A few months ago, I moved from the United States to Sydney, Australia. While I’m here, I thought it would be fun to do a monthly column where I can share about cool Australian bands/artists that I’ve discovered! If you want to know more about my Aussie adventure, you can also read my personal blog: www.brittanybdownunder.blogspot.com.au. Enjoy!
There’s something magical about seeing a band return to their hometown for a gig. I got to experience that kind of magical moment last week, when I saw The Rubens perform at the Metro Theatre in Sydney, Australia.
The Rubens are actually from a small suburb of Sydney, called Meanagle (which is coincidentally about 20 minutes away from the suburb I live in). The indie-rock band (made up of three brothers: Sam, Elliot and Zaac Margin, as well as their friend, Scott Baldwin) made their first appearance in Sydney for months, after touring all over Australia and even opening for The Black Keys during some of their Australian tour.
The excitement in the Metro was palpable; it seemed like everyone in the audience was rooting for this local band who’s suddenly right on the edge of making it big. The audience wasn’t just comprised of “fans”; a large majority seemed to be personal friends of the band members- a group of friends kept cheering for the drummer, Scott, by yelling, “Let’s go Scotty! Scotty, Scotty, Scotty!” Even the band was in on the hometown fun- they brought up their youngest brother, Jet, whom the band is named after (“Ruben” is a nickname for him) and let him play the drums on a few of their hit songs.
Hometown glory aside, I can definitely say the sold-out show was also made possible by the fact that The Rubens are an incredibly talented band. My boyfriend picked up their album after seeing their lead single, “My Gun” on the ARIA charts and quickly shared it with me. We both fell in love with The Rubens’ soulful, rock sound; imagine if The Kings of Leon and The Black Keys had a baby, and you have The Rubens.
Lead singer, Sam, has perfected the blue-eyed soul sound; his gravelly baritone vocals are instantly appealing (and yes, if you listen carefully, you can pick up on his accent, which was a lot thicker in concert). Stellar drumming and guitar work back up the unique vocals, and together create for an edgy rock sound. The Rubens’ self-titled debut is a collection of catchy rock tunes, though the band gets in touch with their tender side for a few ballads (Sam also lends his hand to the piano for a few tracks).
The album mostly tells the narrative of a bitter breakup; tracks like “The Day You Went Away” and “Be Gone” may seem like typical pop/rock fodder. However, the guys get creative with a few of the other tracks, particularly the album’s opener, “The Best We Got”. The quiet piano intro surprisingly leads up to an energetic song with some of my favorite lyrics on the album: “They say these days are the best we’ve got/What a tragic thought/But I’ve tried and tried/Not to waste this time/But it just flies by/The more I try…”
The aforementioned lead single, “My Gun”, is easily one of my favorite songs at the moment. Sam’s charming vocals, paired with a slick, southern sound make up a stellar rock track. On the other end of the spectrum, the ballad, “Never Be The Same” is composed of lush keys and a hushed vocal delivery, letting the focus of the song be the self-reflective lyrics (“It took something bad, to show me what I had/It took something sad, to remember who I am/I found myself that day/There was no other way/I’d spent some time away/I’d never be the same”).
The Ruben’s debut album is simply wonderful, and together with a solid stage performance, I think it’s safe to say that this small town band has a promising future. Opening for The Black Keys and headlining their own gigs in Australia is just the tip of the iceberg; I’m predicting that it’s only a matter of time before The Rubens catch on in the States and become the next big thing.
“My Gun” is available for download now on iTunes in the United States. The album is pending an American release date- stay tuned!