Interview with Ritt Momney

Evolution is a tricky topic, especially in Utah. And if you were to name your band after the most famous Mormon in the country, you might assume that a lot of controversy would come with it. But local band Ritt Momney hasn’t found that to be the case. Yet.

With that said, it’s impossible to talk about this indie rock/pop group without noticing the transformations they’ve undergone since the band started 3 years ago. Only one original member remains, they have found a new age niche and taken Spotify’s bedroom pop playlists by storm. K-UTE Radio’s Jackson Card and Max Becker sat down with the up and coming group to talk about the creative process, future plans, and life in general. With a California tour coming up and an album in the works, it looks like this could be a breakout year for Ritt Momney.

New Beginnings

The current iteration of Ritt Momney, consisting of Jack Rutter on vocals/guitar/keys, Jonas Torgersen on guitar, Noah Hamula on bass, Auden Winchester on keys, and Sam Olson on drums, has only been together for a couple months. They found each other in classic Small Lake City fashion: childhood connections and high school parties. As Jack put it, “It was just kind of a string of people pulling each other along.”

Their memorable name came up during a jam session but was not borne of any particular feeling for the former presidential candidate. “It was not thought out at all, whatsoever. If we would have known [the band] was going to be this big of a deal, we definitely would have thought it out more. We like to keep it really neutral. We don’t want to be trashing on him or loving him either.” The name seemed a better fit for their initial style but the group doesn’t mind shaking expectations. “I’d rather have an odd fitting band name than a too fitting band name… It gets people talking about us.”

People are Talking

The hype around Ritt Momney has been growing steadily over the past year. They now have 100,000 monthly listeners (per Spotify) and generate more listeners in Los Angeles and Chicago than in Salt Lake City. Their unique blend of classic indie themes and chord structure, electronic production elements, and Jack’s signature croon has led to an explosion of popularity since “Something, in General” hit streaming services in 2018.

Their music takes on an undeniably endearing quality without being trite and it resonates deeply with listeners. That authenticity stems from their personable songwriting process.

Creating a New Sound

After the initial band left in 2018, Jack realized he could craft the band’s sound in a totally different way than before. “I’d gotten better enough at producing so that I could do my own stuff just on my computer at home. It’s so much easier to just use the electronic stuff because I can’t play drums at all but you can quantize it in logic. So that was somewhat convenience but also taste, I guess. I think we all agree the super basic indie rock feel of “Young Adult” and those earlier songs is just straight down the middle of indie rock. I think we all like the newer stuff better. Like more electronic, more experimental stuff.”

For as much credit as the band wants to give him for his brilliant writing, Jack concedes that he couldn’t do it alone. “Sending it to these guys and having them critique it is such a big part of [the process]… [and] the jam sessions kind of bring the songs life, make them different. When we’re trying a bunch of stuff… everybody’s had their input through just jamming together and thinking up parts.”

Art Over Business

The band runs the gambit on influences (from Feist to King Gizzard to James Blake) so the final output is never what you’d expect but it flows together seamlessly. Even at their live shows, the band doesn’t play exactly what’s on Spotify or Soundcloud. “[The music] kind of changes every show honestly just cause something might sound better the day before the show when we’re practicing it and then we put it in. We don’t have the attention spans to just play the same songs over and over. We kind of just want to switch it up for the sake of switching it up.”

Keeping it fresh is a crucial piece of Ritt Momney; in their music and their shows. They don’t want to sacrifice their creative freedom to appease fans or a label. As idealistic as that sounds, maintaining autonomy over their sound is a main priority for Jack, saying, “I think down the road, I definitely don’t want to ever be business over art.” Their sound is still developing and is going to continue to evolve as the group moves out of their teens and the confines of their hometown. Some A&Rs have reached out but the band isn’t ready to enter that stage of the process just yet. They’ve only just begun exploring what Ritt Momney could be and they don’t want to ruin the magic with industry pressure.

Future Plans

The group has plenty on their plate with four California tour dates this month, a South by Southwest performance in March, an opening gig for Death Cab for Cutie this May, and an album set to be released this summer. Jack’s been working on the album for a while but doesn’t want to commit to a release date just yet.

“I need to stop being such a perfectionist about it cause I just spend way too much time like, ‘Oh no, I need to figure this out’ or ‘I don’t like that anymore, I’ll just scrap it.’ So hopefully the rate at which I’m finishing songs will start picking up. I wouldn’t say we have a timeline but definitely this year. 100% this year. Should be before the end of the summer. Like 95% before the end of the summer.”

Ritt Momney has shown their ability to evolve and defy expectations, so however long the wait, I’m sure it will be worth it!

“Assume Form” Album Review

James Blake has a way of going beyond the senses, creating not just a soundscape, but a pathos that is astoundingly hard to put into words. He floats between what can be heard and what can be felt in a way that very few musicians can. His newest offering, Assume Form, does just as it says. This album is not privy to the emotional impulses of James’s consciousness. It was not written purely of his expression or to meet his fans in the sea of emotion that is so hard to articulate and navigate. It is written for someone to understand and to begin a conversation. He wrote a love letter instead of his normal journal entry and it comes across as his most accessible and clear cut work to date.

Blake’s Past Work

For ten years, James Blake has been at the forefront of experimental pop music, blending an amalgamation of genres that would take too long to list. His musical thoughts and textures are incredibly unique. He has found a trademark sound defined by sparse, yet rich instrumentation that he continually pushes boundaries with. On his last full length release, The Colour in Anything, his approach was more fragmented and yearning. He seemed to be calling out for help, or attention, or to feel heard. In the back half of the tracklisting, he finds what he is looking for. So what does an artist do when he finally captures what he’s been chasing?

As opposed to an ending, his achievement starts him on a new journey. This is evident on “Meet You in the Maze”, the final cut of The Colour in Anything. James delves into discovering happiness in himself, finding solace in the maze of his mind and its intersections with reality. There is nothing more comforting than finding someone to take that journey of self discovery with you and we watch that process of exploration and teamwork unfold on Assume Form.

A New Journey

On the title track, he makes his intentions explicit: “I will assume form, I’ll be out of my head this time/I will be touchable by her, I will be reachable.” This is an audacious goal for someone often lost in clouds. I think he succeeds in this regard. His characteristically sparse and glitchy production is as strong as it’s ever been on Assume Form. But everything about this LP, from the song structure, to the lyrics, to the passion behind his words, seems decrypted. Hitting that target of accessibility is never easy but in doing so, did James give up some of the uniqueness in his sound?

Personally, I think he did. This album is very solid all the way through and he does have some tracks that push sonic and topical boundaries, e.g., “Tell Them”, “Barefoot in the Park”, “Can’t Believe the Way We Flow”, “Where’s the Catch?”, and “Don’t Miss It”. His features, other than Travis Scott, all lived up to their potential; Rosalía‘s performance on “Barefoot in the Park” is particularly memorable. But for the most part, Assume Form does not give as much to sink one’s teeth into relative to his previous releases. I have found a lot of replay-ability in the track, “Are You in Love?”, and “I’ll Come Too” but not the same complexity I am used to in his music.

I am curious to see if this idea changes for me over time but as it stands, this is Mr. Blake’s most consistent project and also his safest. Unfortunately, he set the bar quite high for himself with his previous work. I do not see Assume Form as a misstep by any means, with some amazing songs mixed in the tracklist. But with that said, I hope to see a return to more abstract thoughts and sounds in his next effort.

7.8/10

Joey Bada$$- ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$

On We got it from here… Thank you 4 your Service, Q-tip raps, “Talk to Joey, Earl, Kendrick, and Cole/ The gatekeepers of flow”. The last three MC’s he mentions made sense to me: Kendrick being the greatest alive, Earl Sweatshirt is the best lyricist of the progressive movement in hip-hop (sorry Danny Brown and Vince Staples), and J. Cole went platinum without any features. Twice. I had listened to Joey Bada$$ a little bit before I’d heard that line and from what I’d seen, his name wasn’t worth mentioning in this list. At that point, A$AP Rocky had done a much better job of representing the beast coast and Brooklyn’s Own was only 21; I needed a larger sample size to put him on such a pedestal. On April 7th, I got what I asked for and then some.

ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is the album Joey Bada$$ needed to launch himself into the rap stratosphere. He’s given himself an identity with this project and personally, I think he has surpassed J. Cole as the penultimate voice in conscious rap. But before I get into that argument, I’ll quickly talk about the beat selection, production, and features: All fantastic. There isn’t a a song on here that I would scrap and I think each track shows a different side of Joey thanks to Kirk Knight and Statik Selektah, among the other producers on this project. As for features, Chronixx and Meechy Darko were amazing. While I think everyone on the project did an awesome job, those two were the only artists on the same level as Joey. Now that’s not to say no one went above and beyond Mr. Bada$$ because there was one artist who absolutely destroyed his feature. Like threw it in a body bag and dumped it in the Hudson. Of course I’m talking about Schoolboy Q on ROCKABYE BABY because that was some vintage, Oxymoron-style Q. The quality of this project was an absolute 10 out of 10 for me but there is one area that I think could use a little work: The substance.

I believe that this album is Joey’s good kid, m.A.A.d city or Born Sinner. For Kendrick and Cole, respectively, these projects cemented these artists as top tier spitters. They were able to communicate their observations of the world in a commercially and artistically successful way that people could relate to. They were bringing up real issues and were story-telling but they weren’t problem solving. As young MC’s, they weren’t going deeper just yet, giving us a look into why they deserved to be voices of a generation. We waited for 2014 Forest Hills Drive/4 Your Eyez Only and To Pimp a Butterfly/Untitled Unmastered to see how the newest, most prominent voices in hip-hop wanted to use their recently acquired fame. I think Joey did a better job than Cole in this first phase of rap stardom. He is starting to see the world as a 22 year old but can he start to lead his fans to the promised land, to a better AMERIKKKA? I don’t know but I’m damn excited to find out.

Score: 9.1

Smino- blkswn

I wanted to give you guys a comparison of Smino Brown to someone else, just to give you a sense of the type of artist he is, but I can’t come up with anyone. There is no one in music right now or that I can think of in the past that has been making the type of music Smino is making. The closest group I could come up with is Outkast but to say that Smino is another Andre clone would be doing him a massive disservice. This rapper/singer out of St. Louis seems to be taking the best parts of rap from across the country and combining them. He flows like he’s from Brooklyn, brings the jazz and soul from the south with his voice, uses the grand production and showmanship that has been coming out of Chicago, and he’s been liberated by West Coast rap, talking about what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. He’s so incredibly versatile on this tape but at the same time staying incredibly cohesive. For a debut album, blkswn is everything I could have wanted from Smino and then some.

That’s not to say that this album is perfect. I certainly have a few gripes here and there. The biggest issue for me right now is that there are a couple songs on blkswn that don’t have that same sort of easy-going way about them. The first one that stuck out to me was “Maraca”. He just doesn’t seem to settle into this track the way he does on the opener and even though there are other songs on the album where he flows a lot faster than on “Maraca”, something doesn’t seem quite right on this cut. I hear it a little bit on “Glass Flows” and “Edgar Allen Poe’d Up” where Smino seems like he’s either a little behind the beat or that he’s trying too hard. Those songs are all at the beginning of the album and as the track list plays, he seems to find his groove a little more, switching in and out of flows like it’s nothing. Personally, there are very few albums more than 15 songs long that I wouldn’t change at all. That seems to be my subjective threshold for LP length so this might just be me but I could do without two or three songs on this album.

With that criticism out of the way, I have to say that about 10 of the songs off this album have been on heavy rotation for me since the release. “Wild Irish Roses”, “Flea Flicka”, “Anita”, “blkswn”, “Long Run”, “Innamission”, “Ricky Millions”, and “Amphetamine” are all on my “favorite music right now” playlist. I also really like the song “B Role”, partly because it bangs and partly because it’s a risk for Smino. An artist as special as this guy could just run with his own sound but he is still trying to push boundaries and find new avenues to explore. I can’t help but respect that and I am excited to see where this rhyme smith will go in the future.

Migos- Culture

Right now, the Migos reminds me of last years Steph Curry. They can do no wrong. They’re just chucking up crazy bars and ridiculous ad-libs that are all swishing. There aren’t many times when an artist will rise to the top of a genre in a matter of months without any objections from their fellow musicians, but the Migos has done that and no one in hip-hop can deny it. And there’s a very distinct reason for that: They have blended new school mumble rap with southern trap-infused beats.

Unlike Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert, the faces of the mumble rap movement and two artists that the Migos have worked with in the past, the Migos put an emphasis on their lyrics. They make sure you aren’t missing out on their punchlines and they take pride in their craft as writers. While, they don’t veer too far from the traditional rap topics of clothes, ice, drugs, money, and girls, their punchlines are classic and that brand of southern vernacular gives them so many options to say what they want to say: “Young n***a poppin’ with a pocket full of cottage/Woah kemosabe, chopper aimin’ at your noggin/Had to cop the Audi, then the top I had to chop it/N***as pocket watchin’, so I gotta keep the rocket” (Migos. “T-Shirt.” Culture. CD. Atlantic. 2017).

At the same time, their beat selection is immaculate and I think the word Culture takes on two different meanings for the Migos: First, I think it’s obvious that they are saying they are the center of the hip-hop world and we’ve been hearing since the early 2000’s that hip-hop is the new rock and roll. They are actively shaping the most popular genre in America right now and that’s incredibly impressive when you think about the other moguls in the game at the moment: Drake, Kanye, Kendrick, and Rihanna are all arguably at the top of their games. This point leads me into the second meaning that I see in this title: The artists that I mentioned earlier have very distinct styles but the Migos pull from some of the hottest hip-hop influences and execute better than the originals. I realized this on the last track of the album, “Out Yo Way”. The hook has those atmospheric synths underneath with a nonchalant, sing-song chorus that reminds me of Drake. The difference is, I didn’t have to hear them whining about some girl that I will never actually know about. The same can be said about a lot of songs on the back half of this album: “Kelly Price” has that signature Travis Scott production, “All Ass” sounds like a Rae Sremmurd song but I can understand the lyrics, and “Brown Paper Bag” could easily be a Future track. Then songs like “T-Shirt”, “Bad and Boujee”, and “Slippery” are obviously original and their most popular tracks so far. The Migos are flexing on rappers right now. They seem to have a complete hold on the game and I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.

Score: 7.7/10

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

On Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 masterpiece, To Pimp A Butterfly, we heard him calling out to the world, “We want the funk.” It seems like Childish Gambino heard him and indulged his request because Awaken, My Love! is oozing with soul. Donald Glover unveiled this newest project at a three day album-listening event called Pharos in Joshua Tree National Park, CA. This was in September and many fans were prepared for the upcoming release then, only to be disappointed until December when we received another iconic album from a hip hop demigod.

Donald Glover picked up right where he left off on Because The Internet. Towards the end of his 2013 LP, Gambino focuses a little more on his singing and introduces some voice augmentation, which are staples of this new record. If you are a fan of Donald’s rapping, this new album might be a little disappointing for you.

I’ve been a sick boi (fan of Childish Gambino. Girls are called Gambino girls) ever since I heard “Crown on the Ground” in 2009. To give you an idea why, check out KaptainKristian’s video about why Donald Glover is the ultimate modern renaissance man (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgQ3Hpj-CBU). One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Donald Glover is that he never seems to shy away from who he is. He is impressively authentic and it’s what draws so many adoring fans to his shows. For much of his career as an entertainer, he has been an oddball: a token character trying to find his way in a world where not a lot of people look like him. It seems like this type of isolation plagued him as a child as well but his art has been a lovely side project in what I’m sure is a very confusing life. Donald Glover has been many things in front of his audiences: Goofy, mature, unfiltered, closed-off, the list could go on. But the one thing that Childish Gambino has always skirted around is his blackness. He has always poked fun at it in his raps and stand-up shows and he was never being disingenuous when he did acknowledge his skin color. He was simply being Donald. But it seems in this latest LP that he is ready to declare his ethnicity to the world. Instead of it being the reason why the kids at school made fun of him or why he is automatically given a pass to rap as an actor, it is the reason for his deep love of life and his fellow humans. He doesn’t even talk about him being black specifically on the album. He just is. And it’s beautiful.

If you like good, energy-filled, touch-your-soul type of music, this album is for you. My dad raised me on funk and soul music so I am definitely a little biased in my opinion of this record. It’s not perfect by any means but damn is it fun to listen to.

Score: 7.6

Saba – Bucket List

The growth of Chicago’s hip hop scene just won’t stop. It’s bigger now than it’s ever been thanks to an influx of incredibly talented, thoughtful, and cool artists. The latest Chicago rapper to make his voice heard this year is Saba, the 22 year-old face of the Pivot Gang. His new album Bucket List came out on October 27th and it’s good. Really good.

Saba started playing piano at 7 and started messing around with production software at 12. He graduated high school at 16 with a 3.9 and followed in his father’s footsteps as a musician (wikipedia.com). Luckily for him, he was able to ride the Acid Rap wave into relevance and through his relationships with other Chicago rappers (Chance, Noname, and Mick Jenkins, to name a few) he’s been able to break into the game with some really quality music. This latest tape is just another example of the authenticity that is so crucial to Saba’s, and Chicago’s, new sound. He’s real, he’s transparent, he’s positive. His message is beautiful and his lyricism only accentuates his points. His word play is impeccable and he switches up his flows effortlessly. I seriously can’t say enough about this guys ability to spit. He’s beginning to establish himself as a premier wordsmith in the industry and he has the opportunity to craft such astounding rhymes because of the subject matter he is taking on.

A theme of this new wave of Chicago rappers is to take on topics that haven’t been talked about much in hip hop over the last decade. Saba doesn’t drink or smoke, he’s never been a big partier, and he’s been able to stay out of gang violence for most of his life. Those are some of the big ideas that have been promoted in rap since the Lil Wayne era so Saba had to take inspiration from some different perspectives. Fame, family, Chicago, and the potential of our generation take the driver’s seat in Bucket List and Saba’s genuine optimism shines through these dialogues he opens up. It’s truly inspirational and what really draws me to Saba and his music.

I knew I would connect with this tape from the very first song. “In Loving Memory” sounds like a Social Experiment song and Saba wastes no time getting into his incredible rhymes. I could hear pieces of Chance, Noname, and Childish Gambino influences on this track and he sets the tone early with a dense verse and a really smooth singing performance. He finishes the track by giving us his bucket list which consists of “One, I wanna have a meal from in and out, coz I live nowhere near one. Two, I wanna go one on one against D. Rose. And three, I wanna *bleep* [sic] Kylie Jenner…” (genius.com). He’s funny, he’s enthusiastic, and he has a great new LP out. Saba most definitely has room to grow as an artist and a producer and this project has him moving in the right direction.

Score: 8.0

Solange – A Seat at the Table

There are not many artists these days that have the audacity to attempt to create an LP that is expressive, expansive, and coherent. Even fewer are able to succeed in this endeavor. Solange does. A Seat at the Table, Solange’s third studio effort, is an album that has the potential to be a definitive art piece in the struggle of civil rights in the 21st century. This is her first project in 8 years and it’s okay if you’ve never heard the name Solange Knowles before. She has been living behind the incredible shadow of her sister, Beyoncé, for the vast majority of her career but here second album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, and this more recent one are two very good reasons why she deserves her own reverence from the music industry. Disclaimer: this album is not Lemonade, and it is most certainly not trying to be Lemonade.

This album, like her sister’s newest work, is a celebration of blackness but that is where the similarities end. Even how these woman honor being black is completely different. Solange, rather than making an aggressive, almost militant declaration of freedom from the social constraints of traditional racial roles, takes a more earnest look at the state of black people in America today. Two songs that I felt really embodied her over-arching message on this album are “Interlude: Tina Taught Me” and “F.U.B.U.”. The first discusses a pride in being black and who you are and recognizes that just because you take pride in your culture, that does not mean that you are trying to disrespect someone else’s foundations. The latter discusses the rise in black culture and the potential of black people in the face of implicit bias and straight up racism that still exists in America today.

What really struck me about the tone of this album was the underlying sense of optimism and confidence in her people that Solange carries throughout this record. She seems to recognize the gains made by black people in the last 60 years but she never forgets that there is still a battle raging in this country for black peoples’ unalienable rights that very much needs to be fought.

A Seat at the Table will not go down as my favorite album of the year. It is a long 21 songs and her stripped down production is beautiful but after the first 30 minutes, I could use a change in tempo. On the positive end though, the transitions and interludes are fantastic, the production is definitely on point, and her message is clear and beautifully worded. I really enjoyed this album, especially the songs “Cranes in the Sky”, “Don’t Touch My Hair”, “F.U.B.U.”, and “Junie”. A powerful and elegant effort, I have to give Solange props on this album and those four songs will definitely be in my rotation for the next few months.

Score: 8.4/10