When it comes to band members, there are few artists with their fingers in quite as many figurative pies as Emma Ruth Rundle. With a musical career spanning the best part of a decade and so many differing creative projects, it’s tricky for unfamiliar listeners to know where to begin. Here, I have put together a collection of my favourite Emma Ruth Rundle tracks – from the anguished to the ambient – aiming to find a thread end which will help new listeners to unravel the reel of her discography.
10) Red Sparowes – ‘Giving Birth To Imagined Saviours’
This track has a rock edge and is somewhat bluesy. It is certainly not how one would traditionally imagine post-rock. About three-quarters of the way into the track, however, its pace changes dramatically, almost as if it’s been swept up into a tornado. It may be a little confusing but bear with it, as there’s little chance that this is like anything else you’ve heard.
9) Marriages – ‘Less Than’
More My Bloody Valentine than Mogwai, Marriages prove themselves as kings and queens of noise rock on Salome album track ‘Less Than’. Emma Ruth Rundle’s vocals blend in with the instrumentals here rather than standing out – a change from Marriages’ usual style, but an interesting one. Extra points for the retro ‘80s synth line at the end of the track.
8) Emma Ruth Rundle – ‘Shadows of My Name’
Introducing some of debut LP Some Heavy Ocean’s themes of depression, guilt and regret, Rundle begins ‘I’ve come here wasted and with saddened, selfish things’. Like her works with Red Sparowes, this track takes time to build, with Emma seemingly holding back until she powerfully shouts for reconciliation, ‘I lay back in salt/Please forgive my name’.
7) Emma Ruth Rundle – ‘Medusa’
Despite being on her darker recent release Marked For Death, ‘Medusa’ is a throwback to Emma Ruth Rundle’s earlier, folkier releases. Subtle hints of First Aid Kit and Fleet Foxes are contained within the track’s wavering guitars and the steady metronome rock of its refrain. Her vocals are mighty and even verging on Norah Jones-esque in places.
6) The Nocturnes – ‘London Town’
The Nocturnes specialise in ‘folkgaze’, and this track describes exactly what that means. Guitars are the predominant instruments and the vocal harmonies are soothing, ambient and somniferous. Beats remain regulated as a pendulum, with some gorgeously gentle cymbal tapping completing the picture and giving ‘London Town’ a 1960s hazy feel. This is a lullaby for fans of The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Velvet Underground.
5) Emma Ruth Rundle – ‘Arms I Know So Well’
The folk force is strong with this one. Yet this isn’t simply another track from the next bleating songwriter with an acoustic guitar. Tortured yet hopeful, Emma Ruth Rundle sings of a familiar love which is capable of shutting out all the world’s negativity, both in and outside of her own head.
4) Marriages – ‘The Liar’
If Savages got any more grungy, this is what we would expect them to sound like. The music Emma Ruth Rundle has produced with Marriages is some of her heaviest, and here she verifies that her vocals don’t simply lend themselves to softer releases. Emma’s voice blazes through tangy guitar lines, distortion and lashings of shoegaze buzz, and on the line ‘You lie, you lie, you’ll suffer my name’, it is clear that she isn’t one to be messed with.
3) Red Sparowes – ‘In Illusions of Order’
During her time as a guitarist in epic instrumental band Red Sparowes, Emma Ruth Rundle contributed towards ‘In Illusions of Order’, the best known track from their third album The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer. The track begins with a bassline reminiscent of the Black Keys; building tension and collecting percussive additions; changing direction multiple times before finishing with a drumroll-laden crescendo march.
2) Emma Ruth Rundle – ‘So, Come’
It’s moody, it’s brooding, it stomps. Needless to say that this is some of Emma Ruth Rundle’s most anguished writing to date. As Emma cries out ‘Take it back!’, we can envisage her alone in a large empty house, cursing loneliness, cursing fate and misfortune. ‘So, Come’ is fearfully emotive, and brilliant to listen to when you’re angry.
1) Emma Ruth Rundle – ‘Marked For Death’
The title track from Rundle’s latest album, this song refers to the part that ‘craziness’ and neediness can play in a relationship; a desperation that manifests in the raw breathiness of her vocals here. Emma Ruth Rundle describes loving someone in danger in some way, somebody whose days are numbered (‘Who else is gonna love someone like you that’s marked for death?’) and of caring for them even in the darkest of times. It is a beautiful and devastating listen.