The wealth of artists on the ever-growing roster of Chicago based label Bloodshot Records is something to behold. Over the past 25 years, they have been championing American roots music, the sort of bands that maintain a DIY punk ethic, whether they be country, soul or garage rock based. The likes of Banditos, The Yawpers, Barrence Whitfield And The Savages, as well as Laura Jane Grace and Sarah Shook, have all graced our pages. And their latest release is the debut album from a 6 piece bunch of shaggy haired 20-somethings that wear matching boiler suits and go by the name of Rookie.
Rookie are a 6 piece band who formed in 2017 from the ashes of local acts such as Joe Bordenaro And The Late Bloomers and the fantastically titled Yoko And The Oh Nos. They emerged from a grassroots, Midwestern DIY scene, seemingly out of time with their retro ‘cosmic’ country-styled rock ‘n’ roll music. With three guitar player in their ranks and a drummer (Joe Bordenaro) who shares lead vocals with guitarist Max Loebman, they evoke a classic period of American rock ‘n’ roll, seemingly untainted by modern technology or social media.
Opener ‘Hold On Tight’ evokes 70’s rock radio from the opening chords and high registered hollering. Simple rifforama and blistering lead guitar solos give a high energy introduction to a band that seems far more clued in than their years suggest.
The lazy, hazy groove of ‘I Can’t Have You, But I Want You’ is prime Americana as much as Neil Young or The Allman Brothers in their prime. Sweet, full vocal harmonies flow through the chorus as slide guitar takes precedence. Likewise, closing track ‘E Jam’ is an excuse for the guitarists to shine and break out the extended solos like no one’s watching.
One thing’s for sure, Rookie go a long way to remind music fans about the glory of the guitar solo. And I don’t mean the widdly, over-played 80’s rock solo, I mean back when men were men and rock music did just what it said on the tin!
Rookie are the perfect soundtrack to any highway cruise. Just roll the top down, turn the radio up and light the doobie in your hand. Take ‘Fake Grass’ for example. It has an instantly satisfying melody you will swear you know already. A tinkling of the ivories and some gently weeping guitars give an Exile-era Stones feel. A sense of yearning is accomplished by the time they reach the first chorus and all your woes will be forgotten (at least until it finishes). Classic Americana with a Southern rock twist; they come on like The Band meets Skynyrd on a dusty highway, which surely ain’t a bad place to be. Glorious.
They veer into indie pop territory momentarily too. Recent single ‘Sunglasses’ flows along like a summer breeze, without a care in the world. With clean guitar tones and sweet acoustics, it has quirky, hippie-fied feel, reminding this reviewer of BMX Bandits or even The Thrills. Instrumental ‘Introduction II’ comes on like a lost 70’s Aerosmith studio jam, with solos aplenty, before the band segues into ‘One Way Ticket’, a tune choc-a-bloc with Hammond and finger-picked guitar.
Seemingly untainted by the last 40 years of music, Rookie are a band rooted in the past. There are no Grunge, R&B or rap influences here. They don’t deal in Nu Metal, Ska or even punk rock. Hell no, I wager Rookie don’t even own iPhones! They play no frills rock ‘n’ roll from a different time, hats off to em, I’ll raise a glass to that!
Channeling the pop sensibilities of Cheap Trick, the riffage of Thin Lizzy and laid back, west coast Americana vibes, Rookie have succeeded in delivering a debut album steeped in 70’s rock nostalgia, yet still sounding remarkably fresh.
Buy ‘Rookie’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes