BioSelf-confident and ambitious, the Raveonettes entered the garage rock race of the new millennium with a stylish, brassy sound not heard since Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. Sune Rose Wagner (guitar, vocals) and Sharin Foo (bass, vocals) hail from Copenhagen and formed the Raveonettes out of dismay for their homeland's state of music.
Wagner had tried getting a band together during the late '90s, packing his bags for New York City's Hell's Kitchen and later experiencing the small crannies of Las Vegas, west Hollywood, and an island outside of Seattle. His first exposure to pop music was his mother's copy of Bob Dylan's Before the Flood. Bob Dylan became Wagner's musical muse. Bits of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers and the guitar work of Mark Knopfler sunk in later on, but the lovely dissonance of Sonic Youth and the Jesus and Mary Chain motivated Wagner to do music on a professional level. Alas, his stay in America didn't exactly pan out, so Wagner returned to Denmark and connected with Foo, who had been singing in and around hometown clubs. Foo was born and bred on the Beatles and the Velvet Underground, but also found world music to be equally enticing. During a six-month stay in India, Foo studied qawwali music and dhrupad, the most ancient style of Hindustani classical music. Once Foo and Wagner hooked up, the adventures of the Raveonettes began.
The Raveonettes had a set of rules when it came to creating material. These rules consisted of making an album entirely in Bb minor, surrounded by only three chords, and each song had to be less than three minutes long. Ride cymbals were not allowed, either. What came about was a fuzzy, dark, cinematic set of songs collected for the Raveonettes' debut album. Whip It On, which was written on a four-track and drum machine, fused classic garage rumblings with frenzied electronic bits. Whip It On appeared on Crunchy Frog in Europe in summer 2002. In July, the Raveonettes waltzed into N.Y.C.'s CBGB for an American introduction. Producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Joan Armatrading, the Go-Go's) caught the show and signed on to work on the band's first full-length album. A deal with Columbia followed before the year's end, posing the Raveonettes for some quality buzz in the year to come.
The Chain Gang of Love appeared in September 2003. The first single from the album, "That Great Love Sound," became a minor hit, due in part to a creepy video featuring Foo and Wagner dreaming up ways to kill each other. The sessions for their next album began in late 2004, and Wagner cast aside their songwriting and recording rules and almost all traces of guitar distortion, replacing them with classic songcraft and lots of rich reverb on everything. The resulting album, 2005's Pretty in Black, featured guest spots from Suicide's Martin Rev, Ronnie Spector, and the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker. [AMG MacKenzie Wilson]