Ripe, the Heavy Hours and Drop Party
On a primal level, we react to music through movement. A head-nod, a foot-tap, or a handclap certainly shows appreciation, but dancing seals the eternal bond between audience and musician. Siphoning the spirits of rock, funk, R&B, jazz, and pop through a kaleidoscope of unpredictable and virtuosic improvisation, Boston-based Ripe consistently bring people to their feet. Most importantly, they prove that “dance music” in its purest form doesn’t have to come from computers and synthesizers. It can be an unstoppable groove or an extended moment of ecstatic release. Like those bodies moving on the floor, it’s the result of the energy, friction, and communication between living and breathing people. An inimitable and indefinable chemistry has separated and singled out Ripe since day one. Subverting any and all standard genre boundaries once again, their latest offering confidently continues that tradition. These five musical soulmates —Robbie Wulfsohn [vocals], Jon Becker [guitar], Sampson Hellerman [drums], Calvin Barthel [trombone], and Nadav Shapira [bass]—once again incite listeners to move on their full-length debut, Joy In The Wild Unknown. “What we make is music you can dance to,” affirms Robbie. “We’re drawn to the peak of a song—the emotional catharsis when everything comes out. It’s all about reaching that moment. The revelation comes back to us when bodies shake with joy.” “Every time we play, something unique happens,” adds Jon. “You’ll never see the same show twice. We want to bring that unexpected element into the pop sphere.” Ripe brings the swagger of funk filtered through a rock anthem, a musical journey that somehow gets as stuck in your head as your favorite pop banger.
Formed during their Berklee College of Music days, the boys have built a rabid fan base through tireless gigging and a steady stream of music. Following their debut collection of songs, Produce The Juice EP, the 2015 Hey Hello EP yielded fan favorites “Goon Squad,” which clocked over 4 million Spotify streams. The band then raised the stakes with their debut album, Joy In The Wild Unknown, which represented a creative journey as Ripe became a national presence. The band tapped the talents of producer Cory Wong of Vulfpeck behind the board. Additionally, five-time GRAMMY® Award winner Joe Visciano [Mark Ronson, Adele, Beck, Coldplay] mixed the music, while mastering came courtesy of Randy Merrill [Lady Gaga, Lorde, Imagine Dragons, Taylor Swift]. Over the course of twelve songs, it finds the elusive sweet spot between jaw-dropping technicality and airtight songcraft as Ripe collectively kick off a fresh, focused, and fiery next phase. Averaging over 250K monthly listeners on Spotify, the group landed looks from the likes of WXPN, Huffington Post, Verge Campus, Boston Globe and Hype Machine love from sites like Ear to the Ground and Indie Obsessive. Along the way, they also hit the stage at festivals such as SweetWater, Levitate, The Rock Boat, High Sierra, LaureLive, Brooklyn Comes Alive, Audiotree, and Summer Camp. The common thread would always be the translation of their individual interplay to their audience, one that Ripe views as not just fans, but old and new friends; an extended family that is rapidly growing as their sound spreads and their world deepens. Ripe gives the same weight to happiness as is often given to sadness. Their music signifies more than just a distraction from your troubles for a few hours – it’s an experience of connection and acceptance; a warm welcome into their world. In the end, this Joy is shared by an ever-growing community that’ll be dancing every time Ripe roll through town. The Heavy Hours Having made an acclaimed debut in the midst of worldwide crisis, The Heavy Hours now return with WILDFIRE, a five-song collection that further exemplifies their distinctive strain of warm-hearted, open-armed alternative rock. Working with renowned producer Simone Felice (The Lumineers, Matt Maeson, The Avett Brothers), the Cincinnati, OH-based band infuse well-crafted powerful songs like “Desperate Days” and “Wildfire” with uncommon honesty and a radiant energy that converts subtle strokes into an altogether different kind of volume. WILDFIRE packs an emotional punch from the very first chord, fusing larger-than-life melodies and epic choruses with soulful, sophisticated songcraft and remarkably universal lyrical spirit. “From the moment that we finished tracking ‘Wildfire, we all had such a connection to it,” says lead singer Michael Marcagi. “I remember being in the studio listening back to it for the first time and thinking, if someone were to ask me, ‘What do you guys sound like?,’ I would play them this song.” The musicians at the heart of The Heavy Hours have been united for close to a decade, first coming together in high school over a mutual love of diverse sounds spanning contemplative folk to wildly experimental post-rock. In 2018, they rechristened themselves as The Heavy Hours — inspired from a line in William Butler Yeats’ Autobiographies — and began fusing their questing spirit and relentless work ethic with an emphasis on more traditional songwriting and production. Fueled by support from such Ohio heroes as The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, The Heavy Hours made their way to Sun Mountain Studios in bucolic Boiceville, NY to record with producer Simone Felice and his longtime studio collaborator David Baron (Vance Joy, Matt Maeson). There the band pushed themselves towards new creative heights, resulting in a plethora of material including last year’s widescreen debut single, “Don’t Walk Away,” co-written by Marcagi and Yorio with Auerbach and award-winning songwriter Ronnie Bowman. “A purely American blend of folk, rock and good feelings,” declared American Songwriter, hailing the song for “its unbelievably catchy lines and effortlessly organic arrangement… a perfect pairing with a late-summer sunset or an evening with friends.” Summer 2021 saw The Heavy Hours reveal yet another aspect of their multi-faceted nature with a surprisingly tender take on Dua Lipa’s glitterball smash, “Don’t Start Now,” once again bridging aesthetic differences to fashion their own imaginative take on contemporary songcraft. “We love playing covers,” says guitarist AJ Yorio. “That’s how the band started; we played pop covers at youth group weekend camps. So, learning hit tunes and reimagining them is a familiar challenge.” “Doing something in that realm was definitely a new challenge for us,” says bassist Jonathan Moon. “Something that was at first a little bit out of our comfort zone but in the end turned out really fun.” Refreshingly authentic and impossible to ignore, the WILDFIRE EP further spotlights the spirited versatility and simple elegance that The Heavy Hours have cultivated since day one. Songs like “Desparate Days” and remarkable title track — the latter co-written with Felice — masterfully defines The Heavy Hours’ overall approach, melding heart-wrenching, impressionistic lyrics with cinematic scope and joyous musicality. “‘Wildfire’ was just an unfinished demo — a song that Simone used to show us where he thought The Heavy Hours could find a sound,” says Yorio. “I remember hearing the tune from Simone and having two light bulbs go off. My first thought was, we would never record something like this, but then realizing we have a chance to make this song our own, to finish writing and arranging it. It was a weird process of taking the song into our basement back home and adding our signature to it before taking it back to Woodstock for Simone and Dave to produce. In the end, I think we created something epic.” A recent series of sold out live dates across the Midwest and East Coast alongside New Orleans’ legendary Galactic only served to cement the band’s commitment and sense of purpose. With the world open once again — and their long awaited debut album on the way — The Heavy Hours are fully focused on the now, keen to fully hit the road and see just how their music touches people. “It was amazing,” says Marcagi. “You could tell that people had been starved for live music for a very long time. The first show we played in Cincinnati was packed to the gills. It just felt like the most amazing night of our lives. It kind of solidified in all of our minds, Oh yeah, this is what we want to be doing with our lives.” “Things are really starting to open up and people are booking shows like crazy,” Moon says. “We’re like, Alright, this is what we signed up for. Essentially it’s like a rocket launch. We’re on the ground right now, in our uniforms and our helmets, getting ready for to be sent into space, getting ready for lift-off.” Drop Party: Formed in early 2018, Drop Party is an eclectic septet from coastal Connecticut that aims to bring its sound to the people and spread joy. The band switches gears seamlessly through ska, funk, jazz, and latin, doing whatever it takes to keep you twisting and dancing. The sound of Drop Party is both loose and precise; vamping here and navigating a tight horn run there. There are no limits to the band and no boundaries between the band and the crowd. With a lush horn section and a tight four-piece rhythm section, this band is ready to rock any arrangement. Catchy but never cliche, their music keeps you on your toes. It’s a kaleidoscopic blowout that you don’t want to miss.