On Shuffle: Ruth Garbus & Friends – “Hello Everybody” 7”


(OSR, 2016)

“Hello everybody, there’s a Nazi living in my head…”

These are the first words you hear on “Hello Everybody,” and they may not be the weirdest ones on the 7-inch. See, the Nazi goes on to pay a bribe in the “currency” of “tacos, beer, and pizza” “to [Ruth Garbus’s] inner politician, who was hungry for Doritos at the time.” You’re probably wondering why I just don’t go on quoting Garbus’s lyrics, regurgitating them on the page for your edification. I could do that – they’re remarkable in their offbeat whimsy, and instead of reading about this record, you might be more interested in paths forged in poetry and imagination. I’m the equivalent of a mechanic – a member of society whose artistic merit is negligible but who serves a purpose anyway. At least I like to think I do.

OK, one more: “If I had synaesthesia, would my shit sound more like jazz or heavy metal?”

Ruth’s “friends” are essentially the OSR house band, augmented by Larry McDonald on percussion, who has worked with Bob Marley, Gil Scott-Heron (I hear James Murphy bellowing Gil’s name in my head whenever I read it), Lee “Scratch” Perry, Count Ossie, Hartley C. White, “and the list goes on.” The result falls within the spectrum of bedroom indie, but don’t let that description fool you – there’s quite a depth to these four short songs that extends beyond the excellent lyrics. Still, the intimacy of the players is apparent in the fidelity – each instrument sounds as if it’s in the same room as the others, walls of studio trickery removed for maximum connection.

And each of the four songs maintains its own identity, even as the flow of the music connects them to each other. That’s what makes Hello Everybody such an engaging listen throughout its short eleven minutes – good songs. As you might have gleaned from the lyric samples above, Garbus has a knack for injecting humor into her tunes without it coming off as shallow or overbearing. And while the songs are short and simple, they have distinct personalities. You’d be wise to give them your attention.


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