Rin Tin Tiger - Rin Tin Tiger (Cover Artwork)

Rin Tin Tiger

Rin Tin Tiger (2011)


Many may credit the harmonica as being an outdated instrument in modern music, lying in the musical graveyard between the lap guitar and the oboe. However, San Francisco's Rin Tin Tiger has triumphantly resurrected the ol' pocket piano for their 2011 self-titled release, and the results are nothing short of sublime. Recorded live at The Thrasher Warehouse with additional vocal overdubs provided by Kyle Lesley and mastered by Aaron Hellam (At Our Heels, Troubled Coast) at Castle Ultimate, this folk rock EP is chock full of delicate guitar work and harmonious vocals beautifully meshed and intertwined through great musicianship.

The winding cry of a lonely harmonica kicks off the album in style as it's wake-up call alerting the rest of the instruments; following suit, they form a joyous melodious march in "Ghost Door". As the song picks up, one begins to grasp the alt-folk stylings of Rin Tin Tiger, a semi-conventional mix between Bright Eyes, Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel, garnished with marvelous songwriting and retrospective lyrics. The down-home guitar work and vocals tinged with a slight drawl are sure to make any fan of folk rock, modern or otherwise, tap their toes.

Musically, Rin Tin Tiger represents the purity of a midsummer's day and the emptiness of a cold winter's night–minor and major and up and down are all given out on this album. Peeling away at their musical onion reveals themes of heartbreak, yearning and loss. The insidious tale of an empty soul searching for excitement and dalliance unravels in the mid-tempo floater "Spooky Spider". As the guitar transitions from a cheerful Zeppelin-esque finger-plucking melody, backed by the simple thwack of the snare and haunting angelic vocals, to a melancholic mix of rolling drums, scrambled samples and agonizing vocals, the listener can hear and feel this listless lover's passion and want. A simple beat slowly builds up to an extended sequence of "whoa"s and concludes with guitar work borrowed from Mr. Page himself.

The previous songs' eclectic variances represents Rin Tin Tiger's self-titled as a full. From the upbeat, dynamically charged "Greedy Traveler" to the morose "Sweetest Fruit", Rin Tin Tiger is like that cheese and cracker platter so desired at your company's Christmas party–so many choices and you just want them all. This choice is made exceptionally easier for you as each song is just as savory as the last. While some songs may drag on slightly too long, there is enough action and change occurring to keep a listener's interest peaking for the whole 22 minutes of this semi-traditional indie folk rock album.