From The Desk Of Ra Ra Riot’s Mathieu Santos: The Beatles

Long before Ra Ra Riot performed a single note of its dancetronic third album, Beta Love (Barsuk), the band talked at great length about the need for a change. The viscerally charged chamber-pop outfit had maintained a steady course after the tragic 2007 drowning death of beloved drummer John Pike, blossomed on its 2008 Barsuk full-length debut, The Rhumb Line, and flourished with a variety of subsequent beatkeepers, but everyone felt the inevitable tug of creative evolution after 2010 sophomore album The Orchard. The roles of violinist Rebecca Zeller and guitarist Milo Bonacci changed the most dramatically; with the dominance of the synthesizer on Beta Love, Bonacci was forced to radically reimagine/rewrite his guitar contributions and take on more expansive sonic duties, while Zeller was freed up to explore new approaches with her instrument and the spare strings the band utilized. Bassist Mathieu Santos will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new Ra Ra Riot feature.


Santos: I was apparently on someone’s “nice list” this year, because under my tree on Christmas was the Beatles’ beautiful new Stereo Vinyl Box Set, containing new, remastered pressings of every one of their albums. Talk about a gift with lasting value! The packaging was immaculate, the pressings just about perfect and the music—well, nothing needs to be said about the music. As I revisited all those amazing records, I began simultaneously reviewing some of my favorite Beatles books. There are obviously hundreds of Beatles-related books out there, but for my money, here are the absolute best three, hands-down: Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records And The Sixties, by Ian MacDonald; The Beatles: The Biography, by Bob Spitz; and Beatles Gear: All The Fab Four’s Instruments From Stage To Studio, by Andy Babiuk. Bottom line: Get all the music (don’t forget the fantastic Anthology compilations and the Live At The BBC set!), get these three books, lock yourself away somewhere, and get really deep into it. Like, really deep. And don’t come out until you know every single note to every one of Paul’s bass lines!