It is impossible to talk about modern psychedelic music without mentioning
Ripley Johnson. As bandleader of Wooden Shjips and half of Moon Duo,
Johnson has continually charted new cosmic paths that expand on the language
of the genre. With Rose City Band, Johnson's songwriting and beautiful guitar
lines take center stage. While his vocal treatment would be recognizable to any
Wooden Shjips fan, the sparseness of the instrumentation lays bare the beauty
of his writing. Shimmering guitar lines are free to shine, buoyed by driving
rhythms. New to the mix are arrangements and instruments drawn directly from
classic country, resulting in songs with more than a hint of twang. Buoyant and
joyous, Summerlong is a captivating listen that leaves the listener yearning for
more. The record is an ode to freedom, born of a musician stepping out of all
routines and whose own liberation is communicated so completely in his music.
Summerlong is a record that, taken in its entirety, is an emphatic statement on
the songwriting power of Ripley Johnson. Johnson's joy in every aspect of this
album is delightfully infectious.
Rose City Band started purely as a recording project, with Johnson's role mostly
obscured for the self-titled debut album. Released with no promotion, in the
style of private press records, it was a liberating, a focus on music without any
expectations. With a chuckle, Johnson elaborates, "I always would threaten to
my friends that I'm gonna start a country rock band so I can retire and just play
down at the pub every Thursday night during happy hour. I love being able to
tour and travel, but I also like the idea of having a local band . more of a social
music experience." Freedom from expectation and obligation gave Johnson the
space to experiment. The introduction of lap steel, mandolin, and jaw harp
enhance Johnson's lean guitar work with radiant overtones, placing Summerlong
more overtly within the country tradition than its predecessor. Work on the
album began at Johnson's home studio in Portland during the summer, but,
interrupted by touring, was not be finished until winter. The dark isolation of
winter and the pining for summer's easier days can be felt in the album's few
quieter moments. Summerlong was mixed by John McEntire (Stereolab, Broken
Social Scene, Tortoise) at his newly minted Portland Soma Studios and mastered
by Amy Dragon at Telegraph Mastering, also based in Portland.
The aptly named Summerlong, born of Johnson's own fondness for the season,
delivers an emotional lift-an expression akin to the joy of getting out there
on a warm day, be it gathering for a BBQ, hopping onto a bike, leaping into a
swimming hole, or simply reading in a park.
Vinyl release of Rose City Band - Summerlong (Vinyl). Released through THRILL JOCKEY and available on LP.
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Cat No: THRILL523LP
|Artist||Rose City Band|
|Artist/Author||ROSE CITY BAND|
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