Justin Rutz is originally from Oregon and has been living in Portland for the last 15 years or so. As an Oregon-native, he has been playing in various punk or new wave bands for years. He contributed on bass for the Portland band Roselit Bone. Facts Machine is his first release as a solo artist under the name Neon Greyjoy. Pretty much Rutz got used to playing for local punk bands so this move toward more new wave, indie rock and synth pop umbrellas was a little outside his comfort zone. Yet Rutz is able to handle the transition with ease, easily adapting to the new styles on his debut EP. Rutz’s vocals recalls a Passion Pit vibe.
Facts Machine launches with “Love Shtick” that starts off with some airy synths. The synths then made way for what resembled Celtic sounds. Once the vocals came in, I was reminded of Passion Pit. There was a jaunty feel to the rhythms. Rutz’s falsetto is really infectious. The waves of synths, electronic riffs and beats really came together. Next is “We,” where some smooth and retro keys sound out here. Gradually, some beats gain traction. More of Rutz’s falsetto vocals sound out. The vibe felt more low-key with a sauntering groove. There was overall a more easy-going feel to this track. But eventually, the music becomes more exciting in sound, blowing up in an explosion of synths and electronic riffs. Guitars and more glitch-y electronic vibes strut out to the start of “Midnite blur.” The sound is a celebration of EDM music. The flavorful notes point to a very dance-worthy vibe.
Some monotone beats open up “Manhattan.” As some synth layers in the sounds for a very atmospheric feel, the wave of synths then makes way for Rutz’s vocals. The energy does not abate in this song. There was a very new wave and clubbing feel to this track that felt like it would be perfect for groovin’ along to. More synths light up the atmosphere on “Plastic Apothecary.” This time around there was a more nostalgic and sentimental air to the music. The auto-tuned vocals right away reminded me of Owl City. There was a very inviting sense to the music, as Rutz sends us out with this memorable closer.
Listening to the tracks on this EP, the album felt very cohesive. The energy of the opening track “Love Shtick” then segues into the next and next and next, creating a movement of sound worth visiting on multiple occasions. I loved how the artist was really able to think outside the box and experiment with different sounds. I thought the tracks here on this record had a lot of textures, each one feeling a little different from the other. There’s a lot going on on Rutz’s Facts Machine. Worth exploring from start to finish, this proved to be a good introduction to the artist’s sounds and I look forward to seeing where he goes from here.
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