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SXSW Sixpack: Ruby Fray

Posted by March 12th, 2015 No Comments »

By PT Stinson

Lurking on your window sill like a bird who knows your secrets and haunts your dreams, Austin spellcasters Ruby Fray remain one of Austin’s most intoxicating and yet largely undiscovered concoctions, blending several parts stunning vocals, studied intensity and secret ingredients that give way to something approaching chanteuse cauldron rock.

The electrifying singing of Emily Beanblossom continues to compel in the wake of a new rhythm section and the fall 2014 release of K Records’ Grackle –a near-perfect 40-minute unsettling dream that stirs and captivates, putting forth a magic that builds off and adds to the magical flare created by Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks and the glory years of the 4AD record label.

Each of the songs create and build atmosphere, including the title track –an eight-minute tale alternatingly dissonant and lilting and unnerving in its beauty –Low at the height of their loud and enchanting powers is the only comparison to be made here. This is daring and artistic courage at its finest.

Before you start throwing newts, black cats and pointed hats at me, let me quickly add that this isn’t just witchcraft –there’s rock in this here cauldron.

The cathartic conclusions of ‘It’s Mine’ and ‘Carry Me Down’ amount to some of the most wonderfully-weaponized vocal tantrums you’re ever likely to see or hear.

Set for a European tour in the summer and strengthened by a new rhythm section, Ruby Fray is a case and point that amazing things happen when done for its own sake and if you don’t get it, well you can just deal, because someone else will.

Low and/or Codeine are some of the best examples of this difficult needle to thread –ahead of their time, requiring repeated exposures and self-belief to earn the acclaim. Many are the rooms they fought for to create a powerful and sometimes powerfully-destroyed stillness, before getting their due.

Exposed to the right audience, Ruby Fray has the stunning capacity to follow suit.

In concert, over a din of high-fives and really important text messages, the band  creates pregnant nothingness at its own peril before tearing a jagged hole into their demolished silences. Crafted out of at times a very personal clay, the songs shift gears quickly from drifting to thundering, carving out in each song’s pay-off a declarative presence that refuses to be extinguished by hostile or indifferent environments.

The end of February saw the conclusion of a residency set somewhere in the third circle of hell (the host bar was great, the rest not so much) and yet on more than one occasion, a few individuals were moved to seek out, hug a Beanblossom or relate the fact they’d been drawn into the band’s orbit. There’s something powerful here, it’s just a question of exposure.

A third album of promising new songs lurks on the sill.

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