The Born Ruffians recently wrapped up their 2017 tour opening for The New Pornographers in October with a phenomenal performance at Toronto’s Massey Hall.
The concert was their first at the historic venue and they made quite an impression. With concertgoers clapping and singing enthusiastically along throughout their performance, the indie-rocking three-piece left the stage to a long standing ovation, as fans used to seeing them headline hoped for an encore.
“Had to post something from last night at Massey Hall because it was a surreal and very proud moment for us,” relayed Lalonde via social media, “partway through one of our songs I had to bite my tongue to stop a couple of tears leaking out. So happy to be able to do what we do.”
For the first time in a few years the band’s original three piece line-up was back together, and, as those at that Massey Hall gig can attest (present writer included), they are sounding better than ever.
“Our drummer Steve [Hamelin], who’s played with us since we’ve started, has gone back to school, so he’s not playing with us anymore. He’s going into a new phase in his life. He’s going back to do an undergraduate, so we’re playing with a new drummer who we’ve also known forever,” lead singer and guitarist Luke Lalonde said in 2013.
Drummer and founding member (the band has been together since the members were 15-years-old; Lalonde and bassist Mitch Derosier are cousins) Steve Hamelin is back with the group, replacing his replacement Adam Hindle. Additionally, following their second full length release, “Say It,” the band expanded their sound, necessitating the addition of a fourth member, multi-instrumentalist, Andy Lloyd.
That expanded sound resulted in “Birthmarks,” which garnered the band a nomination for 2014’s Break Through Group of the Year Juno Award. Despite including beautifully lush standouts like “Oceans Deep,” “So Slow” and “Cold Pop,” the album didn’t receive the critical acclaim of their full-length debut, “Red, Yellow, and Blue.”
2010’s “Say It” was also a disappointment for critics. “Red, Yellow, and Blue,” however, had reviewers foaming at the mouth (Pitchfork: 8/10, Punknews: 9/10, Filter: 8.8/10, Boston Globe: 8/10).
Some Day A White Light Will Come For You
“Uncle, Duke, and the Chief,” due February 16, 2018, follows up 2015’s “RUFF” as the band’s fifth studio album.
“RUFF” is more of an amalgamation of the band’s raw post-punk exuberance, and the massive sound they developed with “Birthmarks.” Lyrically, it is perhaps their strongest album, with songs that seem both personal and socially poignant.
Songs like “Fuck Feelings,” “(Eat Shit) We Did It,” “Yawn Tears,” and “When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away,” and “On and On and On. The lyrics include visceral contradictions like, “I’m not a good man/But I try so hard, I try so hard to be one/And so I look to you, but fuck I hate you too/You gave me everything I ever wanted.”
The Born Ruffians, or more specifically, lyricist Luke Lalonde has been grappling with the ‘post-modern’ condition since their impressive debut single, “This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life.” A song that, sonically and lyrically, succinctly sums up young adulthood, while at the same time summing up nothing.
Love Too Soon
Born Ruffians’ first single for their forthcoming release is “Love Too Soon.” A catchy tune that employs a unique little whistle as the song’s centerpiece.
The Born Ruffians’ most admirable quality is how they confront convention. Hamelin’s backbeat that rarely resorts to common rock/pop rhythms; the utilization of Derosier’s funky baselines; and Lalonde’s technically proficient and creative vocal deliveries. All of which are on display in their latest singles.
“Love Too Soon” is the band’s most vulnerable sounding cut since 2010’s criminally over-looked “At Home Now.” Both being emotionally infused slow-jams.
The music videos for “Love Too Soon” and “Forget Me” were helmed by July Talk’s Leah Fay Goldstein and Peter Dreimanis. The videos are extensions of one another, and are billed as “Act 1” and “Act 2,” and seem to have something to say.
“Uncle, Duke, and The Chief” is out Feb. 16, 2018, with a tour likely to follow.