Local Love: Ruiners
Ruiners. Photo: Stephen Wells
There aren’t too many times where I catch a band play live and I wonder where they’ve been and how I’d missed them perform before. But, for Houston’s Ruiners, that’s exactly how I felt after seeing them perform a couple of months back at Walters. The lo-fi indie three-piece with punk aesthetics plays the kind of music that I feel like we’ve been lacking. They’re almost like a nice fill-in-the-gap band that makes acquaintances between the likes of Protomartyr and traditional punk. On their latest album, 2016’s Wasted Years, they take a mixture of varying sounds to craft something that really no one else is seeming to do while keeping the hooks and head bopping moments at an all-time high.
Though this album is only four songs long and could be considered an EP, there’s a lot worth checking out. Starting with the highly energetic and fiery sound of “Jhooti,” the band wastes no time in bringing their intense live sound to the album. Like the pop influence from Stiff Little Fingers’ “Alternative Ulster” mixed with the fuzzy guitar intensity of Wire or Buzzcocks songs, the band navigates between old school and new wave punk without sounding like they lifted from anyone. Closer to a modern day sounding Mission of Burma, Ruiners definitely bridge the gap here while still sounding original and fresh. Following up with the more somber opening of “Dhost,” the band embodies the sound closer to Jawbreaker before speeding things up and taking the sound closer to that of The Jam or even METZ. There’s definitely plenty of punk here, just that it’s blindsided by so many different sounds that you can get sidetracked trying to place a finger on what it reminds you of.
They follow this up with the speedy and chaotic sound of “Kaam,” where they start stretching their legs and really take their sound to a new place. There are hints of despair and isolationism in their sound that you can’t deny, though that’s getting placed atop a sound that’s catchy so you can easily forget about that while the songs stride along. They close the album off with the catchy and pop-hooked sound of “Tunda.” While it starts slow, it quickly picks up the pace and reminded me of a mix of Paws and the sensibilities of Jawbox. Moments within the song go from fuzzy punk to a catchy indie rock jam, though they never feel like a put on with this clustering of sounds. The band seems to draw from a ton of other places, though they never remotely lift from anyone in doing so.
There are so many elements to this band that it’s honestly lazy to compare them to anyone else. The truth is that when you love this type of music, you’re bound to hear pieces from multiple sources while you enjoy the overall sound. If you listen to Ruiners once, you’ll probably fall for their sound. While this release contains only four songs, the amount of weight within goes further than the eleven minutes that these tracks make up. Though they haven’t reinvented the wheel here, Ruiners fill in the spots between traditional punk and new wave punk without stealing from either and creating their own sound in the process. You can catch Ruiners when they perform at Satellite Bar this Sunday with Supremacy, or at Walters on Wednesday August 17th with New York’s Big Eater. The all ages show at Walters has sets from Moth Wings and Burn Houses, with doors at 8 pm and tickets between $7 and $10.