Sometimes when I listen to a band, I make a judgement: Are they Beatles or Stones fans? The Ruen Brothers answer that question in their bio, stating that, like I suspected, they prefer the Rolling Stones. Generally, a band that likes the Beatles is a little more delicate, concerned with love and peace. A band influenced by the Rolling Stones is usually more brash, aggressive, and more likely to be at least indirectly influenced by the American blues musicians that the Rolling Stones idolized.
That seems to be the case with the Ruen Brothers, who are Henry and Rupert Stansall from the UK. Their first two songs, the bluesy “Aces” and “Walk Like a Man,” earned them the attention of BBC Radio 1 host Zane Lowe and led to the brothers landing a record deal with Rick Rubin’s American Recordings and Republic Records. Rubin then produced their four-song EP Point Dume, enlisting Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Matt Sweeney (Chavez), and Ian McLagen (Faces) to contribute drums, guitar and keyboards.
Though their sound strays farther away from the blues and into pop on Point Dume, you can still hear their influences – which also include Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker – in each song. Henry has a deep, powerful voice that comes from a place of true sincerity, though a little muffled and rough, as if he’s singing between drags on a cigarette. “Motor City” is a vintage shuffle that breaks into a pop chorus while exploring familiar topics like not being able to catch a flight home and name-dropping highways. “Vendetta” has a bongo heavy intro reminiscent of the British blues group The Yardbirds, and builds into a dramatic tale about the end of a love affair.
For such a short release, Point Dume is surprisingly solid. The EP’s best moments appear on the opener “Summer Sun,” a love song for summer with chilling background vocals. Henry’s acoustic guitar and his brother’s lead create a solid rhythmic background for the dreamy lyrics. True to the song, which is about waiting for the warmth of summer to return, there is little action in its video: Henry, Rupert, and an unknown woman are stuck inside their separate homes by bad weather, as glimpses of the outside world are shown on TV screens. Check it out below: