Led by former Dræmhouse member Emma Danner, Red Ribbon are a Seattle supergroup of sorts, consisting of Monika Khot (Zen Mother, Nordra), Natasha El-Sergany (somesurprises), Veronica Dye (ex-Rose Windows), and Pat Schowe (Feed, ex-Rose Windows). It might be too glib to say that Red Ribbon fill the void left by La Luz when that ascendant, Hardly Art Records group left Seattle for LA, but there are similarities. Both bands radiate an understated cool with hushed, amber-hued songs that intrigue by luring you into a sonic world of interiorized moods and upholstering your mind with velveteen melodies, sung by dulcet-voiced women. You sense that David Lynch would love both artists.
Red Ribbon's charms hit me by surprise earlier this month when I walked into Cha Cha to see another band; Red Ribbon were in full serenity mode and I felt a warm bliss wash over me within a minute. The show's promoter, Party Jail's Ruben Mendez, has called Red Ribbon Seattle's best band, and he may be on to something.
"Idiot Orange"—one of the best cuts on Red Ribbon's debut album, Dark Party (out September 28 on Union Zero Records)—creeps in on slow, methodical beats and cymbal ticks that suggest a profound reckoning is imminent. El-Sergany and Danner's guitars spangle ruefully until the song elegantly blossoms a minute in, with Khot's synth strings and Dye's flute swelling to a "The Court of the Crimson King"-like grandeur. Danner melodiously scorns the song's antagonist: "idiot orange hands/they will turn you red." The overall vibe is Julee Cruise's Floating into the Night, but with stately prog flourishes.
One might surmise from the title that this song is about the so-called president, but Danner denies that. “'Idiot Orange' was written in 2014 or 2015, before I knew what was coming," she says via Facebook message. "It has served as a bit of a premonition in that way. I hesitate to talk about the meaning of songs, because I would love for them to be open and fluid in interpretation. This song has certainly been that for me. It was written initially about my own hands—feeling a sense of destruction even when I would try to be gentle. However the line ‘reach but they don’t grab’ seemed to take on a new and very literal meaning after the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released.
"I tend to rewrite and rework the same song multiple times. And you can find a different version on 2017’s Freaks Only, which I believe was recorded in early 2015 (with Ray McCoy on drums). This version of the song, on Dark Party, was recorded in Brooklyn September of last year (Veronica Dye, Natasha El-Sergany, Monika Khot, Pat Schowe, produced by Randall Dunn), when the circumstances of this sham president and fascist government were glaringly apparent. I did intentionally change lyrics in the second verse at this time to 'blood will turn you red.' Perhaps the most musically victorious part of the song is the flute in the bridge (by Dye), which in my opinion sounds like a Phoenix who is true of heart and cannot be contained by the bullshit.
"For the record, fuck Trump; he doesn’t deserve to have a song written about him. I hope every historical record of him burns and any trace of his memory falls into oblivion. I’d imagine that is his biggest fear."
Red Ribbon's album-release show happens Sunday, September 30 at Barboza, with Spesh and Great Spiders.
Red Ribbon's fall tour schedule (with Low Hums)
WED OCT 3rd: Portland @ Liquor Store w/ Guests TBD
THRU OCT 4 th: Ellensburg @ Old Skools
FRIDAY OCT 5th : Boise @ Neurolux w/ Sun Blood Stories
SAT OCT 6th : Missoula MT @ Venue TBD Ghost Carrot Records Presents
SUNDAY OCT 7th : Drive Day
MONDAY OCT 8th : Oakland @ Octopus Literary Salon
TUESDAY OCT 9th : Carlsbad CA @ Exrealist Lhooq Lhooqbooks w/ Gift Machine
WED OCT 10th LA @ Harvard and Stone
THUR OCT 11th : Chico @ Naked Lounge w/ Guest
FRIDAY OCT 12th : Arcata @ Miniplex
SATURDAY OCT 13th : Bend @ J&M Tavern w/ Helga