March 2, 2013

EP: R.L. Kelly - Life's a Bummer

Rachel Levy's solo project offers six hauntingly beautiful songs. 

The first time I heard R.L. Kelly was on former Monday Mix creator Sam Ray's blog, 420 Love Songs, and was instantly taken by the song "You're Not the Only Monster From Hell". Not to be confused with R. Kelly, R.L. Kelly is the moniker of Rachel Levy who has been involved with a variety of music projects (I knew her from her vocals on Happy Trendy songs and Teen Porn, her project with Mat Cothran). Rachel recently released an album titled Life's a Bummer on her bandcamp, which includes the aforementioned track along with five other songs that range from the plucking minimalist cover of Alex G's "Change" to the dreamy instrumental "I Had a Dream Last Night".

Life's a Bummer could be one of my favorite albums I've heard in a long time (I know I write that a lot but I really mean it). Each song is uniquely beautiful and sounds like nothing else I've heard before. It's an incredibly personal piece of work that explores internal darkness but also offers a strange sense of comfort – Diana described it as making her feel both really sad and really happy at the same time. Honestly, it's difficult to do this album justice with just a typical review so I asked Rachel to share some of her own thoughts on Life's a Bummer and R.L. Kelly:

"Growing up we had a piano and before I read music I would always sit down at it and play by ear. Nothing was ever that good but I loved to figure out songs and play them. I loved to sing and I sucked at it, but I didn't care. It felt great as hell. I'd usually grab a harmony part to sing onto, or make my own harmonies. super influenced by the beach boys. I've been in a lot of bands but most recently I guess it's been Kiss Kiss Fantastic and a small side stunt with my best friend (Mat Cothran of Coma Cinema) Teen Porn. I play guitar terribly, I play bass terribly, I fuck with synths, I can handle trumpet, I sing kind of.

R.L. Kelly started as just a way to get some real feelings out. When I play in other groups it's mostly just for the fucking fun of it. But I had some deeper feelings and psychotic mind-bending realities that I needed to rid myself of. I decided to make it raw and real, no synths, no midi, just all real instrumentation – recorded fuck-ups and all. I'm all about fuck-ups.  I've never really written something so intimate and open before, so I wasn't sure I'd ever release it. It's scary as fuck but I'm glad it's outta my system and I'm stoked and thankful that some people dig it. Damn."


Download to Life's a Bummer on BANDCAMP

Written by Emily Thompson