WRITER's James and Andy Ralph are brothers, and if you couldn't see it in their faces, you'll see it written all over them, sometimes even literally. The two share a tattoothe words "Brothers Ralph" surrounding an anchor, like two sailors navigating the same seabut you can also hear their brotherhood all over their music. Andy's voice cascades and careens around and across James' almost impossibly hard floor tom hits, and when the two join together to shout a chorus or a particularly important lyric on their album Brotherface, the two create a sound that's much more than two boys playing songs together.
Growing up in Yucaipa, California and cutting their teeth, drumsticks and guitar strings in San Diego, Writer has taken the Ralphs all over the country on tour with bands like Cults, Margot & the Nuclear So & So's and Guards, finally inspiring and allowing them to set down roots, although however temporary or permanent they may be remains to be seen, in Brooklyn. Although their songs still bring forth the mermaids, highways and pretty girls of California, with a new practice space and a collection of new tracks, their sound is evolving. You can feel it, too, when they play live. Months of touring, taking risks on different rooms and sound guys, has given Writer a newfound confidence but also a newfound freedom, making their performances as exuberant in a brand new, giant venue as it would be in one of their old haunts back in San Diego.
The songs on Brotherface are a unique combination of anthemic and psychedelic; not meandering, definitely structured, but also bubbling and swirling with layers of sound that seem far more complicated than what two guys can make standing alone on a stage. The aquarium-sound of "Miss Mermaid" makes love into a slow swim, while the energetic gallop and brisk harmonies of "Cash For Gold" call to mind the feeling of driving across and empty expanse of highway with your friends late at night, shouting into the dark just to hear your own voice.
Older brother Andy is an emerging contemporary artist as well as being a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, and you can hear it. Both the lyrics and the melodies contain multitudes of colors, and the way they blend calls to mind the mindful sweep of a painter's brush across canvas. It's a balancing act between melody and rhythm, something the pair have mastered to the point that it wouldn't be surprising to hear that those rumors about siblings and telepathy had some truth to them. James, who is the younger of the two, smiles behind his drum kit before attacking it with a force that's not at all violent, but nonetheless powerful and precise, building structure over the many layered sounds. Don't make that think the two don't work together, though. Their band was built out of making silence into something, and in that they are entirely collaborative, Andy lending inspiration to James' drum parts and James suggesting melodies, as well as occasionally playing keyboards with one hand and the drums with the other.
After extensive touring, the pair will be self-releasing a first pressing of Brotherface in October, writing new songs, and preparing to set off on yet another tour in the fall. They're also continuing to settle in to New York City, and watching their sound change as they continue to write. "The sound keeps getting fuzzier," Andy says, adding, "which both of us are into." And surely if the past has been any indication, the two are right, as brother music is always better than music made alone.