RUSTED ROOT – Stereo Rodeo (2009)

Rusted Root - Stereo Rodeo Let us go back to when last we left Rusted Root, shall we? The year is 2002. Rusted Root’s newest album is Welcome To My Party; it’s a departure from their previous work, in that it eschews the blues, world and tribal influences that made When I Woke and the eponymous Rusted Root so endearing in favor of poppy neo-funk. The result was an album that was entirely forgettable. So, the few of us who hadn’t fully embraced the freak-folk movement fully enough to disregard Rusted Root were left to wait for something new and (hopefully) better from the band. So, we waited. And waited. And then waited some more. Now, at some point here (I’m not sure where), I actually thought Rusted Root had disbanded, though I can’t say for sure why. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case, as we now have Stereo Rodeo, the band’s seventh studio album, seven years in the making.

The title/album cover did not, upon first viewing, instill the greatest confidence in me. Stereo Rodeo? Is this some kind of alt-country thing? While it wouldn’t be an unprecedented trail for the band to embark on, songs like Rain and Virtual Reality from their back catalogue certainly don’t play to the band’s strengths. Then, I heard the album’s first song, Dance In The Middle, and it appeared to confirm all of my fears. I was about to shut the album off and return to it at a later date, when suddenly, I was greeted with a welcoming and familiar sound: tribal drums. Seems like the albums’s second song, Suspicious Minds, was the one I was waiting for. So, now I’ve got you wondering what Rusted Root actually did with Stereo Rodeo, right? Well, the alt-country assumption I made was partly correct, although most of the time, the band opt for slower ballads (which are surprisingly lovely) instead of hodowns. When they’re not working to that end, the band’s music has more of a southern Latin feel to it that made me recall Calexico, especially in Driving One and Two.

As a band, Rusted Root were always overshadowed by their contemporaries (contemporaries whom they’ve often rejected categorical association to). Dave Matthews Band sold more albums. OAR were hipper. Phish were more revered. But Rusted Root, for better or worse, survivied it all and were able to make an album as good as Stereo Rodeo some nineteen years after their inception. That’s something Mr. Matthews can’t lay claim to. But try not to think about it too much; let Stereo Rodeo do the talking, okay? Okay.

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One Response to “RUSTED ROOT – Stereo Rodeo (2009)”

  1. […] weird? Step right up. Hate TV on the Radio because they’re too cerebral? Come on in. Avoid Rusted Root out of fear of developing terminal hippie-itis? Wel, welcome aboard. It’d be easy to write […]

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