2017 January

Black Terry Cat by Xenia Rubinos

Posted by | Song Discovery | No Comments

A handful of notable new releases out today, at the top of my personal anticipation list is the new album from SoCal rockers Rival Sons “Hollow Bones”.  Also, you can find new albums from the quadruple guitar attack of Diarrhea Planet on “Turn to Gold”, alt-rock/country stalwarts Band of Horses with “Why Are You OK”, and Garbage pull out a surprisingly strong release in their genre with “Strange Little Birds”.
 
I first heard Xenia Rubinos just this past week from Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist that’s updated every Monday and assembled based on your music listening preferences.  I often have some pretty random artists selected since my listening preferences are all over the board; I’m sure I make it pretty difficult for their algorithms.  But since I’m always open to hearing new and different music, I’ve discovered some interesting artists that were pushed to me from Spotify.  Rubinos is an excellent example of this, because I don’t think I would have come across her otherwise (although Pitchfork put up a solid review of her new album later on in the week so it may have hit my radar anyway).  Rubinos’ new album “Black Terry Cat” is her second release, and I was impressed by her eclecticism and originality.  She is definitely bringing something fresh to the table.  While Xenia is currently based in Brooklyn, she was raised in Hartford, CT in a household of Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage (and you hear this influence in her music).  She studied voice at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she met some of her backing band.  Her first album was released in 2013 “Magic Trix”, which was equally ambitious and mixed jazz, hip-hop, funk, Caribbean rhythms and electronics into her sound.  Her jazz vocal stylings with this musical mishmash creates a unique sound for her.  On her latest album, I hear some Erykah Badu influence on her vocal stylings, but it doesn’t take away from her uniqueness.  The sounds on “Black Terry Cat” highlight some good grooves, a mix of organic and mechanical sounds and solid production.  Rubinos also isn’t afraid to shy away from social commentary and politics in her lyrics, bringing an added fierceness to some of her songs.  So with the diverse influences in her music, and the ability to challenge while keeping the grooves infectious, Rubinos has crafted an album that stands out from most other releases.  Here are three tracks to check out.
 
“Mexican Chef” – A big bass line and crisp drums kick off my favorite track on the album right now.  I love how Rubinos delivers her vocals on this song as well, mixing in some hip-hop/rap with some jazz and R&B, trading off between verses and the chorus.  And the guitar wraps it all up to complete the package.  This song will get you bouncing!

 
“Black Stars” – On this track, you can hear much more of an electronic influence in the music, but it’s deftly mixed in with organic sounds of the piano and drums.  The music is very cool on this song.  Rubinos also breaks out more actual singing, showcasing another element of her voice. 

 
“Right?” – A big fuzzy organ sound dominates this song, along with a solid rhythm section (her drummer is also the producer on the album and co-writer on some of the tracks).  Rubinos’ vocals also get a spotlight on this track, which really is very simple instrumentally.  But after mixing her vocals in, the song sounds much bigger than the few elements contributing to it.  This is another good example of her uniqueness as an artist.