Tag Archives: Hurray for the Riff Raff

The Best Albums of 2017: #20 – 1

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The wait is over. These are the 20 Best Albums of the year.

Last year, the Bandcamp Daily staff put together our first “Best Albums of the Year List,” 100 albums we felt defined 2016 for us. At the time I remember thinking, “This is tough, but it will probably get easier as the years go on.” Now, one year later, I’m realizing that I was wrong. The truth is, the world of Bandcamp is enormous, and it contains artists from all over the world, in every conceivable genre (including a few who exist in genres of their own invention), and at every stage of their career. The fact of the matter is, any list like this is going to fall short because, on Bandcamp, there is always more to discover. Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available. The albums that made this list, though, were the ones that stayed with us long after they were released—the ones we returned to again and again and found their pleasures undimmed, and their songs still rewarding. These are Bandcamp’s Best Albums of 2017.

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Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff on Navigating Identity and Exploring Her Puerto Rican Roots 

Hurray For The Riff Raf

On the first three Hurray for the Riff Raff records, singer-songwriter and frontwoman Alynda Lee Segarra paired a freewheeling take on country and Americana with lyrics that swung from heartsick love songs to rollicking celebrations of community. But on “The Body Electric, ” the stunning centerpiece of 2014’s Small Town Heroes, her approach shifted. Instead of the all-join-hands spirit-rousing of songs like “Look Out Mama” and “Little Black Star,” “The Body Electric” instead is deft subversion of the age-old murder ballad trope. In the song, Segarra sets her source material against itself, creating a cutting critique of the normalization of violence against women in the process. “Tell me what’s a man with a rifle in his hand/ gonna do for a world that’s just dying slow,” she sings, “and tell me what’s a man with a rifle in his hand/ gonna do for his daughter when it’s her turn to go?”

That song topped a number of year-end lists, and gave birth to the Body Electric Fund, which benefits organizations that fight gendered violence. It also made explicit something that had been central to the band since its beginning: their desire to be a voice for those who are often marginalized by society—people of color, LGBTQ folks, and resilient women, like Segarra herself.

Yet despite her mission to give voice to the voiceless, Segarra’s own story seldom surfaced in her lyrics. A teenage runaway from the Bronx who rode freight trains for years and eventually settled in New Orleans, Segarra struggled as a teenager to reconcile herself to her Puerto Rican heritage. Her search for meaning and identity eventually led her right back where she started: in New York, researching Puerto Rican and Nuyorican political and musical history, and grappling with the questions that had haunted her since she was young: Where do I come from? Where do I belong? How can I reclaim my identity and space in the world?

The product of Segarra’s search is The Navigator, a concept record in which Segarra not only reclaims her own history, but also redefines Hurray for the Riff Raff’s sound, breaking it free of its folk-music mooring and incorporating ’70s rock and Latinx musical styles in equal measure.

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The Best Albums of Winter 2017

Best Albums Winter 2017

Welcome to the first of our seasonal round-ups of the best albums on Bandcamp! Every three months, the Bandcamp Daily editorial staff will be combing through the stacks to present our favorite records of the year to date. This inaugural installment of our Quarterly Report also kicks off a new feature on Bandcamp Daily: 7 Essential Releases. Every Friday, we’ll highlight six albums we loved from the previous week, plus one older record you might have missed. And so, without further ado, here are our picks for the Best Albums of the Winter.

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