April 12, 2011

Ravishers – Ravishers

Timber Carnival; 2011

Guest Contributor: Michael Dallas Miller

Hearing good pop music is like…

I remember driving to my grandmother’s house after spending four days hiking through the Redwood Forest with my buddy Brian. She made us lunch. We had eaten nothing but freeze-dried dinners and oatmeal as we hiked 15 miles a day in the rain and the wind. We picked the wrong part of March to visit northern California. On our way back to Seattle, we stopped in Corvallis and had two turkey sandwiches each and an entire bag of potato chips between us. It was the best meal I ever had. Good pop music is like that, like a solid meal after walking through the woods. So, when I say that the self-titled debut album from Portland’s Ravishers is like a turkey sandwich, I mean it in the best possible way.

Hearing sweet, simple pop music is like…

The first girl I ever truly loved loved music. She sang beautifully and played a mean guitar. We made a lot of dinners together; afterward, between watching movies and eating ice cream, we played all the four-chord pop songs we knew. We fell for each other to the sound of simple pop songs with simple themes of good love, easy times, and the clear announcement of absolute truth and beauty. Tunes on Ravishers, like the opener, “I’m Him,” and “The Chase,” often use pounding keys, Jonathon Barker’s precise-yet-dirty guitar work, and Dominic Castillo’s mid-morning mellowness to pronounce, simply and purely, how the world seems to be. And even with melodramatic sentiments like the ones found in “Nobody Falls in Love Anymore” and “Cruel Love,” the world seems to still be full of love and full of great pop bands to tell us about that fullness.

Hearing a great pop album is like…

The Duke University basketball team runs a straight-forward motion offense. They do the same things every kid learns how to do when they are ten-years-old playing in a league at the local recreation center. The Duke players do the basic things well and often: they set screens, cut to the backdoor, flash to the ball, drive, float, post up, and everyone rebounds. And even though all the parts of the offense are recognizable and time-tested, seeing a team like Duke play basketball becomes new, exciting, remarkable and refreshing every time down the court. In the same way, an album like Ravishers has with simple components, old grooves, and a time-tested style. The record flows with the funky “Keep You Around” and the dark, acoustic, pensive “My Thoughts Are Killers,” crafting 45 minutes of pure enjoyment. It’s a truly remarkable thing to hear. Why be the first to do it differently, when you can the best to do it right? Ravishers do it right.

Seeing a good pop band play is like…

With this freshman full-length in the books, Ravishers will hopefully be announcing tour dates outside of the band’s native Portland, OR soon. Keep one ear to the ground–you can keep the other tucked under headphones. Because seeing a good band play live is like watching some part of nature you’ve never seen before suddenly start to move, turn, and groove like it’s been doing so ever since God first filled out the first seven blocks in His Day-Planner. It can be more beautiful than a turkey on wheat, or a well-run fast break. It can also be the best thing to fall in love to.

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