Vex Ruffin: Crash Course EP

vex ruffin, crash course epVex Ruffin: Crash Course EP
Los Angeles’ The Smell is notorious for being a launching pad for avant-garde bands. A small, alley way venue with no air conditioning in Southern California that has hosted bands like Abe Vigoda, HEALTH, and Pocahaunted. The latest in this lineage is Vex Ruffin.
Vex Ruffin is described as the only artists ever to be signed to Stones Throw Records based on an unsolicited demo. One might think that that means Vex Ruffin is the best thing known to mankind to have caught the ear of a trendsetter like Peanut Butter Wolf. Wrong. On his debut EP, Crash Course Vex seems to goad listeners into hating him.
His style is like a lo-fi, noise version of moody 80s pop. It is hard not to think of The Psychedelic Furs when you hear Ven Ruffin’s nearless toneless vocals. As he emotionlessly repeats the phrase “inside the room” during the EP’s opening track “Sacrifice,” it becomes apparent that an EP of seven tracks is still seven tracks too many.
The vocals never get better throughout the album and the music’s minimalistic qualities as repetitive and so poorly mastered that they actually become grating to listen to. I understand the idea is to create an atmosphere of bleakness but it comes at the sacrifice of giving Vex’s audience a serious headache.
After listening to the EP, I had to wonder how this caught Peanut Butter Wolf’s ear enough to sign Vex Ruffin. The man who is responsible for artists like Madvillain, Guilty Simpson, and Strong Arm Steady thought releasing this was a good idea. I know I’m not generally a big supporter of the avant-garde scene but Crash Course seems to show some the least amount of redeeming qualities I have seen out of a massive release in a long time.
Rating: 1.1/10
MP3: Vex Ruffin “Sacrifice”
Buy: iTunes