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IT'S SO EASY

Released August 29, 2017 | Mastered by Jerry Hager @ Blue Bourbon Music

It's So Easy
(D. Olivas)

It's so easy to break
Just about every heart you meet.
When a heart is someone that loves you
Someone that lets you get inside.

It's not hard ...

Breaking everything you see to pieces.
Just like you did, girl, when you said those things to me.
Driving home that night,
I'd done nothing wrong, and
Ever since then the feeling's gone.

When I got back
I didn't watch you pack
I didn't miss you when you left.

I found out
You gotta watch your back
Can't believe a thing you said


You led me on
You knocked me down
I've had enough
Don't hang around

You set me up
You threw me off
You can't believe
It's over but ...

It's so easy
To wait to show what you really are.
By then a heart has given in to you
And is willing to take all you do.


FOLLOWED A BOY

Released January 24, 2017 | Mastered by Jerry Hager @ Blue Bourbon Music

View The RA-6600's "Followed a Boy" lyrics >>


With Followed a Boy, the third in a trilogy of solo EPs, musical duo the RA-6600 illustrates how much gold can be extracted from the emotional minefield we all traverse as we evolve from early teens to young adulthood.

For Daniel Olivas, the lead singer and musical mastermind behind the RA-6600, examining those significant years of development has proven boundlessly inspiring. Olivas and drummer, Mark Medley, have created a stripped-down sound of catchy pop melodies and gritty rhythms that artfully reflect the discovery, joy, and pain that, with any luck, leads to maturity and self-knowledge.

With his gift for melody and catchy arrangements, Olivas writes the songs for the band, then pairs with Medley to record the tunes in Medley's East Nashville garage studio. The formula is simple: a basic track-keyboards and drums-that is a live take, and then the duo adds minimum overdubs.

"With this album, I went back to writing lyrics and melody, an approach I had moved away from on the two earlier EPs, Alien Planet and Indiana Lights," Olivas said. "For the vast majority of my songwriting career, I wrote alone, but for the first two EPs in the trilogy, I collaborated with two lyricists. It was a fantastic experience, but for the third installment, I'd absorbed so many of the stories and themes that it made sense to write all of the songs myself."

The songs and concept for Followed a Boy began to come together after Olivas had a conversation with a teen waitress (and single mother) who poured out her story to him while refreshing his coffee. "I couldn't get her story out of my head," he said of his encounter in a breakfast diner. Other ideas came from phrases and quips from Olivas' elementary-aged daughter. "From those elements, I could see what I wanted to say and how I could wrap the songs into the third EP. When it was time, we recorded the songs in the same way we recorded the other two EPs. I took them to Mark, who is a first-class drummer and deep artist, and we developed what worked best."

This trilogy's songs-17 in all-initially began with what Olivas called a "quantum leap" of inspiration. In 2013, he read poems written by his niece, then 14-year-old Emma Kate Pearson. At the same time, he had become enamored with "girl pop," listening hard to everyone from the Shirelles, the Supremes and more recent pop artists.

Suddenly, a connection materialized between Emma Kate's open-hearted words and the timeless girl-pop melodies circulating in his mind. "Her lyrics were very honest reports about her life," Olivas said. "There was an authenticity to them that an adult, trying to write a song about being a teenager, could never capture. They were about real-time vulnerability, disappointment and being invisible. It matched so closely to my listening experience that I could see how to write a sort of teen opera with her lyrics. It was the first time I had ever written songs with someone else's words, and it was liberating and wildly inspiring."

The resulting album, Alien Planet, was recorded in a fury. With Olivas on keyboards and Medley on drums, the duo set up in Medley's garage studio and recorded the songs using one condenser mic and making one overdub, doubling the vocals, using the on-board mic on a MacBook. Released in November 2015, Olivas suggested the album sounded like "late-night spinning around the AM dial, and emerging from the white noise, these songs, recorded this way, like transmissions from an alien planet."

The album quickly drew rave reviews. "This music should be the soundtrack to an indie film about learning love and absorbing loss, the hopeful act of swallowing pain like some sort of alternative medicine that will heal from the inside out," commented San Antonio writer, Tia Palsole. The CrossRadar musical blog compared the music with "the wonky piano pop stable that holds bands such as Ben Folds Five and Grandaddy, with a sunny sense of fun and lo-fi slacker carelessness." And SleepingBagStudios observed, "The RA-6600 come out winning big-time with a sound this authentic and honest . . . this is an absolutely addicting hook, style, delivery & sound - this is delicious!"

Olivas continued tracing the path from innocence to experience with 2016's Indiana Lights-released, like the other EPs, on Hembot Records. This time, Olivas recruited one of his favorite lyricists, his Boomgates partner Doug Mace, who co-wrote four of the six songs.

"Doug's lyrics are sober," Olivas noted. "The 14-year-old has grown up and gone through the kinds of life experiences we all do. The songs have the perspective of someone in their late 20s or early 30s. There's the realization that we all have limited financial and emotional resources, and the world has revealed itself sometimes to be a brutal place. Everything has become real and your dreams are different now. Doug's lyrics brought this theme to life."

The second EP was recorded much like the first. As Olivas put it: "One mic. Live takes. The timing is internal. Mark and I really get in sync. That's what makes it work. No frills. There are a few more overdubs, doubled vocals and added textures. But it's still very basic."

Followed a Boy continues in that vein. The band overdubbed additional vocals and some textures, but as Olivas said, "We still can play it live and you wouldn't really tell the difference between that and the recording, which is not a given with many records. I credit that to this: the sound of the RA-6600 has an innocence to it because, at its center, it is two people doing something strictly for the love of doing it. That's the gold standard."

Together, the three EPs search through the highs and lows of dealing with how the realization of love and relationships clashes with our fantasies and dreams and desires. That clash takes place within each of us as well as with those to whom we yearn to bond. There's also those moments of truth where, for some, reality can be deeper-sometimes better, sometimes darker-than what we envisioned.

--Michael McCall (2017)

The songs:

Followed A Boy: In late 2015, I met someone who told me about her circumstances and about how she ended up in Nashville after she had tried life in Kentucky, Florida, and Oklahoma. When I asked her about each move from one state to another, her answer was the same, "I followed a boy." I couldn't get that line out of my head, and it drove the whole song. I suppose this one is really journalism, in a way--who, what, when, where, and why--which is not an approach I have often used, but it worked here.

Stay: There used to be a restaurant, Fast Freddies, near my home in Hendersonville, just north of Nashville, which served a great, cheap breakfast. I loved to go there on weekends. One Sunday, my server happened to be a young girl, who was four months pregnant-the working title of this one, by the way, was Five Months to Go and I still have an unused hook for that phrase-and who talked openly to me about her life, which I wrote into "Stay." The details in that song are exactly what she told me. She was seventeen and had just started her senior year. She had had the same boyfriend for two years, and wore a ring on her ring finger, but it wasn't his. She wore a blue "baby boy" rubber bracelet on her wrist, and her parents weren't thrilled about the pregnancy, but she was certain they would be happy once the baby was born. The most memorable thing about our talk was the deadpan way she answered my question about whether the baby was planned: "Obviously, he was not planned." Obviously.

Take a Look Around: This song started with the line, "I really loved your baby blues." I had an idea where it would go, which is not always the case with me, and thought the melody was catchy. Turned out that most of the song fell into place quickly, although I worked for what seemed like forever on the bridge melody. The song travels on the tension between the impulse to dump a cheater and the desire to keep together something you have a lot invested in. That the narrator in this song recalls being seventeen is completely coincidental.

Once Upon a Time: My daughter, Molly, gave me the opening line to this one, "Once upon a time, we were more than friends, that's where this story begins . . . ." The melody came pretty fast, which I can't always say, and those initial words flipped open the pages of memory to a long closed chapter in my life, when I was eighteen, living in Australia, on a year-long exchange program, part of which I traveled across the outback by bus with about a hundred other exchange students. The trip took a full month, and we lived in close quarters, which made the perfect hot house for intense emotions. I fell in love--at least as in love as you can get during an eternity of four weeks--and she returned it, in part, but someone better than me, better in just about every way, caught her eye and she chose him. I couldn't blame her because you can't beat a better mousetrap.

Cool Kids: Another opening line given to by my Molly. My bet is that a lot of people know someone "emotional" like the subject of this song. The verse melody came to me on the first pass, but the descending chorus took me a while to write. For me, writing melodies is baffling because I see no cause and effect relationship between anything I consciously try to do and the actual appearance of a tune. When I can't find a melody, which is most of the time, it seems to me as if I have never written one, and as if I never will write one, but then out one pops, from nowhere, and I've got a song. God bless the pops.


INDIANA LIGHTS

Released July 26, 2016 | Mastered by Jerry Hager @ Blue Bourbon Music

View The RA-6600's "Indiana Lights" Lyrics >>

The RA-6600's Indiana Lights evokes a particular place as well as a particular person. Song-by-song the album paints a portrait of an ambivalent hero who's alternately confused and courageous, uninspired and passionate. It's a narrative about love found and lost, but most importantly Indiana Lights reminds us of how we might find ourselves in our love for another.

The infectious, minor key groove of "Indiana Lights" captures all the magic and melancholy of Midwestern evenings via a kind of postcard from a road trip to the ocean. Olivas's vocal is refracted by reverb - the vintage vibe adds to the nostalgia, and it sounds like the aural equivalent of a house of mirrors. And what else are these kinds of memories, really, than the reflections of actual recall, gilded with youthful embellishment and misdirection, and influenced by the coming-of-age tales we borrow from pop culture to tell our own stories to others and to ourselves. "Indiana Lights" also reminds me of the role that music plays on young summer nights - cars and music, that's the whole shebang. This one rocks in that poppy way the The Clash might, but The RA-6600 are more anxious-sounding in their lean syncopation.

"Indiana Lights" is written by Olivas, while "Hammerhead" is a collaboration between Olivas and his old Boomgates bandmate, Doug Mace - the pair collaborate on four of the album's six tracks. "Hammerhead" finds the backwards-dreaming protagonist of "Indiana Lights" fast-forwarding back from his nostalgic remembrances, and plopped unceremoniously into a miasma of self-loathing and middle-aged doubt:
Stupid like nobody's business.
Wasted all my wasted time.
Much too old to hope for forgiveness.
Spent half my life in a rhyme.

"Hammerhead" is a funny tune about a man who's still half a boy: he claims he tried to make a former lover stay, but also admits that he can't remember much she ever said. He claims to appear normal, but he feels like a fraud, and I'm inclined to believe him. Of course rock 'n' roll is full of Peter Pans in songs and on stages, and this one isn't afraid to call himself an asshole or at least a hammerhead.

If this album was a stage play or a film then "Walk Into Thin Air" would be the anthem that announces the second act: our daydreaming Peter Pan is an unlikely hero, but this song reveals that there is someone for whom he will literally do the impossible. Olivas's booming chords and edgy vocal combine to recall "Instant Karma"-era John Lennon before his felt falsetto lifts this redemptive, romantic declaration into Madman Across the Water territory. Here our Peter Pan reveals how courageous he can be when he's inspired to love:

I'm reaching for the sky
You're the reason why

Indiana Lights isn't afraid of a bit of nostalgia or a bit of black humor or a bit of bombast, but it's ultimately an adult record in the best sense of the word. If "Indiana Lights" is a remembrance, "Hammerhead" is a rude awakening, and "Walk Into Thin Air" is our hero's anthem, then "Out 'til All Hours" is this record's second return to realism, indicating that the muse of the third song is also the troubled personality in the fourth. This is a simple and lovely ballad about steadfast faithfulness, but it's also complicated and dark in a way that songs of teenage love can never really be.

This same aesthetic is reflected in the album's recording and arrangement: Olivas and Medley offer only vocals, piano and drums, but the sometimes-complex changes, and imaginative vocal layering often result in expressions that sound like more than the sum of their parts. Like the relationships and the people that inhabit these recordings, these tracks sound both deceptively simple as well as surprisingly complicated. The lo-fi recordings keep their prettiest changes and parts sounding edgy and immediate, adding intimacy where more formal recordings might feel too sparse and lacking.

But before this tuneful tale can get too mired in melancholy, "I'll Be There For You" sounds like our troubled heroine reassuring our anxious hero that despite her darker moods and sometimes erratic behaviors she's a passionate partner who can be trusted and depended upon. Mark Medley's slamming snare drives home her insistent declaration with the affirmative repetition of a vow restated and redoubled.

It's only appropriate for a collection of songs balanced between soft memories, hard realities, bright fantasies and dark actualities to end on an ambiguous note, and "Running Away" is poised precariously between hopeful wish-making and hopeless fantasizing. This is as close as Olivas will ever get to Lou Reed or even Eminem, and his talk/singing here gives way to the "...runaway, runaway, runaway, runaway..." chorus which recalls "Under Pressure" with its repetitive "Oh oh's" and lilting falsetto calls for "dreams of Paradise."

- Joe Nolan (2016)
For more Joe Nolan visit joenolan.com


ALIEN PLANET

Released November 10, 2015 | Mastered by Jerry Hager @ Blue Bourbon Music

View The RA-6600's "Alien Planet" Lyrics >>

Recorded in a detached garage in East Nashville, captured by one condenser mic, with one overdub, the lead voice sung into the onboard mic of a 2009 Macbook, Alien Planet is an organic flight of six short and emphatic songs, an operetta of pain and regret interwoven with searching and discovering that culminates in a fragile trembling strength. This music should be the soundtrack to an indie film about learning love and absorbing loss, the hopeful act of swallowing pain like some sort of alternative medicine that will heal from the inside out.

Drawing the lyrics from the poems of then 14-year-old Emma Kate Pearson, The RA-6600's singer-songwriter Daniel Olivas has created something fresh and unheard. He likens the process to imagery of "late night spinning around the AM dial, and emerging from the white noise, these songs, recorded this way, like transmissions from an alien planet." And there is an otherworldly feel to Olivas's voice as it trembles, slides, soars and whispers. He goes from staccato mini raps to sweet elevated melodies to emphatic vocal statements. It should be incongruous, this melding of a 14-year-old girl's pain and awareness with the voice of a grown man. Conceptually, it's a puzzle. It shouldn't work, but it does. Maybe Olivas was an adolescent girl in a previous life. Maybe Pearson has an old soul. Or maybe the combination of Pearson and Olivas is an alchemy that turns her words and his music into something that doesn't wholly belong to either of them, something that is an echo from some other universe.

The deceptively dreamy and upbeat opener, "What's Life?" blends hints of the Mersey beat of rock's adolescence with the reverbing sound of a garage band to soften the blunt kick-to-the-gut of rejection and invisibility. In "You're Not Sorry," after the lovely rise of the opening riff, there's a prescient understanding of disappointment, an indictment of empty promises and meaningless apologies, sung in a voice that communicates a growing power in its delicate falsetto swoops. You can't get much more wearily philosophical in a used-up way than "For a while I could almost see the light, looking through the hole in the notch on your belt." In "Play Thing," we hear a melodic recognition of how it is to feel used, a flowing, rhythmic resonance that is jarred by the growing anger that builds -- with Mark Medley's stomping drum -- to the dissonant mantra of "I don't want to be your play thing". The RA-6600 takes a completely different turn in "Gone Forever." Disjointed and infectious, it tilts hyper but not frantic, blurry but not obscure, like an ever-accelerating heartbeat - the perfect coalescence of jumbled regret and recognition of truth. Olivas plays his voice in ways both percussive and flutelike; it's a perfect blend. With "Maybe Not," the musical twists and stutters punctuate the words of an old soul in a new hurt, the vocals alternately soaring and stumbling to earth. The EP ends with "Can't Change for You," where the band's hefty chords and vocal theatricality weave in an off-kilter journey -- both dreamy and insistent -- through the emotions of someone staking out her worth.

No one makes music like The RA-6600. It defies genre and pays homage to those who came before while it seeks and finds new levels. Listen once - it won't be what you expect. You will want to listen again and again, each time hearing a nuance you missed the times before. Let it simmer in you and go back to it. Each time you listen, you hear freshness, newness, rawness. You hear realness wrapped in the mist of something like a dream.

- Tia Palsole, San Antonio, TX (2015)

View The RA-6600's "Alien Planet" Lyrics >>


SELF-TITLED DEBUT

Released May 26, 2015



Named for a high wattage 1970s eight-track stereo, The RA-6600 is an all-original vocal duo with piano and drums. It combines the pop melodies of Daniel Olivas and the punk abandon of Mark Medley to create "lo-fi pop bursts" not unlike AM radio of the mid-twentieth century. The songs are instantly accessible and under two-minutes-fifty. In 2012 an eponymous debut EP The RA-6600 was recorded live to analog tape and released on Popnami Records. With a combination of catchy, well-crafted songs, stylish aesthetic, and dynamic two-man live performances, The RA-6600 have attracted public and critical acclaim.

Longtime members of the Nashville music scene, Olivas and Medley met for the first time in 2010. Veterans of all kinds of bands (rock & roll, country, hardcore, swing, pop, rockabilly, singer/songwriter, et. al.) they wanted to do something different by making as much noise possible with just piano, drums, and vocals. Instantly they realized they were onto something special. According to Mark, "At the first meeting Daniel unveiled songs like 'Nonversation' and as I played along it worked so well we laughed 'til we cried." From this initial all smiles session a prolific do-it-yourself partnership formed with a repertoire of dozens of original songs.

Several months later they joined forces with Michael Godsey, an old friend who had just formed Popnami Records in Shanghai, PRC. The RA-6600 EP was originally intended to be an iTunes only release, but was soon expanded into a fullblown CD project. Songs were recorded live at Fry Pharmacy, a vintage recording studio in Old Hickory, Tennessee and digitally mastered by Godsey in Shanghai. Shockingly, as he completed work on the record in May 2012, Michael Godsey passed away -- ending plans to market China and leaving the band to finish the record on their own. With its release in July 2012, The RA-6600 marks the beginning of a whole new story.

A love affair with twentieth-century consumer culture is evident in their AM radio, late night TV, pop art aesthetic, but The RA-6600 is beyond simple imitation and nostalgia. Olivas and Medley celebrate the past as a source of inspiration as well as a point of departure for something new, here, and now. The future of The RA-6600 includes more songs, more live performances, more videos, visuals, a singles collection, and a vinyl release. According to Mark Medley, "This thing is the ultimate art project!"

Press

"THE RA-6600 | Life in hindsight. Making musical sense"

- Life on the Red Carpet | Friday, February 10, 2017

Everyone needs to hear this and the life in it. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Followed a Boy Review"

- Sleeping Bag Studios | Thursday, February 09, 2017

The RA-6600 has delivered on their sweet potential & promise with another set of sparkling songs on Followed A Boy (Read more)


"The RA-6600 Album review"

- Noise Shaft | Monday, February 06, 2017

... free spirited glam rock with new found vigor to define the genre ... (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Indiana Lights Album Review"

- Cross Radar | Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The RA-6600 are back and everything is so much the better for it. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Indiana Lights Review"

- Sleeping Bag Studios | Thursday, August 11, 2016

...once again they've proven that every song on their records can truly offer something special and have many unforgettable ideas that highlight their sweeter-than-candy songwriting on the Indiana Lights EP. They sucker me into this syrupy-sweet melodies quickly; but I'm no sucker at all really - these are just damn good songs. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Indiana Lights album review"

- DLH Music Review | Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The sultans of vintage sound have just released their new album 'Indiana Lights.' As you listen to the album from beginning to end, you experience the emotional turbulence of falling in love. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Interview"

- Middle Tennessee Music | Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The RA-6600 talks about influences and inspirations. In this interview, we chat with this East Nashville based group about their newest project, influences, and surviving as indie musicians in this digital age. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | The Listen"

- Boom Boom Chik | Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It's really cool to hear what can be done with just a piano and a drumset. Even though there are only 2 instruments their sound shows more depth than you think. The tunes, form beginning to end, have a whimsical vibe too which keeps you entertained and moving. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Album Review"

- Noise Shaft | Tuesday, December 15, 2015

THE RA-6600 project is giving you superbly crafted buildings block that could be the pillars of seriously iconic/dangerous doom metal akin to that of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and, the reason that this disc is so special, is that we won't likely ever know if Olivas is aware of this potentiality, or, just chose to hide it with clever intention altogether. A definite recommendation. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Album Review"

- Sleeping Bag Studios | Monday, December 07, 2015

The sweet-sounds of The RA-6600 are here to entertain and welcome your ears into another all-new, highly-melodic experience in unique indie-pop/rock. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Alien Planet Album Review"

- Maghine | Wednesday, December 02, 2015

It has a quality of nostalgia, reminding of music made in the 70s and 80s. However it is a combination of late 20th century styles woven into modern music beats. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Alien Planet review"

- VeryCoolTunes | Wednesday, December 02, 2015

It offers a good amount of energy and definitely a distinctive sound! (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | A Unique Piano / Percussion Duo"

- Tilting Windmill | Monday, June 01, 2015

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we're going to be delving into The RA-6600, a unique duo between Daniel Olivas and Mark Medley. There is a particularly interesting dichotomy between the two performers since they've elected a piano and percussion combination for their act, something that isn't typically done. Hey, that's what we said in 1999 when we first say the White Stripes, though. I'm open to a revamping of the duo-concept! (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Review"

- Cross Radar | Sunday, May 31, 2015

Blink or you'll miss it - The RA-6600 speed through their self titled EP with joyous abandon, sprinkling lo-fi fun wherever they go. (Read more)

3.5 out of 5 stars


"The RA-6600 | EP Review"

- Sleeping Bag Studios | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Completely pleasant romp through the purest of pop melodies. Excellent vocals, inspired performance, endearing indie-qualities.. you can't ask for much more. (Read more)


"The RA-6600 | Upbeat, positive and little gung-ho, The RA-6600 is a good listen while cruising down the road."

- Indigo Indie | Monday, May 25, 2015

The songs are a mix of pop and rock, with expertly played drums and piano as instruments. (Read more)











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