10-01 Lawrence, KS - Replay LoungeLive Photo
10-02 Denver, CO - Hi-Dive
10-03 Fort Collins, CO - Road 34
10-04 Albuquerque, NM - Burt's Tiki Lounge
10-06 San Diego, CA - The Casbah
10-07 Hollywood, CA - On the Rox at Roxy
10-08 San Francisco, CA - Annie's Social
10-10 Omaha, NE - Slowdown
10-12 Fargo, ND - The Aquarium
Known for years in Minneapolis as a solo artist with headline-grabbing stage antics (he once played a 52-hour marathon show, purportedly consisting of a single song written on some 600 pages of lyrics), vocalist/keyboardist Mark Mallman brings that same inhuman energy to his new project, Ruby Isle. He joins Wisconsin childhood friend Dan Geller (of I Am The World Trade Center) and drummer Aaron Lemay (International Espionage) to form one of the best party bands to hit my radar in a long time. There can be no argument: Ruby Isle is Fun. A hell of a lot of Fun. Ohh yeah; with a capital "F". The electro-dance-pop trio today officially release their debut full-length "Night Shot" on Kindercore Records.
This album comes together so nicely - and with such intensity - it's impossible to single out any one track as being head-and shoulders above the others. From the obviously drug-referential "So Damn High" and "One Trip" to the Na-Na-Na-laden super-anthem "Atom Bombs '09;" you WILL dance your ass off. Don't resist. Even the seriously-titled "How It Hurts" has me unconsciously twitching in my chair as I write this. There's also a mean up-tempo cover of Peter Gabriel's Solisbury Hill (featuring Amy Dykes of I Am The World Trade Center) which is nothing short of genius - balancing both originality and a measure of reverence for the original; which is really the hallmark of any decent cover track.
"Night Shot," the album's over-distorted-yet-strangely-poppy title track, features backing vocals by Tay Zonday. Yeah, that guy. But don't rush to judgment. His presence on this track is little more than an album footnote and should accordingly be treated as such. I only mention it because it serves as an example of the level of fun-for-fun's-sake on offer here. I was skeptical at first - immediately homing in on the song, prepared to express my disappointment/horror/outrage - but was quickly won over. And then some.
Ruby Isle evokes a future in which, not only do super-intelligent aliens rule the Earth, but they force the human race to pop caffeine pills and dance eight hours a day under blinding multi-chromatic neon lights. High-pitched vocal filtering is a consistent theme, giving much of the album that robot-glee-club feel the kids all go for. Some might call their style tongue-in-cheek, even cheesy. But it's extremely entertaining, without crossing the line into "novelty act." You won't find weepy love ballads or angry rants about social inequality with Ruby Isle. But you may just find yourself drenched in sweat on a dance floor somewhere with a red-lit Mark Mallman precariously perched atop a chair above you with neither a stray thought about the inevitable forces of gravity or the physiological dangers of dehydration. You have been warned.