Red Heart the Ticker
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Red Heart the Ticker

Band Alternative Folk


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"For The Wicked"

In the hands of The Ticker, most of the songs on For the Wicked take on a hue of masterpiece. And while the creative impetus behind Red Heart the Ticker is the duo of Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons, For the Wicked is a buffet of tasty guest performances rooting this album in a bedrock core of subtly inventive musicianship. - The Brattleboro Reformer

"4 star review"

March 2007
Exceptionally pretty folk songs from a Vermont barn

Husband-and-wife alt-folk duo Red Heart the Ticker boasts oodles of Americana cred - they recorded their self-released debut, For the Wicked, in a drafty, post-and-beam Vermont barn, and vocalist/guitarist Robin MacArthur's song-hunting grandmother, Margaret, recorded for Moe Asch's Folkways in the early 1960's - but their songs are less concerned with indie whims than snow angels and leather boots and gravestones and moonlight and drinking and riding around in a Trans Am. The pair's songs (reminiscent of both Gillian Welch and Will Oldham) are dim and haunting, full of winter melancholy, wispy melodies and plans for escape - on "One Last Tear" MacArthur coos, "I'm gonna wear my best boots, good for dancing, and take you where we used to go/Gonna drink corn liquor 'til the sun comes up/And walk on home real slow." - Paste Magazine

"Critics' Picks"

Critics' Picks
Red Heart the Ticker
9 p.m. Monday, February 12. Off Broadway (3509 Lemp Avenue).
By Roy Kasten

Feb 7, 2007

Vermont's best-known indie rocker, the self-identified socialist Bernie Sanders, recently won a U.S. senate seat on a platform not unlike one championed by Red Heart the Ticker, a.k.a. the Marlboro, Vermont, duo of Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons. The pair wring all the virtues from bookish sincerity and less-is-more means (they record on a laptop in a cabin in the woods), and they utter soft-spoken declarations of mercy and forgiveness rather than revenge and fear. But RHtT also delights in its vices: drugs, drink, leather boots and kinky sex under the moonlight. The band's sole album, 2005's For the Wicked, starts with sturdy, country-folk foundations and ends in Lanois-esque soul-scapes. In between, the duo reverses some tape loops, drops some disco-drum hooks, sharpens some knifing guitars and leaves lots of space for MacArthur's dryly sexy voice to draw you into an imperfectly daydreamy utopia.
- Riverfront Times

"Show Preview"

Pasadena Weekly
January 2007

RED HEART THE TICKER, For the Wicked (Poorly Bird): Philly-based indie rockers Tyler Gibbons and Robin MacArthur recorded this quietly absorbing platter in a Vermont barn, which suggests a folkier enterprise than what actually unfolds. Pop hooks, swelling choruses, shifting time signatures, unpredictable percussion and electronic effects make "Pilot Eyes" and "Jackknives," among other tracks, as evocative of Imogen Heap as the Cowboy Junkies, to whom RHTT is frequently compared (thanks largely to the Margo Timmins-like timbre of MacArthur's delicate vocals). If you miss Mazzy Star, and/or can't wait for a fresh Iron & Wine fix, tune in. At Silverlake Lounge on Tuesday, Jan. 16. - Pasadena Weekly

"Hanging in the Balance"

by John Vettese
Mar 7, 2007

Tyler Gibbons can pinpoint the moment he realized he and his wife, Robin McArthur, should make music together. They were on a long car ride, on some highway in the middle of nowhere. Lucinda Williams was on the radio.

Though the two had been playing songs together informally, Gibbons was an aspiring professional musician, and he wanted to keep his career goal separate from the couple's relationship. Also, their musical tastes weren't quite in synch. Case in point: the soundtrack they chose for the road.

Gibbons was in a Nick Drake phase, and McArthur wasn't feeling it. "I thought it was too wimpy," she chuckles. "Soulless." She's more of a folk and country girl. Once it was her turn to regain control of the stereo, she popped in Williams' Sweet Old World. He was coming around but hardly enthusiastic until the last song.

"'Which Will' came on and I said, 'Oh, this is a Nick Drake song!'" Gibbons excitedly recalls. "[Williams'] version is amazing, too. And then it seemed like suddenly we'd discovered this middle ground."

Ever since, the two have walked the line as Red Heart the Ticker. Gibbons talks at length about his songwriting style versus McArthur's style — technical versus emotional. There's also their rural-versus-urban sensibilities. Originally from pastoral Brattleboro, Vt., the duo resettled in fall of 2005 in West Philadelphia, a completed album in tow, to begin working as a band. They still return home in the summertime. "I really need that balance in my life," McArthur says.

The couple's musical equilibrium is deftly captured on For the Wicked, the album that came with them, which was recorded over the course of a winter in a neighbor's barn. Gibbons' indie-pop tastes show through on the effervescent "Go-Cart Thrills," while McArthur goes Nashville on "Pilot Eyes." Some moments are a true fusion; the spiritually themed "Depression" carries her torch and twang, as well as his layered arrangements, glockenspiel and all.

It's a lush sound that, in performance, gets reinterpreted with just guitar and upright bass. McArthur sometimes worries people might "have a hard time warming to the album after seeing us live, because they're expecting this spare, folky thing." Gibbons likes that duality, though, and both agree touring isn't just more practical as a minimal duo, it's more interesting. If friends are in the crowd, or they meet other musicians before the show, there's space for collaboration. "It brings this spontaneous, raw energy," McArthur says.

Similarly, moving to Philadelphia offered Red Heart opportunities for reinvention. Because of the isolation, Gibbons likens For the Wicked to recording in a vacuum — "albeit a beautiful, Vermont woods kind of vacuum" — with no context or influence outside their own tastes. Now, he says, they've drawn inspiration from artists such as Joshua Marcus and Buried Beds, who are friends and neighbors.

They plan to record their next album upon returning to Vermont this year — a summer album balancing a winter one. The couple is excited for what they might discover next. - Philadelphia City Paper

"Show Preview"

Philadelphia bands are delivering on their "Sixth Borough" hype — all while paying peanuts for Yuenglings and rehearsal spaces. Red Heart the Ticker (pals of Philly psych-pop organ grinders Dr. Dog) are comprised of Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons. The duo evokes the woozy alt-country of Emmylou Harris and Jon Brion, with understated guitar and piano arrangements and vocals that linger long after 2005's For the Wicked stops spinning. MacArthur's verses dulcetly convey both fragility and hardened resignation — like a female Jeff Tweedy — while Gibbons' soft rasp does Pete Yorn one wearier. Whether it's in a honky-tonk for lonely hearts or the proverbial Great Wide Open, RHTT find a way to fit snugly.

"Songs:Illinois Blog"

January 18, 2007

I've just begun to hear about the Philly based band Red Heart The Ticker. Traditional radio (remember them?) has given them some love, most recently on `XPN and on January 27th they're scheduled to appear in person on KEXP.

RHTT are a du0 made up of Robin and Ty. They recorded For The Wicked in a post and beam barn right next to the log cabin they hand built. They take turns on lead vocals giving each song the sound of whomever is front and center. On "Co-Cart Thrills" Robin's vocals call up all her influences from Linda Rondstadt to Maria Muldauer. For The Wicked came out towards the end of 2006 but with touring and radio appearences scheduled for the first part of 2007 you'll probably be hearing more from Red Heart The Ticker. Buy it now from Miles Of Music.
- Songs:Illinois

"Pitchfork Track Review "Leather Boots""

***1/2 Stars
For a song about PDAs whose central image/hook is "You're naked/ 'Cept your leather boots", "Leather Boots" is surprisingly low-key, its desires contained and even reasonable. Tyler Gibbons-- the male half of Philadelphia-based Red Heart the Ticker-- sings not as the desired or even the desirer; he's not smooth-talking here, or whispering "motorcycle cop" in a lover's ear. Instead, he's a third-party witness to love's confounding spell, which manifests itself in the song's bold, almost over-the-top imagery: "your lover puts a quarter in the jukebox with the heart-shaped mellophone." Robyn MacArthur, the female half of Red Heart the Ticker, coos coyly in the background as the song builds from its folk-pop start to its indie-pop finish, complete with handclaps and synth squiggles, perhaps illustrating the transformative power of their subject matter. -

"Go-Cart Thrills Song Review"

Red Heart The Ticker - Go-Cart Thrills


Today’s song is definitely one for your playlist. There’s something about Robin MacArthur’s vocals over Tyler Gibbons’ bass that just hooks you, and it doesn’t stop there. It seems like each time I listen to “Go-Cart Thrills” something new stands out that I didn’t notice before. The instrumentation is very lush, and its depth really grows on you with each listen. You should give it a couple spins and see what I mean, but make sure you have some decent speakers. The great bass I heard in the car is practically inaudible coming from my laptop. “Go-Cart Thrills” is from Red Heart The Ticker’s self-released album, For The Wicked. MacArthur and Gibbons together are RHTT, along with an assortment of friends and acquaintances filling in on various instruments throughout the album. And for those of you interested in the interrelations of the indie world, Gibbons is also responsible for the vocals for Dark Side of the Cop whom you should remember from this post. You can check out a few more tracks on RHTT’s MySpace page, and the album can be purchased here. -

"For The Wicked Review"

For Red Heart the Ticker's duo of Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons, musical collaboration seems to be pure destiny. Both MacArthur's and Gibbon's formative years were spent surrounded by myriad styles from folk to rock to classical. High School friends, and now betrothed, MacArthur and Gibbons moved to the wilds of Vermont to build themselves a cabin and write songs. For The Wicked is the result of this creative time together.

With songs titles like 'Depression', 'One Last Tear' and 'Gravestone', it's not altogether surprising that RHTT's music tends toward the somber and moody end of the musical spectrum. Not that you can't find faster paced, hooky songs in this collection such as 'Go-Cart Thrills' and 'Racing Stripe Winter'. However, both MacArthur's and Gibbon's voices are finely suited to quieter, more finessed notes. While a 14-song debut CD may seem ambitious, a couple of the tunes come in under a minute in length. One of the most intriguing songs, 'Slightly Under Water,' is mainly an instrumental with just a few thoughtful lyrics used as a bridge between a bluegrass/folk tune that successfully morphs into a classic rock sound. In fact, there are plenty of interesting elements in this collection (lyrically, sonically, atmospherically) letting the listener discover something new during each successive pass. Rating: 4 1/2 stars - Way Cool Music


LP: For the Wicked
KEXP in-studio performance:
Radio airplay: KEXP, WXPN, KDHX, WPRB, XM, WRVU



The Story

Red Heart the Ticker was conceived in the woods of Vermont in the hand built cabin of Robin and Ty during cold winter nights by a sputtering birch log wood fire. When they felt an album was ready to be born, they moved their instruments into a post and beam barn down the road and started recording their songs with one microphone and one laptop. (One prairie and one bee/ and reverie.) Friends arrived: an amazing guitar player from New York showed up with six guitars, a pedal steel and a Casio keyboard in tow. A facile drummer from Boston arrived. An electronica artist came and wandered around amongst the trees. These musicians slept on the screen porch of the cabin and ate burritos and worked hard and made beautiful, awe-inspiring sounds. Then Robin and Ty took their laptop and their microphone to Boston and New York and more friends added more sounds; trombone, rhodes, synth, accordion, piano. This went on for six months. They lived on popcorn and raw vegetables. They drank excessive amounts of scotch. They kept all the neighbors awake. By May of 2005 they were done recording; their hard-drives were full, their voices were tired and their backs were kinked. They took a mountain of sounds to their friend Bill down the road and said, “Help!” Bill helped. He chiseled and carved and blew air into and subtracted the shape of each song until something tangible could be heard. In the off hours they went to a nearby pond with Bill and swam. They drank beers. They blasted the rough mixes out of the window of their car on the way to South Pond and re-awakened all the neighbors. When it was finished, they packed their bags, their hard-drives, and their instruments into their station-wagon, waved goodbye to their loved ones, and moved to Philadelphia, where they started playing out…playing in…and writing more songs.

But who are they?

Robin grew up on 250 acres of woods inhabited only by other wild family members; folk singers and guitar builders and goat raisers and maple sugar makers. She often slept on the corner of stages while her family played or at the edge of campfires in her aunt’s upright fiddle case. Her dreams incorporated the sounds of banjos and fiddles and guitars and voices. She was fed on long ballads and fiddle tunes. When she was eight she discovered a neighbors vinyl collection, and in it her next musical food: Emmylou, Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur. At rummage sales she started collecting old country albums: Dolly, Tammy Wynette, Loretta, Buck Owens. She sat on the floor and listened to “Ode to Billie Joe” over and over and over. She sang loud and secretively. She wrote sad songs on the piano that no one ever heard. She taught herself to play guitar on her dad’s old Martin. She wrote songs on that too.

When Ty was born his parents took him straight from the hospital to a concert in a barn. They were playing Mozart that night, and he closed his little wandering eyes and began to learn his first language. When he was three he started taking violin lessons. He was studious and intuitive. When he was 12 he refused to take another lesson and said he wanted to play the bass instead. He wanted to play music where mistakes are a good thing. He had discovered Mingus and the Rolling Stones. He started a band with his three best friends in middle school. They called themselves Tragic Magic. They played Led Zeppelin and Van Morrison. When they got to high school they changed their name to Piraeus (Ty was in love with Homer) and they played at The Common Ground and all the girls swooned. He played in jazz combos and rock bands and an orchestra. In college his band The Humming bought a van and played all over the East Coast. Then he started writing sad, dark songs that none of the band members especially wanted to play, and no one enjoyed dancing to. They disbanded. Robin said to him, "That's okay. I'll sing."

Robin and Ty went to public high school together. They took art classes together. When they were eighteen they broke free of their small town and went away to colleges in cities. They found other people who listened to the music they listened to. They found other people who were obsessed with writing songs, and novels, and comic books. When they were both finished with college they moved to New York City together and started a band called “Mildew and Star.” It would have been a good name except that everyone said, “which one is mildew, and which one is star?”, which wasn’t the point. Plus they hated New York—their apartment had roaches and rats and they were broke. They moved back to Vermont and started cutting trees and had them milled into 2x4’s and started building a cabin. It had no running water, just a woodstove, and a telephone line for an internet connection. They lived there for three years, and recorded “For the Wicked,” and showered infrequently, and then moved to Philadelphia, and then moved back to their cabin for the summer.

The end.