Live Review: The Ries Brothers

Mercury Lounge  New York, NY

Contact: [email protected]

Web: riesbrothers.com

Players: Charlie Ries, vocals, drums, keyboards, melodica; Jordan Ries, guitar, ukulele, bottle slide

Material: This Florida-based brother outfit takes their inspiration from a number of influences, from Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, to The White Stripes and John Mayer. Combining rock, reggae, rap, and blues, they not only move from style to style, but blend several styles into one big musical adventure. 

They kick off the set with their recent  single, “Strange Times,” where Jordan Ries immediately shows off his polished guitar skills in this rock-driven number. “Street Lights,” with its laid-back feel and more pop sensibility is the most singable of the set. The lyrics are descriptive with definable imagery and a guitar lick that serves as a strong motif connecting the verses: Cause there’s something ‘bout the street lights, street lights/that keeps on going all night, all night/I swear that it just feels right, feels right/so let’s keep goin’ on. Solidly making the case for the duo’s grasp on various genres, is the authentic sounding “Take It Back,” their foray into reggae.

Musicianship: Impressive technique on multiple instruments renders the duo a virtual two-man band. They each handle more than one instrument; sometimes juggling two within the same song. As lead vocalist, Charlie Ries shines in various styles. Jordan Ries, on guitar can compete with the best of them and plays the instrument as though it were an extension of himself. He also plays a mean ukulele.

Performance: There is no shortage of entertaining elements from their stage antics (Jordan occasionally plays guitar holding it behind his head) to the light show in their final number. They don’t talk much between songs, but the wall-to-wall music format works for them while still maintaining a connection with the audience. 

Summary: The Ries Brothers have a synergy that works well, incorporating their individual roles. With two distinct personas, Jordan being the more extroverted and Charlie the more reserved, they truly complement each other. Their new video, “Strange Times,” is out now.

– Ellen Woloshin