In order to fathom their funk and other disorderly leanings, American ensemble measure the distance from Earth’s surface to its inner limits.
The wait between this band’s 2019 debut and its follow-up was meant to be short but the pandemic shuffled their cards – and possibly for the best, because bassist Randy Pratt and his compadres, singer Ed Terry and guitarist JZ Barrell, used the grounding period to let the group’s next album become immensely deep. Drilling further into their intent of having a top-notch drummer and guest players on each new platter, the core trio decided to be backed by Bobby Rondinelli, Pratt’s colleague from THE LIZARDS, and flanked by a few other friends whose passages help lift the record’s pieces to an epic level without losing the music’s levity, and such contrast is what should make the ensemble’s sophomore effort stand out and rock in style.
It may not seem obvious from the album’s opener “Hype In My Head” where blunt bluesy riffs threaten to overshadow the sharpness of funky shards Terry’s pipes and Pat Thrall’s licks spearhead with a lot of panache, leading up to the catchy chant on the chorus. Then Randy’s belching strings rise to the surface in a manner that will be molded in the spacey, tastily layered “Bubbles” later on, yet the streamlined assault of “Back It On Up” which Don Airey’s ivories fill with Eastern solemnity will find the collective exercise their swagger to exorcise any worry. And once the bad things are banished, the band can work their slinky magic and push “Undercover Agent For The Blues” to the fore for all to jive along towards the sweet, soulful wigout of “Doesn’t Matter” and the heavy menace behind “Candyman” and “Dark Side”: the dynamic-scoping cuts highlighting the group’s power. However, Terry and Thrall’s predatory delivery and Pratt’s rumble turn “Slither Man” into a groovy film noir, while the speedy “Can’t Slow Down” feels just as infectious with Joel Hoekstra’s shredding.
So when “Keep It Coming” begins to glimmer, the listener is likely to agree with the song’s sentiment, Airey’s runs on the organ rendering it even more irresistible until the acoustically tinctured and effects-laden balladry of “The Game” brings on hypnotic glamor to the table and the platter’s drift to a spiritual close. So yes, “Ruffyunz II” was worth the wait if only for this pseudo-occasional otherworldliness.