Ruth's Hat - The Hitchhiker's Guide to Rock and Roll (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Ruth's Hat

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Rock and Roll (2003)


I'm under the impression that Ruth's Hat must be a really fun live band. I can just see this group in the corner of a crowded bar rocking out while patrons of all ages and social groups dance themselves silly. This band seems geared towards live performance and I won't hesitate to assume they're quite successful with it. On record however, there's another story.

Ruth's Hat's gimmick is that they play 60s surf-pop harmonies over Ramones style punk rock. Aside from the obvious fact that The Travoltas do this already (and I'd argue better) Ruth's Hat fails to capture any of that fun energy on record. The canned vocals and rehashed early Beach Boys melodies sound hopelessly without passion here. The Ramones influence is toothless and always seems to stop short of really rocking. The 60s worship is just that: worship. At their best Ruth's Hat call to mind the similar sunny pop of Chixdiggit and Weezer's charming geek rock. There were more than a few moments while spinning this album that I've stopped typing this review and thought "damn you're being mean, they're just trying to have fun."

And they are. And it is.

...but records are timeless. If I want to listen to the "Rocket To Russia" or "Pet Sounds" or a collection of Buddy Holly tunes, I can just take the album off my shelf and play it. Since the genuine article is so readily available I can't think of a situation when I'll need "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Rock and Roll." It's a strange situation, as I technically love all the musical elements that make up this band; I just loved those elements the first time around.