Ravenna Woods
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Ravenna Woods

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Acoustic

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"Ravenna Woods at the Sunset"

Hometown opener Ravenna Woods showed why they are one of the most buzzed about local bands of 2010. The trio makes a head-on impact with songs that reverberate through your mind, not only because they are catchy, but because they pack a lyrical punch. Ravenna Woods crafts political poetry about wealth distribution, poverty and environmental destruction, in a way that sounds wise rather than preachy or pretentious. - Sound on the Sound


"A Saturday Night at the Rendez-Vous"

Ravenna Woods is a band to watch in 2010. You heard it here first. I promise not to over-hype and ruin a good thing, scouts honor. Chris Cunningham, from the much under-appreciated Navigator vs. Navigator, has harnessed the energy from the aforementioned project and unleashed it in the form of melancholic beauty. As an album, Demons and Lakes is a fantastic listen. Though the instrumentation doesn’t change too much, the songs never seem repetitive or boring. And as gorgeous as they seem on compact disc, they burn bright with great fervor and intensity when they are laid out before you. “War Percussionist” Matt Badger’s beats arrive frenetically on time. Brantley Duke might be the greatest xylophone player of all-time, plus his backup vocals compliment Mr. Cunningham’s wonderfully. Gentle reader, you know me. I go running in a Pig Destroyer shirt. I wouldn’t mind seeing Capitol Hill Block Party replaced by Monsterfest or even Hellfest. This kind of genuine awe-inspiring songwriting usually goes unheard by these deaf ears, worn out by continuous abuse at 165 beats per minute. I’m having trouble choosing which pretty poison is my favorite. At first I thought it was the guitar hero workout of “In the World” with its army of pull-offs and sing-along chorus. But after Saturday’s oh-so-memorable performance of “Simple Fates,” I have a new favorite song on this record. If all our everyday problems could be lifted off our aching shoulders in a manner as delicate as possible, this would be the celestial song to do it. Ravenna Woods, if I had a heart, it would belong to you.
- Phil Bouie - Sound on the Sound


"Rock it out with Visqueen and Ravenna Woods this week in Ballard"

Ravenna Woods is fairly new to the Seattle music scene and very much something to be excited to be about. Their music is solid considering it's their debut album - Chris Cunningham's wispy voice and guitar picking find their place among the tapping of the xylophone by Brantley Duke and fiery percussion of Matt Badger. Seeing them live, you'll notice that behind the awesome music is a passion that draws you into the music even further. Cunningham stays focused on singing, strumming and stomping with his leg-warmer bells that sound like tambourines. Duke sings backup vocals into the mic emotionally in what they describe on their MySpace page as "offensive gestures" as Badger hammers away almost demonically in the back on his drums. Check. Them. Out. - Seattle Post Intelligencer


"RAVENNA WOODS @ The Tractor Tavern"

Since they played maybe the most well-attended show at The Vera Stage at the Capitol Hill Block Party, local up-and-comers Ravenna Woods haven’t played too many shows around the area. That’s because they’ve been touring the east coast with Hey Marseilles. They’re back in Seattle now, however, playing what should be a high-spirited homecoming at the Tractor on Friday. The folky threesome’s music is emotional and brutally honest (the accusatory “Demons and Lakes” centers around the lyric “I want you to have a terrible life”). What makes their music unique is the stop and start acousticisms of lead man Chris Cunningham, who can switch up his unique array of playing styles multiple times over the course of a song. - KEXP


"Ravenna Woods"

Seattle locals Ravenna Woods are the kind of band that stands up to drum and doesn't stand down for much. Backing their politically-driven bark and howl is a sound along the lines of Local Natives or The Dodos with even more feverish rhythms and fast-flying acoustic guitar. They've got so much wild urgency it's unbelievable there's only three people onstage, and exactly enough heel-stompin' twang and pluck to satisfy a venue with "tractor" in its name. This show is a homecoming after a week straight of shows in California and Portland. - Seattle Weekly


"Ravenna Woods – Demons & Lakes"

Close your eyes and the first track ‘A Devil’s Coming’ could be playing while the opening shots of The Shining are playing. Which, come to think of it, would be appropriate. Not that this brief track is creepy, it IS an establishing ‘shot’ though – and the mountain road to the Overlook makes sense to the feeling of a slightly ominous path the album may take into isolated territory. It’s not a Gothic album but a certain American Gothic sensibility is evident. It’s one of the most commercial Indie albums I’ve got my mits on this far but that shouldn’t be taken to mean it’s overly commercial – just a classically excellent record that I can imagine lots of UK writers getting excited about. To rather labour the cinematic metaphor this album is like a U.S. Indie film rather than a U.S. Indie album, when you’re in the Woods and the sun shines it’s breath-taking. In the Woods in the dark and it’s unnerving.
Some comparison to the UK’s Six Toes is valid, layered semi-acoustics and warm, vibrant vocals – although this is as ‘American’ as Six Toes are ‘English’. A river of bubbling acoustic guitar runs through this. It claps hands, it stamps feet (I even detect a little tap). The layered and harmony vocals provide the melody to a very percussive album (albeit frequently not provided by percussion instruments), two sides to a dream like state – again the light and dark. The harmonies remind me occasionally of Midlake (they could be round the same campfire). Stuff like ‘Simple Fates’ & ‘The Road’ will appeal to Super Furry’s fans. There is a slight feeling of Arcade Fires (the glockenspiel mainly) but without the annoying tendencies of that band.
‘An Atoll’, lyrically could refer to the past as a foreign country (island) but also brings to mind Bikini Atoll and it’s nuclear testing (interestingly I looked on their MySpace after this conclusion and saw a video for album track Ghosts features Bikini Atoll). It could be pure reportage about an event in the writer’s life, it seems to bring to mind nostalgia and unease. ‘The Road’ would make an excellent single – it’s also hard not to imagine that book (now a film) isn’t some influence on the album, although the ‘first person’ in this song seems involved in some sort of Buddist suicide circle rather than surviving the Apocalypse. Equally single worthy is the scathing title track – only lyrically so, it still sounds lovely if featuring slightly angry rhythm. Failing that, the sublime ‘Goldrush’ that follows (and breaking 5 minutes the longest song here) would make an exceptional introduction to a very impressive act. ‘While The Town Is Sleeping’ is a marvellous closer cementing the feelings invoked by the rest of the album while showing a strength of purpose that will easily propel them to album two (hopefully by way of a few UK shows?).
- [sic]Magazine


"Ravenna Woods – Demons & Lakes"

Listening to Ravenna Woods is kind of like listening to the indie acoustic soundtrack to the Temple of Doom. Imagine yourself running through a jungle somewhere from some sort of danger; let’s say a troop of crazy monkeys. And all of the sudden you hear an acoustic guitar being played in an urgent frenzy to match the pace of your sprint. Then, some heavy, ominous percussion kicks in accompanied by oddly hopeful xylophone chimes. At this point you start to think you may have over reacted about the monkeys. But then you hear someone sing “I want you to wake up at the bottom of a lake,” and you start to realize these monkeys are serious.

Ravenna Woods gets a lot done for a three piece using minimal instrumentation. There are hints of strings, piano, and bass on the recordings, but mostly the band gets by with a guitar, mandolin, and drums consisting of what seems like floor toms and hand percussion. It’s a particularly sparse sort of arrangement, and it works fantastically. Vocally speaking, Chris Cunningham and Brantley Duke team up to give the thoughtful lyrics a strong place to stand inside complex songs that could have otherwise easily overpowered them. When it all comes together what you get is beautiful music that is oddly up tempo. - Seattle Show Gal - Seattle Show Gal


Discography

Full Length Album : Demons and Lakes
Live in studio @ KEXP 90.3

Photos

Bio

In 2007, Chris Cunningham was hired as a private contract teacher in the Marshall Islands. Bringing only an acoustic guitar and 4-track, he traveled to his assignment at a small boarding school in the outer island community of Jabor, Jaluit. It was here on this isolated atoll, nestled within the simplistic elements of acoustic guitar, ukulele and choral music, where the seeds of Ravenna Woods were planted.
Chris returned to Seattle in 2008 and met Brantley Duke, a local record engineer and musician. Within two months of their introduction, the pair began writing and playing music together. They shared a common interest in dark melodies combined with intricate vocal harmonies.
In the spring of 2009, a talented Seattle drummer by the name of Matt Badger was introduced to Chris at a show. Matt had heard demos of Chris and Brantley’s musical exploits, and was interested in establishing contact. After a 5 minute conversation, Matt was invited to join the project.
The trio spent the summer of ‘09 practicing and writing together, then began recording a full length album (Demons and Lakes) at the recording studio conveniently located at Cunningham’s house (Little Room Studio).
Since the album’s release, Ravenna Woods has been enjoying a large amount of local hype, consistent airplay on Seattle’s KEXP 90.3, and very favorable press from local and international sources.
The sound can best be described as innovative acoustic indie music that weaves together haunting vocal harmonies, complex finger picking, and unconventional percussion into unique song structures.