The Ries Brothers (ft. Ted Bowne)
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Stocke
No Place I’d Rather Be
No Place I’d Rather Be is available via:
Reggae; Pop; Alternative
13th October, 2017
The album, The View from the Outside, is available via:
THERE are a lot of questions on my mind...
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Stocke
I need answers for. I have been looking around the world of music and am looking/yearning for something to direct me. In terms of jobs; I am seeking something music-based that will allow me the chance to get into London. Until I get there; I am hunting around for new artists to review; sounds that are different and I have not encountered before. The Ries Brothers are not what I would traditionally look at – their sounds are a departure from the type of act I normally investigate. I am a bit late to their music. I was meant to review them last year but, because of the wait and list of artists before them; it has been pushed back to now. That does not really matter. The music they are putting out is fresh and relevant – regardless of when you come to look at it. I want to talk about a track from the brothers but, before then, I will look Florida and music from outside the big areas of the U.S. I will come to look at music whose messages look at self-comfort and finding hope out in the world; young and talented artists who are prodigious and already gained acclaim and incredible gigs – despite them being fairly new (a few years or so) in their career. I will also look at artists who play awesome gigs and get their name beyond their local area; where The Ries Brothers go from here; how they will progress this year – variety and sonic range on an album. It has been a while since I have looked at an artist from outside of Florida. It is hard to depart from areas like L.A. and New York. I have become too involved with those parts of the U.S., and so, I wonder what is available in other regions. One might think of Florida and struggle to name many artists from there. Rob Thomas (of Matchbox Twenty) is from Florida but there are some great upcoming acts that are worth a look.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Stocke
Ecostrike and Pull the Plug are two new artists from the state that are getting people talking and showing promise. The latter has the odd demo here and there but it seems this year will be a bigger one for them – as they look to get into the studio and make their Hardcore music a reality. That genre has a lot of competitors in Florida. Put It Aside and Final Say are other acts to watch: their blistering live sets and original take on Hardcore means they will have a very busy year. It is amazing seeing all the great Rock and Hardcore coming through. Florida has a healthy Blues scene and there are terrific Pop artists emerging. Orlando is producing artists like Tiger Fawn, Chandler Strang and Fiona. There is the Laney Jones & the Spirits and Sales; Panther Camp and The Pauses. Jacksonville, where The Ries Brothers hail, has seen some fantastic artists emerge from the area. Lynyrd Skynyrd and Shinedown are from there; Burn Season and Evergreen Terrace; Limp Bizkit and Yellowcard. It is a varied list of artists but it seems the heavier side of the dial is favoured in Florida. There are artists playing every genres but the folk of the state favour things a bit sweatier and harder. The Ries Brothers have a great Rock sound but they are capable of performing softer and more rounded music; colourful and varied sounds – ranging from Folk/Pop meltings and something funky. I will talk about their exposure to bigger stages and other states but it seems the Florida duo are continuing the fine legacy of the state. They have performed a lot of local gigs; played with some like-minded acts; learnt a lot from the music around them. Maybe Florida is not as bustling and productive as California or New York: it does have some incredible artists who are going to get into the international consciousness years from now. The Ries Brothers are among them, for sure. They have come a long way and made changes as they have grown more popular. I feel they will come out of the state before long – not before they play a lot more gigs and show the state why they are such an incredible proposition.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Stocke
I will come back Florida in the conclusion but, before then, I wanted to have a look at The Ries Brothers’ music and why it departs from what I assumed. They are a young duo who, one feels, would play Pop music or something commercial. Their sounds are alluring and complex but there is simplicity and accessibility that means every listener will get something from them. On View from the Outside; the boys talk about isolation and feeling overwhelmed. They want to look at struggle and finding a place in the world. Regardless of what is happening, how talented you are and how far along you are in life – we all struggle with issues of sadness and fitting in. The boys are very young – Kevin Jordan is still a teen – and the guys are looking at their lives and seeing the darker sides come through. They are a successful act; but they still experience heartache and struggles. That might sound weird to an outsider – everyone, I think, assumes musicians are happier than most of us – but there are the same issues and problems inherent. It is inspiring listening to music from young writers that look at deeper topics. They could have gone for something cheap and commercial: instead, they have created an album that looks at self-worth and isolation. That does not mean things are dark and relentlessly strained. The music has plenty of freedom and uplift; there are wonderful moments throughout and each song gets into the head. The sounds range from calmed and reflective to something more strident and knuckled. They began playing local shows in Tampa Bay (where they are from) and were playing to a few hundred people. Things have got bigger for them but they still perform around Florida and have not forgotten where they are from. What amazes me about their music is the maturity and depth you get.
One could forgive some cliché love songs and ordinary vibes: the boys ensure every song gets under the skin and they focus on something more meaningful. The music on their L.P. ranges from Reggae-Rock and mainstream Pop to Blues and Folk; they cross into Rock and Alternative territory – all of these movements are natural and assured. Wherever they go; the boys do not lose any focus and authority. If the music skips and steps into different avenues; the themes do not stray far from the meaningful and important. There are suggestions of love and youth in the album but the most important thing is giving the listener something more meaningful. That sense of meaning is lacking from modern music. We are still hearing too many songs of love; songs whose lyrics are predictable and boring. The Ries Brothers are more concerned with connecting with their audience and ensuring they have someone looking after them. They have been through the mill and faced challenges; their worth and place in life have been tested – throughout it all they remain dogged and determined. The indiscriminate nature of ill fortune and luck means we are all vulnerable to it. Their music provides common sense but there is a carapace and comfort to be found. I will move onto a new subject soon – but it is worth noting how different the young duo is to everything out there. The fact they sound so confident and committed must come from the opportunities they have been afforded. Their talent has got them a long way so far. Few artists get to share the stage with such big and important names. One of the most impressive names on the C.V. of The Ries Brothers is CHICAGO.
The music legends shared the stage with The Ries Brothers for two hours. Allman Brothers’ Butch Trucks is another name they have been alongside; REO Speedwagon and even Sly’s The Family Stone have seen their music fuse alongside the Florida duo. They are merely a few names that they can boast about to their family and friends. They have not got ‘lucky’ and been ‘in the right place at the right time’. Their talent and ability have got them that far; the music they are putting out means they have been able to perform with a varied list of musicians. Their album cross-pollinates and covers a number of genres. I feel it is important, for every artist, to show invention and not be confined to a single source. If The Ries Brothers were all about Rock and representing the ‘typical’ Florida sound, then that would mean their chances would be few. They might get a chance to play with a few bigger acts - but the fact they have played with an eclectic assortment of legends means they are doing things most other acts aren’t. You can hear Funk and move in their sounds – which is why that Sly’s Family Stone gig came about – and the CHICAGO gig, I feel, is because the boys are inspired by the band. You can hear elements of the epic U.S. band in their own music. The young lads are contemporary and modern but they look back to the past and some of the artists they grew up on – and the tastes their parents acquired. It can be quite nervous and pressuring having those high-profile gigs under your belt that soon. They have certainly deserved them but many might feel some cracks will come in. I have seen bands who have shared the bill with big bands before. They have relished the chance but, when it comes to subsequent gigs; they fail to match the giddy heights. The initial glory fades and, before long, those bands are playing smaller shows and unable to rekindle that same stature and wonder.
I am not saying this will happen to The Ries Brothers but they have a wonderful opportunity to learn from these gigs and go forward. It is clear the music world is reacting to them; there is a great vibe coming from Florida – few are immune to their brilliant music. I feel there is a chance for the guys to play other stages in the U.S. and the U.K. They have, as I will mention, played New York. That is a state they could really clean up in. I would be interested to see what sort of reception they could accrue if they played The Big Apple or somewhere like L.A. There are some fantastic mainstream artists out there, I think, would benefit from having The Ries Brothers support them. The bands they have already performed with are older and more established. As the duo are current and fresh; maybe a combination of established and new artists would be a good mix – meaning they could reach new audiences and learn something from legends. I am not sure what form that would take but, I guess, the underlining message is for the guys to get their music as far as they can this year. They will play Florida and local areas but, if they want to get it to national ears; their gigs might have to see them travel further afield. Maybe they already have this cemented but I wonder whether Florida, in the long-run, might be the best state for them. The guys, between them, have studies and family in Florida. They will want to stay there for a bit but I feel New York is a better fit for the boys. They can get further chances to share the stage with big names but, in somewhere like N.Y.C., The Ries Brothers can flourish and hone their music.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Stocke
The fact they have played Arlene’s Grocery means they have been in one of the most venues in New York. That is a space the late Jeff Buckley performed in – it was one of his final gigs. It is a modest spot down in Station St. and one of the finest music venues in New York. It has a rich heritage and legacy. So many incredible musicians have performed at the venue through the years. Not only has Jeff Buckley played (and owned) there; a lot of new artists are cutting their teeth there and getting a great reception. The Ries Brothers have already performed at the venues. Not many can claim they have played Arlene’s Grocery! Not only have they played at Arlene’s Grocery but at another legendary New York institution: Iridium. The performance they put in there was lauded by critics and, with Vini ‘Mad Dog’ Lopez in attendance; many people are still talking about it. Lopez is a founding member of the E Street Band – not someone you would ever turn your nose up at. The guys have played some Florida gigs recently but I know those New York dates will be ringing in their ears. There is something alluring about the bigger cities that means musicians are compelled to lust after them for years. New York is somewhere the guys could thrive in. Maybe it will take a little while to get to that point: they are still relatively new and will want to carve up their local scene as much as they can. Even though their alum is two months old; the music from it is still being played on radio and getting them gig requests. I would like to see them push more towards New York because, I feel, that will see them get into the mainstream. They remind me of another insanely talented duo: The Lemon Twigs. Brian and Michael D’Addario make up the duo. There are other musicians as part of their live sets but, what you here on record, is the chops and voices of the brothers.
They have amazed critics with their genre-fusing sounds and utter confidence. They are really young themselves and, on Do Hollywood, showed they are one of the best new acts around. Charlie and Kevin Jordan have the same sort of spread and audacity as The Lemon Twigs. They recorded their album in St. Petersburg, Florida under the watchful eye of Ted Bowne (of Passafire). He guests on No Place I’d Rather Be and helps make the album a huge success. The only exception was Street Lights – that was recorded in Los Angeles by The Jackie Boyz. That track is more Pop-based and is a departure in terms of their sound. It fits into the album but you notice the production differences. The brothers have been writing for over five years and collaborate with a series of musicians on their L.P. It is an arsenal that, I feel, can see them get into the national spotlight before long. Maybe they can get a shot if they are in Florida: moving to one of the bigger cities would get them where they need to be earlier. L.A. is another option they could explore. Neon Signs’ Jazz sounds; Road Map’s look at growing up and transcending from childhood is an emotional number – they could thrive in the bustle and incredible scene of L.A. I feel they are stronger than most of their local peers. Many of them are too limited and keen to uphold the great Rock/Hardcore sound of the state. The Ries Brothers can do anything they set out to do. This year should be the moment they grab that chance and go as far as they can. With a successful and popular album out there; there will be international ears that want to discover their sounds. I will look at where they might head but, before then, a look at a song I was compelled to write about: the incredible single, No Place I’d Rather Be.
Among the thirteen tracks on View from the Outside is the wonderful No Place I’d Rather Be. It is a song that features the talents of Ted Bowne – although, it is the voices and input from The Ries Brothers than stands out. The song starts with pops and island-vibes. It is a tropical-sounding song that has that Reggae vibe and laid-back attitude. You get the modern production polish but, unlike most mainstream songs; there is not that endless repetitiveness and hollow sound. The sounds build and the mood is crafted and chiselled. The guys ensure the song grows and lets the listener imagine and wonder. You hear the opening notes and are relaxed but intrigued. It is a bright and physical start that gets the eyes bright and the voice ready. Before you slump into the beach-side hammock with a rum in hand – not a cliché view is it?! – you are seduced by the bliss and cool that comes from the guys. Using electronics, simple beats and guitars – one experiences that colourful wash and warm ocean. Your mind is definitely on a beach and, to me, the song puts me in mind of the fading light. Maybe the sun is going down and people are starting to head out for the night. The sun is still hot but the beauty of the night begins to draw in. This all swirls around the brain and, with that force and beauty in the bones; it is hard, for me, not to think of something more sexual and sensual. One’s inhibitions are lost and the mind does wonder. When the vocal kicks in; the sound matches the composition. It is a high-pitched cool-as-hell performance that is soulful and smooth. Our hero is in the van and hitting the road. It seems the need to encounter a fresh destination is on his mind. Maybe me abandonment of love and sex is a little hasty. The drumming hero lets his voice swoon and implore.
He is thinking of a girl and a way of escaping the day. He wants to get away with her and succumb to the moment. I know the song is about, to an extent, isolation and feeling alone but, when you consider the lyrics being laid down; I could not help but imagine two lovers escaping somewhere private. Given the Reggae kick and sunshine-spice of the composition; the vocal is impossibly chocolate-rich and sensualised. No Place I’d Rather Be impresses because it is not trying to follow the huge songs of the mainstream. Rather than go in with phat beats and over-polished production; aimless choruses and something cheap and tacky – the guys take time to create a song that has genuine heart and quality. The beats are a mixed of processed and natural. That combination works wonderfully; the guys throw in electronic sounds and a few piano notes. The song flows constantly and is a sumptuous, rich affair that gets the body winding and grooving. Bowne enters the fray with his vocal – adding a genuine Reggae soul and captivating touch. “We can take a slow ride/in the sunshine” he attests. His vocal is faster and more freewheelin’ than our Florida hero. Instead, against the slowed-down and lover-boy soulfulness sound; here is a vocal that adds urgency and rush. Ted Bowne has many years’ experience and uses all his skills on the track. He fits into the ranks naturally and ensures The Ries Brothers’ single has enough zest and physicality. They are in no small danger of sexuality and oomph. You get that leaking from the speakers and emanating from every note. It is a wonderful brew of smoothness and intent. Our boy wants to release his pains and get involved with the girl. He wants her to himself but it is not only about sex. The hero wants to be happy and find solace with his girl. The song’s chorus brings the sunshine and gets right into the head. It is impossible to ignore it and deny its powers. I was gripped from the first time I heard it: by the n-th time around; I was drugged and hooked for life! No Place I’d Rather Be is a stunning song from the Florida brothers – a standout cut from their album, View from the Outside.
There is a lot to recommend about the Florida duo. I have had the review request in my diary for a while but, with things getting in the way; the chance to fulfil it only came about today. I am glad I have arrived at their feet: they are one of the best new U.S. acts I have encountered. The multi-genre, pioneering music is getting them a lot of love in Florida. I feel the national market calls and, beyond that, they could come to the U.K. I think they would do well here and get a lot of gigs. Their album is already out there but that does not mean they need to wait until the next release before coming out here. They will, I assume, release more singles from the record, and so, that gives them the chance to play them here. We could feature them on our radio stations and get them to the media. I am not sure what their plans are but they might want to think about that in the future. I am impressed by their music and know they are working really hard to get it out there. The only suggestions I would make regard their photos and worldwide ambitions. They are covering a large state (Florida) but, as they grow and broaden their horizons; other parts of the U.S. will a better fit for them. I know they are thinking ahead but I wonder whether they will consider a trip here. I know money and demand will limit what they can do – but getting their music to the press here will create that demand. I am excited to see how far they can go and which U.K. venues they can play. It is all good right now. Another way they can get their names out there is getting their faces out there. There are a few press photos included – I have grabbed a few others from their Facebook – but I would like to see a lot more from them. More professional shoots would give them a better chance of getting featured. It does not need to be anything extravagant and bold: a few local shots that are good-quality and varied would entice writers and win new fans. They have a lot of photos but most of them are live snaps – they are not great quality and not the kind of shots journalists want to use. It is a small thing but something a lot of musicians are overlooking. I know they will rectify this but, in reality, their music is strong enough to see them succeed. View from the Outside is a wonderful album; No Place I’d Rather Be a strong and compelling single. As this year warms up and gets underway; I expect the Florida natives to…
MAKE a gigantic impact!
Follow The Ries Brothers
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Stocke