ROOKIE is the latest Chicago act to emerge from our house party / DIY scene as real contenders for the rock and/or roll crown that seems up for grabs lately. I’ve mentioned it before, but we are experiencing a delightful resurgence of attention on the Chicago music scene, and luckily it keeps uncovering acts worthy of acclaim.
The band is signed to Bloodshot Records, but veers from that label’s penchant for the more country side of rock one usually pictures when they bring up a mental image of their roster. On their self-titled debut ROOKIE draws inspiration from the past, but they mangle their instruments with the fervor of a room full of true believers whose religion is noise, grooves, and riffs.*
But wait, no, don’t misunderstand; this isn’t some amateur hour driven purely by a sloppy sonic passion. ROOKIE’s six members bounce songwriting duties around so much that each member’s personality creates a varied quilt whose threads are pulled from a pretty comprehensive understanding of what makes a good song work. They may look like a shaggy bunch of slackers, but ROOKIE is filled with the moves of members wise well beyond their apparent musical experience.
So while “Hold On Tight” thunders out of the gate, it’s countered by the relatively elegiac “Sunglasses,” and there even manage to throw in a Garson-esque piano break in the middle of the countrified strut of “Side Of The Road.”*** It’s one of those things that snaps you back to attention each time you think you’ve figured ROOKIE out.
ROOKIE is out today, so all y’all can snag it for yourself. They were slated to play a sold out release show at The Empty Bottle tonight, however that event has been postponed until April 10 and 11 due to wholly legitimate health concerns that would accompany packing a small room with so many bodies. It’s a bummer, but at least for now you’ve got the record to soundtrack your self-isolation at home! Silver lining!****
*Those riffs though. Timeless. Though one can’t help listening to the album’s opening number “Hold On Tight” without thinking of Sloan’s “Money City Maniacs” since ROOKIE utilizes a very similar clear out the stadium a massive party is a-comin’ mega-riff. Coming from me, there is little praise higher than that.**
**Yes there is, but here hyperbole makes an honest point, right?
***I said ROOKIE veers from the Bloodshot country influence, but I never said they abandoned it.
****But also 🙁