Album Reviews

Rose City Band – Summerlong – Album Review

Rose City Band – Summerlong – Album Review
by Cathy Brown

Ripley Johnson is one of the undisputed masters of modern psychedelic music. With his band Wooden Shjips and as one half of Moon Duo, he has been responsible for some of the most interesting and innovating music to come out of the genre over the last decade. He started Rose City Band as a recording project and didn’t lend his name to last year’s self-titled debut album, which gave him the freedom to pare back the psychedelia and play with the sounds of country rock with minimal expectations.

This second LP, Summerlong, is effectively a one-man show, with Johnson playing everything other than drums (ably provided by John Jeffrey) and is a homage to blissed-out sunshine seventies country-tinged rock – all sweeping guitars mixed with krautrock rhythms.

There are echoes here – from the Grateful Dead to Creedence Clearwater Revival, with a touch of Dylan thrown in for good measure – but these eight songs stand on their own merits. The opener, Only Lonely sets out Johnson’s stall with its twanging upbeat vibe. The inclusion of steel guitar and mandolin give this album a stronger country sound, but Johnson nods to his psychedelic roots in the bluesier thump of Reno Shuffle while cranking up the volume on the 50s rock ‘n’ roll inflexions of Real Long Gone. Floating Out has an easy-going, ethereal grove, while Morning Light positively bounces along atop some gorgeous steel guitar playing. It goes without saying that every song features stunning guitar work by Johnson.

By the time the closing two songs, Wee Hours and Wildflowers segue effortlessly into one another in a haze of shimmering guitar and joyous looping rhythms, you’ll be headed straight back to Track One to appreciate it all again. As radiant and buoyant as its name suggests, Summerlong is a gorgeous album by an artist at the height of his powers doing exactly what he wants to do. Summerlong is one of those albums that feels like an instant classic – it has a sound that feels both old and fresh at exactly the same time – and after a few listens, you could swear it’s an album you’ve loved for years. It is unashamedly happy and we could all do with some of that right about now.

Track List:

  1. Only Lonely 03:52
  2. Empty Bottles 05:07
  3. Real Long Gone 05:08
  4. Floating Out 05:30
  5. Morning Light 02:50
  6. Reno Shuffle 06:23
  7. Wee Hours > 06:18
  8. Wildflowers 05:35

Only Lonely –

 

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