Xenia Rubinos-Black Terry Cat_First Impressions

Black Terry Cat cover art

Xenia Rubinos touches upon a wide range of styles in her minimalist singer-songwriter landscape.  Electronic bass lines drive the musical bus with various instrumental elements coming into the picture to carry the powerful vocal delivery into different places.  On “Just Like I” the heavily distorted guitar noise puts the sound in a punk conception, whereas punchy vocal delivery on “Mexican Chef” achieves a much more dance-influenced vibe.  As the genres bend and twist under Rudinos’ vocal lines, the album achieves many different moods making the relative simplicity of each song remain fresh throughout.

Beginning with “Don’t Wanna Be,” a slightly general sounding singer-songwriter song, Rubinos begins dedicating her sound to more specific genres.  The first 5 or 6 tunes remain very bright with a lot of rock sounds making it into the mix.  On “Laugh Clown,” the album takes a slight turn into a more mellow territory.  “I Won’t Say” essentially becomes a hip-hop track with bass line and drum beat accompanying near rapping of Rubinos, before the catchy bass line of “See Them” complements a complex vocal landscape.

Rubinos’ vocal delivery is no small feat.  She uses multiple vocal tracks on each song making for a powerful, emotional delivery.  Sometimes the back-up vocals serve as a melodic harmony, whereas Rubinos will elsewhere employ vocal back-up as an emotional affect simply adding more sound to the mix.  Also, there will be moments where two vocal tracks will be essentially in unison with one reaching the end of a melodic line before the other again adding extra emotion to the sound.

Instrumentally, Rubinos uses a lot of different sounds, but she remains subdued by allowing herself to leave certain sounds out from song to song.  The distortion drenched soundscape on “5” wouldn’t be sensical on the more soulful “Lonely Lover,” so it is replaced with a sunburst bass line to accompany Rubinos’ reversed back-up vocals.  In a more rock band based setting, the instrumentation usually doesn’t change from track to track making attempts at stylistic change unsuccessful.

Overall, I enjoyed this album quite a bit on my first listen.  Each song was surprising making for a fun experience from beginning to end.