Ragged - Ragged EP
With the release of their self-titled EP, Ragged have made it very clear that there is a new force and voice in Dunedin’s music scene. The fact the band recently took out the title at this year’s Dunedin Battle of the Bands further reaffirms this. In recent years, Dunedin has been a breeding ground for reggae rock bands; most notable of these are Six60 and Summer Thieves, now we must add Ragged’s name to the list.
The group are all Dunedin lads who met at University. I met the boys in a large loft space that had been converted into a student flat up several flights of stairs on Jetty Street. The band are laid back, good natured and are full of banter as we settle in for a Q and A. After some discussion bass and guitar player George Giblin is nominated to do all the talking for the interview, Drummer Angus Cleland throws in his two cents on occasion.
The exact date of their formation is a little vague, but the boys tell me they began playing together in 2011 while guitarist Dylan Walker, Cleland and Giblin were studying music at Otago Uni. At this time, Walker and vocalist Reece Vaitupu had already been busking on Dunedin’s streets together for some time when Cleland suggested they all have a jam together, as the saying goes ‘the rest is history.’
Ragged made a name for themselves as a covers band playing for a couple of years in a number Dunedin’s bars before they grew tired of this and set about creating their own material. At the beginning of 2013, the band decided to ‘pull the pin’ on the covers and began creating what their first EP. The boys describe recording their EP as a lengthy process, having performed their new songs live for the first time only a few weeks ago.
The boys joke they shouldn’t be in a band together because they all have such different taste in music; ranging from trap, hip-hop, blues, pop, funk and classic rock. However, this could be one of their greatest strengths allowing them draw influence from such a diverse range of music to create a sound that is their own. The album is built on a song structure informed by the likes of the Tahuna Breaks, the Black Keys with a good sprinkling of soul and good vibes.
The EP’s opening track ‘Got Soul’ sets the album’s tone. While I sit in my studio in the grips of winter with gloves on my hands, beanie on my head and the EP is on repeat, the dubby sounds transport me to a better place. I imagine endless summers, BBQs and beers on the beach sadly my reality couldn’t be further from this. The second track ‘That I Do’ is catchy and upbeat, it shows pop influences and has to be one of the strongest tracks on offer on the EP. Every time I listen to this song I find myself breaking into a whistle (maybe not the most enjoyable experience for those around me). ’Girl In Red’ another very solid song, Vaitupu sings in an almost falsetto range about an encounter with an enigmatic belle in red, and the sadness but beauty of missed opportunities. The track leaves us wondering what could have been. The EP’s final song ‘Hanging Around’ brings us back up with it’s solid bass line, reggae vibe, and a touch of sass as Vaitupu croons about the complications of young love. The song pulls you in and leaves you as it says ‘hanging around’ wanting more from the four piece.
For Ragged creating their first EP was a matter of learning on the job. Alan Gray a local musician helped the group to record the EP and gave them guidance to create three songs on the EP then the remaining two songs were up to the band to record themselves. The tracks were recorded in several bedrooms with relatively basic recording interfaces but don’t be deterred by this DIY mentality, Ragged’s first offering is class and holds a raw quality that is now often forgotten in the digital age.
Ragged EP utilises heavy bass lines, raw garage energy, catchy blues guitar hooks and Vaitupu’s soulful voice. What shines through loud and clear on the album is an exciting, unique sound that is informed by an eclectic mash-up of musical genres. The future looks bright for Ragged if their debut release is anything to go by.
Physical copies of the EP are available if you contact the band’s Facebook page and digital copies from their Bandcamp.
Submitted by Jon Thom