with On An On, Ski Lodge & presented by PopGun
Wed May 4th, 2016
Minimum Age: 16+
Doors Open: 7:00PM
Show Time: 8:00PM
Event Ticket: $15
Day of Show: $17
This is a general admission, standing event.
RUFF, the newest album from Born Ruffians, is an exploration into self and aesthetics. It’s a collection of scrubbed raw anthems that are defiantly optimistic, imaginatively arranged, and performed with a sense of bloodlust. In contrast to previous records from this Canada-based quartet, RUFF is simultaneously a return to form and a departure from convention. It is at once a culmination and a disassembly of the band’s history and dynamics.
RUFF took shape from a singular focus on the work itself, and exploration into the relation of candor, immediacy and art. “We had one overarching goal this time out: to make the album we wanted to make. We took nothing else into consideration,” says bassist Mitch Derosier.
Over four albums, Born Ruffians have developed a signature aesthetic that encompasses tightly wound, trapezoidal songs frothing over with hooks and wryly cathartic lyrics. The group has garnered favourable comparisons to such quirky pop infiltrators as the Talking Heads, The Pixies and The Strokes. Onstage, the band is arousing and assaulting, coming off somewhere between a riot and a soul revue. Born Ruffians are Luke Lalonde (guitar/vocals), Mitch Derosier (bass), Andy Lloyd (guitar/keyboard) and Adam Hindle (drums).
RUFF was written in ebbs and flows: the origin of some tracks stretch back to 2013 and others came together in a matter of days, or in a single band practice. Jeff McMurrich (Jennifer Castle, The Constantines, Fucked Up) recorded RUFF in just three weeks in Toronto. The band’s trusted friend Rusty Santos (Animal Collective, Eric Copeland, Owen Pallett) – who produced their acclaimed album, Red, Yellow & Blue, and its follow up, Say It – mixed RUFF in New York. When it comes to RUFF, its seeming naivety is its power. Throughout the album, unabashed emotive and sonic contradictions are laid bare in order to pose questions on what it is to be, and to critically examine 21st century myths of celebrity that go hand in hand with such accounts. Individual tracks energetically race through conflicting personalities, worlds, moods, and sounds, while the dreamlike album artwork (illustrated by Lalonde) redoubles a sense of tumult.
RUFF opens with the lilting “Don’t Live Up,” a track that’s blissfully deceptive in that, somewhere along the way, it morphs into modulated pop, establishing the album’s tone of unbridled creativity. A mood swing nature also permeates the album’s leadoff single, “We Made It,” which manages to be both meditative and explosive. It trades in extremes of interlocking grooves with talk-sung vocals for the verses, and then rushes skyward for the infectious chorus. Other RUFF standouts are the sedately embittered “Fuck Feelings,” the menacingly optimistic “Stupid Dream” and the irreverently empowering “(Eat Shit) We Did It.”
RUFF stands as a poignant marriage of form, content and process that is without a doubt Born Ruffians’ most focused and mature work to date.
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On An On
Sometime in the Spring of 2012 the musicians that would go on to form the Chicago & Minneapolis based trio ON AN ON found themselves at a tipping point. The three of them – Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing – had played music with one another in various capacities for the better part of a decade. Most recently, they had shared the stage and studio as three fifths of the indie-pop outfit Scattered Trees, which had seen its fair share of success. But with the band’s studio time only a few weeks away and the other members now spread out across the country pursuing other endeavors, they would chart their own course and come out stronger for it. What emerged was ON AN ON.
For ON AN ON, the precariousness of breaking new ground only three weeks before recording with accomplished producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals, Los Campesinos!) provided a jolt of creative energy. The musicians had become disenchanted with their past approach to songwriting and recording, finding the process of striving for polished pop both tiresome and constrained. Newfeld proved the perfect counterpart to their initial vision for the record, encouraging them to push boundaries and go with their instincts.
According to Eiesland, the sessions were something of an exorcism: “We really wanted to get away from the sterility of our previous approach to recording.” Eieseland, Ricci, and Estwing embraced musical risks that in the past they might have shied away from. In the studio, the band members explored a natural chemistry and honed their sound; synthesizers, scattershot electro beats and ambient ear candy gave guitars, bass and drums a ghostly sheen.
While the melodies might clue one in to the trio’s evolved sonic palate, it’s through the album’s themes that the group members’ respective evolution becomes most apparent. Eiesland wrote the majority of the lyrics, in the process coming to terms with death and the traps that life springs upon us. Whether letting his intuition guide him on “I Wanted To Say More” (“You are a saint and you’re the devil / Every word I spoke to you, I thought that they were wings / But they were only feathers”) or owning up to life’s inevitability on “All The Horses” (“A family tree will split in two halfway through its life”), there’s a tempered calm to the thought-provoking imagery he espouses through his words. Estwing offered up his own lyrical seance on his lead vocal track “Cops,” although the bassist says his message – that the police can be surprisingly corrupt – is more direct.
After smashing everything they knew to pieces, they pulled themselves together around Give In, ON AN ON’s ten-track debut album – a dream-washed textural journey armed with a biting perspective on life, love, and the commonality of loss. It is an affair that sizzles with electricity and calls one in with its unnerved openness.
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