Ratboys: Happy Birthday, Ratboy (Topshelf) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, March 5th, 2024  


Happy Birthday, Ratboy


Apr 01, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

No band has handled quarantine quite as admirably as Chicago’s Ratboys. Their excellent Printer’s Devil album landed last year just before lockdown. And where most bands would have taken the fetal position, uncurled, and moped about, Ratboys rose to the occasion. Earthly touring plans were halted, but that didn’t stop them from performing on stages as far flung as the moon and Bikini Bottom (they have the tour T-shirts to prove it). But their banner year culminated in a 25-hour (thank you Daylight Savings Time) Halloween telethon where they raised over $13,000 for racial and gender equality. So it’s fitting that the Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan-led quartet would celebrate their band’s 10th birthday in fine style by re-recording their long lost debut EP, Ratboy. About time they did something for themselves.

With the addition of a permanent rhythm section in Marcus Nuccio (drums) and Sean Neumann (bass), the decade old songs are brought to fuller frame. Steiner’s vocals maintain a sweet touch of nostalgia throughout, but early songs like “The Stanza” show an offbeat vibe from the beginning: “In high school we studied Marx, he had pretty eyes.” The following “Down the River” is an early melodic sketch of future GN highlight, “Molly.” Like any 10 year old’s birthday, things get a little rowdier when the sugar kicks in. “Collected” gives Sagan a moment to flex with a little Black Sabbath-inflected heaviness. But Happy Birthday, Ratboy leaves its brightest glimmer at the end, a folky Neil Young-like ditty crossed with Gram Parsons-era Byrds’ pedal steel in “Go Outside.” The forward looking post-quarantine tune (which was actually written before the pandemic) hopes for brighter times when Steiner wishes, “I want to show up at the shoreline and drink Lake Michigan.” Sounds like a plan. (www.ratboysband.com)

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