Artist/ Band: Ruby Hill
Title: Just A Taste
Label: Ruby Hill Music
Year of Release: 2008
Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Review:

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” (Ruby Hill Music, 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?

The band’s debut album. The first release of their own original music after gigging around the Portland, Oregon music scene.

3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?

1. Just a Taste – The opening guitar chords, then the bass kicks in before Matt opens with his first vocals. Immediately you can hear Dave Matthews or John Mayer. Matt’s voice is close to either of those great singers right from the first album. You can hear the confidence right away of a band ready for takeoff. The guitar licks are original and the bass is solid and pronounced. Play this on full volume and the bass and drums will ring your ears. Very good live and a show- stopper. Perfect opener as Matt’s voice lifts at the end.

2. Modern World – Another solid ‘single – like’ song. That cool guitar melody and then a Dave Matthews kind of falsetto vocal as the rhythm builds. You cannot sit still to this one. Gets you up off your feet and dancing. The bass sets a very nice rhythm. Then more of that falsetto and the pounding cymbals, drums and the cool bass. The rest of the band joins in on vocal back-up and this funky rhythm machine pounds on. Wonderful song.

3. No Strangers – A bluesy guitar opener that just sounds so great after the last two songs. This one is almost perfect. One of my favorites on the album. The kind of lyrics that show this band is much further along in development than their debut album would presume. Solid song, over four minutes like most of the songs on this and their follow up album. They provide good music but also solid lyrics that tell stories of love and life in the 21st Century. This one is about everyone treating everyone as if they were not strangers. “Acknowledge each other.” “One man’s gain turns into another man’s grief.” “Will there ever be no more strangers?”

4. I Won’t Forget Your Name – Very cool jazz guitar riff opens this, and then Matt jumps in to open the song with vocals. Longing for a lost love. A great love song set to a good rhythm and melody. One of those weekend, kind of relaxing or walking around town kind of feel good songs. Perfect lift up song.

5. Letter for a Friend – Another of one of the most powerful songs on the album. A very strong letter to a friend with powerful lyrics and great vocals. The melody and guitar rhythm picks up and the vocals just drift over this one so well. The guitars and drums do a great job of translating the immediacy of the message being delivered. The guitar solo is a wonderful addition to the middle of the song and takes you through to the end.

6. Flood – Cymbals and percussion to open this one with slow guitar strummed. Very nice opening. Then the guitar rhythm builds before Matt’s vocals kick in with great lyrics and building melody. “I’m in the mood for something new.” Then the instrumental jam takes over. The vocals and guitar rhythm build to close out the song well.

7. Always on Your Mind – Drum and guitar rhythm and vocals building a melody. Good funky rhythm building with strong vocals and solid lyrics. The instrumental jams are very good.

8. Heart of Hearts – Great guitar riff and vocals with good lyrics to open this one. Lyrics are solid. Great melody and rhythm and a nice album closer.

4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?

Great debut album for a young local band. Such confidence that just shines through in the lyrics and the musicianship. Far more maturity than you would expect from a band that just began in 2006. Two CDs under their belt and over the sophomore hump, poised for the future.

5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?

Rating: 7/10 – For a small band, used to playing local venues they have a much bigger sound and presence than expected. Catchy tunes with melodies and rhythm that just build song by song and add to a growing catalog of hits!

Reviewed by Prof on January 17th, 2010


01. Just A Taste
02. Modern World
03. No Strangers
04. I Won't Forget Your Name
05. Letter For A Friend
06. Flood
07. Always On Your Mind
08. Heart of Hearts

Reviewed Discography

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