The Ruby Suns / Christopher - SP1026
Travel through the desert of pop long enough and, no matter the odds, eventually you’ll find an oasis. And it just might be frozen.
When The Ruby Suns’ main mover Ryan McPhun alighted in Oslo, Norway in the winter of 2010, he knew he’d found an artistic haven. He’d always been a musical wayfarer, collecting sounds and styles from his travels around the globe, depositing them into three knockout Ruby Suns albums (2006’s The Ruby Suns, 2008’s Sea Lion and 2010’s Fight Softly). Amidst Scandinavia’s icy architecture, fjords and indomitable gloss-pop, McPhun found the inspiration for Christopher.
Christopher is an album about starting over, but not necessarily moving forward. It’s a breakup album, but not necessarily a sad one. The Christopher referred to in the album title is part of an Auckland-based inside joke that we’re on the outside of. To you and me, Christopher is a metaphor: He’s that awkward, hormonal menace from when you were young and foolish and eager for everything. The story of Christopher mirrors McPhun’s coming of age: After a childhood spent in nerdy isolation, hiding away in his bedroom with his guitar while his older sister hosted high school ragers in their parents’ Ventura, CA home; after leaving home; after splitting from his long-term girlfriend and bandmate, McPhun has stopped thinking so much and joined the party.
McPhun and A-list engineer Chris Coady (Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Gang Gang Dance) polished Christopher to an opalescent sheen, yielding the kind of expensive-sounding, future-leaning ear candy typically in the province of Top 40 radio.
Christopher‘s opening song-floating on synths and ecstatic dancefloor energy-details McPhun’s inebriated encounter with his musical crush, Robyn, at a music festival. “Flower among the leaves is what you are,” he sings, his sheepish grin practically bursting out of your speakers, “cold glass of water in the desert of pop.”
Takes one to know one, Ryan.
If you pre-order Christopher, you’ll receive a limited-edition bonus seven inch featuring two very unique remixes of album track, “In Real Life.” Also, if you pre-order Christopher on LP, you’ll receive the limited, colored-vinyl Loser Edition of the record. Both of these opportunities are a while-supplies-last opportunity, so act quickly.
Released: January 29, 2013
The Ruby Suns / Fight Softly - SP863
The prime mover of The Ruby Suns, Ryan McPhun has literally traveled around the world to arrive at Fight Softly, the band’s 2nd album for Sub Pop, and 3rd overall. McPhun possesses (or is possessed by…) a voracious musical mind and this new album is the kind of head-spinning combination of big-picture vision and sumptuous detail that only comes from an artist with an urgent need to express all the stuff he’s seen. And you can dance to it! Fight Softly veers from the path set by its predecessor, the 2008 release Sea Lion. Thematically, it’s not as wide-eyed or lighthearted, picking apart the relationships faced as we pass through the world—-with our surroundings, each other, ourselves. Sonically, it remains as beat-centric, though these beats are deliciously artificial—-stretched and compacted and distorted beyond recognition. Melodies are scuzzy and digital, no guitars strummed or basses plucked. McPhun’s soulful upper-register croon, swallowed into the mix, replaces group chants and full-throated singalongs. Rather than an album of clearly-drawn influences, Fight Softly is a unique, inscrutable synthesis, more itself than anything else.
If you pre-order Fight Softly by March 2nd, you’ll get $2 off the CD or gate-fold LP (that’s a $10 CD or $12 LP)!
Released: March 2, 2010
The Ruby Suns / Ruby Suns s/t - 4076699
The Ruby Suns’ self-titled debut on Memphis Industries.
Released: August 15, 2008
The Ruby Suns / Sea Lion - SP766
New Zealand’s The Ruby Suns formed in Auckland in 2004, under the somewhat longer and inarguably more rhyming name Ryan McPhun and The Ruby Suns. The band is now shortly, sweetly and simply called The Ruby Suns, and principal Ruby Sun Ryan McPhun is currently and ably abetted by Amee Robinson and Imogen Taylor. Although New Zealand is somewhat isolated in the southern most part of the Pacific Ocean, Ryan has remained true to his buccaneer instinct. He and his Dictaphone (portable tape recorder) have ventured into the wilds of Africa, the ancient monasteries of Thailand, and the haunting landscapes that surround his everyday. Recorded almost entirely in McPhun’s basement, Sea Lion’s melodic musings found inspiration in the natural world and his travels within it. “Tane Mahuta,” sung entirely in Māori, is an indigenous-sounding ode to the great Waipoua forest near Auckland and “Adventure Tour” tells a tale of a memorable drive through New Zealand’s South Island. An African influence also exerts a strong presence in the album (“Kenya Dig It?” being the most obvious). Not only was he struck by the people (“Ole Rinka” is about a man he met in the Maasai Mara National Reserve), but he was also enamored of the music, especially Kenyan traditional music and modern day hip-hop. The depth and breadth of the Ruby Suns’ songs has, no surprise, grown dramatically since their 2005 self-titled debut. The epic Sea Lion was intended to be a world music album, but reverb and psychedelic pop crept in to create a unique mixture of exotic sounds, accomplished with an impressive array of instruments—from steel-string ukulele to djembe drums to pots and pans, all set upon a cozy cushion of synths and cassette samples.
Released: March 4, 2008