Back in July, Ranger’s Adam Faris, Michael Homan, Yuto Kanii and Alfonso Ramos were jamming out in an abandoned candy factory on Floyd Street in Louisville, in order to let loose and nail down some new songs.
Now, after a trip to Kevin Ratterman’s La La Land, the New Albany band has a new album entitled The Bard and will host a release party tonight at Dillinger’s in New Albany, 203 E. Main St. (doors at 8:30 p.m., $5 cover, 21 and up).
“We kinda stumbled upon the album title while reflecting on our demos at Ratterman’s. The inspiration was found through the storytelling aspects of the album,” says Alfonso Ramos, lead singer of Ranger.
There’s even a song called “Storyteller” on The Bard, on which all four members sing to provide a rich harmony to accompany their lyrical tale.
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Much of The Bard’s lyrical content is about the band and their memories together.
“A lot of stuff I write stems from various moods and experiences that I’ve had over the years playing with these guys — it goes from self-reflection, to ballads, to gibberish at times,” says Ramos.
Yuto Kanii is Ranger’s lead guitarist, and he uses a Gibson Les Paul Studio 60s Tribute, with re-installed Gibson ’57 classic humbuckers, and approaches the guitar solo like a “crouching tiger, hidden dragon,” so he says.
Kanii uses the hammer-on technique as well as anyone in the local music scene, and while he admits George Harrison is his “guitar hero,” Kanii kept local rock stars in mind when attacking the axe on the album:
When I get the chance to come up with a rockin’ solo in a song like ‘Ghosts in Houses,’ I always keep Jim James and Carl Broemel (of My Morning Jacket) in mind. I also tried mimicking a few Matt Myers licks after watching a Houndmouth performance.
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Ranger is motivated by the success of other local bands.
“There’s a lot of potential in New Albany, but I worry that musicians look at the bigger groups out of this area and get discouraged or compare themselves, instead of getting inspired,” says Michael Homan, Ranger’s bassist.
That inspiration, coupled with influences like the Beatles, is evidenced in the unique vintage sound on The Bard.
Songs like “Apple,” “Invitations,” and “Hypochondriac” would have put a smile on the face of Buffalo Springfield in 1969, as the guitar tones are warm and saturated.
In addition, the album possesses that folk-rock sound that is trending again, but has a little more edge and a little more groove than many in the genre.
“Makin’ it funky is how I engage the audience,” claims Homan.
While Ranger “gots the funk” and can make you move on the dance floor, one of the most impressive elements of the foursome is the band’s sense of togetherness.
A large part of the unity is due to Adam Faris, the band’s beat-keeper.
“My style is just to keep it simple and keep the groove goin’,” says Faris, adding that the band recorded some tracks live all the way through.
“Ghosts in House” and “Empty Nest” will give you chills as the live takes capture the art of a successful break down, with tension and ambiance leading into a crescendo that delivers a dynamic punch.
All in the name of brotherhood.
“This album is for us,” says Homan, who described the Ranger sound as “twangy guitars, djembes (African drums), and an old piano on a beach no one’s been to.”
Luckily for us, Kevin Ratterman paddled ashore, recorded the gang, and we have one of the most impressive and refreshing albums of 2013 in The Bard.
You can purchase The Bard here.
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