Jun 22, 2021
By Mark Moody
Mama, take these psychedelic garage rockin’ chains off of me! For those of us that don’t give two hoots and a holler about Wooden Shjips or Moon Duo, Rose City Band is the Ripley Johnson train we ride. Three Rose City Band albums in, the prolific Mr. Johnson has eschewed most remnants of psychedelia in favor of a full embrace of the project’s country music leanings. With the exception of the closing “Dawn Patrol,” that skirts the edge of a lysergic kick-in, the album is ripe with economic riffs, understated vocals and solos, and glistening pedal steel runs.
That several of the songs recall earlier era classics only help to cement Johnson’s dedication to the roots of this laid back pleasure of a listen. The opener, “Silver Roses,” comes off as a melding of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” crossed by Neil Young’s “Helpless.” And the bristling “Ramblin’ With the Day” sounds like Woody Guthrie’s “Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?” having a friendly tussle with The Carter Family’s “Sinking in the Lonesome Sea” in the middle of a forest clearing. And if these pairings aren’t enough, the proceedings overall mix the sound of David Berman’s ironic instrumentation (“World Is Turning”) with the insular feel of The Go-Between’s Before Hollywood. Or some heady combination thereof.
If these touchstones at all appeal to you, the album should be right up your alley. From the slowly paced beauty of the penultimate track, “Rabbit,” to more openly country tunes like “Lonely Places,” Earth Trip is a joyful romp recorded in the quietest of days. That the album’s title also points to keeping things primarily out of the cosmos is another thing to cherish. Where an extended take of a song, like “In the Rain,” can revel within its terrestrial bounds without ever overstaying its welcome. (www.rosecityband.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
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