Album Premiere: Ruler’s ‘Winning Star Champion’

Seattle music scene utility player Matt Batey steps into the spotlight with his new indie rock album for Barsuk Records.

Matt Batey is a familiar face in the Seattle music scene. As a professional touring musician, he’s taken turns providing lead guitar and vocal harmonies for acts like Cataldo and Rocky Votolato (often with healthy doses of humorous stage banter). He’s just a consummate glue guy that makes Seattle concerts better.

When Batey isn’t helping other musicians out, he’s working on his own music, which he records and performs as Ruler. And with Winning Star Champion—Ruler’s debut LP on Barsuk Records (out May 25)—Batey steals the spotlight. It turns out the lead role suits him just as well as all his supporting parts.

Winning Star Champion delivers the type of polished, intelligent, and catchy indie rock that’s become the Barsuk’s trademark—fitting seamlessly alongside labelmates like Nada Surf, Chris Staples, and Death Cab for Cutie. Over bright and unpretentious guitar rock tracks, Batey sings with the urgent yelp of an underdog (as the chorus of the title track goes, “I’m the winning star champion of fucking up / like a high school rebel running out of luck”). During the album’s less scrappy moments, Batey transitions into melancholy, as on “Get To You,” which reflects on an always-ending relationship. The instrumental backing is bolstered by an all-star cast of Batey’s Seattle music pals, including Michael Lerner (Telekinesis), Eric Anderson (Cataldo), and Eric Howk (Portugal. The Man).

Take an exclusive first listen to Winning Star Champion before it arrives in stores and on digital platforms this Friday.

Ruler (aka Matt Batey). Photo by Lauren Max

Ruler (aka Matt Batey). Photo by Lauren Max

More in Music

TacocaT got you a new song for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Helen Moga
TacocaT Returns to Dance With Its Seattle Drag Pals in the “Grains of Salt” Video

The Seattle rock quartet’s new album ‘This Mess Is a Place’ comes out May 3 on Sub Pop.

Brandi Carlile needs more mantel space after taking winning three Grammys on Sunday night.
Seattle Cleans Up at the Grammys

Brandi Carlile, the Seattle Symphony, and Chris Cornell combine to take home six awards.

Pickwick’s Galen Disston stars as Drew in 5th Ave’s ‘Rock of Ages.’ Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Pickwick’s Galen Disston Takes the Stage in ‘Rock of Ages’

The local rocker steps outside his comfort zone for 5th Avenue Theatre’s ’80s hair metal jukebox musical.

Caroline Shaw. Photo by Kait Moreno
Caroline Shaw’s Classical Music Fan Fiction

Seattle Symphony premieres the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s postmodern take on Beethoven.

Quadrant and Iris performing at Le Bikini nightclub in France. Photo by Thomas Feugas
Seattle’s First Family of Drum and Bass

Leigh and Karen Caplan (Quadrant and Iris) are key producers in Seattle thriving underground electronic music scene.

On Being Trans: J Mase III Creates a Space to Feel Welcome

The Seattle artist hosts a three-day event at Gay City.

All Star Opera. Photo by Rachel Koll
All Star Opera Embarks on a World Tour of Seattle

The hip-hop/soul band’s second annual tour of the city’s venues with local artists raises money for homeless women and children.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

The best music of the year.

Travis Thompson’s Ride From Burien to the “Corner Store” and Beyond

The local hip-hop up-and-comer and Macklemore protege readies to headline The Showbox.

Top 10 Seattle Albums of 2018

The best the local music scene had to offer.

Minus the Bear is Ready to Hibernate

After 17 years of influential innovation, the Seattle rock band prepares to say goodbye.

Brandi Carlile Notches Six Grammy Nominations

Fellow Seattleites Alice in Chains, the late Chris Cornell, and the Seattle Symphony also are up for awards.