Rags & Ribbons
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Rags & Ribbons

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010

Portland, Oregon, United States
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock Indie

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"Spirit Masquerade"

"Wow..." is all I can say about Rags & Ribbons and their Magnesium Dream EP. Before
even reading their bio, our editor instantly compared Rags & Ribbons to Queen, and the
Portland outfit is absolutely the closest thing to Queen that we've ever heard. When it
comes to overall quality, R&R's songs give majority of the rock bands I've seen at major
music festivals in recent years a swift kick in the backside. If R&R is as good live as they
are on their recordings, it's just a matter of time before a major record label A&R finds
them, and these guys become a massive success worldwide.

Magnesium Dream is a beast of a release. Consisting of 6 amazing songs, this EP gives
the three member band an identity that cannot be easily duplicated like most cookie
cutter bands I've seen in recent times. Very few unsigned alternative rock bands have
created a big enough sound to get me excited. I was actually glad to have learned about
Rags & Ribbons, and I'm officially a fan.

From the guitars to the drums and the incredible vocal arrangements, this project is an
ongoing string of radio singles; and not those corny songs you keep hearing on your
local stations these days. My favorite two songs on this EP are Rubikon and Little Sirens.
Both of these tracks have huge production and overall sound. The layered vocals, the
melodies, the pianos, the drums, the hardcore guitar riffs; every element in this song
showcases the musical prowess of Rags & Ribbons. After watching their video for
Rubikon, I was totally sold on the fact that R&R is ready for international success.

While the two previously mentioned songs are my personal favorites, each of the other
tracks on the Magnesium Dream EP makes a strong case for why Rags & Ribbons are
well worth any label signing, and worth every rock music fan supporting. I would
absolutely recommend Rags & Ribbons and their EP, Magnesium Dream, to anybody
who likes top bands like Queen and Muse. - I Am Entertainment Magazine


"Mass Affect- Album Review"

Here we go again.

The last time I wrote about this band, they had a different name and only a single EP to show the world. I finished my last write up of them saying that I couldn't wait for them to put out a full album and wondered what strange new sounds they'd make. That full album by the rechristened Rags & Ribbons has been out for a bit now, and rather than keep it as personal treasure, I can't contain it any longer.

You need to hear The Glass Masses.

There's that sweet spot where a fresh band has clearly found their voice. I could name countless examples of bands that release some things, find their voice or niche and release a single iconic piece, thereby cementing their new-found identity. They hit the next level in their evolution, maintaining a core of self or DNA but growing and changing into a stronger, more fully formed iteration of themselves. That is exactly what happened with Rags & Ribbons on this heavy hitting album. All the same voices and styles are still present, but having taken another step in development. It's more nuanced, yet more sweeping. Heavier and more intense, but also showing lighter bits of delicacy that hadn't revealed themselves in prior songs.

This evolution of ideas is present immediately in the first track, 'Even Matter'. In the first ethereal strum of guitar, the band shows they're playing with more dexterity and subtlety. It's an amazingly expressive track for how little sound they actually are producing. The quiet notes all add together into a dense, layered mesh of sound. To boot, there's a fantastic video for the track shot by Lucy Martin. The group has clearly been having fun with harmonies as well, as evidenced in the serene acapella breakdown of 'Marks You Make'.

There is one particular section of a certain song, however, that I feel sums up not only the album but the entire ethos of the band. In the build up to the chorus in 'The Minds' all of the instruments drop out, except Neff pounding away a solitary, syncopated pulse. When everyone crashes back in to the proper refrain, it's everything turned up to eleven. Ben's guitar is low and crunching out thudding riffs. The drums are percussive blasts. Jon's cacophonous piano bangs away. It could be unrestrained madness but they deftly, elegantly tie it all together in a neat package, overlaid with wailing vocals. When Jon and Ben sing the line "You and me...", Jon's voice dove tails from this high point that illuminates how close they veer towards madness, only to drop right back into the pocket. It's all coordinated, detailed chaos. It sounds unbelievably good.

As I hinted at in the beginning of this piece, I'm conflicted by the desire to keep these guys as my amazing secret while wanting to show them to the whole world. They've forced my hand though - they've been too relentless in their touring and too successful for me to try to shelter them at all. Rags & Ribbons are on an exhilarating ascent. In addition to this write up, check back tomorrow for a full interview I did earlier this summer. I've said before that I can't wait to see what they'll do, but if this is any indication, big things are already under way. Get on board while you can. - jToycen


"That Groove Machine- Album Review"

Don’t be fooled by how fresh and baby-faced these guys look– they pack a huge sound much more mature and developed than you might expect. The trio delivers a sound that is progressive rock meets classical piano with an overlay of power vocals. I had the pleasure of hearing Rags & Ribbons play live at the Doug Fir in Portland, OR a few nights ago. Of the 12 tracks on their debut album The Glass Masses, my favorite tracks are “We Have Been Here Before,” “Lady in the Midnight Sun,” and “Liar.” The harmony on “We Have Been Here Before” gives me goosebumps every time I listen to the track, and I have listened to it more times than I feel comfortable admitting. Rags & Ribbons has it all– great lyrics, powerful vocals, and a sound that you truly feel at your core. The band is on tour at the moment, so check them out and see if they’ll be close by! This is definitely a show worth catching. - That Groove Machine


"Portland-based Rags & Ribbons brings piano-driven rock to Eugene"

Little band, big dreams — you’ve heard the story before. But what about a little band who plays like a big band — even for a crowd of 20? That’s what audiences at Luckey’s Bar witnessed Wednesday night as Portland-based group Rags & Ribbons played an 11-song set on their first-ever tour.

Don’t be mistaken, this “little” band recently released their first full-length album and just sold out one of their first shows of the tour, playing to hundreds of people at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland.

But the group is just getting started, insist its members, and has just finished up a miniature northwest tour in order to gain experience and get their music out to more people.

Floating guitar lines mixed with swirls of classically influenced piano, three-part vocal harmonies and an always-driving bass drum at the show, the trio played to the bar backed by a colorful and interactive light display, creating a sincere but admittedly showy atmosphere.

“I don’t think people expect to go on a weeknight to some random bar on some small tour and see this big, orchestral rock thing,” said guitarist and vocalist Ben Weyerhaeuser of their setup. Pianist and vocalist Jon Hicks agreed, commenting, “It’s a little more theatrical than I think people are expecting.”

Rags & Ribbons, which comprises of Weyerhaeuser, Hicks and drummer Chris Neff, formed three years ago and originally started off as a pop/soft-rock group before settling into their current sound, a piano-infused alternative rock. Weyerhaeser and Hicks met during college when both became involved in jazz choirs and an a cappella group at Willamette University. Upon graduation in 2007, the two moved to Portland where they later met Neff — who gained experience as a drummer in high school and by touring for a year with his previous band — through craigslist.

Since then, the trio has put out an EP titled “Galaxy Farm,” and self-released their first full-length effort, “The Glass Masses,” all while working separate jobs and playing local shows around Portland.

“It’s so fun with the tour, playing every night and just being in music-mode where we’re not juggling other jobs or things back home. That’s really a gift that we’re very excited to be taking part of,” Weyerhaeuser said of their first touring experience.

All three of the band members hope to one day be able to work only as musicians, but in the meantime want to get their music out to as many listeners as possible.

Hicks in particular, who graduated with a degree in musical composition, hopes to bring more classically influenced music to other people.

Hicks commented, “Between the three of us, we just have a wealth of art to share with people, and my primary goal is just to get that communicated with our audience and have a shared experience with them.”

The group attributes Hicks’ musical composition background as a big piece of their music, but each member works on writing songs and lyrics, falling almost evenly between the three in a collaborative effort.

Although their current collaborative efforts have led packed and sold-out shows and other “tangible” measurements of success like record sales, the three try to concentrate more on other aspects of music and performing.

“As a practical business, you want to focus on those kind of goals, as tangible things … but I genuinely feel like we are focused on some of those deeper or profound emotional, inspiring things for people that we perform for,” Weyerhaeuser said.

Next up, the trio hopes to expand on their multimedia foundation, further incorporating lights and graphic design into their show in an interactive way. The group also plans to continue touring this March in the South by Southwest festival. They will be returning to Eugene next month on Feb. 28 to play at Cozmic Pizza. - The Daily Emerald


"Live Music!"

Some rock bands like to play with a smirk, others a sneer and then some play with their hearts not only on their sleeves, but also ripped open and beating for everyone to see. Portland’s Rags & Ribbons (formerly Galaxy Farm) is decidedly in the third category, performing classically based art rock that would make anybody who’s ever been in a school choir or a tumultuous relationship with an unrepentant drunk quite happy. Pianist Jon Hicks, guitarist Ben Weyerhaeuser and drummer Chris Neff are masters of their respective instruments and still believe in the power of rock music to move an audience, even one not old enough to remember over-the-top bands like Queen or ELP but curious enough to surf the Web to find out who they were. Rags & Ribbons is releasing its newest CD “The Glass Masses” this month, and you have two chances to hear them this week. - Portland Tribune


"Rags & Ribbons: The Glass Masses"

Rags and Ribbons brings piano-driven rock to the table of anthemic dreams. The way John Hicks describes his process in writing the album’s opener, “Even Matter,” sounds like a “eureka” moment. The simple sentences “Watch, watch, watch inside of my head. It turns around again and again. Does it matter, does it even matter anymore?” repeat throughout the entire song. Taking on the same ideas and themes characters as old as Hamlet took on brings a stable consistency to the melodic music. The second track on the sophomoric release The Glass Masses, “Liar,” subtly recalls the same ideas in the Beck’s “Loser” and “Liar” by Henry Rollins. “Don’t let me hurt you now. Let me go, I’m just the liar that you’ve always known.” The music makes the difference in these tunes from Rags and Ribbons because like Muse and The Very Foundation, Rags and Ribbons use pop hooks and classic rock feel to express intensely personal feelings that remain universal.
“Moving On” takes the vocal range into its highest registers; something that defies the angrier instincts in the song while giving off a sense of catharsis and peace. The electronic buzzing in the introduction to “Abacus Kids” gets crowds moving again; releases the listener from feeling overly melancholy. The boost continues through the steady tempo of drums and power chords in “Lady in the Midnight Sun.” Its lyrics contain the line, “been around the world and you’re the one for me,” which does remind vaguely of The Eurhythmics, but that is only in thematic content; the music keeps listeners strapped to the present with colorful combinations. The pure creativity of Rags and Ribbons is what new fans should check out. These aren’t the anthems to make you tear down your past; these songs will build a foundation for healing and thinking. - Target Audience Magazine


"Rags & Ribbons' The Glass Masses on CD"

Over the last few years I've been deliberate and thorough in my search for new music, resisting that "filling-in-holes-in-my-collection" mentality that comes from getting on in years and becoming locked in the rather misguided view that when it comes to rock, there's absolutely nothing new under the sun. Certainly my first instinct on a first listen to an unknown performer is to find the specific musical genre that fits, mostly so I can introduce a "RIYL" to my reasders, but I'm so tired of that type of thinking. In the last year or so I've noticed that the truly great new performers aren't reinventing the wheel of rock and roll, but devising an alchemy where familiar sounds are combined in a way that's absolutely novel. Think about Fleet Foxes or, even better, the Black Keys.

These thoughts sprinted through my mind about ten minutes into Rags & Ribbon's new CD, The Glass Masses. I couldn't quite resist playing a quick round of "Who does this remind me of?" when I heard this ambitious, theatrical and downright fun album, and I came up with Muse first, and maybe Queen second. The decidedly melodramatic vocals, delivered mostly in harmonies between keyboardist Jonathan Hicks and guitarist Ben Weyerhauser, have that same sort of sad Russian-esque folk strains of the latter while maintaining a fluid litany of Classical-strength piano runs as Freddie Mercury at his most deranged. (Drummer Chris Neff fleshes out the expansive sound of this far-reaching trio.) Yet this exciting sound is evocative of a time than derivative of a style, and it's probably been at least a couple of decades since you heard this all before. In other words, it's a cop-out to call these complex yet accessible songs anything but original.

Where Rags & Ribbons diverges from neo-glam is their earnestness, which in lesser hands can be a curse more than a strength in 2011 (see Coldplay's last three albums, which were truly awful). The vocals in the opening track, "Even Matter," do evoke Chris Martin's repertoire with their unsubtle emotional pleas despite the fact that the music is incredibly layered and ornate and therefore much more compelling. That feeling of hyper-sensitivity and forced poetry will pass once you realize that the second song, "Liar," reveals the boys can rock and weave intricate musical ideas at the same time, much like Muse and Queen. You might even feel a genuine wave of nostalgia when you hear a bit of Big Country in Weyerhauser's guitar yelps in "Abacus Kids," one of the stand-out tracks of the album. By that time you're just being silly, and you just need to drop the comparisons so you can sit back and enjoy this album.

With a few more albums, that earnestness might be replaced with a bit more confidence that might even be viewed as sexy--something Mercury and Matthew Bellamy had (and have) down pat. Despite that minor misgiving, Rags and Ribbons have a real ace up their sleeve, and that's sheer musical talent. It's rare to see young musicians have such mastery of both their instruments and their instincts this early in the game. I can't guess whether this trio will become huge in the coming months, but I won't be surprised if they do. The Glass Masses is an impressive debut, both unexpected and exhilarating in its success at just being different...in a very old-fashioned way. - The Vinyl Anachronist Blog


"Reviews: The Portraits, Rags & Ribbons, The Lower 48"

How to describe this? Exceptional quasi-orchestral, pop-ish, indie art-rock, that doesn’t overdo things, perhaps? Rags & Ribbons is Mr. Jonathan Hicks on vocals and keyboards, Mr. Ben Weyerhaeuser on vocals and guitar and Mr. Chris Neff on percussion, and they exist somewhere between the dramatic and dire most of the time, and they have some killer songs in them, a case in point being “Even Matter,” which kicks things off with a bang on this album. It’s a slam dunk right from the first chorus. On “Liar” they really take off as well, and Hicks sounds more than a little bit like Lizard from Earwig. And “Abacus Kids” is fucking awesome, with a crazy vocal hook that doesn’t let go once it gets a hold of you. More songs like that, please! I particularly appreciate the ringing sustain on the guitars. This is a far sight better than a giant icicle in your earhole, and a record that will be hanging around the stereo at our house for a while. - impose magazine


"Rags & Ribbons, Kink FM radio interview"

Radio Interview - www.kink.fm


"Rags & Ribbons @ Doug Fir"

Friday night's show at the Doug Fir celebrated the release of Rags & Ribbon's album The Glass Masses. Like most record releases the crowd was diverse. There were moms, dads, coworkers, friends of the bandmembers, as well as your everyday fans. By the time that Rags & Ribbons took the stage, the show was sold out.

Rags & Ribbons describes its music as “melodic rock anthems driven by classically-inspired piano.” The band lists its members as Jon Hicks (piano), Ben Weyerhaeuser (guitar), and Chris Neff (drums), but there were a lot more people than that on stage. At one point there were six backup singers and later there four people playing strings. There was constant movement on stage as members rotated into position and people flowed on and off stage. Visuals provided local company Light Troupe were being projected onto a backdrop behind the stage that kept with the theme of ever changing sights and sounds. Rags & Ribbons is touring the Northwest in support of its new album. - www.beportland.com


"Portland rock trio Rags & Ribbons celebrates release of first record 'The Glass Masses'"

The video wardrobe (and ampersand) suggest Mumford & Sons, but the sound -- soaring keyboards, dense guitars, big drums all building to dramatic conclusions -- is more reminiscent of the Arcade Fire (if you're into playing a game of Who's This Band Sound/Look Like?) Otherwise, it will suffice to let you know this Portland rock trio (formerly known as Galaxy Farm) is celebrating the release of their first record, "The Glass Masses." Water & Bodies and Fox and the Law open. (Why isn't it Fox & the Law?) - www.oregonlive.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Rags & Ribbons play melodic rock anthems driven by classically-inspired piano. Progressive and post-rock influences by way of MEW, Muse, and Queen, color these intricate pop songs, expressing desire, yearning, regret and joy like only pop can.

Pianist, Jonathan Hicks, and guitarist, Ben Weyerhaeuser, met and decided to form the band while singing together in school choirs. Their twinned vocals are a key element of the band's sound, adding depth and showmanship to their songs. By a fortunate twist of fate, the band became complete when drummer, Chris Neff, responded to a Craigslist post from Jon and Ben.

The bands diverse backgrounds, ranging from the ghetto of Flint, Michigan to the suburbs of Portland, Oregon to the farmlands of rural Washington State, provide a broad scope of influences and musical styles. Rags & Ribbons strive to create unique music and live performances that communicate an exciting range of shared human experiences.

Band Members