Razika is cheery. Razika is crisp. Razika is catchy. Razika is Norwegian girl power pop made with two scoops of 2 Tone, rainbow sprinkles of '60s garage, and a cherry of jingle-jangle guitars on top. Yum!
Marie Amdam, Maria Råkil, Marie Moe, and Embla Karidotter Dahleng make up the all-gal quartet from Bergen, Norway. The gals were just girls when they first met at the age of six in the late '90s. They only started playing music six years ago in 2005.
They were fourteen back then, finding their way through their parents' record collections. Early favorites included Avirl Lavigne, Green Day, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols. Then they discovered ska. In a recent Fader interview with Alex Frank, Marie Amdam said she and her band mates like:
The Specials, Madness [and] Norwegian ska bands from the early '80s. Friends of our parents played in this band Program 81 and we named our record after that band.
Razika put their on spin own the title using 91 instead, the year they were all born.
Today in the US, Razika release their debut album Program 91 on Smalltown Supersound. The quartet recorded the 11-track Norwegian + English LP over the course of a year on homework-free nights during high school. They had an opportunity to record earlier, but decided to hold off and finish school first. In that same Fader interview, Amdam said of the recording:
It's great that we can do it at this age, because our manager, he wanted us to release a record when we were 17 and 18. But we actually just said, "No, we don't want to do it yet." We just didn't feel old enough or experienced enough. We wanted to graduate, we wanted to keep practicing, and we wanted to make better songs. To grow.
Some songs would have been without rhyme and reason had the gals recorded earlier, such as "Walk In the Park," about that inevitable languishing first love.
There are five more English tracks, including Razika's rendition of The Pussycats' "Why Have We To Wait." The other five tracks on the album provide the same jingle-jangle guitar, up-tempo, head-bobbing, and finger-tapping, but in Norwegian. Don't speak Norwegian? No worries, you can sing along to the breezy bop ba-dah dah...bop bop ba-dum dum on "Vondt I Hjertet" or surf-y ooooooohh-woah-oooooh...oooohoooa oooh! oh! oh! oh! oh! on "Middelalder."
With very recent and very positive reviews in the New York Times, UK's Uncut, and a 4 pigeons out of 4 pigeons review in UK's The Stool Pigeon, Razika's all the rage with a future that's looking bubbly bright.
The all-gal group has been likened to The Slits and The English Beat. Kjerstin Johnson, web content manager at Bitch, "heard bits of Electrelane's lovesick vocal strains and the astute wistfulness of Marine Girls" while listening to Program 91. Read more of Kjerstin's Razika review in the all-new issue of Bitch, The Red Issue No. 52, coming soon to newsstands and mailboxes.
In the meantime, check out Nytt På Nytt (New on New), on Program 91, set to the ungoing-ons of an empty booth at a diner (uploaded by ceceliaruca on YouTube):
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