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The Rutabega: Top-shelf guitar rock

March 5, 2015

therutabega

I was watching Lonnie Walker open for the Collection (you may have heard me rave about them once or twice), and I noted to my wife that fuzzed-out guitar-based indie-rock has been immortal ever since its inception in the early ’80s. The Rutabega‘s new Shiny Destination 7″ provides more evidence for this claim: the duo make the sort of indie-rock that feels timeless and fresh at the same time.

The two songs here barely make it above five minutes collectively, but they pack a lot in to that small space. The title track opens with a fuzzy, warm, immediately relatable riff before kicking in the drums, which take up the bass and percussion roles in this outfit. The drums do their best to fill up the space with splashing cymbals, punk-inspired snare, and some surf-inspired vibes too. The drums and guitar can be described as surpassing “tight” and going straight on to fusion: it’s hard to imagine the tune without all the bits from each instrument. The vocals top it all off: hectic, nervous, jittery, but not abrasive or underconfident, they sell the track in tone and melody. It becomes the sort of indie anthem that you can feel in your bones, even if isn’t mixed so as to point out “YOU SHOULD RAISE YOUR FIST HERE!” Awkward pogoing should ensue.

“Ladder” continues the super-tight connection between guitar and drums in a slower, quieter vein. It’s not exactly a ballad, because of the guitar crunch, but it has some winsome, pensive, emotive qualities that make it more of a rainy-day guitar-rock tune than a party tune. The vocal melody shines here, as the vocalist put in some poignant melodic hooks that really hit me.

Guitar-rock needs to be in top form to catch my ear, because it’s everywhere. The Rutabega’s Shiny Destination 7″ is top-shelf guitar rock, deeply worthy of your attention–even if (especially if) you don’t believe there’s much good going on in the genre.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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