The Chris Ruben Band’s Madness on Repeat Will Stay in Rotation
“Unsure”, the opening number on The Chris Ruben Band’s Long Player, Madness on Repeat, which dropped, auspiciously enough, on April 20th, if you know what I mean, has to be the best way to start an album ever. The band kicks things off with a slap bass that’s funkin’, then the funk guitars that really make things funkdafied tune up before giving you a glimpse of the supernal with a keyboard phrasing that’s simply beyond space and time on this planet.
The combination has your body moving, your senses stimulated, and when none other than Chris Ruben (who’s got to be handling some of those guitars) chimes in with a pleasing melody, telling you to “go for it”, there’s nothing left to do but come on in and be baptized for the next 41 minutes by this six-piece band with Nick Marino doubling up the guitar work, Brendan Allen dropping the bass, Russ Benjamin pounding on the cue sticks, and both Frank and Eugene Iovine (any relation to Jimmy?) working the keys—although the former gets to blowing on the sax every now and again.
Perhaps the only thing to prepare you for what follows—other than “Unsure”—is the album’s artwork depicted above, which renders the smoky empyrean in all its purple and dark majesty, as well as a few grinning facades of the fellas in preacher hats, facial paint, and an assortment of beards and colors. Madness on Repeat is just that sort of ride—desultory yet purposeful, spontaneous and well-planned.
11-cuts deep, many of the tunes segue between calculated melodies that are eager in their staidness, and shouting accompanied by a frenzied din of instrumentation. That’s certainly the formula for “Won’t See You”, which alternates between a ballad and angst depending on what point in the tune one’s listening to it.
“Darling” tries its best to reprise the energy, free flowing funk, and guitar strumming of “Unsure”. Again, the keys play the vital difference of smoothing things out and elevating the spirit of the tune with the bass and guitars sculpting exact contours of sound. Like everything on this album, it’s fun and serious and, above all, simply sounds good with those guitars talking and that bass going toe-to-toe with them. Long, long live this band and its ambitions.