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JFH Staff Review


The Rubyz
Sound Off



Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 10 tracks: 32 minutes, 15 seconds
Street Date: October 27, 2009


The Rubyz made a name for themselves last year as the first artist to release an album under the newly-launched iShine Records label. They have since been busy performing for thousands of kids with iShine's fall and spring tours, as well as the holiday Believe tour. After Marissa Milele decided to leave the group, the duo of Alexis Slifer, 16, and Cammie Hall, 18, kept going. Now they are ready to release their "sophomore album," (if you can call it that, more on that later), Sound Off.

The main thing that upsets me about this release is that it's being marketed as The Rubyz's "sophomore album." To me, five songs do not an album make. It was a neat idea to add the karaoke tracks, but it seems like another twisted marketing ploy. I understand that the target audience for this would be 10-13 year olds, but there are older fans, like myself, who find this bubbly, catchy pop goodness to be a guilty pleasure. The sing-along tracks may be okay for a tween girl who prances around her room singing into a hairbrush, but they're certainly not for everyone. A better way to release this would have been to put out an EP of the five new songs, and make a separate EP of the sing-along tracks.

My first thought when I heard the new material on Sound Off was that the music was a lot more mature than their debut. The Rubyz have definitely stepped up their game to go right along with mainstream peers, and "grow up" with their audience. First off, the music itself sounds just like the songs we would hear on Top 40 radio---complete with autotune and electro-pop beats. Although there's much controversy on the whole "autotune" issue, it's used here sparsely and only when it gives a cool effect to the song. There's no doubt that Cammie and Alexis have amazing vocal talents, and don't need the assistance of a computer program to prove it. Every single song here is extremely catchy, in the "gets stuck in your head easily" way. Although there are no cover songs here, "Watch The Girl" does cleverly interpolate the Eurythmics' 80s hit "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)."

The lyrics on the album are definitely more mature as well. Gone are the teeny girly sleepover songs in favor of more socially conscious tunes. Four of the five tracks are shout-outs to this generation's boys and girls to step up and be the men and women God called them to be. The only debatable thing here is that "Ladies & Gentlemen" seems a bit harsh towards the boys, making it sound like the guy should be at fault in every bad relationship, and that most of them "like to talk, like to brag." At the same time, it does offer an encouragement in the chorus to them to not take advantage of the girls: "Boys, boys, making some noise/This is your time now/Gentlemen, don't mess around." "Watch The Girl" switches the message and is about a girl who takes advantage of guys, and encourages the guys to stay away from these types of girls.

The Rubyz are very open about their faith in the next two songs. "Stuck In the Grey" is again encouraging guys to "act like a man" by making up their mind as to what they believe. "Got The Memo" is a song to girls about being the women God created them, and tells them, "In His eyes, you are a ruby." The closer, "Give You My Heart," is a smooth pop track that's about the closest thing to a ballad on here. I interpreted the song as being like a note of encouragement to a friend that you will always stand up for them and love them, though it can also be taken as being from God to us.

The Rubyz have stepped it up a notch with this new batch of songs that's sure to please their targeted tween audience. While not straying from their faith, Cammie and Alexis offer words of encouragement to boys and girls alike, at a time in their young lives when they need it most. Sound Off is a worthy follow-up to The Rubyz's impressive debut, even if it is just an EP (yes, iShine, it is an EP). Hopefully this means we'll get more new music sooner

- Review date: 10/26/09, written by Matthew Watson of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

JFH Staff's Second Opinion



Last year, teen group The Rubyz released its self-titled debut album consisting of 35 minutes of predictable and forgettable pop tunes. This year, the girl group returns with its sophomore effort, Sound Off. While The Rubyz record label touts the release as their "sophomore album," Sound Off is really just an EP in disguise. It contains only five real songs which are then repeated with the lead vocals removed so listeners can sing along. Why they could not sing along to the original tracks is beyond me, but apparently the powers that be thought it was a good idea. Sound Off picks up right where the debut left off which is unfortunate for those hoping for growth and improvement. The five songs on the album are almost indistinguishable from one another. They each have the same structure and basic beat, creating tame, uninteresting dance tracks. It is difficult to tell whether or not the girls can actually sing because their vocals are once again drenched in auto tune. Themes include dating, self-image, and being oneself. Unfortunately for The Rubyz, these themes have been explored many times over by far superior artists in much more creative ways. While it is admirable that The Rubyz wish to convey a positive message to teens and tweens, they do so with shallow, repetitive lyrics. Perhaps instead of trying so hard to be an "alternative" to already clean musical acts like High School Musical and Hilary Duff, The Rubyz should focus on creating something distinctly their own. Anyone who was not already a fan of The Rubyz will not be converted with this album, and even those who enjoyed the debut will probably feel cheated by Sound Off's mere five songs. Those looking for substance or even enjoyable dance music will not find it here. - Laura Love of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

. Record Label: iShine
. Album length: 10 tracks: 32 minutes, 15 seconds
. Street Date: October 27, 2009
. Buy It: ChristianBook.com
. Buy It: Amazon.com

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen (3:22)
  2. Watch the Girl (3:13)
  3. Stuck In the Grey (3:16)
  4. The Memo (2:46)
  5. Give You My Heart (3:32)
  6. Ladies and Gentlemen sing-along (3:23)
  7. Watch the Girl sing-along (3:15)
  8. Stuck In the Grey sing-along (3:16)
  9. The Memo sing-along (2:47)
  10. Give You My Heart sing-along (3:31)

 

 

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