Category Archives: Ryan Ricks

Maybe by Jill Read


Donnie and Joe Emerson hyped up the world of private press this past year as their time capsule record, Dreamin’ Wild, resurfaced across independent music blogs throughout America. It’s a record that gets you thinking about music’s limit– if it even has one. Just think about how many records have been recorded since the phonograph took off around the turn of the century? Millions. With this massive broadness, one could ask, “is it even possible to be a true fan of music when it has no limits, no boundaries, no end in sight?” Maybe. Jill Read, a virtually-unknown, late 70’s female singer, released a small number of soul/doo-wop singles in 1977 before going M.I.A. “Maybe” is a nostalgic ballad that would have been all over the radio if it was recorded in the late 50’s. Its malt-shop melody and teenage naiveté revoke mushy first loves and beachside romance. Read’s voice is just as unique as the song’s anachronism, it’s frail and pleading, but strong and pissed off at the same time. The singer’s mysterious background, culturally out of place soulfulness, and reverb drenched guitars blend together to form a beautiful ode to adolescent heartbreak music. “Maybe” is a great reminder of just how big the world of music is and just how mysterious it works.



Another Place by Unknown Relatives


People in bands have a sixth sense – a sort of a supernatural camaraderie that travels throughout the world from musician’s brain to musician’s brain. They’re all connected in sense that they’ve all experienced live and loud musical fusion. It’s an experience shared only by members of the fraternity, it’s a feeling that is absurd in explanation; its definition is like explaining the concept of love to a child. It just happens. “Another Place” by Austin natives, Unknown Relatives, begins with a lonesome guitar line that eventually joins with a wonderfully unkempt set of drums and a dreamy set of hushed vocals. At around the one-minute mark, the song cascades into a noisy garage-rock massage of turbulence, awaking you from the sleepy daze that the lullaby intro lulled you into. But the song’s best aspect is its amateur familiarity. “Another Place” has that feeling – that musical sixth sense – it’s a song born out of DIY, hard-work, and jamming out in a crowded room with your buddies. “Another Place” transcends aesthetic exploitation and falls into it’s own world of smoggy, Ducktails meets Ty Segall brilliance.


His Pain by B.J. The Chicago Kid (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)


“His Pain” opens up with a jazzy isolated piano groove that is quickly drowned out by Kendrick Lamar’s soulful and pious rhyming. The rap titan is as tight with his flow as ever as he speaks of a casual day in the projects: death, cold, domestic abuse, and custody battles. Lamar’s voice is hoarse and vulnerable, cracking occasionally at couplets that are too rough for his smoke filled, cold riddled throat. “His Pain” feels so “Detroit” that it’s unreal. The piano sample, the double bass progression, the seductive saxophone, and B.J. The Chicago Kid’s preachy crooning at the song’s chorus create an impoverished, grandma’s vinyl collection atmosphere– and it works wonderfully. His voice is perfect for the urban ruggedness of the song, it’s not too appealing for the masses but by no means is it crude. Sitting back with a single listen to “His Pain” is like transporting yourself to the old living room of a Detroit slum: an old Marvin Gaye 45 on the turntable, a lone cigarette burning through the room, a Colt 45 sitting on the table near the fire place, relaxing in an old recliner, a distant gunshot or siren in the distance. The combination of B.J. The Chicago Kid and Lamar is one for the history books. The duo has created an entirely unique and refreshing experience to hip-hop: a snowy, Four Brothers-esque trip.


Walk the Moon by DailyDos

Hip-hop has always provided us something great: a story. From Ice Cube’s illustrations of ghetto life to Kid Cudi’s wake n’ bake anecdotes, hip-hop has been subtly infused with aspects of literature. Unfortunately in recent years the genre has seemed to cater to scoring awkward teenage dance parties, with artists tacking on absurd dances to each and every “single”. Luckily, 2012 has seen an enormous rise in great MC’s, boasting wordsmiths like Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, and Big K.R.I.T. On “Walk the Moon,” a stand-out track from the excellent new mixtape, The Drive by hip-hop outfit, DailyDos, rapper Chris Bishop exemplifies just what has awoken the “swagged out” genre from its dance club induced coma. The crisp sample of “This is How We Walk on The Moon” is innovative and soothingly jazzy. The persistent beat softly pummels Bishop’s nostalgic and success driven lyrics like a baby who’s been given boxing gloves. Bishop’s flow is narrow and quick, filled with lines that force smiles, and it is unmistakably determined. “Walk The Moon” will have you using the noun “pimp” as an adjective and will provide incentive to buy Patron instead of Kentucky Deluxe. Hip-hop has always been about the underdog; a narrative of the struggle to success. With The Drive, DailyDos have written the first chapter of their rags to riches story.

The Drive

-Ryan Ricks

Sex by The Slowdown

In the last ten years, the way we listen to and discover music has changed drastically. Radio, record stores, and music-dedicated television have been dropped in exchange for the quick instant gratification of internet music blogging, MP3’s, and YouTube videos.  Whether this rift is a good thing is debatable; but one thing is certain: there is an infinite amount of bands inhabiting the world wide web. Some release a couple of MP3’s that Pitchfork labels as “Best New Music” and strike gold; others are placed on a pedestal of blogger hype only to fizzle out in the months to come. Music blogging is a form of natural selection. “Sex” by The Slowdown is a perfect example of the Darwinistic nature of the internet. Once called Drive Like I Do, then The Big Sleep, and then finally The Slowdown, this Manchester quartet tore up the blogosphere with a pounding, melodramatic series of risque anecdotes simply entitled “Sex.” The song is predictable, cliche, theatrical, and 100% enjoyable. From the trendy clothes and hipster haircuts to the singer’s ridiculous, almost boy-band worthy facial expressions in the song’s music video, one can’t help but to feel that these lads are trying way too damn hard. But as the video rolls on, you slowly start to empathize with the young band, flirting closer and closer to complete admiration. The emotive falsettos and “take-no-shit” back beat eventually wear down all prior premonitions and force sideways head banging, occasional fist pumps, and off pitch bellows of “she has a boyfriend anyway!” Unfortunately, this band has disappeared; their Soundcloud, MySpace, and all other forms of social networking have been taken down and “Sex” appears to be their latest single. What is so great about this song is the fact that it does not care. The Slowdown say what they want to say, look how they want to look, and actually seem to feel their own music, a quality that is rare in today’s coldly hip world. Should we blame technology for these guys’ dissolution? Or should we blame ourselves for getting caught up in musical hedonism? Regardless, “Sex” is a historic landmark in the tragic world of internet hype.

-Ryan Ricks

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Japandroids Celebration Rock Review

Youth is something that is over-romanticized: Dorian Gray cast the physically deteriorating effects of age onto a portrait,  Michael Jackson slept in an oxygen chamber to keep his skin tight and wrinkle-free, and a legendary fountain that restores youth to anyone who drinks from it has cemented its position into common folklore. Simply put, our world has placed a heavy emphasis on “the best days of our lives.” Japandroids’ Celebration Rock, captures the beauty, irresponsibility, and existential persona of that sought after five letter word, “youth.” In 2009, the noisy duo released Post-Nothing, a critically acclaimed lo-fi punk-rock album that burned cigarette shaped  holes of passion into a myriad of teenage tattered jorts. Celebration Rock follows the same hormonal, determined nature of Post-Nothing, but boasts a more confident and wiser demeanor.

The album opens up with a crackle of celebratory fireworks on “The Nights of Wine and Roses.” David Prowse’s pulsating drums give the opener a fist-pumping heartbeat, and Brian King’s beer-goggled lyrics kickoff the youthful existentialism of Celebration Rock. “Fire’s Highway” sounds similar to the band’s most popular song from Post-Nothing, “Young Hearts Spark Fire,” but includes even more background vocal “woh-oh’s” that the band is known for. “Evil’s Sway” continues on with what Japandroids does best: making incredibly noisy, catchy, and chanting lo-fi anthems. The duo’s stab at break-neck rockabilly is intriguing and enduring on “For The Love of Ivy.” If The Cramps were to take cocaine instead of LSD, this would be the result. “Adrenaline Nightshift” includes some of King’s catchiest melodies and takes on a more poignant examination of never-ending nights. “Younger Us,” a single from 2010, deserves all the acclaim it earned; it is an absolute anthem. The first single from Celebration Rock, “The House That Heaven Built,” finds King screaming about a relationship that slipped out of his fingers. The album’s closer, “Continuous Thunder” is by far the saddest song on the album. King revisits a rain-drenched, heartfelt memory with an ex-girlfriend. The song has a very Blink-182 feel to it but does not fall victim to simplicity or cliches. It’s a melancholy but brilliant album closer.

Celebration Rock is exactly what the title suggests: a celebration of the flame-like nature of youth. It is a pounding, distorted album that makes you want to half-chug-half-spill a beer while simultaneously giving your ex-girlfriend a big middle finger. King and Prowse have tried so hard to make a record that is about the apathy of youth that they ironically have created a record that is as ambitious as a young stock-broker. On Celebration Rock, Japandroids have provided an antidote to the seemingly indifferent attitude our universe has toward us: fun. The garage rocking duo finds our inevitable death and age mentally and physically taxing, but never lets that get in the way of having fun.

-Ryan Ricks


In the Beginning by Daughn Gibson

“In the Beginning” by Daughn Gibson: With independent music turning more and more toward sample-based music, a collection of mediocre DJ’s and producers have surfaced, looking to bask in the genre’s rewarding DIY aesthetic. Daughn Gibson’s debut, All Hell is a beautiful attempt at countering the monotonous nature that sample-based music is deteriorating into. Gibson is an eccentric guy, boasting a resume that spans from metal-guitar shredding to chopping up ghoulish country samples. All Hell is a dusty composite of tightly woven samples mashed into Gibson’s western croon that could only be described as the voice of a cowboy’s ghost. “In the Beginning” opens with a precise and pious piano sample and ascends into a collage of airy female vocals, sparse guitar arpeggios, and formulaic, classic song structuring. Gibson’s specific attention to detail, howling baritone, and obvious sampling and quantizing talent is a speeding bullet traveling towards the stagnant heart of sample-based music.

-Ryan Ricks