Normally a band puts out an album, people fall in love with it, and come see them play live. Branch Ricky has done it backwards, and let their infectious music speak for itself to draw a crowd at live shows. Now that we love them, they’re simultaneously releasing their overdue debut and going on hiatus because a band member is off to BC for some booklearnin’.
We live in a digital era of musical overload via streaming services that act as unprecedentedly infinite jukeboxes drowning us in new songs so thoroughly it’s more impossible than ever to keep up with new music. So it says a lot about Branch Ricky that the band didn’t need an album to become a city favourite, and get into festivals like Lawnya Vawnya.
Titled Volume 1 (is that a promise there’ll be a Volume 2 some day?), the album’s tracks run the gamut of rowdy singalongs like “Pyjama Party” to slower jams about a janitor in love with the town’s karaoke queen (“Something to See”).
“Everything but the Needle”’s homage to early Strokes is a killer standout, and that’s followed by “Summertime,” an innovative ska-ish track with some great interplay between the guitars. The chorus has all the perks of your favourite pop-punk jam. The album is an awful lot of fun, and defies being predictable track to track.
Exclaim‘s Vish Khana heard them for the first time at Lawnya Vawnya 2016, and wrote, “A little frat with musical chops, Branch Ricky are most keen to have fun … [these] local favourites play a feel-good kind of Southernfried rock with a healthy mix of danceable funk and pop thrown in for good measure.”
Their original sound, musical craftsmanship, and the plain fun in the songs, makes Branch Ricky an unfamiliar breath of fresh musical air for sure, but like any album, they could have shaved a few weaker songs off here, that put a small dent in hearing an album front to back without reaching for the skip button.
A real testament to Branch Ricky’s music and energy is that they’re not just another group backing up their pal’s songs; they’re a legit band of people coming together to create something bigger than any one of them could have done alone.
There’s multiple songwriters crafting these songs and sharing the mic (brownie points for the killer dude harmonies too), yet there’s a really common thread that can only come from all five of these guys being on the same page and not fighting about it.
It’s fun, it’s catchy, it’s good, it’ll live up to the hype. Branch out of your go tos in November and make room for Branch Ricky in your cars, computers, and those jogs you’re finally getting around to. All those killer guitar riffs make it easy to like. In fact, they kinda make you wanna be in the band: what a blast they’re having.