New band stands out in crowd of mediocrity

There’s nothing more exciting than discovering a new band, or, in my case, being discovered by one.

Last year I wrote an opinion article titled “Where has music’s personality gone?” lamenting the current slump of originality in pop culture. It was disgruntled and moralizing and exactly how I still feel about the current state of things in the musical world. The article received four comments, each one a well-thought out examination of popular music and its relevance in our ever-evolving society of individuals. I had thought that that would be the end of the discussion. But as the much wiser old folks have a tendency to say, nothing ever really ends on the internet.

This last Thursday a mysterious package was waiting for me in my cubby in the newspaper classroom when I arrived for first period. The return address was somewhere in Los Angeles and there were three 86 cent stamps with puffins on them in the top right corner (a good start: puffins are one of my two favorite animals). I was intrigued and opened the package tentatively, as though whatever it was that hid inside held the answers to one of those big questions like “Who am I?” or “Where does life come from?” or “What makes chocolate ice cream taste so delightful?” Unfortunately, my life is not a blockbuster movie and so Gloria Foster did not appear with a pan full of cookies and the secret to the human psyche, but that was only to be expected. Instead I found a folded up letter and a CD case (which I correctly presumed held a CD of some sort). The letter was from the publicist for the student-made EP “Playing Her Guitar Suite” by the virtually newborn band Rip ‘N Time. In a move of marketing brilliance, the band’s publicist, Ms. Emily Woodbind, praised my article then asked if I would be willing to review the EP that was included in the package.

So it is with great honor that I would like to introduce the talented new band Rip ‘N Time to the readers of the MHS Trail, wherever you may be.

The foursome finds its inspiration from the likes of The Beatles, The Byrds, Queen, Smith Westerns, Smithereens and The Bangles and considers itself to be a blend of rock and indie music that is called “Jangle Pop.” The EP consists of three songs, two of which are instrumentals. The title number, “Playing Her Guitar,” strikes me as a combination of Spiritualized’s beautifully layered “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” and Pink Floyd’s guitar-heavy yet unruffled “Any Colour You Like.” The lyrics are inventive but not overwhelming: the listener is less focused on discerning the words and more on just listening. It is a phenomenon that is new to me and I must say I like the effect. The vocals simply feel like another instrument, one that is not missed on the other two tracks because the other instruments are played so skillfully. “Twisting Road” builds on the first song layering with a stronger undercurrent of drums to frame the band’s hallmark of rhythmic guitar playing but swells at the midway mark to keep the songs from sounding too repetitive. The last song, “Suite Dream,” starts off sounding a little too similar to “Playing Her Guitar” and even allows for a hint of the vocals-as-instrument that was such a revelation in the other song.

Overall, the CD is one that I think of as “road trip music,” with the soft crescendos and timeless musicality that work so well as background music for montages of the oscillating American landscape as seen out of a car window.

I think the most telling thing though was the reaction that the CD received when I played it at my friend’s house as we laid on the floor doing homework in the intervals between getting up to pass out candy on Halloween. We played it twice through and not once did her family complain or question our taste in music because it isn’t just some student collaboration to kill time on the weekend. This is music.

The EP will be released to the public on December 23.


An image from the CD booklet, which features a short graphic novel.