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Young Star

Ransom steals our hearts

IN A NUTSHELL - Samantha King - The Philippine Star

Folksy indie act The Ransom Collective releases an EP and steals our hearts.

On a clear, humid, moonlit evening last Saturday, the 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub was the world, and The Ransom Collective, its center.

You’ve probably heard of them from some random corner of the online music-streaming community; their name is just the right amounts of obscure (or not, since the band is named after front man Kian Ransom) and catchy for anyone in on the local music scene today. Otherwise, you’ve probably heard of them from the news: Early this year, the six-piece band took a giant leap from Internet obscurity to win the Wanderband competition, eventually going on to open for the Wanderland international music festival, headlined by bands like The Drums and Architecture in Helsinki. No small feat, considering the band itself was only around a year old, and its members — comprised of Kian Ransom on guitar and vocals, Lily Gonzales on keyboard, Leah Halili on bass, Muriel Gonzales on violin, Jermaine Choa Peck on percussion, and Redd Claudio on drums — all fresh-faced 20-somethings.

After a busy year of further expanding their online presence (you can check them out on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud, YouTube), writing songs, and continuing to play gigs in and out of the Metro, all while juggling work and school, the band’s efforts finally culminated in the success of last week’s EP launch.

It’s true that EPs are being launched here and there in bars all over Metro Manila. But the night was special for the band and the crowd that came to watch. In today’s synthetic-electric-midified-digitized-spotified-MP3’ed music and music marketing world, an EP launch becomes a rebellious occasion, a signal for the world to take the band seriously because they’re coming out with something tangible, something the band believes people should pay for, not for anything else except that it’s good music and it’s worth spending a buck on. And The Ransom Collective, with their indie pop sound, did not disappoint.

The band played an original composition entitled Imagine to start the show, and carried on with covers of Ang Huling El Bimbo and Mumford and Sons’ Little Lion Man, both songs significant to the band’s pathway to their current success. Afterwards, they played an energetic rhythmic set, the six of them manning percussive instruments altogether, jamming in the vein of Stomp — minus the metal trash can lids and the somersaults and backflips. It was their night, and they could get away with anything. It was a performance that would have made Will Ferrell proud: “More cowbell!” Sure, nobody expected thrashing or a percussive symphony the likes of Phil Collins’ Take Me Home, but it was a homey jam; it was earthy music to dance along to.

They closed their set with their carrier single, if you will, called Fools, the crowd singing along from the opening swells of the song. Apparently, everyone knew the words. But if you didn’t, you’d learn it on the spot. It was a night of youthful euphoria with the stage decorated with crates, Christmas lights, pastel colors, and Kian, Muriel, Jermaine, Redd, Lily and Leah, faces aglow with the sheer, unadulterated joy (and sweat) of making good, solid music.

Part of The Ransom Collective’s appeal is that they are able to create a whole hodgepodge of sounds and winged harmonic melodies from the violin and the vocals. But after all that has populated the room, they still manage to include you, the listener, in the whole musical trip. As part of the audience, you are not forced to glue yourself to your chair and hold on tight to your beer bottle as the band blows you away by a virtuoso performance. Instead, you are invited to move, to dance, to sing — anything — the point is for you to join in the band’s singular, thankfully uncomplicated merrymaking. Perhaps their most notable feature is The Ransom Collective’s thick rhythm section — keyboard, bass, percussion, acoustic guitar and drums all combined — powerful enough to carry both the band and its audience. In fact Murielm, as the veritable “lead guitar,” is already the band’s most complicated and dominant melodic strain, aptly complemented by Kian’s soaring voice.

You can be sure The Ransom Collective is enough to get you out of your gloomy Monday morning slump. And in today’s minor-keyed music scene, that makes their band a bright and hopeful spot.

Music-making and production has been greatly democratized by the advent of home recording tools and new avenues for distribution online. The old practice of recording, producing and listening only to those bands and artists who play at blistering speeds with inimitable technique, inducing wild fits of rock ‘n’ roll, is challenged today by down-to-earth songwriting and good, simple fun. In that arena, The Ransom Collective proves to have made its mark as a band of and for this generation.

ANG HULING EL BIMBO AND MUMFORD AND SONS BAND COLLECTIVE DRUMS AND ARCHITECTURE JERMAINE CHOA PECK KIAN KIAN RANSOM MUSIC RANSOM RANSOM COLLECTIVE
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