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Ninja Gun - Restless Rubes (Cover Artwork)

Ninja Gun

Ninja Gun: Restless RubesRestless Rubes (2008)
Suburban Home Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: BryneBryne
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There's been something of a Renaissance in the underground lately. These bands -- many of them hailing from the South -- emerge having been raised on equally copious amounts of Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and Ramones, with a predilection for playing music deeply rooted in Americana while harmoniously ble.
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There's been something of a Renaissance in the underground lately. These bands -- many of them hailing from the South -- emerge having been raised on equally copious amounts of Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and Ramones, with a predilection for playing music deeply rooted in Americana while harmoniously blending a down-home sense of honesty with a unique pop sensibility. It's a formula that yields some fantastic music when properly executed, and on Ninja Gun's debut Restless Rubes it all comes together.

Readily apparent when the opening title track clicks on is the production, which is almost impossibly clear and so lush you'd think a major label fronted the budget for it. It's not overdone, though -- everything's here in perfect balance, the highs high enough and the lows low enough.

The influences of Ninja Gun are easily recognizable, but the band writes such good songs in their own right that nothing here seems hackneyed or plagiaristic. The straight-up guitar rock sound of "Eight Miles Out" and "Life Is Loud" owes a lot to mid-`90s radio darlings like Dinosaur Jr. and the Lemonheads. In the verses of "Red State Blues," vocalist J. Coody is a dead ringer for Tom Petty -- and the verses lead into a huge chorus with a great hook that's quite enjoyable, and the vocal harmonies on "The Last Cowboy"  and closer "Breaking Light of Day" really make those songs.

The lyrics to "Front Yard Screamers (Kitchen Kissers)" ought to be relatable to many who grew up south of the Mason-Dixon line. I swear, sometimes I think Coody is talking about my family. Lyrics in other songs tackle issues such as religion ("Darwin Was a Baptist," with the chorus line of "Can I get a little church in my state? / Give me one more reason to hate everything around me" hitting particularly close to home), and the anti-sellout themes present throughout "Asking Price" are a welcome sound coming from a band this polished.

I'm having a difficult time finding anything wrong with Restless Rubes. Whether or not it will have the staying power necessary to elevate it from 'great' to 'classic' remains to be seen, but in both practice and execution Ninja Gun have created the closest thing to a perfect record I've heard this year.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Boulder (September 18, 2008)

Clever and catchy. "Restless Rubes" plays front to back the way a story might. The album is full of emotional heights, bright choruses and hooks. It slows down when it can and turns somber occasionally, especially with the impressively NOT cheesy song "The very last Cowboy".
A cool album from a band that wasn't afraid to bring their influences along for the ride.

cpl593h (July 27, 2008)

Snapshot stories sung in 3.5 minutes and set to more than decent music aren't easy, and this band's got several. It‚??s musically solid and effortlessly avoids 10 snippets of whining about girls. Now, at the risk of getting cut by the dude who‚??s gay for DJR (as am i), the lyrics don‚??t seem uninspired to me, and just attempting to release an independent album hailing from the edge of such a slim genre is anything but safe. They‚??re not overtly conceptual like the Theoretical Girls, but sometimes little changes make a difference too. By the way, were those one hit wonder buys you keep ranting about on major labels? ‚??hit‚?Ě = radio. Funny‚?¶ i don‚??t remember having ‚??Suburban Home Records‚?Ě advertising slammed down my throat by every media source available.

spoon_of_grimbo (July 24, 2008)

I guess they are kinda Samiam-ish, although i thought some of the vocals, particularly in the title track, sounded like Zach from Vendetta Red when he sings softer.

Amsteel (July 24, 2008)

I really like this album as well, it was well worth the $0 I paid for it (record label gave it away).

The vocals kind of remind me of Samiam...

elephantdwarf (July 24, 2008)

They could edit that sentence for you, Dante.

Something like: "Or, at least, hire editors." Commas are fun!

Archangel (July 24, 2008)

"Or at least hire editors."

How did no one catch this? Brilliant.

Oh, and I'm going to join the guy who said "Dinosaur Jr? Are you fucking kidding? Stop trying to talk about music."

elephantdwarf (July 24, 2008)

i just don't get it yet? nah, dude. i get it. i just don't find any appeal in it. a year from now i won't even remember this bands name.

thehandswillabide (July 24, 2008)

this album rules, why do all these people who comment have their panties in a bunch???

greenvandal (July 24, 2008)

This isn't a 9. This isn't almost perfect. You kids need to calm the hyperbole down.

blanktapesemptybottles (July 23, 2008)

I've got a problem with his opinion, the kid listens to good music, he just doesn't get it yet, check back in a year you might change your mind seriously I was just talking to the dude that runs this label about giving bands another try later on, and even if you don't like it don't hate on the shit, just say not my shit but good for them they're doing great things and come back a year from now and listen again and see how you feel, it may surprise you

elephantdwarf (July 23, 2008)

word!

bryne (July 23, 2008)

I'm not butt-hurt, dude. I was just clarifying my position because I felt I needed to. I've got no problem whatsoever with your or anyone else's opinion.

elephantdwarf (July 23, 2008)

not elitist at all... just an observation from someone that browsed the $1 cd bins in the mid/late 90's and found most stuff sounded exactly like this. and in reminding me of that, a 9 out of 10 seems astronomically ridiculous. opinions, yo. don't get butt-hurt over it.

bryne (July 23, 2008)

comparing stuff on this to dinosaur jr. is downright insulting.

What I wrote wasn't really a straight comparison as much as it was a citing of influence. Maybe I could've worded it better?

Either way, your knee-jerk reaction just makes you sound like an elitist. Oh yeah, I pulled that card.

elephantdwarf (July 23, 2008)

judging from the stuff i listened to on the punknews profile, a 9 is ridiculous. this whole thing sounds uninspired and safe. comparing stuff on this to dinosaur jr. is downright insulting. this sounds like a throwaway alternative record from the mid-to-late 90's that you'd find in the $1 bin at the used record store after that one random 'hit' song wasn't a 'hit' anymore.

bryne (July 23, 2008)

Pestless Pubes.

Win.

Dante3000 (July 23, 2008)

When this is getting a 9, I think we need to hire our standards a bit

Or at least hire editors.
-Dante

Johnny_J (July 23, 2008)

Pestless Pubes.

baseball (July 23, 2008)

Well I think this review is pretty spot on.

They've got a pretty perfect balance of rock/punk/country on here, not too much from any of the three genres, but enough of each to keep this interesting throughout the whole album. Well done.

red_eye_inc (July 23, 2008)

When this is getting a 9, I think we need to hire our standards a bit

spoon_of_grimbo (July 23, 2008)

LOVE this record. i'm gonna start listening to the punknews streams more often now, it's starting to throw up a lot of great stuff i wouldn't otherwise have heard.

freesandwich (July 23, 2008)

score is for band name

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