Rose City Band: Rose City Band
Rose City Band’s self-titled debut arrived last year out of nowhere and it slowly started spreading on social media through fans of hazy, guitar-based indie-rock. It was also shrouded in mystery. First released on the small Portland, Ore.-based indie label Jean Sandwich Records, the album was promoted without band members attached, only as being produced by Ripley Johnson, the singer-guitarist behind San Francisco psych bands Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, in the style of 1970s-era private press records (a la the legendary debut from Relatively Clean Rivers). It didn’t take a sleuth to surmise that it was Johnson himself who was singing and playing guitar on the album’s seven laid-back tracks. Now that Rose City Band has gotten a wider rerelease through Thrill Jockey, Johnson has revealed that the album is his project, and he’s still figuring out if he wants to assemble an actual band to play his songs live. Given the open-ended possibilities of these cosmic country songs, such as the expansive “Me and Willie” and “Fear Song,” he’d be doing a disservice to not at least try. Occupying a world somewhere between the Grateful Dead and Yo La Tengo, tracks like “Rip City” and “Fog of Love” blissfully float along, guided by Johnson’s hushed vocals and warm guitar playing. “Rivers of Mind” holds a bluesy shuffle for six-and-a-half minutes, with Johnson sing-speaking hazy, unintelligible lyrics, occasionally exploding in a psychedelic guitar solo. Much like Garcia Peoples, another band exploring the cosmic space between jambands and indie-rock, Rose City Band captures a vibe—one that you’ll want to live in long after the albums 38 minutes are up.