“It was 90% natural and 10% conscious,” explains Ben Runyan, one half of Philadelphia’s electro surf pop duo CITY RAIN, about their songwriting prowess. “90% natural in that we love dance music, play it live, and that is our natural way to do things. 10% conscious in that we still have ‘chiller’ more ‘band’-based music that we love to make.” If their new EP WATCH OUT (independent; release date: April 17, 2012) is any indication, the sum of those fractions equals a very unified, singular vision that’s truly unique.
The follow-up to last Fall’s critically-hailed I’m Gone EP, Watch Out finds Ben and his bandmate Jarrett Zerrer on a slightly different and more organic trajectory. If I’m Gone was the emotional outpouring of a post-breakup blues, Watch Out is the sound of moving on and getting back on track. “This is who we are and where we are going,” Ben says confidently. “There is NO doubt to that. This form of City Rain is here to stay.”
Finding that their groove was more exciting in the sunnier registers, Watch Out is the sound of a band who has found their voice and is excited about it. Kicking off where they started, the title track is the final song on the I’m Gone EP, the cohesive thread that binds the two EPs together. A combustive track with a killer bass beat, it’s hearkens to the synthpop of yore (Depeche Mode, New Order, Yazoo) while adding fastidiously modern electronics that embodies the direction the band is headed. “Taken literally, ‘Watch Out’ is simply about a relationship you are in where you don’t feel challenged enough,” Ben explains. “But the song for us has really grown to be a message about our splash onto and into the music scene. We really feel like this EP is our tour de force awakening into the music industry. So you better ‘watch out’!” From the midnight dance beats of “Can’t Rain All the Time” (“a nod to the movie The Crow, it serves as a release for all the hard times we went through during our development as a band and as adults”) to the swirling propulsiveness of “Don’t Stay Inside” (“We wrote this at the high of our insanity in the long search to find ourselves. We went out after writing the track in a full-on winter blizzard, with a bottle of wine and went sledding”) to the instrumental live favorite “Wife With a Knife” that inspires manic mayhem on the dance floor, the Watch Out EP is a nonstop assault of dance beats and catharsis. The jittery electropop of “Building Blocks” stands as the band’s personal favorite song on the EP. “It has the best message possible,” he says. “It’s about how far we’ve come, the pieces we are putting in place to hopefully succeed in music and in life. The end part with the dropped beats sucks back and forth and really represents the agony and release of emotions that have preceeded where we are now.” The EP ends with a killer remix of the title track by Chandler Coleman, a high school classmate of Ben’s who “has a massive hand at trance and electro house and this was an impressive mix from him. I was delighted when I heard it.”
Watch Out EP Art
Click for hi-res
Their latest single “Real Good” (from the I’m Gone EP) was recently released and the video was selected by AOL SPINNER for “Video of the Day.” Starring the people and places that make up the Northeast end of Philadelphia, the video served as a loveletter to their home city, a strikingly honest and genuine statement that the good and bad coexists peacefully in the city’s complicated streets.
A textural capsule that is at once thematically poignant and undeniably catchy, the Watch Out EP combines the emotional yet danceable impact of The Postal Service, New Order, Cults, and a less hormonal Kids of 88 with a surprising surf guitar twist that adds a fascinatingly fresh dimension. Blending surf, New Wave, funk and electro, City Rain was hailed by Deli Magazine as “Band of the Month“ and has received adulation and spins on influential AAA station WXPN 88.5FM. Named after the “cleansing and cathartic electric smell after it rains in the city,” City Rain is ready to undergo a similar rebirth – from one of Philadelphia’s best kept secrets to a formidable national electronic band. Having supported such buzz-heavy bands as The Dears, School Of Seven Bells, Telefon Tel Aviv, East Hundred and fellow Reybee roster mates Hank & Cupcakes, their buzz is beginning to resonate quite loudly outside of their hometown.
CITY RAIN is Ben Runyan (vocals, keys, production) and Jarrett Zerrer (vocals, guitar).
| Apr 2 – Tigerbeats @ Barbary (Philadelphia, PA)
Apr 13 – Brighton Bar (Long Branch, NJ)
Apr 27 – HMAC (Harrisburg, PA)
Apr. 28 – Arlene’s Grocery (New York, NY)