As the year 2011 was coming to a close, Mauro Remiddi is an artist whose hype was building up into the New Year with EP’s that caught the attention of many music publications. Under the moniker Porcelain Raft, his debut album Strange Weekend has been highly anticipated since late last year, making its release this month one of the more prominent albums of 2012 so far.
Before venturing out on his own, Remiddi was in the British indie-pop band Sunny Day Sets Fire where their music was recorded in a proper studio. But for Porcelain Raft, he looked no further than his bedroom (technically, a New York basement) to record his full-length. For the past couple of years, creating music entitled “bedroom-pop” has been on the rise, with Youth Lagoon’s 2011 debut The Year of Hibernation being the most notable. Some may be turned off to these type of recordings because it is raw and lo-fi in production. But the idea of an artist holed up in his bedroom or basement with only his music creates a sense of intimacy and allows listeners to get a glimpse into personally knowing who that artist is. In the case of Strange Weekend, that personal connection is strong enough to overlook the production style.
“Drifting In and Out” not only makes a good opener, but sets up the experience that the album can create. The Cocteau Twins-esque synths fade in and out blends well with the drowned out percussion and guitar to create a beautiful psychedelic feel. “Shapeless & Gone” nearly lives up to its name as the vocals are heavily drowned out while the acoustic guitar provides a nice shimmer of light through the reverb.
“Is It Too Deep For You” is an example where Remiddi’s vocals are at the forefront of a song rather than blending in the background. The subtle beats help highlight the emotion in his vocals as well as the intense theme of the song. On “Put Me to Sleep,” the bouncy beats and the echoing vocals are hypnotizing to the point where falling asleep while listening to the song is definitely possible – and not in a negative way. The way he utilizes electronic effects and beats to emphasize his vocals is done really well. While some artists may use synth washes and glitches just for the sake of using it, Remiddi uses them as a complement to bring out other aspects in his songs.
Though 2012 is still ripe, album standout “Unless You Speak from the Heart” is easily the catchiest song of the year. The infectious pop tune is a shot of nostalgia that can fit in quite well in the 70s/80s. It’s not hard to find yourself bouncing along to the simple electronic percussion and synth chords while singing along to the catchy-as-hell chorus when you’re walking through your neighborhood.
With Strange Weekend, Porcelain Raft proves that he can easily deliver quality music from a not-so-quality setting. Forget the fact that this album only 35 minutes in length, Remiddi is efficient with his time in that there are no wasted moments in his songs. In each of the 10 tracks, Remiddi uses his instruments to create a setting while his soulful voice acts as the guide to his heartfelt story.
PORCELAIN RAFT TOUR DATES
Jan 24 – Academy, Oxford UK *
Jan 27 – Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ONT ~
Jan 28 – Il Motore, Montreal QC ~
Jan 29 – Paradise Rock Club, Boston MA ~
Jan 31 – Webster Hall, New York NY ~
Feb 01 – Black Cat, Washington DC ~
Feb 03 – Metro, Chicago IL ~
Feb 04 – Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee WI ~
Feb 12 – HMV Next Big Thing at The Garage, London (with Elephant)
Feb 16 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London *
Feb 22 – U&G. Hamburg DE *
Feb 23 – Vega, Copenhagen DK *
Feb 24 – Rockefeller, Oslo NO *
Feb 25 – Berns, Stockholm SE *
Feb 27 – Tavastia, Helsinki FI *
Feb 29 – KB, Malmo SE *
Mar 02 – Introducing Festival, Berlin DE *
Mar 03 – Introducing Festival, Cologne DE *
Mar 04 – Lucerna, Prague CZ *
Mar 05 – Hansa 39, Munich DE *
Mar 06 – Magazini Generali, Milan IT *
Mar 08 – Rockstore, Montpelier FR *
Mar 09 – Razzamatazz, Barcelona ES *
Mar 10 – Riviera, Madrid ES *
Mar 11 – Hard Club, Porto PT *
Mar 12 – Lux, Lisbon PT *
Mar 14 – I.Boat, Bordeaux FR *
Mar 15 – La Cigale, Paris FR *
Mar 16 – Le Grand Mix, Tourcoing FR *
Mar 17 – La Laiterie, Strasbourg FR *
Mar 18 – Les Docks, Lausanne CH *
Apr 02 – Radio Radio, Indianapolis IN^
Apr 03 – Off Broadway, St Louis MO^
Apr 10 – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix AZ^
Apr 11 – Porter’s Pub, San Diego CA^
Apr 12 – Troubadour, Los Angeles CA^
Apr 13 – The Independent, San Francisco CA^
Apr 14 – Harlow’s, Sacramento CA^
~With Smith Westerns
^With Youth Lagoon