By MATT CARTER // The post-genre-pop solo project will play White Eagle Saloon Tuesday, Jan. 31st
Mating Ritual, the solo project of L.A.’s Ryan Lawhon, released Vol. 1 of its debut album How You Gonna Stop It? on Tuesday. To follow, the band will be playing White Eagle Saloon on Jan. 31st, touring alongside Satchmode. Opening will be Portland’s own 7-piece indie folk band Erza Bell.
If Mating Ritual’s analytics on Hypemachine and Spotify are any indicator, the solo project has plenty of buzz that doesn’t taper off upon leaving LA. Lawhon, however, is no stranger to Portland; you may remember his previous band Pacific Air and the single “Float”, which found steady rotation on 94/7 back in 2013.
How You Gonna Stop It? means not only turning over a new leaf for Lawhon, but it’s also his first project to require no session musicians during the recording. Claiming to be influenced by a parent’s record collection of 90s New Age artists – otherwise known as fodder for free boxes – Lawhon was introduced to prismatic sound design at a young age. This isn’t starkly apparent on the debut; Lawhon has a once bitten quality to his voice with lyrics that groove well with synth-pop or the duet with vocalist Lizzy Land on “Night Lies.”
Yet nearly every song on Vol. 1 of How You Gonna Stop It? has a sheen of shimmering electronics that steer the music from being fittingly agreeable to unforgettably catchy at almost every movement. You may not be able to meditate to the synth lines of a track like “Fake It,” but Lawhon’s intent is not always to leave a lasting spiritual impression; it’s straddling something between charismatic dance music and polished indie production. Signs point to Mating Ritual playing a much bigger venue next time around in Oregon, so don’t sleep on this intimate performance.