Heroines was the debut album by New York City’s Ruby Falls. The collection of multi-layered epics entangled listeners into a fragile and dangerous world with a variety of sounds - - crashing, intricate, tiny, melancholy, endearing - - often within a single song. Letha and Jennifer’s anxious guitars wove together, at times in beautiful, airy melodies, at other times in twisting, gear-grinding crunches. Cynthia’s melodic bass lines and vocals drove the songs alongside Laura’s solid drumming, which holds everything together through the quirky moments and rhythmic hiccups.
“Before we were aware of this math rock thing going on, we were using similar techniques to figure out how to play these crazy songs Letha was writing, these complicated anthems,” says Cynthia.
Cynthia says, “By the time we asked ourselves ‘are we the only all-female math rock band?,’ math rock was a dirty word. But that’s only one piece of the Ruby Falls pie. There are elements of punk rock, classic rock, and pop with female singers and harmonies.”
Ruby Falls toured extensively since forming in 1992, booking their own tours and creating hats, coloring books, dolls, and comics to sell and trade in addition to the standard T-shirt and seven inch offerings. Not afraid of challenge, they booked their first tour on their debut single, and two subsequent cross-country tours solely on their two following singles. In 1994, drummer Andrew Bordwin (an ex-member of Flower) left the band to pursue his photography career, and was replaced by Laura Rogers, Jennifer’s sister. Laura jumped on the drums with a formal education in music but no drum experience. Within four months she recorded with the band, and after eight months she completed the band’s second cross-country tour.
their singles and compilation tracks have been well received by musicians,
music aficionados and critics, the release of Heroines (recorded by James
Murphy who has recorded June of ‘44) marks a particularly triumphant
moment for Ruby Falls. Cynthia says, “In the early days of the band,
we didn’t know anything about the studio, but we wouldn’t
let anyone else control the recording process because we didn’t
like the idea of guys getting their hands all over our music, changing
it and getting credit for ‘producing’ it. But over the years
we relaxed, actually allowed some people to help us, kept trying and learning
and worrying. And on this record I think we finally figured out how to
sound like what we thought we’d been sounding like all along.”
Ruby Falls songs tell sad stories of women who have been held back from
realizing their full potential in some way. They’ve been driven
crazy, they’re young girls in small towns, they’re in fucked-up
relationships, or they’ve been abused by the sex industries. But
the rest of the songs are about being in a band, and exactly how liberating
that can be for a woman.
**(Cynthia Nelson comprises half the duo Retsin with Tara Jane O’Neill (Rodan, Sonora Pine)