Album release: 'GN' by Ratboys
Release date: 30 June 2017
Label: Topshelf Records
More info: Band website
Chicago's Ratboys, led by singer/guitarist Julia Steiner and guitarist Dave Sagan, will release its sophomore album entitled GN on June 30th (Topshelf Records). Drawing influence from the down-to-earth sincerity of late-90s Sheryl Crow and the confessional confidence of Kim Deal and Jenny Lewis, the songs on GN (aka ‘goodnight’) “largely detail experiences of saying goodbye, finding your way home, and then figuring out what the hell to do once you’re back,” says Steiner. The Fader, who premiered the album's first single, 'Control' says "the song is a perfect example of the special, personal nature of their music." Listen to 'Control' here.
GN offers a bevy of tales, laments and triumphs, which recount near-tragedies by the train tracks, crippling episodes of loneliness, remembrances of a deceased family pet with freezer burn, and on and on. The songs shift and breathe as worlds all their own, tied together by the group’s self-proclaimed ‘post-country’ sound, which combines moments of distortion and a DIY aesthetic with a devotion to simple songwriting and ties to the Americana sounds of years past.
The songs chosen to close both sides of the record – the slow-burning "Crying About the Planets’" and quizzical "Peter the Wild Boy" - unpack the respective journeys of two real people who were quite literally lost and found. ""Crying" tells the survival story of Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson from a first-person perspective, and "Peter" reflects on the life of a feral child in Germany who was eventually adopted by the King of England," according to Steiner.
Certain personal stories - the tour adventures recapped in "GM," the struggle to learn to show affection as divulged in "Molly" - find Ratboys just as eagerly exploring subject matter that comes from within, and then illustrating the highs and lows with soaring hooks and plaintive ones. Even in the moments that lie somewhere between bliss and misery, a tension persists between Steiner’s sweet vocal delivery and Sagan’s physical, almost-off-the-hinges guitar playing that lends each song a deeper sense of colour and movement.