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MUSIC: Vic Ruggiero Something In My Blind Spot
August 31st, 2008 by Aaron Shay · 2 Comments
Music review by Aaron Shay
Imagine that Van Morrison is singing in a band with Lou Reed and that they're playing songs that Neil Sedaka wrote while drunk and manic depressive. Now imagine that this event was recorded in 2008. Also, imagine Morrison with a heavy Bronx accent. That's what Vic Ruggiero's solo album Something in My Blind Spot sounds like.
The album was recorded in Germany and released by the German record company moanin music, and has seen a limited release, making it difficult to find. It features Lisa Mueller from the German ska band Black Cat Zoot on a handful of songs, doing adorable duets with a spotless American accent.
Vic Ruggiero is best known for his keyboard work and singing for popular ska band The Slackers, and has also performed with the legendary Rancid on two albums. I'll try to ignore his participation in the rock-rap travesty known as The Transplants in light of his relatively honorable history and apparent awesomeness.
This solo album is extremely well-done. The instrumentation isn't intricate, but it's impressive due to the fact that Ruggiero played all of the instruments – save the horn section, courtesy of Fanfare Kalashnikov, and the drums, provided by Andrei Kluge, another ska musician. That leaves guitar, banjo, bass and keyboard. That's a pretty good repertoire of instruments to be skilled with.
Listening to this album is an eerie experience. The composition, the singing… so much of this album sounds like it should have been recorded some decades before. The biggest problem with that perception is the good recording quality, and also the song, It You?... This one's taken straight out of Tom Waits' 2004 album Real Gone. The rest of it is a big old throwback.
The best thing, though, is that the throwback nature of the album fits the music contained therein. The songs don't sound like they were written to appeal to the modern kitsch market, but just written, and the composition came afterwards. With such bands as Wolfmother (circa 1973) gaining notoriety these days, it's a wonder Ruggiero's album hasn't flowered.
The problem is that the distribution is entirely German. Whether Ruggiero is searching for a release in the United States is unknown. What is known (by me) is that he damn well better be or I'll have to write a strongly worded letter to my congressman.
My favorite song on this album would have to be A Lovely Beginning, which is a very 60's pop samba song about a bizarre, violent relationship between the two singers. The chorus sounds trite if heard isolated, but when heard in the context of the song, the words suddenly jump out evocatively. It doesn't hurt that there's a beautifully lopsided harmony, as well.