RACKETS is a new L.A. trio that began as the solo project of third-generation songwriter Harrison Kipner and grew to include childhood pal Dane Sandborg and Aaron Westine. Theirs is the sound of sunny (but sneaky-smart) California pop-rock that often eschews traditional song structures while sacrificing nothing in melody.
The band’s new single “Ooh Aah” provides the perfect introduction, starting with Kipner’s titular exclamations, delivered in a gushing falsetto. It sounds like power-pop candy, sure, but there’s a not-so-subtle thread in the song about the public’s duplicitous relationship with celebrities.
“‘Ooh Aah’ is a quirky social commentary about the irony of our obsession with fame and our disrespect of famous people themselves,” Kipner says. “Whether we love them or hate them, if you see someone like Kanye West or Ed Sheeran, you really can’t help but have a reaction, but in private we talk about them like they aren’t human, especially online. We find comfort in our own anonymity yet most of us still yearn for the opposite.”
The tune is the lead track on RACKETS’ forthcoming full-length, “Red Flag Days” (coming later this year). It was recorded over three days at Apogee Studios in Santa Monica and mixed by noted producer-engineer Bob Clearmountain, who lends this endorsement: “The songs are fantastic, completely unique and original but somehow satisfyingly familiar at the same time. Harrison has an extremely unusual and fun style.”
It’s a style Kipner has honed through his solo work after taking up songwriting in college. His late grandfather Nat was the songwriter who penned the 1978 No. 1 song “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” among many others, and worked as a producer with the Bee Gees. Kipner’s Grammy-nominated father Steve co-wrote Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical,” as well as songs for the likes of Chicago, Christina Aguilera, Joe Cocker, Cher and Natasha Bedingfield. The young Kipner had an album’s worth of tunes written when he reconnected with his old friends. “I saw them just slaying at these dingy bars and their hair was so good,” he says. “I felt like I had to go home and practice for 10 years.”
RACKETS was born after Sandborg and Westine agreed to play with Kipner. “They were so kind to offer to play a few shows that I thought the least I could do is bring Erewhon stacks and have a crazy jam for an hour before we get into learning my songs,” Kipner says. The energy has carried over to not only the album but the trio’s live shows.
||| Stream: “Ooh Aah”
||| Also: Watch the video for the song, directed by George Mays