By Madeleine Rice
Label: Topshelf Records
Release Date: 02/23/2018
My 3-year-old self absolutely loved a lesser known artist, Amelia Royko and her only album, Sharp Steel Pinafore. The album balanced rock and the acoustic twang of the Canadian and northwestern countryside perfectly, containing a sound that wasn’t unheard of but maintained a unique and original character. Obviously, these weren’t the thoughts that went through my young head at the time, rather my draw was attributed to my mother’s love of the artist. I like to say that Royko was indie before ‘indie was indie;’ my mom was a pawn in the pioneering of the next rebel generation. The grandchildren of this kind of writing births the Chicago born artist Ratboys. Ratboys’ four song EP GL feels like a similarly underseeded gem and the stylistic comparison to Royko is not unattainable. One of my personal discoveries, I feel it accurate to deem them truly ‘indie after indie became cliché.’ Failing to follow musical trends, they stand out as independent and original, and more importantly real.
Healthily antiquated progressions are transformed into delightfully remastered melodies and subtle surprises like the brass lines within the track “After School” as well as the timing variation in GL make the simpleness of the setup concurringly interesting. The band’s sound is inherently emotional, relying heavily on the rawness of sound and the hands-off approach to mixing/extra synthetic instrumentation.
GL was released on the same date as their album GN, yet GN was released a year prior. GN is full of whimsical, laid back tunes such as “Crying About the Planets” and “Elvis is in the Freezer,” and has a very similar grunge rock sound to GL, but is an LP rather than the recently released four-track EP. It’s exciting to hear a new era of faster, upbeat music such as the track “GL,” which is driven with angst and power. The control of the drums and the layer of guitar lines amongst the vocal melody is perfectly balanced. The song is a message to someone with an air of ignorance, an obviously complicated relationship between the singer and the intended. Described as a “big-hearted liar,” they’re oblivious and easily distracted as shown evident with the lyrical need to say “hey fucker I’m talking to you.” The song ends with casual acceptance of the relationship but no change regarding the obvious contingencies. It’s worth taking the time to listen to the four track EP. If you’re looking for a new taste of modern soft rock, look no further.