Hur­ray for the Riff Raff

The Washington Post - - MUSIC - — Julyssa Lopez

Show: With Ron Gallo on Sun­day at 9:30 Club. Doors open at 7 p.m. 202-265-0930. $20.

When Hur­ray for the Riff Raff put to­gether their most re­cent stu­dio ef­fort, “The Nav­i­ga­tor,” they didn’t just make a con­cept al­bum. They built — and promptly de­stroyed — an en­tire city that looks and sounds like a New York that has fi­nally suc­cumbed to gen­tri­fi­ca­tion. In this in­vented me­trop­o­lis, sky­rock­et­ing rents have blud­geoned lo­cals into hope­less­ness, leav­ing them dis­placed and dis­pos­sessed.

The al­bum’s dystopian nar­ra­tive re­volves around Navita Mi­la­gros Ne­grón, a fic­ti­tious girl who jumps at the chance to leave home, only to re­turn and re­al­ize that her com­mu­nity has dis­ap­peared for­ever. Navita func­tions as a proxy for Hur­ray for the Riff Raff’s front­woman, Alynda Lee Se­garra, her­self an am­bling, Bronx-born wan­derer. She criss­crossed the coun­try, set­tling in New Or­leans and Nashville be­fore grow­ing home­sick for her New York and Puerto Ri­can roots.

On “The Nav­i­ga­tor,” Se­garra is not just re­con­nect­ing with the places she’s left be­hind; she’s also pre­serv­ing and de­fend­ing her Nuy­or­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and cul­ture. Se­garra, whose folksy tal­ents are of a solemn Patti Smith va­ri­ety, ex­per­i­ments with sounds of the Puerto Ri­can di­as­pora here, bran­dish­ing con­gas and bomba rhythms like weapons against era­sure. The re­sult is a style of eclec­tic Amer­i­cana that re­flects the coun­try in all its mul­ti­tudes.


Alynda Lee Se­garra is bring­ing her lat­est al­bum’s main char­ac­ter, a girl named Navita who’s ex­plor­ing her Latina her­itage, like Se­garra, to the 9:30 Club.

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