The Ries Brothers — Charlie (25) and Kevin Jordan (21) — pursued a music career at full-speed from a very young age. As pre-teens, they left their first band after realizing they wanted to take music seriously. They took it upon themselves to re-create the full band sound with a 2-man crew, learning to play bass lines on a keyboard with one hand while playing drums with the other and singing.
It wasn’t long after that they were filling local Florida dive bars with a growing fan base and were invited to tour with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Chicago. Being forced to balance virtual high school classes while on the road, the brothers learned much more about their career than they could in school: how to perform for massive crowds, backstage professionalism, and a funny/intimidating story about how they learned to stick to their set time.
Their latest, Paint Your Emotion, showcases influences ranging from The Smiths to The Doors and The Black Keys to the reggae vibes of Bob Marley. Their standout single “Troubadour” will give you flashbacks to The Classic’s “Spooky.”
The brothers offered a track-by-track for its release to American Songwriter readers, check it out:
Tennessee is a love song about two people who are far apart physically, reminiscing about the times they’ve had, and longing to be back together again. The narrator describes the two bonding over “some alcohol from Tennessee,” Jack Daniels being the inspiration here. It states that “I could sit here with you all day, and we can watch the world slowly fade away, and when it does, don’t think that we’d care.” I think we all have had those people in our life that this line can ring true for. Musically it has an indie-rock/indie-pop vive, with tangy guitar reminiscent of The Smiths or the Cure. We loved the vibe, and decided to add the whistling to make it catchier, and that made us think someday it will be perfect for a commercial. We also wanted to make it a crowd participation song at our shows, so that’s when we decided to add in the clapping.
2. Save You
Save You came from a very personal experience of a girl I was seeing, and how the relationship ended with them meeting “someone new.” It describes what the narrator would have done differently if he could have another shot at the relationship, but it is also critical of his partner’s willingness to let go and move on so quickly. I definitely believe many people will relate to this one.
Taking heavy influence from funk and jam music, “Recluse” describes a loner who is trying to break out of his shell. He wants to find himself and break through the chains he has put himself in mentally. Its a song about realizing your full potential. We all need some motivation to truly feel free to be ourselves and I hope this track can help people do that.
4. Take It Back
Take It Back is a smooth, ambient, chill track. With influences from funk and hip hop, and even a bluesy slide guitar and a reggae-influenced bass line, it is one of the most unique tracks on the album. Lyrically it is a sexy track, describing reuniting with someone you used to be intimate with.
The night before we were leaving for the studio, I kept hearing Kevin messing around with this reggae groove. It was such a sexy beat and I knew we had to do something with it. Since this record is more alt than reggae, I had him take out the reggae skanks, but keep the reggae infused bass-line. This gave it that smooth R&B feeling and totally made the song. I finished the lyrics while we were on the way to the studio the next day in the van. We added it last minute and I’m glad we did.
5. No More Lonely Nights
No More Lonely Nights is a love song about finally finding the right person, after going through all the BS of modern dating, “trying to be cool” etc. The verses describe the process and by the end of the chorus the narrator has found their person and there are “no more lonely nights” for them. Its a commentary on how fake we can end up being while trying to attract a mate, until we realize our best weapon is to be ourselves. We hope it will be used by couples, romantics, and hopeful singles alike, as something to relate to. We have all been there, and most likely will again. My brother and bandmate Kevin had this incredibly beautiful riff he was coming up with on his acoustic. As soon as I heard it I knew we had to use it. It had such a sweet tone that it lent itself to becoming a love song. But since all of our love songs are never completely positive, we had to put our own twist on it. Whenever we talk about love we want to be as real as can be. Starting with the opening riff, Kev had been playing around with “Blackbird” by The Beatles, and was inspired by the acoustic guitar work on that song.The riff for “No More Lonely Nights” came pretty naturally in a matter of seconds, and became the base for the whole song. Most of the song was recorded on an acoustic guitar, with the exception of the bridge and outro choruses when we bring in the electric. We love the contrast, and how the song just erupts at the end.
6. My Friends
My Friends describes the narrator reminiscing about 3 of his closest friends, Tommy, Jimmy, and Johnny. The verses go through how they met, and what their plans for the future were. They had high hopes for what they would be as kids, but as the song progresses they are hit with reality. The chorus describes where there are now, and none of them are where they expected to be when they were younger. The song addresses issues such as loneliness, isolation, depression, and even suicide. But it also deals with hope, fulfillment, and redemption for a few of the characters.
Jimmy and Johnny were used previously in a song “Neon Signs” from our first album so I loved the idea of having recurring characters.
Originally it was a simple song about a group of friends, but then we all realized we had an opportunity to say something more meaningful in this song. So we decided to tell the story of these friends and the rigors life gave them. You win sometimes in life, and just as often you lose. But it extremely important to stay hopeful. Even though it ends on a negative note for one of the friends, there is a lesson in there about being there for each other. We want the song to be an outlet to talk about life and issues. And we want it to be a calling that we need to be very aware of how our friends are doing, and how important it is to be there for them through it all. Cause just asking how someone is doing and telling them you care and are there for them could very well save their life.
This song is a story about a touring musician traveling throughout the south, playing “any hangout that will let him in to play.” He’s trying to make enough cash to “catch the train home” and see his girl. But as it states in the song, “home is wherever you are.” So in the song, home itself refers more-so to a person than a place. The theme is there isn’t a distance too long if you really love someone. You’ll do whatever it takes to go out and make money to provide for them, and then make it back home to them as soon as possible. Stylistically it takes influence from blues and soul music, and features heavy use of wah wah guitar.
Broadway is a love song simply about missing someone, and reminiscing. “I miss waking up with you” is a line that holds a lot of emotion, and is a line many people will relate to. Musically it is an upbeat, almost dance-y track, with pop guitar, and a contrast between electronic and acoustic drums. That contrast allows the song to flow back and forth between a pop track and a rock track with ease.
9. Hold On
Hold On is the heaviest song on the record. An upbeat, alt-rock track, it’s a love song about not giving up on someone no matter what. Featuring heavy drums, and a sing along chant for a bridge, we cannot wait to make this one a big crowd-participation song in our future live sets.
Morphine is the closer on the album. A softer, piano-based track, this song describes a love so strong that to the narrator it’s his morphine, it’s something he needs to relieve his pain. In the verses the song goes into issues such as religion and the pharmaceutical industry as well. The line, “take me off these ****ing meds; we’re customers until we’re dead” is a commentary on how the industry is not interested in preventing or curing disease, they are only interested in treating it, and prescribing more and more meds.
The rest of the song describes an intimate relationship, and how the narrator relies on her love to feel safe and happy.