RBTS WIN’s New Album is the Soundtrack to Your Summer
It might sound a bit hyperbolic to claim that you’ve found the perfect road trip album, but I’m going to try to convince you that RBTS WIN’s Palm Sunday Deluxe Edition, which hit stores May 20, is just that. More than any other musicians out there right now, RBTS WIN manages to evoke the landscapes that have shaped them as artists, from the mountains to the sea. Which means that wherever you’re heading this summer (even if it’s just down the street), there’s something here for you. After a solid week of listening I can say with confidence that it’s going to be in constant rotation wherever the sunny roads ahead of me may lead.
RBTS WIN, at its core, is Javier Bolea and Brien Worsham, who, along with an assorted cast of other musicians and artists with whom they collaborate, fuse immense talent in composition and instrumentation with a unique sound that unites elements from pop, psychedelic rock, hip hop, bossa nova, metal, and electronic music. Palm Sunday plays with all of these influences and more, twisting them into an immersive, expansive aural journey that takes you down the proverbial rabbit hole and leaves you feeling pleasantly dazed in the darkness of the summer sun.
The tropical sounds of “Beach Child” open the album and transport you back to 1960s era Brazil, but with a distinctly retrofuturistic flavor. The sound of rolling ocean waves is contrasted by the crisper, staccato pulses of percussion instruments, which segue into a harmonious melding of distinct musical elements as Worsham’s vocals come in to reveal the whole. Other songs invite introspection while simultaneously inspiring you to get your groove on. For an album that so intensely encourages hip-swaying and steering wheel/tabletop drumming, many of the songs reveal themselves slowly, opening one way and unexpectedly moving in new directions that are never jarring, but instead feel like a deeper exploration of the music’s possibilities.
The songs’ ability to envelop the listener in the melodic equivalent of a rainbow (the album has been described as both musically and metaphorically “chromatic“) also invokes a sense of childlike wonder. “Mountain Child” (the other song explicitly linked to childhood via its title and my personal favorite) proclaims “I’m free to live so Imma live.” There’s a clear lust for life and a zest for new experiences present in tracks that also reveal deep friendships and heartfelt confessions. “Death Magic,” despite its darker title and refrain (“I been screaming in my head”), recognizes the central importance of opening up to the people that you love:”I been wondering ’bout my mind/ Trying to figure out this life,/ I need my friends lift me up to the sky/ I need my friends help me to survive.”
The Deluxe Edition is a re-release, but it also includes new material, like the sultry “Forgotten Coast,” awash in synth riffs and perfect for a little late-night soul-searching, and “Live From the End of the World,” featuring Charlotte-based hip hop artist Schyler Chaise. It’s available on vinyl, CD, and digitally. And if the music inspires you to look for a road trip destination, RBTS WIN plays The Mothlight in Asheville on June 20th.