• Review

Album Review: Ruby Vileos - Nothing Between Us

Nothing is more humbling to a local music writer than knowing you’ve totally missed the existence and talent of a band in your city. I was approached by a member of Cincy Indie Rock outfit Ruby Vileos (and we’ll say Indie Rock, but please know that this does not begin to encompass the depth and breadth of what they do), whose new album, Nothing Between Us, is available as of June 24 - I admit my ignorance upfront, and am happy to have that kind of oversight corrected. After a lovely exchange of messages from one of their founding members, a little research, and a half dozen treks through the album’s runtime, here I am, enamored, perplexed, and anxious to talk about what I’ve found to be an absolutely spellbinding record.


Formed way back in ‘98, Ruby Vileos is currently comprised of Ass Ponys guitarist Billy Alletzhauser, former Snaggletooth vocalist Ali Edwards, bassist Ben Franks, and Todd Drake rounding things out on drums. Though the band has several records behind them, a long period of dormancy happened between the release of 2006’s Fall Of The Motor People and their eventual reemergence in 2016 with a handful of reunion shows. This year, after releasing the single “The Moon In My Head” in 2021, the band has returned with a brand new full-length - their first in almost 2 decades.

Nothing Between Us operates in a sort of sonic liminal space, I think. It’s airy and dense at the same time, and has obvious sonic callbacks to the late 90’s and early 00’s. There are elements of post-grunge, Indie and Americana, with vocals that sit alongside modern comparisons to Cincinnati’s rambunctious Lung, and the breathy delivery of singers like Tori Amos. Atmospherically, it’s an album adjacent to later releases from The National, and has hints, for me, of what Chris Walla accomplished with Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism. “Atmosphere” with a capital ‘A.’ The guitar floats between twangy, fuzzed out electric and subtle acoustic. The bass lines amble along, ringing low and long in the slower moments. Showing what I imagine is considerable restraint, the drums keep everything together, rising and falling as notable and necessary punctuation to some of each track’s flightier moments. As a whole, the album is languid, taking little twists and turns when it feels like it, no rush, no worries. With brief intervals of power and catharsis, the whole vibe is a band that’s found a very particular groove, a comfortably challenging soundscape, and it’s working really, really well.

“Free The Bird” is a slow-paced, operatic track full of fuzzy guitars, big vocals from Edwards, quiet gang vocals from everyone else, and the clarion ringing of bells to close it all out. “Let Me Come In” is a quiet, hauntingly psychedelic trip with layers of trippy vocals over swirls of electric guitar. “I’m Not Cold” is a more straightforward foray into moody rock, even as the entirety of the track feels heavy with something not quite tangible. Lead single, “The Moon In My Head,” is pure Americana that relies on Alletzhauser’s guitar work and Edwards’ trembling, pleasingly pitchy vocal delivery. One of my favorites, “Everything,” feels like an early Tegan & Sara track even as it evolves into one of the brightest moments of the album’s runtime. Closer “Tourmaline” ends the album on a quote unquote Rock & Roll note, even if it’s almost an entire track that feels like an intro and outro combined. I do love when bands purposely and purposefully utilize uncommon song structures. Echo-y vocals, throbbing drumwork, some of the gnarlier, more energetic guitar work - it’s just a great way to close out the album.

If, like me, you missed Ruby Vileos the first time around, I hope you’ll take some time to sit with Nothing Between Us. Cincinnati is fortunate to have such a strong bench of practiced musicians, and I hope this is a good signifier of what’s yet to come.

To celebrate the album’s release, the band will be playing to a sold-out crowd on Saturday, July 15 at The Listing Loon. Opening the night, they’ve enlisted the help of longtime friend Tyler Ramsey, of Asheville, NC, a former touring member of Band of Horses and solo musician. To those fortunate enough to get tickets - enjoy. I’m sure it’s going to be a hell of a show.

Pick up Nothing Between Us - which rocks one of the coolest album covers I’ve seen in quite a while - right here. Or, if you’re at the show, they’ll have super limited edition CDs available for purchase by the fortunate few. Happy listening, folks.


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Ruby Vileos Release Video for "I'm Not Cold" 

Atmospheric indie outfit Ruby Vileos has released a gorgeous new video for their latest single, “I’m Not Cold.”