Rodeo Ruby Love – This Is Why We Don’t Have Nice Things

21 Oct

A Cameo by Wesley Goble

While digging through the cheap, music-filled cardboard box on the floor of my room that I like to call “the internet,” I was at a total loss for a meaningful subject to analyze and review. I failed to realize that I’ve spent the past few months doing just that with one of my favorite albums.

Rodeo Ruby Love is a colorful group from Marion, IN and they are a construct from the ashes of Away with Vega. Starting as a side-project for Zachary Melton, the group blossomed into much more. Their sound is almost more visual than it is audible. They are enigmatic in the way they take classic, rather than old or tired, concepts and make them fresh: Love, God, Infidelity, and Youth. Rather than regurgitating dull, insipid bar-chord teenage-blues with the timbre of a tear-soaked prom night, they present love in a “lie-on-the-grass-and-talk-about-our-favorite-words” manner. This helps them fit right into today’s more minimalistic, optimistic take on songwriting.

Their newest album, This is Why We Don’t Have Nice Things, is no different, but it does present a few noteworthy changes-of-pace to the weathered fan. While the power-pop and punk influences have always been apparent, they shine through in a major way here. In the past, the sound was defined and driven more by acoustic guitar, piano, horns, and long harmonized vocal phrases. While all are still present, the drive of this album seems to have moved to the vastly improved drums, crisp electric guitar, and commanding, powerful bass. It’s worth mentioning that this could be attributed to the production quality of the album. Rodeo Ruby Love was never a band that needed first-rate production value to be one of the best bands around, but it sure as hell never hurts.

The album opens with “Elizabeth”, an acoustic piece that acts as a monologue that almost preemptively sums up the entire album. Listening to this song I am reminded of those deep emotional and philosophical moods we’ve all experienced at 4am on a Tuesday night when we were facing an overwhelming trial in our youth.

Directly following is “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Secrets.” Like the transition from those long nights spent in deep self-analytical thought to the bright sunny morning when your innocence is regained and your worries melt on the pavement, these songs are the perfect follow up. This is an exhibition of what Rodeo Ruby Love truly is at the core. Also, it’s great to hear that ukulele again!

“Black Sunday,” “The Coming Up Roses,” “Beast of Joy,” and “Kind to Me” in my opinion make the record.  They are what fans have come to expect from this crew.  It’s a sub-style of their own and they really make it work. The things Rodeo Ruby Love have to say are important and they are going to say them, and if you can’t hear it they are going to shout them. In a world where every teenager and pre-adult thinks they are an artist, Rodeo Ruby Love truly are that and they expose everyone else for the frauds they are. Goodbye Myspace generation. Let’s put the spotlight back on the people that make art. Melton’s lyrics have more meaning in one line than a million passive-aggressive 2am tweets texted from a sixteen year-old girl’s pillow. That being said, “Ricky Henderson” is of extra-special mention.

This brings us to “The Melody,” “No One but Us,” and “Josephine.” These songs carry with them a bit more than the others. Every time I listen to them they require a little bit more of me. Question with boldness everything around and everything you are told.  For me, my personal interpretation of these brings me to the questions I ask myself all through life: “Why does this have to be so hard? Why me? When will it be better?” They ask the hard questions, but they also answer them. Why is it so difficult?  Because if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be worth it.  These songs, I’m sure, have very specific meanings and messages from the writers, but a song isn’t just that, it is the message taken and the effect upon the listener. Job well done, guys.

The CD closes with “Careful with that Axe.” This is the perfect song to cap the album for the simple reason that it leaves you with a reminiscent feeling and you aren’t sure why, and it leaves you wanting more. Like the encore to the best show of your life, or the last drink before the bar closes. I imagine the final ascension will sound something like this song.

My final thoughts on this album are that it deserves many more ears listening.  This has the potential to have more people singing along than the National Anthem in an entire season of baseball. Anthem is undoubtedly the best word to describe every song here. I hope to see more from Rodeo Ruby Love in the near future because they have a potential that most local bands can’t even fathom.

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