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Get familiar with Born Ruffians

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In a time when bass-heavy, dirty rap dominates airwaves, listeners can be bogged down by degrading and  offensive lyrics. Although some people may have grown accustomed to crude lyrics and bone rattling, electronically made beats, I have not. I cannot pry myself away from the idea of a bright and energetic band singing about something other than walking into the club and grabbing someone’s backside.

Those who share my frustration need to look no further than “Born Ruffians,” a trio from Canada that prides itself on being an off-beat indie rock band that knows no boundaries. The Ruffians, as the band is affectionately called, is made up of three regular dudes playing what they like to play, and making sure not to follow in the footsteps of Top 40 artists. They don’t adhere to conventional music patterns and quite literally march to the beat of their own drum.

The band is stripped of all superfluousness, boasting only a guitar, a bass and a set of drums. The band uses their lack of complexity to their advantage, throwing in hyper-driven vocals and random musical interludes that no big band could support or supply. It is so loosely put together that it seems to mimic the thought process of an 8-year-old with attention span problems; it is wild, jumpy and crisscrossed in the most enticing ways possible.

Wiry and shrieking front man Luke LaLonde has a pubescent high tenor voice, which he lets loose with no hint of constraint. Many of Born Ruffian’s songs are difficult to understand, but their tunes are so unbelievably catchy that it quite frankly doesn’t matter. When he is especially excited, his words blend together into a shriek of excitement.

Although they have matured over the past 11 years, they maintain specific and youthfully hilarious lyrics like, “And none of the girls seem to think you’re cool/It’s probably because you smell bad,” in the song “Barnacle Goose.” The song is a perfect mix of “God I have no clue what the hell is going on,” and crazy fast power chords. Not to mention there is a squeaky accordion in there somewhere. If you’re a freaked out, confused twenty-something, give it a listen. If there is an anthem dedicated to the beautiful bewilderment that is young adulthood, this is it: “And I’m frustrated with myself/But I can’t change/I don’t want to be me anymore.”

Picture this: You’re in your best friend’s ’96 Corolla, driving cross-town to some kid’s birthday party. You don’t care who’s there, you don’t care how long you stay or even if the party is a bust. You only care that you’re young, wild and free (pardon the Wiz Khalifa reference). The stereo is spewing out loud music, preferably the song “I Need a Life.” Its punchy drumming, shrill guitar and mesmerizing chorus callbacks make the listener feel positively golden and invincible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screamed “The sun is shining but we stay inside/Oh but we go out at night/We stay in looking for a better life/Oh but we go out at night” out the top of someone’s sunroof (sorry, Mom).

A plucky and simple guitar line opens the song “Foxes Mate for Life”, a song which is literally about how foxes mate for life because, as LaLonde muses, “they’re in love.” The song is about having fun, not sweating the small stuff and not learning everything from what you view on the tube. The song is quirky and catchy, something that’ll be stuck in your head for days. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In the slightly more mellow song, “With Her Shadow,” the band spins a tale about a girl that “likes her shadow more than her reflection,” because the past is easier to face than what is right in front of her. At times, the band can seem childlike and untamable, but songs like this offer a serious look at life, while maintaining a sunny, Vampire Weekend-like sound.

Not many people know about Born Ruffians, and that is a-okay. They are a well-kept, underground secret that is sweet and tangy to the ear. Next time you’re feeling in the dumps, pump up some Ruffians, because they are instant game changers. If not valued for their random, funky lyrics, they can be appreciated for their creative and unconventional sound.

Listen to if you like: Vampire Weekend, Wolf Parade, Passion Pit

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