• Michael Bugeja

ARE THE RANCH CUCKOO?


The answer to that question is....oh, never mind! If you're into the local music scene, chances are you've heard, or at least heard of, The Ranch. It's not easy to describe this project, which is rather eclectic at its core, but perhaps the best way to define it is as being the crossroads where the musical paths of three rather different (and very talented if I may add) musicians met who, after some jamming, a little experimenting and a lot of improvising, morphed into one hell of a trio.

Formed sometime last year, The Ranch features Banjo Rancho on drums, Kyle Drakard on guitar and Dean Montanaro on bass; all of them passionate musicians with no intention of letting anything or anyone hold them back once they've got their groove on. This probably explains why their debut album Cuckoo Island, which will be officially launched on Friday, December 11 witha live performance at the Marsa Sports Club, offers such a diverse collection of tracks. There are plenty of jazz references, improvs and phrases all over the album, but to simply call this a jazz record wouldn't be quite on the mark, as the music they've created packs a solid, powerful groove that also dips into funk and rock, and even a touch of metal.

Also worth mentioning are the band's live performances, where it's more than just the music that matters. Onstage, The Ranch project a particular playfulness in their delivery, and it is this vibe that connects them to their audience so strongly. It's a feel-good factor with attitude that they exude, but it's the right kind of attitude, so much so that you just can't help but be drawn into the moment once it kicks in.

So this article was supposed to also include a '5 things you didn't know about The Ranch' kind of list, but what they sent me was, let's say, rather economic so I've had to exercise some improvs myself. Anyway, there are probably plenty of things you might already know about this band, such as the fact that they sometimes also perform under the name of Banjo's Musical Porno, (no worries, there's no nudity involved), or perhaps the fact that the band members have other music projects outside of The Ranch, or that, apart from several local festivals, they've also performed in the UK.

You might even have heard that guitarist Kyle Drakard was asleep in the car up until just a few minutes before The Ranch opened for fingerstyle legend Don Ross last month (not that anyone could tell from the way he handled that guitar), or that they like to work and experiment with other people and friends (it says so in their bio), but here (in bold) are the five things the band believes no-one ever knew about them, until now, that is (and I've added a few comments of my own just for the heck of it)!

1. Not all the band members are actual aliens.

Right, I'm not quite sure about this. I've always believed they were all Maltese. Truth be told, the music they play is rather far out so I wouldn't be surprised if they find themselves floating in space while they're at it...

2. The band hosts its own secret shows in secret places.

Hmm, interesting fact, this. So secret I had no clue they did play secret shows until now. Come to think of it, I'm still none the wiser as they haven't really divulged any proper details either. Maybe the next one....

3. The Ranch really like ice-cream.

Me too, but then, who doesn't? What would really have cut the cake is if The Ranch said they can play live while enjoying their ice-cream. Now that would be something to see!

4. Are you really enjoying reading this?

Honestly, so and so. I was hoping for some juicier little-known facts from you lads. I'm sure you'll come up with a few more if you really dig deep...

5. We could only think of four things, it was tough! (PS. If you want to change anything, go ahead)

Still not digging deep enough I see, but I'll forgive you, seeing as how you've come up with such an amazing album. Seriously, it is an amazing record, so if you're still reading, go grab yourself a copy! Better still, go down to the Marsa Sports Club on Friday, December 11 and experience the music in the flesh, then grab yourself a copy of the album to remind you of the good time you'll have had that night!

And why not round this off with a couple of links to whet your appetite ahead of the launch gig.... for more info about The Ranch, click here.

That's all there is for the moment, folks! Go back to the top and start all over again....

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