Ruby Isle
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Ruby Isle


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" Ruby Isle Night Shot"

Ruby Isle banks on the same nostalgia-based fascination that keeps city thrift stores in business. Alongside guitarist Mark Mallman, bassist and vocoder handler Dan Geller pumps enough synth patches into their debut album to keep a solid power hour going. Their individual histories help explain their brand of relentless dance-rock: Geller founded Kindercore and electropop duo I Am the World Trade Center, and Mallman once performed a 52.4 hour-long rock song aptly titled "Marathon 2" (the first "Marathon" lasted half the time) a few years ago.

What Ruby Isle lack in lyrical dexterity ("Hey hey hey, that kid's okay/ He's just another sucker with bills to pay"), they make up for with presence. Hearing their electro-fied cover of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill", which features Geller's IATWTC counterpart Amy Dykes, will probably make most who hear it bristle and think, "Why?" But, admittedly, if I was harboring a lucid buzz and heard those staccato synths, I would probably grab the nearest party peon's lapel and exclaim, "Do you hear that?! That's Gabriel!" All covers cause an initial familiarity-effect joy, which can either fade into disdain or booze-fueled bopping. Ruby Isle will probably spur the latter-- not that they really give a shit. And that's why the best places to hear Night Shot are like those scenes in Can't Hardly Wait and every other teen-seeking-tail movie where kids are hanging off the stairs and puking into the pool.

That's not to say Geller, Mallman, and drummer Aaron LeMay can't get you moving. They can, especially with pep-squad songs like "Atom Bombs '09". Even YouTube superstar Tay Zonday contributes guest vocals to the title track, sometimes sounding like his "Chocolate Rain" self, sometimes like the invisible "Mortal Kombat" referee indicating that you should probably start fighting. It's goofy party rock done more or less right, with programmed handclaps and unyielding (and borderline irksome) energy.

The first pressing of Night Shot includes a bonus EP with songs from Ruby Isle's covers project. For a time, the band recorded a version of whatever song made the weekly top spot on music blog aggregator; along the way, they managed to remove most of the whimsy and allure. Beach House's gorgeous "Gila" is wire-stripped into a cheerleader anthem, and the sound effects that propelled M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" onto radio waves are replaced with vocal imitations. The only version of these that doesn't sting too much is "Cherry Tulips" by Headlights, which always needed a slight makeover. In the end, though Ruby Isle are hit-and-miss with both their originals and their covers, there is a certain spunk here that's infectious; it's easy to admire their audacity, if not necessarily their sound.
- Pitchfork


Night Shot - Kindercore 2008



Electronic arena rock for the new millennium featuring Madman Mark Mallman and I am the World Trade Center's Dan Geller. Equal parts Justice, Journey with some added MGMT.

Ruby Isle first showed up on radar with their ambitious project where they covered the number one song on the blog tracking site every week. They took the top track each week and gave it an electro-makeover in just 24 hours. The results were some very different takes on indie rock hits from Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Destroyer and other bearded faves. The result was the release of a lot of songs before the original even officially came out. It also caused quite a stir in the indie community as the versions Ruby Isle released were, shall we say, a bit different than the originals.

The debut record Night Shot was recorded in the basement of a church in Minneapolis, then emailed to Geller for beats and synths. The title track features guest vocals by internet "Chocolate Rain" pioneer, Tay Zonday. The LP also sports a duet version of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" with IATWTC's Amy Dykes. From the sleaze rock driven “So Damn High” to the Midnight Star inspired, “Blow Up”, here is an open invitation to crash all wedding receptions.