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If one thing is clear about indie-funk group The Chris Ruben Band, it’s that they’re serious about fun. The New York sextet’s new album, Madness on Repeat, encapsulates their live energy and musical prowess through their unique flavour of funk, pop, and blues across eleven tracks. Some of these songs were in various levels of development for the better part of a decade, and when recording finally got going, there were even more delays as the album was repeatedly postponed.
The band overcame the various obstacles to produce a juicy psychedelic slice that’s both fierce and funky. According to Ruben:
“The album is a reflection of the unforgiving turbulence of life at its realest. What was projected to take six months to complete spanned over two years and three studios. Everything these gentlemen have has gone into this record, so it is all there for you.”
Beginning with ‘Unsure’, the listener is immediately cast into a monstrously funky bassline on par with the Chili Peppers that eventually settles down into a palatable groove in lockstep with the rhythm and Ruben’s bouncy vocals. All this paves the way for the ’90s-sounding, chimey chorus, before the piece resolves with a melter of a guitar solo, illustrating the technical proficiency of the team. Definitely a smart choice for an opener, and anyone partial to wacky funk rock will be immediately gripped.
This segues into a slightly more stripped back and folky tune called ‘Won’t See You’, which maintains the energy primarily through a booming, lively chorus. Other notable cuts include the deft drum work on ‘Cold Shoulder’, with its jazzier backdrop, and ‘Give it UP’ is the peak for emphasizing the band’s well-honed live jamming skills through its crunchy guitar buildup and improvisations that evolve into an anthemic punk track.
Madness on Repeat is, at its core, a tight band of musicians just having fun. The Chris Ruben Band venture out from their funk roots into punky territory at will and use indie influences to spruce up the addictive choruses. The vocal performances are consistently packed with energy and really bring the emotional impact of the lyrics to life.