June 7, 2016

Premiere: The Rutabega's Ruminative, Majestic "Lip"

Premiere: The Rutabega's Tempestuous Epic 'Lip'

South Bend, Indiana-based pair The Rutabega makes music that answers the musical question "why don't people make music like that anymore?" Not that the band's very appealing sound is dated. Indeed, despite undercurrents of earnestness and optimism -- of the sort that marked a certain stripe of DIY two decades past -- it can't be accurately termed a throw-back, either, especially given the fact that the long-running project founded by guitarist/singer Josh Hensley has been doing its thing for 15 years. Most of that time Mr. Hensley operated The Rutabega as a sole proprietor, and he drew acclaim in the early aughts via a split EP with Owen that made its way to Polyvinyl in 2004 (only two 12"s left at press time!). Five years ago The Rutabega doubled its population with the addition of spitfire drummer Garth Mason, and the band's purview expanded more than commensurately. It is downright witchery that a two-piece band can create music with such epic grandeur. Part of that can be attributed to big arresting melodies that echo hitmakers including The Wedding Present and Guided By Voices, and part to the intoxicating degree of vim present in the tunes.

What excited us most about The Rutabega's forthcoming fourth long-player, titled Unreliable Narrator and due later this month on Comedy Minus One, is the band's fearless willingness to go long. Rounding a tad, half the record's eight numbers meet or exceed the six-minute mark, and its massive emotional centerpiece "Lip" swells and sighs across nine terrific minutes; we are pleased to premiere that particular song for you today. The panoramic composition gently sparkles through its ruminative first quarter, then spreads figurative wings in ensuing sections haunted by dense shimmer here and motorik minimalism there, all driven by firm tempo and rhythm changes. While the biggest big guitars and Mr. Mason's hardware provoke the song's most spine-tingling moments, these are set off by Hensley's perfectly understated recitation of certain parameters of isolation ("...it's an empty world without you here, I'm not getting to it, right out to the lip...") in a tenor reminiscent of that of Elliott Smith. The sum total feints in the direction of Built To Spill's acclaimed Perfect From Now On or some deliciously hypothetical iteration of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but the reality is "Lip" resides in a universe of The Rutabega's own creation.

Comedy Minus One releases Unreliable Narrator June 24 pressed to a limited edition of vinyl LPs; the first 250 of these are pressed to clear media bearing black streaks (observe), and additional LPs are available in classic black. Unreliable Narrator will also be released on CD and as a digital download. Pre-orders are on offer right now and those availing themselves of that opportunity will be rewarded with a download of certain acoustic demos titled Unreliable Sketches. The band intends to fĂȘte the release of the record with a show July 2 at Vegetable Buddies in South Bend; the bill also features 2 Big 2 Be Buried and The Columbines. Stream "Lip" via the embed below. The peppy rocker "Shiny Destination" was previously pushed out to the public earlier this spring, is available on limited-edition white 7" from Triple Eye Industries, and a delightful, puppet-packed video for same can be viewed right here.

The Rutabega: Facebook | Internerds

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