The indie alternative duo is comprised of Ryan Joseph (on vocals, keys and guitars) and Michael Keith Morgan (on guitars, bass). Joseph and Morgan met in Arkansas while attending college together. Their shared passion for creating music in the studio ended up prompting the pair to move to Austin, where they’ve further complemented their musicianship by opening their very own recording studio–5th Street Studios. Major Label Records, the pairs’ record label, boasts local talent like Otis the Destroyer,Bop English and, naturally, Ronjo V themselves.
The instrumentation Ronjo V displays throughout Ronjovism is a testament to the duo’s success as mixers and their ability able to create evocative soundscapes that set (and mirror) the mood for Joseph’s lyrics. The mellow bass riffs, moody, yet subtle guitar cuts and pragmatic, classical drumming of “Slow Motion” are a prime example of this.
Sonically, however, Ronjovism is able to balance out heart-felt tracks like “Slow Motion,” which sticks to a more muted musical palette, with songs like “Dying Wish.” Opening with lively, involved drums, “Dying Wish” spark off a more hopeful sounding–though still lyrically poignant–track. Ronjo V also uses this track as a chance to showcase Joseph’s more powerful vocal abilities, something the chorus of “Dying Wish” is testament to.
Though Joseph’s reserved and usually quite vocals can sometimes make it difficult to decipher the lyrics on “Dying Wish” and “Slow Motion,” things are much different on “Unfriend,” a track which sees the instrumentation take backseat to the vocals.
In particular, Ronjo V’s lyrics invoke a sense of mature, but manageable sadness, reminiscent of legends like Radiohead of some of Modest Mouse’s more introspective songs. My favorite track from this EP, “Unfriend,” is a great example of this sense of melancholy.Joseph laments over a beautifully orchestrated acoustic guitar intro about a crumbling relationship between an important friend:
“I know the future’s obscure
I’m over here
You’re never there
And what we lost isn’t fair
It’s just the past that we share
I’m short at times
So don’t be long
I get this feeling I’m gone.”
All in all, the impressive production, insightful and relateable lyrics and distinctive melodic moods presented by Ronjo V throughout Ronjoism means the city of Austin should rejoice for what the duo is bringing to the alternative scene.
(Photo courtesy of Ronjo V’s Facebook.)