July 5, 2021. Cleveland. In the vacuum of COVID space, Rose City Band formed “Earth Trip”, an eight-song paean to the restorative power of our planet. With hushed reflectivity and quiet celebration, “Earth Trip” bears the country-fried taste of pedal steel and harmonic mandolin. The theme of “Earth Trip” is simple: Connect to the rhythms of nature.
The music of Ripley Johnson, Rose City Band is the latest project of artists spinning in the Oregonian Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips orbit. Rose City is accompanied by geologist and pedal steel guitarist, Barry Walker. Moon Duo’s Sanae Yamada skillfully lifts the piano and keys. Rose City is complete with Ryan Jewel and John Jeffrey on percussion and drums. Together, June 21 marks the issue of the Rose City Band’s third release, “Earth Trip” on Chicago’s Thrill Jockey Records. “Earth Trip” is the vinyl enthusiast’s dream: Chromatic cabin-panel cover, glossy sliding sleeves, and earth-toned splatter disc. The art design is a cool complement for a cool record.
Mount up, Hippies; it’s time to sidle your saddle to side one! “Silver Roses” sets the sonic pace. With the face-bending pedal steel of “Silver Roses”, track one echoes young Neil Young’s “Helpless”. Borne from the tempest of Johnson’s virus-torn tour, “Silver Roses” captures the highway haul home. Delightfully down tempo-ed and drum shuffled, “Silver Roses” captures the new standstill of pandemic life.
Record stand-out, “World is Turning” is vintage alt country. Rose City Band invites you to step to the easy boot shambling beat. The Ripley-paced melody of “World is Turning” features a tinkling honky-tonk piano that slips your dance partner in loosely strewn circles. The moon dualling slide and rhythm guitar asks you to grab a breezy beverage and join the waltzing orbit.
Side two rips off with “Lonely Places”. The call to the wild, “Lonely Places” is another upbeat country gem. “Lonely Places” features a perfectly paced, striding rhythm and hummable melody. The signature vocals give depth to its country simplicity. The pick of the peck, press play on “Lonely Places”. Next, toss your pack in the back of your pick ‘em up truck and hit the trail, your baby hand in hand.
While most of the album’s songs clock in under five minutes, the closer, “Dawn Patrol” stretches out into grateful space. This psych-drenched jam will drag you over the rainbow into classic Wooden Shjips territory. Replete in echoing Garcia-tones and spaced-out FX, “Dawn Patrol” may be my fave, but it’s too close to call. So, campers, while our summer sizzles with Earth-wide change, keep it cool in space with the Rose City Band’s “Earth Trip”.
RIYL: Wooden Shjips, Beachwood Sparks, Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young.