Ruby Howl "Heaven Hides There Too"
It may be the fact that Ruby Howl hail from San Francisco that made this reviewer think of tie dye and kaftans, acid, incense and balloons while listening to 'Heaven Hides There Too'. While not overtly psychedelic they conjure up memories of bands that were active in the late sixties but who had a darker disposition, less summer of love, more inner space and navel gazing; Mad River come to mind. Featuring Laurie Hall and Patrick Kadyk on vocals with Hall’s sister Jennifer on drums they are joined by Beefheart alumnus Eric Drew Feldman who co-writes, plays bass and drums and co-produced the album.
Ruby Howl are not easy listening. Their sound is murky with deep bass drums, rumbling guitar and various keyboard sounds that occasionally sound like a brass section. The voices are portentous, laced with menace in a Gothic fairy tale way to the extent that eventually the album moves away from psychedelia to prog folk. It’s this element of almost being folky that almost redeems the album with “Strange World” and “Goliath” being the best examples but ultimately it collapses under its own weight.
A pity really because one senses that if they stripped away some of the production and went “lo-fi” their dark tales would make more sense.