Ruby Red is second major label album from The Dambuilders. Ruby Red is guitar-based pop in the spirt of Fountains of Wayne but with more "grunge" added to the mix. The feedback, squeals, and shrieks common in the production adorn what is otherwise a Beatles-esque record. "Drive By Kiss" is the song least affected by distortion and could easily fit in on a mix tape with Crowded House or Michael Penn. However, "Teenage Loser Anthem," the most recognizable song from the album, mixes sad lyrics with intense violin in the right channel and raging guitar in the left. The teenage spirt expressed here is not rage, but rather, middle class alienation and listlessness: "now that the chance is missed do you know why you never slashed your wrist." Ruby Red is a raw, unpretensious indie masterpiece that seems to have had few champions. The band's skilled song writing was worthly of more mainstream attention, though their production was challenging. Nirvana was embraced by the mainstream in part because of their similarity to heavy metal. The bands like Sugar, the Pixies, and others that largely remained on the fringe of the alternative scene were, in some ways, the more challenging and different. Early Dambuilders fit into that grop quite well. Recomended if you also like the Geraldine Fibbers, or Fugazi. There is an artistic honesty to Ruby Red that die hard fans may have felt was missing on later Dambuilders albums -- that radio-be dammed attitude. But if radio could only be this listenable these days.
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AllMusic Review by JT Griffith