Born Ruffians

born ruffian
Courtesy of Dale Harvey

Born Ruffian’s Myspace

Experimental rock is sometimes hard to digest because it defies our expectations. Listening to something like the avant-garde prog-rock band The Mars Volta for the first time is a bit like returning to your bedroom, expecting it to be in order, only to find your furniture tipped over and your clothes strewn about the room. However, Born Ruffians’s music is brilliant due to a subtle defiance of musical convention. It’s more like walking into your room to find all of your furniture moved one inch to the left. It’s not immediately jarring but after some investigation, it’s a little curious.

Throughout their debut album, Red, Yellow and Blue, The Canadian trio seems to subtly manipulate every facet of its music to create a unique sound. On the track “Barnacle Goose,” lead singer Luke Lalonde plays with the flow of the lyrics, transitioning seamlessly from melodic singing to a sort of rhythmic rapping. At one point in the song his words become almost indistinguishable as his syllables fall fast and hard, creating a vocal percussion or beat-boxing effect.

On “Hummingbird,” a song about fearing loneliness, there’s a remarkable interplay between vocals and instrumentation. As Lalonde sings nervously, trying to allay his fears about living a solitary life, the drummer smacks the snare rim anxiously and unevenly. Between lyrical lines, the bass echoes Lalonde’s vocal melody, creating a call-and-answer effect. Near the end of the song Lalonde sings “Fly away little hummingbird,” and the guitarist responds by moving erratically around the high-pitched strings, evoking the image of a hummingbird weaving and darting away.

Sometimes bands go too far in the name of innovation. Experimental bands sometimes lose their music in discordant cacophony. But Born Ruffians keep their music fun and accessible. Red, Yellow and Blue is easy to take in on the first listen and is still full of enough nuance and subtle manipulation to make subsequent plays interesting. Sometimes it’s the small things that count.

—By Entertainment Blog Editor Alex Blum

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One response to “Born Ruffians

  1. I agree wholeheartedly. Excellent review.

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