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Musical nourishment

The Rice Cakes fulfill the 'Need To Feed'
By CHRIS CONTI  |  April 2, 2014

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PUMPED Belisle, Raskin, and Foster. [Photo by Jorge Vieira]

The Rice Cakes are back in a big way, serving up a full-length platter of brand new tunes titled Need To Feed. Casey Belisle, Justin Foster, and Rosalind Raskin are an uber-talented trio whose knack for intrinsically weird, quirky, and catchy melodies dates back to their 2009 debut, The Friend Ship. Five years later, the trio sounds hungrier than ever, and Need To Feed will satisfy the devoted fans as well as music critics who still have no idea just how the hell to characterize this band’s sound. Need To Feed will be available this Friday (the 4th) at the album release show, with the Low Anthem serving as the very special opening act.

“We always have a hard time describing our sound because we haven’t found a genre that fits us yet,” Raskin told me in 2010 following the release of The Friend Ship and just prior to the three-song EP Feel Like Human. The Rice Cakes were voted Best Local Act in our 2010 Music Poll, and by the time the 100-percent DIY Monster Man discdropped in 2011, it was clear the trio had found a niche by completely sidestepping any boundaries. Raskin’s voice cruised over the jazzy, experimental pop and fuzz template, and the rumbling rhythm and impossibly catchy chorus of “Magma” (da-dum, dada-dada, da-dum, da-dum) eventually gained heavy rotation on 95.5 WBRU after the Rice Cakes took the 2012 Rock Hunt crown.

The threesome cashed in the only way they know how — by playing more (and more) shows well outside the region (and scored the ideal road trip sponsorship from Narragansett Beer) and steadily built its fan base, hitting countless clubs and basements shows. Last year the Low Anthem’s Jeff Prystowsky and Ben Knox Miller (who helped Raskin record her first demos when she was 17) invited the Rice Cakes to perform on their locally sourced “Homegrown” stage at the Newport Folk Festival. And they just returned from a successful tour through the south which culminated in a six-show run at SXSW (where they hooked up with fellow PVD greats Atlantic Thrills and Roses for a gig). Raskin and the Cakes won over a few heads along the way, which may explain why their Kickstarter campaign reached its two-month goal of $5000 in one week (and has since climbed over $7K; a full remix album is in the works).

The Rice Cakes spent the past 18 months writing Need To Feed. The album was recorded at the Columbus Theatre with help from co-producers Prystowsky and Knox Miller (it was mastered by go-to studio duo Keith and Seth at Machines With Magnets). Belisle and Foster, who built a studio from scratch for the Monster Man sessions, produced two of the new songs. And, perhaps a sign of just how unique a sound the Rice Cakes kick out, Raskin noted this is the first time the band recorded with electric guitar.

When I stopped by to check out a session at the theatre a few months ago, the band was all smiles — creating and jamming, feeling it on the fly.

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