Posted on June 15th, 2011 (12:00 pm) by Bradley Hartsell

The Ridges are young and ambitious, and for that, I commend them. In their early twenties, The Ridges are a band from Athens, Ohio, who dress for their promo pictures like characters from Deadwood. Their music is shockingly mature—they don’t sink into folk clichés and backwoods foot-stomping. Instead, they play brooding, baroque folk music. The three piece can pick up anything from a cello to a glockenspiel, and they expertly navigate their way around these instruments.

The Ridges is the inaugural EP for the Ohioans, and hopefully it’s a worthy teaser for a band building something forceful. “The Insomniac’s Song” is darkly inviting, with its interplay between folky, acoustic guitar arpeggios and menacing cello. Victor Rasgaitis’ melody ties well with Talor Smith’s to form a rich harmony, all to reinforce the pent-up melancholy at work. The accordion in “Overboard” reminds one of The Decemberists' “The Mariner’s Revenge Song”, but Rasgaitis smartly avoids retreading on Colin Meloy’s ground and creates something with more folk assurance. Rasgaitis’ voice is a huge asset, which is full of technical proficiency, confidence, and taste.

The biggest bright mark when listening to this band, besides their polished sound, is the variety they display. They seem to already know how to craft an album, with ebbs and flows—not a compilation of songs. On The Ridges, they have their brooding songs, and they have their stompers. My humble constructive criticism for these younglings is they need something, going forward, to establish a definitive personality. Rasgaitis’ lyrics by all means are passable—no head-shaking clichés. But he doesn’t turn a memorable phrase. Not to advocate selfishness--the musicianship is highly appreciated--but I need to feel Rasgaitis is capable of doing something not many others could do. Colin Meloy, while I’m not the biggest Decemberists fan in the world, puts his undeniable stamp on the music with his seminal voice and narrative lyrics. The Ridges are capable of anything they want musically. It’s up to Rasgaitis (and even Smith as a harmonizer) to be the face of The Ridges.

Track List:

1. The Insomniac’s Song
2. Overboard
3. Not a Ghost
4. Invented Love
5. War Bonds

The Ridges: The Ridges
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

75 / 100
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