Last Night That Late Nineties Chicago Sound
posted by August 9 at 11:40 AMon
One of my favorite music scenes – practically a genre unto itself – is what the Kinsella brothers and their associates were doing in Chicago about a decade ago. American Football, Owls, Ghosts and Vodka: They had their own unique sound that’s never really been duplicated. It’s fitting that a week after doing an interview with Mike Kinsella and asking him about his old bands that I should finally see a new band that has managed to brilliantly recreate that forgotten sound. It’s easy enough to tell from the songs Rooftops posted on their Myspace that they count those Chicago groups among their top influences, but since those recordings they’ve added a third guitarist, a low-end rhythm guitarist, moving them away from just a trebly tap-fest and more towards sonically balanced songwriting. The result is something I couldn’t want more: Their set last night at the Blue Moon was like a time machine to a music scene I was too young to see or appreciate when it was actually around. Here were four dudes with the skills and sensibilities to legitimately follow in the vein of American Football. Like I mentioned in my preview of this show yesterday, I’d seen members of Rooftops in previous Bellingham bands over the years, but I’ve never been so thoroughly impressed by them as I was last night. The set didn’t go without its share of snags (apparently when you’re really good at playing guitar it goes massively out of tune by the end of every song and requires extensive knob-twiddling), but Rooftops are still a very young band. Two of the band members are actually young: Guitarist Drew Fitchette is only 18 and drummer Wendelin Wohlgemuth is 20 (he was in another solid Seattle group, In Praise of Folly). Rooftops rest squarely on the right side of being influenced by a scene without ripping it off, of carrying on a forgotten sound without marring its memory. I can’t wait until they have a proper recording.