Ninja Gun – Restless Rubes

Band: Ninja Gun
Album: Restless Rubes
Genre: Folk Rock
Label: Suburban Home

1. Restless Rubes
2. Eight Miles Out
3. Red State Blues
4. Darwin Was a Baptist
5. Front Yard Screamers
6. Life is Loud
7. Asking Price
8. Nostradumbass
9. Security
10. The Last Cowboy
11. Permanent Press
12. Breaking Light Of Day

Sometimes discs arrive and all I can do is shake my head in disbelief of what I’m holding/looking at. Case in point, i recently opened a package from Suburban Home Records from Tony, the owner of No Idea Records, which included a cd from a band named Ninja Gun. Now I trust Tony’s judgement as he has brought some of my favorite music in the last decade to the world [ahem: Against Me], but I must admit I had a moment of lapsed trust upon this album’s arrival, but luckily, as always, Tony pulled through once again. Though their name is utterly ridiculous, these Georgia natives have crafted an album that screams both commercial appeal and longevity. The album, Restless Rubes, is a musical journey from acoustic ballads to good ol’ folk pop/rock. It’s beautiful and simple while maintaing your interest throughout and really, what else could you ask for?

Restless Rubes is lead off by it’s eclectic title track which, unlike many albums I’ve hear as of late, welcomes you politely to the record rather than bombarding you with sound. The song starts quite strong, but then relaxes into a mildly paced track that you can just sink your teeth into for days. It’s hard to explain really, but it almost has a feel of The Forecast colliding with early Wallflowers material and it just left me drooling for more. The track fades with beautiful harmonies and gives way to the subtle beginnings of, “Eight Miles Out,” which quickly picks up into a full fledge summer rock song. This is a song for the road in my mind and the tambourine and harmonies are like icing on the perfect pop rock cake. The accented ending is one you’ll want to repeat a lot as it has a much more classic rock feel and I’m not talking Led Zeppelin, but rather mid 1960’s era. This band has sold me into there world in less that 8 minutes and I’m pumped as, “Red State Blues,” comes in soft [like the predecessor], but then soars into a large chorus. The song isn’t quite as golden as the earlier ones, but solid nonetheless.

There is a great lead guitar riff to introduce, “Darwin Was a Baptist,” a track laced in Tom Petty like goodness. The electric guitar that kicked things off fades to acoustic before lacing some light electric work later on once more. This is a very country sounding song, but the rock sound is pretty apparent in the second verse. What follows is easily the standout track on the album, hands down. “Front Yard Screamers,” is a solely acoustic track that is top 40 and country radio ready. This song has beautiful lyrics, yet simple enough that the average Joe will want to sing along before one verse completes. I got this John Cougar Mellencamp feel from this song, but like American Fool Mellencamp when he co do no wrong because that’s the power this track has. the following tracks, “Life is Loud,” and, “Asking Price,” play a bit more mundane, but are not throw away tracks. They just aren’t at the caliber of some of the other ones and I can’t really think of much to write other than that the electric guitar on, “Asking,” is amazingly catchy.

The album really picks back up with the acoustic led, “Security,” which is great song that seems to touch on the topic of hindsight. It just gives you this feeling that makes you want to reflect on life yourself and if a band can compel you to dwell on something, isn’t that the cornerstone of a successful song or album? This leads to the slower, yet still interesting, “The Last Cowboy,” and then goes to the indie rock goodness of, “Permanent Press.” All of this is then tied up into a neat bow and finalized with, “Breaking Light of Day.” This closer is not epic as much as it is full of depth and heart. The “oo,” and, “ah,” sounds in the background perfectly match vocals that beckon your ear to tune in and listen to what has to be said. As the song closes, you as the listener are left with a swelling heart and the desire to do nothing more than kick back and soak in what you’ve experienced. All while wearing the biggest smile.

Don’t let their name fool you; Ninja Gun is folk rock in it’s purest and best form. The music comes from the heart an the lyrics make you both think and smile. Though there are times when things seem to lag, the album as a whole is definitely going to find it’s way into more than a few year end lists. As we always say, we here at UTG ar emore focused on bringing you bands that don’t get the same amount of press as mainstream artists and this band deserves every bit of attention they can be given. During the course of reviewing this disc, I suggested it to literally 12 people and no one had a negative thing to say [and trust me, they’d tell me]. Find this album [you may need the internet], buy it, and just let your mind and heart become flooded with great music and emotion while you relax and reflect on life. Restless Rubes is an album with the potential to make you change how you live and look at your life and I honestly can’t think of anything better for an album to accomplish.

*Written By: James Shotwell*
GRADE: 7.5/10

James Shotwell
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