I’ve got a thing for female vocals, especially strong ones, so thank goodness for the album Random Hero by the Los Angeles based rock band Random Ninjas. They’re an amazing gathering of top-notch musicians and a rare female vocalist, Soozana, who never ceases to amaze me with her ability to cut through the rich and powerful rock sound of their music with her gorgeous vocals. Having attended many of their live concerts and felt the ribcage-pounding sound of the three sets of drummers (one set of western drums + two sets of Japanese taiko drums), I was ecstatic when they finished recording their first full-length album last spring. The album was the soundtrack of my sunny summer commutes, and I think I leveled-up my vocal chords belting out the songs alongside Soozana’s killer voice.
More on the album after the jump.
The organizing principle of the album is a video game, revealing some of the group’s geek roots. The songs are arranged under the sections Round 1, Round 2, and Final Round plus one under Bonus Stage. Overall the order of songs follows a crescendo of energy.
The first round starts with playful songs “Midway” and “Covert,” which captures the optimism of choices and new beginnings. “Elsewhere,” a song about loss, is the one that tugs at your heart strings. “Fortune” has a wonderful feel of defiant persistence and is the song in Round 1 that frequents my speakers the most. “Denied” has the dreamiest guitar solo I’ve ever heard.
Round 2 begins with what’s probably this album’s flagship song, also its namesake, “Random Hero.” It’s definitely my favorite on the album, makes me want to pump my fist in the air and yell at racists who won’t admit that they’re prejudiced. The rest of this round is filled with heavy rock songs, and “Black Box” has a guitar solo that literally melts your face.
The Final Round, also filled some serious metal riffs, starts off with a rare recording of Random Ninjas’ signature drum battle which is always the show-stopper whenever they unleash it at live shows. Just check out this recording of their Hollywood House of Blues drum battle and you’ll know what I mean. You can even hear the part where the audio recorder on the camera just gets too overwhelmed by the sound blasting out of all three sets of drums at once.
The last song in Bonus Stage is the perfect denouement, a melancholic tune beautifully executed on piano.
Having this album and being able to take the Random Ninjas music to-go with me is so legen-dairy, but as any live-music aficionado will tell you, it’s really not the same as hearing them in person, especially not this group with their unique line-up that blends modern American with traditional Asian , jazz with pop and rock, and everything in between. The Ninjas are definitely not one of those recording artists that sound great in recording but suck live (*clears throat* Third Eye Blind *cough*).
If anyone’s near Downtown Disney in Anaheim this Sunday, Random Ninjas have an 8pm show at the House of Blues there. I’m rushing over after work to catch them myself because when they get hooked up to a serious professional sound system like HOB’s, it’s like riding the tube on a surfboard—an experience not easily replicated.