Mixing indie rock, New York garage rock, and singer/songwriter sensibilities, Randi Russo has drawn comparisons to fellow New Yorkers Patti Smith, the Velvet Underground, and Sonic Youth for her chaotic and pensive songwriting.
Growing up in Long Island, Russo briefly flirted with the violin, piano, and amateur turntable scratching until her early adolescence. Concentrating on visual arts in her teens, she eventually went on to study painting in St. Louis, where she began to fully explore the indie rock, grunge, and punk of the early '90s while working at a college radio station. Purchasing an electric guitar at the age of 19, the left-handed Russo found playing right-handed unsatisfactory, eventually playing left-handed but keeping the instrument strung the same as if it were being played right-handed. This technique created a distinctive form of chording and riffing, and Russo soon formed her first band with a bassist and a percussionist under the guise of Raizel. The trio recorded one single but disbanded in 1996, leaving Russo to hone her craft in relative seclusion until she emerged as a solo artist following her return to New York City in 1999.
After about a year on the solo circuit, Russo formed a band and recorded an admittedly chaotic live EP that captured only their second show with Live at CBGB's 313 Gallery. Following being approached by Olive Juice Records, Russo entered the studio to record her debut, 2001's intensely focused Solar Bipolar. Although it was released at roughly the same time other New York garage-influenced bands were again rising to prominence, Russo and her band stood out from the pack as the vehicle of a tough-minded female singer/songwriter and successfully avoided being categorized as a bandwagon jumper. ~ Matt Fink