Over the course of 12 songs, Ravi Shavi’s new record Blackout Deluxe takes of like a bull out of the gates, hacking away at the essence of what it means to be loud, brash, and true while aging in constructed, over-informed, and overwhelmingly over-protective times.
Blackout Deluxe kicks in the door with a Side A of straightforward rock n’ roll that strikes with a barrage of high-energy, highly-danceable, under-three-minute songs featuring mantras as hip as “I think you’re very radical,” “I am a child, into the wild,” and “I wanna be your mover shaker, meet your maker.” With vibes ranging from “Young Americans” Bowie and “Combat Rock” Clash to just a touch of the swagger and musical/philosophical approach of The Hives, Ravi Shavi takes song writing as a collective efort to not overthink, not overdo, and not overstate.
“I think we’ve avoided over-producing and remained faithful to our live sound because we didn’t believe that adding bells and whistles would actually improve the songs,” says singer Rafay Rashid, “There’s also the sense that one might actually ruin a decent song with too many layers of studio production. With rock and roll, less is usually more.”
Side B continues to ride the energy and spontaneity of Side A with a methodical meandering into social commentary. With authenticity in mind, Ravi Shavi uses their brand of basement-created, basement-produced music to come up against the pitfalls of growing up in the digital age. Humans groomed as brands and pushed to look, act, and be the same with lukewarm conviction, or worse, a conviction rooted in nothing; a generation of people who think like people they think they like.
In the words of Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Is a protest a movement or just something to do on the weekend?
It takes courage to find out.
“How does one behave authentically in the age of neoliberalism?” muses Rashid. “The song ‘Kids’ is about indoctrination. We are socialized as children to think and act in a way that doesn’t necessarily benefit the individual. ‘Courage’ is about the desperation of modern people to create a unique identity in spite of this indoctrination. It’s about standing up in the face of market forces/ mainstream media and marking your individuality. The chanting of ‘Courage!’ over and over again is exhausting and that’s how I think it often feels to young people when they’re trying to find their own voice amidst the cacophony of the herd. ‘On Strike’, similarly, is about bad faith and how that evolves into something even more insidious when collectivization enters the picture. It’s about protesting and not knowing exactly who or what you’re protesting against.”
Blackout Deluxe is an album worthy of playing on repeat. Written, arranged, and recorded in the house the band was living in at the time, the songs have a uniform ascetic that plays only to what each song needs. A verse, chorus, catchy rif, and saying exactly what you need to and nothing more drives this album from start to finish in the best way possible; with foot tapping while sorting through that unchecked existential angst.
Ravi Shavi is Rafay Rashid, Nicholas Politelli, Bryan Fielding, and Nick Iddion, with Ben Tucker featured on the album. Blackout Deluxe is produced and engineered by Jesse McFadden. Their music can be found on Bandcamp, as well as all major steaming platforms such as Spotify, ITunes and Apple Music.