1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Ruby Hill’s founding members, front man Matt Brown and bassist Jacob Battan joined together in 2006, in hopes of creating a fusion suited for the ever-growing music scene. Both hailed foundations as talented lead guitarists, influenced by everyone from Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, to The Beatles and Pink Floyd. However Battan slipped into the role of bassist, complementing Brown’s potent vocals and soulful guitar sound. After besting a few original songs with the band’s then drummer, they tried their hand at aggressive musicianship, taking first place in Seattle’s annual “Hawkfest” competition. Assured by this success, Battan and Brown began producing fresh material”
“Recognizing the need to expand their sound, they were joined by charismatic Jordan Clark, whose luminous guitar melodies satisfied the dynamic they set out to achieve. Armed with newfound solidarity, the band won a second competition, this time in Portland. Gigging relentlessly, they erupted on to Portland’s music circuit, drawing larger crowds with each electric performance. The time had finally come to make the transition from stage to studio. In June of 2008, Ruby Hill recorded their aptly titled EP, “Just A Taste”. The effort proved lucrative, gathering positive public response, local radio play and national podcast exposure. December 2008 welcomed veteran drummer Marc Jones, bringing with him years of diverse experience and thus completing the band’s final roster. With this formula Ruby Hill once again set out producing new material, showcasing their desire to mature both lyrically and music” (http://www.rubyhill-music.com/, 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
New Breed is the follow up to their debut album Just a Taste, released in 2008. It is a chance to produce nine songs and build a fan base and a reputation for great songwriting. More songs to take out on a tour that grows with each passing day.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. Puppy Dog – Solid guitar, bass and drum opening, then those riffs that bring to mind vintage Dave Matthews Band. The reason I actively pursued their promo CD. Sounds like this band have been around forever and the album just kicks right into gear as if they haven’t missed a beat. This is a great single man’s statement to a potential girlfriend as well. The “with me, with me, with me” refrain will remind you of recent DMB releases. Although the influence is very easy to hear, this is original and different and not a cover of the DMB. Enough of the memory with plenty of new, younger angst. Solid single which sounds great played live.
2. New Breed – That wonderful soaring guitar and drums at the beginning, before the bass and drums take over and build a slow John Mayer type of blues rhythm. John Mayer is the other band that Ruby Hill sounds similar to in sound. The title song and a wonderful guitar driven song with solid drums and bass. The guitar solos are fantastic and the lyrics deliver a solid story line. “Oh, I might seem a little crazy, baby this is what we need.” “Drop what you’ve got, I’m gonna give you better.” “Don’t miss this new breed.”
3. Curl – One of the best songs on the album. There is a very heavy influence of John Mayer, but again different and original. That wonderful guitar riff which starts the song and is repeated at perfect times throughout the song is so catchy you will want to hear this song over and over again just for that riff. Another great relationship/love song with fantastic lyrics. The solid guitar work and drum rhythm provide a great melody for whatever you are doing. “Don’t wake me when the morning comes; lie curled in shapes the night has made of us.” A great, relaxing with your loved one song. Perfect in summer and/or winter by the fireside.
4. Rescue Me- The best song on the album. That strong drum and guitar rhythm that opens this one is another signature statement which really makes this one of the standouts on one of the best follow up albums I have heard in a long time. “Deep inside the soul in me, got a burning hunger that I can’t feed.” Rescue me from the boredom of everyday life or live life to its fullest seems to be the message. An essential part of any sophomore album. We are alive and kicking. The drive to create and make something new and build something significant that will last. The music is just as powerful as the lyrics. “Take me far away from this disease, rescue me.” We all need that in a new year of promise after the economic meltdown of last year. Perfect timing for this song.
5. This Time – The signature guitar riff on this one is another memorable present from the band. The guitar work on this song makes this another solid addition to this album. The refrain on all of these songs are very memorable for their lyrics and the musical melodies, which lift each song. That is especially true of the riffs on the refrain here, “never seen darker days, but I’ll be ok, This Time.”
6. My Corporate Charmer – Another cool launching guitar riff opens this one. The bass, drums and double guitars really do provide this band with a much larger and louder sound giving them that professional quality sound not found in most local bands. The guitar solo and jam on this one is fantastic and takes you away for the ride. The drum and guitar smashes reminded me of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band, amongst other greats. Very cool and bluesy. When this band jams it really sets the music off and running.
7. This Room – The second best song off the album. What happens after the breakup? Some of the lyrics remind me of the Beach Boys, In My Room, but the music is so different. Matt’s vocals are already reaching at the level of quality singing exemplified by both Dave Matthews and John Mayer. Excellent vocals, probably the most powerful lyrics and vocal performance on the album.
8. Somebody Else – Another strong possible single off the album. The lyrics and music are much more mature than the average three year old band. Solid riffs and bass supported by great drumming.
9. 23rd – Kind of a country/bluesy slow beginning to this one. Great way to end the album. “Wake up to no alarm, just a buzz in my head.” “Could’ve checked the weather laid down instead.” Break out of the routine song. Bluesy sad song, with such great guitar solos and powerful drums.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Not many sophomore albums start off with so much confidence and power. Guitar riffs that will remind you of some of the best of the DMB, and solid lyrics and songwriting. As their bio states, they have been gigging for quite a while and it shows in the musicianship.
The guitar solos supported by great drum and bass rhythm make this the best album of 2010 so far. It will hold that place for a while I’m sure. There will be a follow up interview and concert review after their show tonight (Sun Jan 10th), which I will attend, so check that out here on the Prognaut.com soon.
This band is poised for greatness and I am so glad I was able to see them when they were a local band. This music is wonderful and original while retaining the powerful songwriting characteristic of John Mayer and Dave Matthews. Now we have a local version to follow and appreciate.
They are planning an extensive tour this summer and I plan on seeing a few more shows this year.
Few bands are able to follow up a strong debut album with their sophomore effort, but this band has only grown and added to their catalog and the story that is just unfolding. I look forward to more!
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Absolutely, this band is just getting started.
Reviewed by Prof on January 15th, 2010