the fetal position. In small doses though, it is lush and lovely, and if you're into lying around and feeling sorry for yourself, let the entire thing play through - Eddie Fournier

"Boston's Weekly Dig"

It would appear, from listening to this disc, that Rat's got a few problems, and with a nickname like Rat, where do you start? Sometimes it's just best to take your ol' friend the geetar and work out a few of those problems on your own, in your living room, by yourself. And that's where this story begins. Producer/violist Jeral Benjamin caught wind of Rat's (a.k.a. James Raftery) late night living room rants and put the boy in the studio where he belonged. Dizzy on Daddy consists of 32-layered tracks of guitar, vocals, found-sound percussion (no drums) and viola...but mostly vocals. Rat Wakes Red blends neo-gothic-folk with modern 21st century recording to produce a sublime sonic sedation of melodies. I say folk because I guess that's what you're supposed to call a singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar, but in the case of Rat Wakes Red with James' layered harmonies and dark gothic overtones, the word folk just does not hit the mark. I just can't say the word folk without thinking about hippies and coffee shops and I don't think Rat would feel comfortable hanging out with or in either of the aforementioned. While many of the songs drift by like unpracticed prose, others pull together with pop practicality. Rat stays true to the fundamentals of music, which is storytelling, when he sings, "And my mind is breaking over your headbirth and hover." Although I have no idea what he's singing about, I'm sucked in nonetheless. - Graham Wilson


It is autumn, the leaves are falling, the nights becomes darker. Rainy and windy weather tells us that winter is on his way. The smell of summer is still in the air, but the winter still has to come before summer will return. Rat Wakes Red makes music for autumn evenings. Outside it is cold and windy. Inside we have the music to warm our body, but not our inner-self. Still we feel lonely, depressed and prisoned. Rat Wakes red is James Raftery (vocals, guitar, keyboard and sounds) with Jeral Benjamin (viola). James combines the voice of Elliott Smith, the fingerpicking guitar of Nick Drake with the depressed gothic feeling of In Gowan Ring. Gentle melodic listening music which strikes for the multilayered harmonics. But the production is a little bit to full. They gave us no rest at all: violin, guitar, keyboards and mostly the voice transcend to a pathetic smoothness. Somewhere in the bio we can read: "Jeral first heard Rat Wakes Red as a condenser-miked one-track cheapie made in James' living room. She's been hooked ever since". I think I would like Rat Wakes Red also more in that way.
- L'Entrepôt

"Splendid Ezine"

I only feel somewhat sorry for the record shop clerk who must figure out where to shelve Rat Wakes Red's Dizzy on Daddy after a few in-store plays. I say somewhat because Rat Wakes Red's Dizzy on Daddy is a soothing yet deceptively simple poetic piece. It's easy on the ears but proves to be an eyebrow furrowing genre-classification challenge: is it indie acoustic or postmodern acoustic experimentation? Four years in the making, Dizzy on Daddy employs James Raftery's voice accompanied by tings and pings of found objects, and Jeral Benjamin's string section joins in to enact the characteristics of chamber music. Raftery's harmonious vocals and musical arrangements resemble the placidity of a deep stream flowing along its course while the lyrics are like the eerie, honest confessional murmurs of the lost lives which rest on the stream's bottom. The cascading chorus of the pill-poppers ode "Ecstacy," and the generic zombie film keyboards which form the foundation of Rat Wakes Red's version of Belly's "Silverfish" pay homage to the likes of Kristin Hersh, Kate Bush and Leonard Cohen, who also make pain and loss the cornerstone of their musical melodramas. - Deirdre Devers

"Sentimentalist, Issue 26, Fall 2007"

Though their new release Energy Garage will be nearly out when this issue hits, it's always worth going back and exploring a band's previous release. Horizon Drops combines shimmering 4AD, Throwing Muses inspired moments with chunky bass-fueled sounds. Songs like "Weekend" stand out with hooks, smooth vocals and off-kilter phrasing reminiscent of bands like Autolux, which is always a plus. Rat Wakes Red's approach is a fragile balance between cocksure and vulnerable, drawing you in immediately. Songwriter James Raftery has a knack for switching between intensity ("Spider") and sublime introspection ("Lovely Invalid") with the greatest of ease, making for a dynamic listen. - Cleo


Energy Garage ep/dvd-RD004 CD/DVD
Horizon Drops- RD003/CD
Weekend EP- RD002/CD
Dizzy on Daddy- RD001/CD



Rat Wakes Red "Acres" makes Jack Rabid's Top Ten in The Big Takeover Magazine online edition for September 5, 2010. We're honored to be in such illustrious company!

From Magnet Magazine's MP3 At 3PM, Sept. 8, 2010:

"Rat Wakes Red is the musical project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist James Raftery, who also happened to star in 1993 cult-film Night Owl. The creepy and moody sound he creates is very fitting for someone who once played a murderous vampire. Just take a listen to “Always” and “I Heart” below, which showcases Raftery’s brooding voice while producer Jeral Benjamin’s viola adds a dark ambiance. The two tracks are off Rat Wakes Red’s fifth release, Acres, which is out now via Rat Disk."

About "Acres":

Rat Wakes Red is in a constant state of mourning and wonder. "Acres", the new LP, would suggest a prolonged elegy to the dead and awakening. It is a spectacle of simple sounds: piano, acoustic guitar, synths, organ, strings, woodwinds, drums, tin whistle and many, many voices. James Raftery sings, plays, plucks and blows. Jeral Benjamin returns to produce and provide violas while woodwind stars chime in to emboss the layered lather. Matt Raftery adds the needed kick from his drums while Hannah Fury lends her voice to “Always”. The ensuing song service is sung from the heavens inside, like an internal choir and orchestra. It comes from loss, change, death, and new beginnings. A slow burn of sad, beautiful dark nights of the soul.


“Acoustic folk guitar and viola, with a whispery, troubled voice? Yes please! Rat Wakes Red is a strange moniker for such an exquisite murmur…”, so wrote Jack Rabid in The Big Takeover upon hearing Rat Wakes Red’s debut album Dizzy on Daddy, a lush, romantic, edgy song cycle of heartache and yearning. Rat Wakes Red began as James Raftery creating songs in late night living room light. Odes to longing and loss found their way to producer Jeral Benjamin and together with 32 tracks and a spare lineup of James on acoustic guitar, voice, found sound percussion and Jeral's multi-tracked viola they created Dizzy on Daddy, a sad and sweet wall of sound. Rabid continued “Each time Raftery hits one of his bass strings, it slips into a slice of Jeral Benjamin's hovering viola, and the air is like leaves falling on a fall day.” Rat Wakes Red followed up with a second full-length release Horizon Drops. Electric guitar, keys, drums, and bass provide the flipside to the previous acoustic rush. The songs are louder, faster and rock, with James' voice returning in harmonic hooks and cryptic choruses. From the Sentimentalist Magazine, "Horizon Drops combines shimmering 4AD, Throwing Muses inspired moments…”. Rat Wakes Red’s most recent release is the ep/dvd, Energy Garage. The songs and music video are spacey acoustic folk, pop with sweeping strings, and quirky rock. The Ectophiles’ Guide declared it “…a folksy and intriguing EP, only four songs but they really hit the mark”. Radio quickly took notice of Rat Wakes Red with Dizzy on Daddy and Horizon Drops charting CMJ and AAA Top 30. Rat Wakes Red has played live shows from New York City to Toronto and has opened for such artists as Bob Mould, Hayden, and Sloan.