Victor Ruggiero

Alive at the Lady Bug House

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    8
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The solo debut from this Slackers frontman comes with precious little explanation -- no musician credits, no name for the backing band, no information about the mysterious Lady Bug House. Put the disc in the player, though, and all becomes clear: Ruggiero's gone singer/songwriter on us, and on all of these songs he's accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. And it sounds like the Lady Bug House is his living room, or someone else's. The whole affair would be strongly reminiscent of Chris Murray and his own post-band multi-track bedroom recordings, except that the sound quality on Ruggiero's album is actually quite good -- and there's not a ska tune to be found on the whole program. Instead, there are minor masterpieces like the Tin Pan Alley-ish "86 the Mayo," the nasty "International War Criminal," the bluesy rockabilly of "20 Flight Rock" (an Eddie Cochran cover), and a fine solo version of the Slackers classic "Yes It's True". His charmingly thuggish vocal style, always one of the central attractions of the Slackers sound, is especially affecting in this intimate, stripped-down setting. Very, very nice.

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