Sea Lion is the second effort from New Zealand indie-poppers The Ruby Suns, and it’s really, really good. Really. It’s no surprise that the band has recently been signed to Sub Pop, no doubt directly related to their successful Australian tour in support of The Shins. With its title inspired by a sea lion colony in San Francisco, the album is full of surprises, world influences, and fun. While frontman Ryan McPhun may be most closely associated with his current residence in New Zealand (and the location of The Ruby Suns’ NZ label Lil’ Chief), he is originally from Ventura, California. To be sure, the various places McPhun has called home is evident in the diverse and exotic sounds on this record.
BTR has been spinning The Ruby Suns ever since we discovered that wonderful little record label called Lil’ Chief, so we were highly anticipating this release, and I’m happy to say we were not disappointed. African influences are abundant (they’ve got a track titled “Kenya Dig It”, need we say more?), as are hints of Brian Wilson, Polynesian sounds (we’re loving the abundant use of ukulele), and even a little lo-fi distortion. In fact, finding a track you don’t connect with on this album would be almost impossible.
Not surprisingly, the album features an impressive array of instruments, from the aforementioned ukulele to synths and glockenspiels. “Diverse” has been the buzzword when describing this New Zealand band, but make no mistake – this band has the talent to back up their experimental tendencies. We can’t wait to see what’s next from this talented outfit. They’re touring the U.S. shortly, including several dates at SXSW, so keep your eyes and ears tuned to BTR for updated show info, and of course, to hear the great tracks on the album!
Mar 13 Waterloo Records, Austin, TX (in-store performance @ 3 p.m.)
Mar 14 Bourbon Rocks, Austin, TX (Sub Pop SXSW showcase)
Mar 18 The Earl, Atlanta, GA
Mar 19 Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
Mar 20 Barbery, Philadelphia, PA
Mar 21 Black Cat, Washington, DC
Mar 23 Mercury Lounge, New York City, NY
Mar 24 Union Hall, Brooklyn, NY
Mar 25 T.T.The Bears, Cambridge, MA
Mar 27 Waldron Arts Center, Bloomington, IN
Mar 28 Schubas, Chicago, IL
Mar 29 7th St Entry, Minneapolis, MN
Apr 01 Chop Suey, Seattle, WA
Apr 02 Holocene, Portland, OR
Apr 04 Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA
Apr 05 Echo, Los Angeles, CA (early show)
Apr 06 Casbah, San Diego, CA
Apr 07 Modified, Phoenix, AZ
Apr 09 Lola’s (Fort Worth), Fort Worth, TX
Apr 11 Yauhaus, Charlotte, NC