IT WAS three years ago that Emily Beanblossom transitioned from being the frontwoman of the in-your-face garage-rock band Christmas to leading subdued dark-folk project Ruby Fray. The change wasn't easy. "In Christmas, I thrashed around and yelled and people would dance to it. It's hard to keep in mind that just because people don't dance doesn't mean they're bored," Beanblossom says. "But it gets easier with time."
Ruby Fray's first release, 2012's Pith, was an introduction to all the possible directions the new project might take. Playful percussion and vocal numbers mixed with gothic folk songs and ethereal sound experiments. The project's touring lineup emphasized the folk side, but after relocating from Olympia to Austin, Beanblossom built up a band with a background in punk and noise to work on a new batch of songs. It was then that the project "became more collaborative," says Beanblossom. "Even though the bare bones of the songs had basically been written, they all needed these extra brains for the potential of the songs to be realized."
Grackle, the band's new album on K Records, sounds like a Stevie Nicks record that never was. It's witchy pop music informed by psych-folk, doom metal, and Ennio Morricone soundtracks. Like a lot of releases on K, the album bears little resemblance to the twee pop that made the label famous. "K is very supportive of evolving long-term artists," Beanblossom says, "which is helpful if you haven't quite figured your sound out." Though Grackle doesn't fit neatly under the banner of any one genre, it has a more decided and confident sound than Pith. It's an album that not only impresses, but also makes it hard not to be curious about what's to come.
In the near future, Beanblossom plans to start performing her straighter folk songs under her own name, leaving Ruby Fray room to get, as she puts it, "a bit noisier, more collaborative, and futuristic sounding."