Central Valley power play
Don’t say you weren’t warned about Rademacher
Soon enough, Rademacher will be huge. Oh yes. Or, you know, as huge as a post-indie-rock Fresno four-piece can be in this world—which is not very, but which will seem otherwise when it happens for Rademacher. This may sound like just another pathetic scribbler’s dig-me-for-calling-it projection of pet-band love, and probably it is, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
Having hit Harlow’s a while back on a national tour with Silversun Pickups, and the Press Club last month for a well-received Record Club date, Rademacher’s 20-something lads and lasses (two each in the current lineup) will enter Old I on Friday not exactly as strangers, nor just yet as hot-damn headliners. It’s a special time for them, for us.
The hugeness—and it is inevitable—will require a few simple conditions. First, some ear-bud infiltration of the dozen raffish, rangy, reverb-braised choice cuts the band has spread over three EPs since 2004. Then the release, this fall, of their recently recorded and hopefully not-too-studio-slick debut full-length, Stunts. And in between and thereafter: steady show-going support from the young people of the Central Valley, whose coolly arty inner lives, you’ll be told during the dizziest heights of hugeosity, this band sounds like.
Such regionalist rites of passage are to be expected, for Rademacher owes some manageably low-interest debts to valley mainstays like Earlimart, whose frontman Aaron Espinoza produced Stunts; and Pavement, against whose former frontman Stephen Malkmus Rademacher frontman Malcolm Sosa may soon have to leverage some comparison control.
No worries. Says Sosa on the phone from Fresno, in a lower register and mellower tone than is favored by his volatile, gamely overdriven vocals: “We just want to play music. It shouldn’t be too hard. We’re already doing it.” He could sound like such a dick saying that—or, to take it the other way, insufferably humble, like that stoner dullard who tells you no worries way too often. But insincerity really isn’t the Rademacher MO.
Here Sosa is, for instance, on the band’s formation: “I had just moved back to Fresno from New York City, where I went to college, and I started putting on shows with a friend of mine. We had one gig booked but no one was available to do an opening spot for one of the touring bands. So me and some friends decided to just make up a band. I said, ‘Yeah, let’s start a jazz band, and get into a lot of noise.’ My friends were like, ‘That sounds dumb.’ So I was like, ‘OK, how about rock?’”
He means pretty, dusky, head-swayable songs built from chewy changes, with a light trace of twang and some real musicianship—the latter carefully tousled just so, to avoid overselling it. Consider the prudently emotive assembly of dirgish guitar arpeggios, slabs of organ and drunken snare patter in the slow-churner “It Really Shouldn’t Matter.” Or the infectious, finely realized “Last Letter Writer,” which gets its just-right vibe by stringing up runs of straight eighth notes like the Christmas lights in your first exquisitely shabby post-college apartment. Or the orchestral grandeur in the outtro of “You’re Never Gonna Hear From Me,” back-loaded as if it were an afterthought. They’re not fooling anybody: It’s ambition. Defiantly label-less or not, Rademacher sounds hungry.
And how assertively the music burrows into your playlist, showing up more established indie-rock gallants (let’s not mention any names), who start to reek a little of complacency by comparison. “When I was younger I just didn’t care even if the song had words,” Sosa says. “Now I think about those great lines or those melodies that you find yourself singing when you don’t even mean to sing them.” Well, he’s got some.
So act now, while the authentic Rademacher experience still can consist of poignant moments alone, puzzling out their narratives in the Jimboy’s drive-thru, say; soon enough it’ll be all blasé blog shout-outs and being seen at sizable, hipster-cluttered auditoriums. That’ll be good, too. Just huge is all.