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SXSW Six Pack: Ruby Fray

Posted by March 5th, 2014 No Comments »

I have no idea what a Ruby Fray is. To be fair, I can’t explain most band names, if you’re lucky there’s a deep meaning behind one percent of them, rooted in a poem or something.

What I can tell you is that in a year of lurking the corridors of East Austin and Red River that the five-piece fronted by Emily Beanblossom pushes the risk-reward relationship as much as any band I’ve seen, gracefully hopping through moods, styles without a care in the world. Praise be to fearless art.

Ruby Fray

Unafraid to be operatic, gothic or a chanteuse of unknown origin, Beanblossom throws off entertaining stage faces and affectations against rotating waves of music that can be wonderfully dissonant, melodic and/or haunting.

The Ruby Fray is at times a slow boil, playing with empty spaces before sticking a declarative landing, most comparably in the vein of Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerard, with flashes of PJ Harvey or Julie Cruise. If the Red Room with the backwards-talking dwarf in Twin Peaks had a house band, it might be these guys.

That is probably overselling the dark flair of a band that recently added a cellist – the music detours frequently and pleasurably into something carrying an authoritative and confident singing style befitting someone for whom disappearing under stage lights is old hat.

Good music probably doesn’t have to be art. That’s for The McLaughlin Group to take up sometime on PBS. There’s a vision to this band and Beanblossom’s singing that carries a level of conviction that you don’t see every day. The lack of deserved attention doesn’t appear to be deterring them in the least.

Conventional music is for chumps. It’s a powerful, dynamic and rewarding band for those willing to take the leap.

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