Album Review: Ripe by The Mitras
The intersection of punk rock and garage rock has always been rowdy and resolute, a haven for musicians who embrace and embody the bold grittiness with both sound and spirit. It’s a place that doesn’t waste time in defining boundaries or providing structure. Instead, it offers a welcome and fertile ground for musical roots that will let a musician grow and flourish in their own unique way. Within Richmond’s artistic landscape, this juncture has nurtured a plethora of impressive talents throughout the years, with even more looking to carve out their memorable piece today. Between those nascent projects and legendary acts, we find bands like The Mitras, who have begun prioritizing their sonic expansion instead of tending to the already cultivated soil beneath them. The trio’s latest EP, Ripe, exemplifies this pursuit of musical growth with three songs that offer a glimpse into their evolving prowess.
Opening track, “The Ripper,” begins this display of progress by honing in on what has made the band stand out in a crowded scene over the past four years. The song lives up to its title in spades with a thundering drum pattern that’s incited by a classic punk strum. Lyrics bounce between repeated refrains of “Are you having fun?” and “I don’t really want to think about it,” each sung by frontman Sean Moran with a melodic flippancy that lends itself to simplistic revelations, i.e. enjoying the moment free of distractions. “19999” comes in next, with an opening hook that the writer’s room for Conan O’Brien wishes they would have come up with in the mid-’90s. The band’s urgent intensity is tempered here with a sound that’s more comfortable simmering in its burning riffs and broiling rhythm. In this more relaxed atmosphere, the dynamic range of The Mitras introduces itself on the EP, with Moran maneuvering around a sly earworm as the band shows how classic clap-beats and downstrums can still yield something fresh and intriguing.
“House Empty” closes out the brief yet ample EP, doubling down on the showcase of range that “19999” began with a sparse reflection that fills a vast musical canvas. Bassist Austin Miller enters the space first, leading with a hesitant bass line that sets the stage for the lyrical inspection to come. Drummer Russel Redmond follows next, providing fills at first instead of a typical beat in order to fully shed light on the expanse around the band. Moran’s guitar finally fills out the sound with a surfy tone, one that harkens to the carefree nature of “The Ripper,” but with a patient sway that reveals the struggle with extending that blithe mentality. Lyrically, Moran addresses the eerie calm around him, one that finds him back in a familiar if not distressing mentality (<em<“Did I have that dream again? \ It’s hard to remember \ And I felt that way again \ Just like I was suppose to”). As a haunting backing vocal and wobbling keyboard line enter, the band finds familiar footing and the song begins to gain momentum, never quite reaching the mania of the preceding tracks, but surpassing the thrill nonetheless with nuanced musicianship and incisive emotion. This branch of The Mitras might not be as stout as “The Ripper” or as vibrant as “19999,” but it is distinct nonetheless, with a cagey sprawl that makes you wonder what direction it will continue to reach for in the future.
Combine Ripe with two other recent releases from 2023, the infectious single “Caroline” and punchy track “No One Else,” and one can see how far that musical range is truly evolving, at an impressive rate it must be said. The Mitras have always had a ripened rock sound, but with these new songs, they’ve truly begun to blossom and are doing so in a way that reveals it’s not just a tenuous display of musical glory. It’s a bloom that we’ll able to appreciate with each performance and new release as the band continues to color and shade things differently to make sure that their artistic garden remains vivid and captivating.
Ripe is available on all streaming platforms now. For more information on The Mitras, make sure to follow them on social media by clicking this link.
Don’t miss their next show on Saturday, September 2nd, headlining the Back To School Fest at the Get Tight Lounge. For more information on that concert, click here.