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Sea Lion

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iTunes Review

New Zealand’s Ruby Suns made a mild splash with their 2006 self-titled debut, a glistening, sunny nod to ‘60s pop that showcased the immense talents of Ryan McPhun, the transplanted Californian heading the group. Their sophomore effort, Sea Lion, takes things in a more global direction. The wildly propulsive “Tane Mahuta” featurers a chorus of voices singing in the Maori language, with booming drums, skipping glockenspiel and swooping saxophones mingling with hi-energy African-style guitar work. It’s a fabulous song. The tropical island haze of “Blue Penguin” and the Mexican-folk tinged “Oh, Mojave” transport the listener to more exotic locales, but “Kenya Dig It?” is a surprising revisit to sparkling, Spector-produced pop sounds of the ‘60s. The pastoral and ethereal “It’s Mwangi In Front of Me” reveals Ruby Suns’ true fondness for electronic knob-twiddling, and the delicate “Ole Rinka” unfolds like a sun-bleached dream, coming to full color half way in, with layered vocals and sparkling tambourines and glockenspiel giving the song a golden glow. Ruby Suns proves there is nothing incompatible about djembe drums and ukuleles, as long as they’re in the right hands.

Customer Reviews

listen first

When I looked over at the albums that were bought by people who purchased this album, I couldn't help but notice ALL of them were recommended or are Best New Music by Pitchfork. The same goes for the Plants and Animals page, which is actually a very good record. I respect Pitchfork and have followed their reviews for many years -otherwise, I wouldn't know this. They get it right a lot of the time and they get it wrong just as much. The reason I bring this up is that 'Sea Lion' was given the Best New Music tag. Yet, this seems to be based purely on originality of it was with the over-rated Vampire Weekend album. Originality does not equal greatness. "Kenya Dig It?" is definitely the best track on this album. The rest is just mediocre when you don't grade it on a curve. Don't blindly buy albums just because Pitchfork likes them. Consider their -and other music authorities' opinions, but listen first....

Great spring/summer album

This album stands on it's own as a great collection of songs the capture the mood of the warmer seasons. While I can understand comparisons to Animal Collective and Panda Bear, anyone who says they are ripping them off is just dumbing down the genre. This album is very original, and just cause it has some of the same musical stylings of other acts, doesn't mean they were trying to rip them off. "There Are Birds", "Remember" and "Morning Sun" stood out on the first listen, but I find myself continually listening to this album all the way through.


I'm not really seeing the Animal Collective comparison, but what I am seeing is a fantastic, uplifting album that I can't stop listening to. I just saw them performing it live last week and they are great fun in concert. If you get a chance, go! And buy this album. "Tane Mahuta," "Kenya Dig It?" and "Ole Rinka" - some of my favorite songs ever.


Formed: 2004 in Auckland, New Zealand

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Ruby Suns combine psychedelic indie pop with world music influences, drawing inspiration from the travels of the group's only permanent member, Ryan McPhun. Although born and raised in California, McPhun's thirst for adventure eventually drew him halfway across the globe, where he ventured into Africa and Thailand before settling in New Zealand. Auckland's music scene was rich, and the multi-instrumentalist spent time in various pop groups (the Tokey Tones, the Reduction Agents, and the Brunettes)...
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Sea Lion, The Ruby Suns
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Customer Ratings