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Ruby Red

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Album Review

Ruby Red is second major label album from The Dambuilders. Ruby Red is guitar-based pop in the spirt of Fountains of Wayne but with more "grunge" added to the mix. The feedback, squeals, and shrieks common in the production adorn what is otherwise a Beatles-esque record. "Drive By Kiss" is the song least affected by distortion and could easily fit in on a mix tape with Crowded House or Michael Penn. However, "Teenage Loser Anthem," the most recognizable song from the album, mixes sad lyrics with intense violin in the right channel and raging guitar in the left. The teenage spirt expressed here is not rage, but rather, middle class alienation and listlessness: "now that the chance is missed do you know why you never slashed your wrist." Ruby Red is a raw, unpretensious indie masterpiece that seems to have had few champions. The band's skilled song writing was worthly of more mainstream attention, though their production was challenging. Nirvana was embraced by the mainstream in part because of their similarity to heavy metal. The bands like Sugar, the Pixies, and others that largely remained on the fringe of the alternative scene were, in some ways, the more challenging and different. Early Dambuilders fit into that grop quite well. Recomended if you also like the Geraldine Fibbers, or Fugazi. There is an artistic honesty to Ruby Red that die hard fans may have felt was missing on later Dambuilders albums — that radio-be dammed attitude. But if radio could only be this listenable these days.


Formed: 1989 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Formed in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989, the alternative pop band the Dambuilders originally comprised vocalist/bassist Dave Derby and guitarist Eric Masunaga, both formerly of the Exactones. Shortly after forming, the duo recorded a demo, dubbed A Young Person's Guide, which mysteriously made its way to Europe, where it landed at the offices of the Berlin-based label Cuacha; with only minor remixing, the label soon released the tapes as an LP, and the band subsequently toured Germany. Upon returning...
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Ruby Red, The Dambuilders
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