Rumbleseat - Rumbleseat Is Dead
Record Label: No Idea
Released: July 12, 2005
One day, when I was just checking musical blogs (I got a vacation of seven months, no wonder that sometimes I had nothing to do, right?) and I found this post very enlightening. Why some fans despise band members going solo, or vice-versa? It's alright not to like a solo project or a band if they sound too different (or too similar, maybe...), but just because that lumberjack-dirty looking guy is screaming his heart out on stage, doesn't mean all music he writes is supposed to be heavy. Yet, a lot of "fans" (specially in the "scene") cry out that their idols are "selling out" (whoa, a lot of quotation marks in this sentence!). But what if most fans of your principal band acknowledges they never heard of a side project? Either your band is a mess (not this case) or it was supposed to go unnoticed. Well, now I introduce you to Rumbleseat.
If you think that I'm talking about the seat that cars from 1930 had, maybe you're aware of two gentleman who go out by the names of Chris Wollard and Chuck Ragan. Yeah, the vocalists/guitarists of Hot Water Music. At intervals of touring and recording records which are now classics for anyone who enjoys the "real emo"/post-hardcore genres, they got together with Samantha Jones of the band Bitchin' in the electric bass and vocals, and picked up their acoustic guitars to record a handful of acoustic-folk original songs and a couple of covers from Johnny Cash and June Carter, Tex Ritter and Don Gibson. The results are harmonizing melodies with the raspy-yet-pleasant duet formula well known by HWM fans with the vocals, well, let's say, less pleasant from Jones.
Despite a seemingly amateur production (at the beginning of "Picker," someone coughs), the generic lyrics about booze and women and Jones' almost always out-of-place singing, it's a powerful record for admirers of Wollard-Ragan and folk in general. Songs like "California Burritos," "Trestles," "Cursing Concrete" and "Restless" (the latter showing a beautiful melodic performance by Wollard) are fun to hear and really bring out a spark to the album. The use of harmonica is also beautifully done, giving the album a bluesy feeling. However, it also has flaws. The covers are kind of a letdown and the record kind of wears out leading to the end. Also, HWM fans will prefer other bands (The Draft, The Blacktop Cadence) than this obscure band which lasted only a year, ended a decade away, only released a LP in 2005 and, on top of that, is totally different than HWM.
Rumbleseat Is Dead is an album full of highs and lows, but it deserves a chance if you're into this kind of music or you're a Hot Water Music fan. It's not reinventing the wheel , as it never was the objective. It was just about three buddies hanging out, singing about girls and wishing for more booze. Isn't it your objective in life?