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Unreliable Narrator


Unreliable Narrator

Comedy Minus One
LP $13.75


CMO 036 

***South Bend, Indiana‘s THE RUTABEGA—singer-songwriter-guitarist JOSH HENSLEY and drummer GARTH MASON— make some of the fullest, brightest sounds ever generated by just two people, weaving punchy, short pop songs and sweeping, ten-minute epics together seamlessly. The first time I saw The Rutabega they were feeling every note of every song, and the crowd was right there with them—teary-eyed from the emotional weight of the material, yet smiling from the joy with which Hensley and Mason delivered it. Hensley started the Rutabega as a solo project almost 15 years ago, learning his way around a four-track while listening to a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided by Voices and Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate’s Return of the Frog Queen. He gained exposure from a split 12” EP with Owen, Mike Kinsella from American Football’s singer-songwriter project, on venerable Midwest emo clearinghouse Polyvinyl Records. But it wasn’t until Hensley hooked up with Mason in 2011—a jack-of-all-trades who besides playing drums, plays auxiliary keys, records all the songs at home and runs live sound at the shows—that the Rutabega as we now know it came to be. The Rutabega’s Comedy Minus One debut Unreliable Narrator reprises the track-sequencing strategy that worked so well on their previous release, Brother—short songs leading off both sides, longer ones ending them—and there are callbacks, lyrically and sonically. The ultra-catchy “Problem Solving Skills” finds Hensley continuing to ponder the changing nature of friendships over time; album centerpiece “Lip” showcases Mason’s thoughtful heavy hitting, a soaring major-key triumph in the vein of fan favorite “Turn on the Summer”; the string-laden “A Willow Strong,” on the album’s back end, has a similarly mournful feel as the last record’s “Through the Holes in the Floor.”