\'Randy Kaplan does amazing James Taylor-meets-banjo covers of Nirvana's "On a Plain" and Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" on his Ancient Ruins. Nuff said; go check this guy out.\' -TIME OUT NEW YORK \'Any record that opens up with it's best song is risking being a victim of comparison to it. Yet, though \'Ancient Ruins\' kicks off with a powerful heartfelt, banjo-drive cover of Nirvana\'s \'On a Plain,\' Randy Kaplan manages to keep you engaged and surprised throughout. His mix of folk/country melodies and pop harmonies are intimate and there is a ragged feel to this despite the smooth production. \'There are a couple other covers that will probably get a bit of attention, but originals like \'A Part of You,\' \'Action Figure\' and \'The Great Divide\' ring truer and more memorably. Sure, a bluegrass take on Grandmaster Flash\'s \'The Message\' and an earnest take on Prince\'s \'I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man\' have their moments of both genuine and snickering effects, but a few of Kaplan\'s own tacks are big slabs of soul that need to be the focus of any peek at this record. \'Kaplan has a nice ear for clear pop vocals and arrangements that compliment the more earthy stylings; the mix works, and Kaplan\'s lyrics ring true in that mix. His themes and tunes on \'Ancient Ruins\' build off the traditional, but he makes it obvious that the past is only a starting point for his own work. -Mike Wood / MUSICEMISSIONS.com \'Ancient Ruins\' is (a) characterful, understated and charming collection of songs...The mix of styles and textures keeps things fresh throughout and some of the loveliest moments here are the slower numbers such as \'Alice Bonvicini\' and \'Sanctuary Wreath\'...The overall sound is nicely understated, which suits Kaplan\'s delivery perfectly, and the album works extremely well as a whole. Judging from \'Ancient Ruins\' Randy Kaplan has plenty to offer and should be around making good music for some time to come.\' -AMERICANA-UK.com / Matt Hutchinson Kansas bluegrass master Mike West produced Randy\'s new CD, Ancient Ruins and there are indeed a few bluegrass numbers on this record- fiddle, banjo, guitar, upright bass and all. But there\'s also the trademark Kaplan unorthodox ballads and curiously anthemic rock songs. Along with his ten originals, Kaplan covers Nirvana\'s \'On a Plain\', Prince\'s \'I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man\', and Grandmaster Flash\'s \'The Message\' (transforming this old school rap classic into a bluegrass barn burner). Katie Euliss (Truckstop Honeymoon) plays upright bass, Colin Mahoney (Dan Bern) plays drums, Bradford Hoopes (The Yards) plays keyboards, and Mike West plays Mandolin, Banjo, and Guitar. Special guests include Rev. Aaron Morris (The Band That Saved the World) on trumpet, Josephine Michener (Loose Gravel) on fiddle, and Wallace Cochran (Drakkar Sauna) adding backup vocals. Randy Kaplan's songs are a blend of American Roots, Folk, Alternative, and Pop. He intricately finger-picks and strums his way through unpredictable live shows which, in addition to his original compositions, include Tin Pan Alley gems, Broadway numbers, and Delta Blues songs. He is as indebted to Eric Rohmer, John Ashbery, and Charles Bukowski as he is to Cole Porter, Paul Simon, and Dave Van Ronk. He grew up on Long Island and is based in Brooklyn, New York and Los Angeles, California. More reviews of ANCIENT RUINS: \'Kaplan\'s gentle, almost understated, approach to his art is silky, bright and very contagious. The guy just gets the job done, no fuss, no messin\', no big ego - just a very mature, boy-next-door approach which is charming and accessible. Beautifully crafted, sympathetically produced and pleasingly packaged, \'Ancient Ruins\' is the real deal! \'Kaplan\'s self-penned material is similarly seamless and refreshingly familiar but he\'s also not afraid to take another\'s material, turn it on it's head, and make it his own. Kaplan sounds like he was born to do this, it all sounds so natural, unhurried and almost matter-of-fact... Kaplan\'s way is a rather unique way; he makes making music seem effortless - whether self-penned or covers Kaplan seems to be able to emote without makin\' a fuss about it all... \'\'Ancient Ruins\' is Americana through and through, of that you can sure; but Kaplan ensures that his music touches anybody, anywhere - Kaplan mixes seriously sensible with down-home funky and fun, social commentary with more personal observation - it all gets the slick Kaplan treatment and ends up being bloody good music, pure and simple.\' -TOXICPETE.co.UK / Peter J. Brown \'(Kaplan) has chosen to open his new album with a rather nifty version of Nirvana's "On A Plain". He also includes covers of Prince's "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" and Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" with some aplomb, particularly on his excellent version of the latter tune. But there's a lot more to Kaplan than a few novelty covers... as the man clearly displays a clever ear for a decent tune with a number of his own compositions... (His) simple, strong, compelling songwriting carries these charming, wry, humorous songs... (Ancient Ruins) should please anyone either curious about (Kaplan\'s) covers or specifically interested in bluegrass music.\' -Eddie Thomas / SUBBA-CULTCHA.com.
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