The Whitt brothers arrived to the music industry at the speed of sound, but they’re here to stay for the long haul. Their Lexington, Kentucky-based american pop-punk project, RAGS AND RICHES formed in 2017, and over the past two years, Tanner and Peyton have worked hard to “[discover] their unique sound, identity, and aesthetic.” The resulting debut single, “Speed of Sound” collected over 650,000 streams on Spotify and over 500,000 views on Youtube less than three months after its February 2019 release.
The brothers’ newest release is their debut EP, Arrival, an upbeat, well-produced record that could entice music lovers from various genres, including fans of groups like Boston Manor, Coldplay, Young the Giant, and Broken Field Runner.
“Arrival” is the first song of the EP, and its title track. With an energetic, optimistic aesthetic, it serves as a positive beginning for a promising record. Unlike many tracks out there, the lyrics are encouraging and positive without being annoyingly didactic. While still acknowledging the difficulties that life can offer, RAGS AND RICHES offers a message that life gets better, and we have to keep moving forward: “We all get down sometimes / Buried in the weight of chaos / The sun shines after the storm / Tomorrow’s not your yesterday.” Twinkling instrumental backing echoes the positivity of the vocals, which are as clear and bright as the guitar tones and steady drum lines. Although the song could use just a bit more in the low end to balance out the lightness, its message rings true, which is the most important part of a track like this. “Arrival” could very well be the song that makes someone’s day just a little better, or even saves their life.
The instrumentals of “X” take us into a darker aesthetic after the brightness of “Arrival.” The intensity of the introduction’s dissonant tones provides a nice contrast to transition the record into a new mood without clashing with the sunny side of the previous track. The darker musical themes continue into the record with well-placed electronic melodies and contrasting vocals. Despite the shadows of sound in the music, the lyrics still tell a story of hard work and hope for the future: “But now it’s my time / To rise up and shine / I’m destined for greatness / Now the stage is set / Every hour has come to this.”
Although many elements of “X” are impressive, the overlapping melodies and placement of transitions are what make this track so spectacular, and my favorite of the record. Rub—the way a song goes against itself in unexpected ways to create a unique listening experience—is a crucial element in tracks like “X,” and much like a finicky ingredient in cooking, it must be present in the perfect amount for the desired effect. “X” contains the perfect recipe for a track that could go far in the music world thanks to that perfect level of rub.
“War Cry” provides a dramatic ending to an EP that I desperately want to see more of. A full-length record from RAGS AND RICHES can’t come soon enough after hearing what they can do! The final track of Arrival is one hell of a placeholder: With its punchy percussion introduction, dramatic guitar solos, and powerful, arching vocals, “War Cry” earns its name. The phrasing of the lyrics combined with the natural rhythms of the song create a contrast between beautifully syncopated sections and free-flowing choruses. The tensions between each instrumental part and the desperation in the vocals make for a unique listen every time as more little details come to light with each.
RAGS AND RICHES plans to release more songs and matching music videos in 2019. Look our for them on tour in the fall!
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