As I wrote a few weeks back, Lawrence quartet Rooftop Vigilantes are giving being an active band another go. As a result of this news, I know a few out there expressed confusion and were never even aware that the band had ceased to be. You can’t be blamed. For anyone paying attention, it only seemed as though Rooftop was temporarily placed on the back burner while co-frontman Zach Campbell jump-started the incoming national popularity of his newest band Mouthbreathers by recording a new 7 inch for In the Red Records (which was just released recently, check back in for a review). I want to preface this piece with some honesty: Rooftop Vigilantes are likely one of my top three favorite bands in the area right now. While I am here attempting to compose myself with a modicum of journalistic integrity, let’s just be honest that the announcement of this album (recorded in 2009) finally being released is like finding out I have two birthdays. Or to put it in terms relative to the band in question, like there is a case of my favorite beer hiding in the back of the fridge that I forgot was there. Yes, I just compared four living, breathing people to a case of beer. Good beer, though.
The opening notes of Real Pony Glue immediately showcase the band’s new directions in recording. The vocals are much more clear, at times even harmonized, and the four show a noticeable restrain on their instruments, further elevating the pop sensibility coming to the forefront in the band’s follow-up to the nationally well-received Carrot Atlas, last year’s four track cassette Who Stole My Zoo? The band’s core stylistic tendencies remain. Most songs on RPG clock in at under two-and-a-half minutes, many of the titles don’t really make a lick of sense but are likely in-jokes with their friends, and the organ is mercifully given a bit more distinction than in the back catalog. The inherently expected pop melody of the release does not deter, and is without doubt going to serve as a launchpad for the band’s decision to self-release all of their foreseeable recordings. The new album features much less in the way of the raw, string-breaking garage fury that was much more present in their earlier days, but this listener is quite content with the alternate result.
Keeping with the pop theme I have been running with throughout this review, one of the stand-out tracks on the album is “Love is Out to Get Me,” the longest on the album but still running at under three minutes, reining in the close before one final blast. It should be noted that while RV are more than able to create music that would sound great listened to with a tin can and string, the album was given an additional boost at the hands of lauded indie producer J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines). Real Pony Glue is nowhere near a daunting listen, and in fact it probably goes by way too damn quick. The band packed 17 tracks into just over 30 minutes, and it only helps to whet the appetite of the listener to their recordings to come. Local readers, you can purchase a physical copy at the band’s release show at the Replay Lounge tomorrow (09/29) with Suzannah Johannes and Fourth of July. Everyone else can purchase the album from their bandcamp page or Lovely Sea Records (where you can still find their 2010 cassette release) on October 4th.
Click here to download “Hacking Up a Lungfish” from Rooftop Vigilantes’ Real Pony Glue.