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coverpic flag US - Oregon / US - Illinois - Full Moon 158 - 08/06/09

Fruit Bats
The Ruminant Band
Sub Pop / Tuba!

"Fruit bats are frugivorous or nectarivorous, i.e., they eat fruits or lick nectar from flowers", according to This must be the explanation of the sweet flavours and the colourfulness of the music of Fruit Bats...

Fruit Bats have been up and running (flying...) since the mid 1990s. In the beginning as main-man Eric D. Johnson's sole four-track project, resulting in a line of cassette tapes. In 2000 Johnson joined Califone (as well as the whole Perishable Records family, counting Califone, HiM, Joan of Arc, oRSo, Red Red Meat, and, eventually, Fruit Bats) and this triggered him and turned Fruit Bats into a band project - with an ever shifting line-up, though. Fruit Bats are for now: Eric D. Johnson, Christopher Sherman, Ron Lewis, Graeme Gibson and Sam Wagster.

After the critically acclaimed debut album, Echolocation (Perishable Records), touring gave the band new friends and friendships with Modest Mouse, Iron and Wine and The Shins. This again lead to a deal with Sub Pop. And Eric D. Johnson even joined The Shins as a side-member. He was a sidekick with Vetiver as well, but his Fruit Bats would remain and go on. In fact, The Shins is a reference to put up when describing The Ruminant Band, Fruit Bats' fourth regular album. Stable mates Grand Archives and Band of Horses could be other names to drop. Sunny folk-pop, or sun-soaked folk, even Americana, with an early/mid 1970s twist (Fleetwood Mac plus others). By far more 70s twisted than The Shins. West coast pop with light vocals and beaming harmonies. This is an album to remove bad moods when/if the sun won't come out. Opening "Primitive Man" is filled with (and fills you with!) air, with its nice and lazy, swirling melody, Johnson's vocals, plus the neat guitars, and the other instrumentation (including the bass drum stomp). There's a brightness to their songs and the production, and I'm pretty sure this could be ones of the alternative pop albums of the summer. Here are ballads like the quiet, guitar-finger-picking "Beautiful Morning Light" and the piano-and-tambourine-stomping "The Hobo Girl" side by side. "My Unusual Friend" is another favourite. So is "The Blessed Breeze", and the closing "Flamingo". All in all eleven songs of high quality.

Fruit Bats have been tagged as: 'zoology rock', 'bootgazer', and 'rustic pop'. Well, other names for 'fruit bats' are 'megabats', 'old world fruit bats', or 'flying foxes'. 'Old world' meaning 1970s? And 'flying foxes' maybe taking them way higher than the Fleet Foxes, who maybe weren't that good last year?

Copyright © 2009 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Fruit Bats article/review: Tripper.

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