British swagger must be contagious because Ripple Green’s latest effort struts like nothing they’ve done before. After an extended stay in the UK last year as part of ACM@UCO’s exchange program, Ripple Green returned with a retooled sound, new recordings, and, it appears, a burning drive to rock Oklahoma City’s indie music scene.
All of this culminates in Timepiece, the OKC rock trio’s new four-track EP, which relishes in tight song structure and crisp sound design from beginning to end. Ripple Green has been compared to Sublime and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the latter makes especially good sense on this record—the title track has a chorus that could have been lifted straight from the RHCP catalogue. From the confident, vocally centered grooves of that chorus to the cool, familiar melodies of “Birds,” the three-piece band brings accessibility and catchiness front and center. The supporting guitars mostly blend in with other background musical elements varying from rock piano to airy vocal refrains, though there are occasionally moments given for them to shine. This is an album that owes more to a driving beat than a strong riff.
To listeners familiar with Ripple Green’s earlier work, this will likely come as a revelation. Previous EP releases found the OKC rock trio boasted long-form songwriting across progressive tempo and time signature twists and turns. In fact, one of those EPs only has three tracks yet clocks in at five minutes longer than Timepiece. The older music isn’t offered online by the band anymore, and if that isn’t enough to suggest a total rebranding, one needs only see the cover art for Timepiece. It pictures the band members as sleek, young contemporaries on a bare green background as if to introduce themselves for the first time.
This is a comparatively mainstream record, but Ripple Green’s sophistication ensures that it isn’t dumbed down. With the exception of an awkward moment or two on the sexually suggestive “Making A Man,” the lyrics remain conceptual and interesting, like on the superb chorus to “Timepiece.” There are also plenty of subtle modular musical changes over the course of any given song. “Birds” transitions seamlessly from an acoustic swing time to an electric straight 4/4 in its first minute, and the closer, “Marble Arch,” even throws in a delightfully screwy time signature a couple of times.
With the new fire carried back from Britain and the Okie-bred production work of Graham Colton (who himself journeyed through reinvention on Lonely Ones, his full-length from last year), Ripple Green have struck upon a cohesive, defining sound with Timepiece, and they’re wearing it with confidence.
This article was originally written for Literati Press (literatipressok.com). It is archived here with the publisher’s permission.
aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.