Hurray for the Riff Raff

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Alynda Lee Segarra looks inward to her heritage and knocks it out of the park. Segarra, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent, decided to dig into her roots for inspiration. As Segarra was digging into the punk scene on the Lowe East side in her teens and hopping trains before landing in New Orleans in her 20s, her heritage was lost in the wash. As she approached the momentous 3-0, she took a long hard look at where she came from, what she became and in my humble opinion, what can she do to make the world a better place.

To achieve this self-realization, Segarra developed a concept album centered around The Navigator. a/k/a Navita Milagros Negrón, as “this girl who grows up in a city that’s like New York, who’s a street kid, like me when I was little, that has a special place in the history of her people.”

Over the course of the album, Segarra expands her sound without fully severing the tether of the Americana genre where she built her name. I have to admit I wasn’t immediately won over by the lead single, Rican Beach when she released it but it works oh so well on the album. As does everything, it is tough to pick out a highlight as one tune dovetails into another.

That is until, the album culminates in the powerful Pa’lante, a song inspired by a newspaper published by 1970s Puerto Rican activist group, The Young Lords. The song is part protest / part empowerment for a group from yesteryear that sadly rings true today in our current climate. In many ways, her anger and strength on this track reminds me of Killer Mike of Run The Jewels.

Segarra was on Daily Show this past week and it made me appreciate her even more.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

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Following up on their excellent 2015 effort, Small Town Heroes, Hurray for the Riff Raff will release The Navigator via the fine folks at ATO Records. Led by Alynda Segarra, HFTRR has never shied away from voicing their opinions. Based on the subject matter, I’m expecting more of the same on their latest effort.

On Hurray for the Riff Raff’s new album ‘The Navigator’ (March 10/ATO Records), Alynda Segarra tells an interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul at a crossroads of identity and ancestral weight. It finds a street kid named Navita traversing a perpetually burning city in search of herself. ‘The Navigator’ is a thrilling call to arms that could not come at a more crucial time. It also finds Hurray for the Riff Raff at its own musical intersection, delving deep into the worlds of Latin rhythms, searing rock, and incisive ballads.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

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I’ve turned a few people on to Justin Townes Earle over the years. Justin is one of my favorite songwriter and performers, not to mention a tried and true Cubbies fan. Anyway, one of my buddies who’d I turned on to JTE stopped over one day while I was playing Small Town Heroes. We were making small talk when we started talking about the music that was playing when he dropped his bit of knowledge on me – Sounds like JTE if he was a she.

I kind of dismissed it at that time but upon reflection there is a dedication and knowledge of music from yesteryear that connects both. It is easy to see with Justin, as he was born into and grew up around it. But for Alynda Lee Sagarra, the dots aren’t as easy to connect. Sagarra is a 26 y/o native of the Bronx of Puerto Rican descent who now calls New Orleans home. Sagarra cut her teeth listening to doo-wop and Motown from the older folks in her neighborhood. That segued into frequent trips to the Lower East Side {JTE lived there and wrote a song about it) where she was introduced to riot grrrl. From there she hit the open road and after a few stops, found herself in The Big Easy.

From there, Sagarra busked and eventually settled into writing her own music. Another similarity to JTE is her uncanny ability to write timeless music. Her songs are vivid portraits whether it be singing about being homesick for her adopted home on Crash On The Highway or New Orleans’ more violent side in St. Roch’s Blues – inspired by a string of murders in 2011.

Segarra and Hurray for the Riff Raff are well on their way to becoming a force in the Americana and folk arenas. I have been infatuated with this album for well over a month. I’m not alone as she’s been written up by The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice and NPR.

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I’ve spent the last year righting the wrong of ignoring Hurray for the Riff Raff’s last effort, Look Out Mama. They have been giving me ample opportunity with a covers LP called My Dearest Darkest Neighbor and now the first track from their forthcoming LP, Small Town Heroes. Small Town Heroes will be their debut on ATO Records and will see the light of day on Feb. 11th.

NPR has said that Hurray for the Riff Raff “sweeps across eras and genres with grace and grit,” Those bastards are pretty damn smart. I have heard Small Town Heroes and will say without question, it is an amazing album. Get real excited about this one.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

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News on Hurray For The Riff Raff

October 24, 2013

Hurray For The Riff Raff have had a good year. They’ve put out an album of covers called My Dearest Darkest Neighbor, got signed to ATO and had HearYa recognize their error for ignoring their 2011 release, Look Out Mama. Tough to tell what was the most exciting but I am going to guess it […]

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Hurray For The Riff Raff – Look Out Mama [album review]

May 20, 2013

On the first night of SXSW 2013, I made it a point of seeing Spirit Family Reunion. Some time during their set, some members of Hurray For The Riff Raff made their was on to the stage for a real back porch jam session (for the record, they were playing on something that looked like […]

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Hurray for the Riff Raff – Young Blood Blues [Album Review]

May 27, 2010

Hurray for the Riff Raff. You don’t run across band names like that every day. For those of you that have followed our site for some period of time, you’ve probably gathered that I have a real affinity towards any artist that can put pen to paper. Growing up, I purchased tapes/CD’s and, if the […]

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