Album Review: Rising Sun Orchestra

Rising Sun Orchestra – Self-titled

                I was walking down Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas on the night of May 01, 2014, munching on a slice of cheese pizza and on my way to meet my wife at our car so we could go back to the hotel.  We’d spent the evening between the Mohawk and Red 7 (two downtown Austin music venues) and were ready to call it a night.

                I crossed Red River at 7th Street and was stopped in my tracks by the wall-flattening sound coming out of a place called the Swan Dive.  Someone was blasting some hard stuff in there, and I instantly thought, “Who the hell is THAT?”  I wasn’t sure if the bouncer would let me in with my cheese slice, and I didn’t have much money left for a cover charge.

He let me in, for free, and I got to see the last two minutes of a fiery set by a band from Chile called Rising Sun Orchestra.  They were excited to meet a DJ who was interested in their music and kind enough to give me a copy of their debut, self-titled album.

It opens (after a quirky intro called “Wifi”) with the smashing “Serpiente,” which is full of jangling, tough guitars by Francisco Prieto and drums by Gonzalo Salazar that smack you in the face to make sure you’re paying attention.  It’s a fast, flat-out rock song that turns into a wild psych-prog tune when Jose Tomas Herrera brings in the skronky keyboards.

“Puente” (“Bridge”) has some of Salazar’s snappiest drumming on the record while Prieto seems to be seducing a woman through most of his lyrics.  “Maria Ipalei” could be a Nine Inch Nails tune if Trent Reznor grew up in Chile, but thankfully Rising Sun Orchestra beat him to the punch with the creepy keyboards, tribal drumming, and spooky lyrics.  “Shao,” with its Spanglish lyrics, tricky yet spacey guitar, goes from a catchy hook song that might be about marriage to a crazy psychedelic freak-out about subjects unknown to me, but the tune is insane so who cares about hidden meanings?

“Zorros” (“Foxes”) is a crafty track that goes from almost a reggae feel to something the Police might’ve released on an alternate cut of Regatta De Blanc.  The next track is in two parts – “La Fuerza de Los Dioses” (“The Force of the Gods”) and “Electric Sun System.”  The first part is a love song that would belong in a modern spaghetti western.  The second part is an electro floor-stomper that would belong in any dance club or rock hall.  The final track, “Vibora,” is a fun one, with sizzling guitar and silly to assured vocals from Prieto, wicked drumming from Salazar (who may be the best drummer I have heard in a long while), and more breaking-the-scales fat bass from Herrera.

I might not have discovered this band if I hadn’t bought that cheese slice and had to cross the street and thus be within earshot of the Swan Dive as a result.  So thank you, cheese pizza; and thank you, Rising Sun Orchestra, for this fine record.


Nik Havert is a writer, DJ at WSND 88.9FM University of Notre Dame, harmonica player, martial arts instructor, comic book publisher, crime fighter,music lover, cult movie enthusiast, and modern day Renaissance man. He hopes to shark cage dive sometime in the next few years and enjoys travel and good natural root beer. Visit his web site at

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