Rookie – Rookie
Good guy rock and rollers Rookie release a long-awaited debut in unsure times, more treaded waters of brackish stature for a group who just jumped the gun. Is this the true death of a salesman?
Lawdy I hope not. Rookie was just getting started. The Chicago outfit rides the same tides as greats like Twin Peaks. Taking the sounds from that scene, they were about to pry open the industry door with steel-toed boot. That was all well and good until the bastard Corona came about and fucked the year of the rat over under sideways down. Now, with an album out in the vacuous ether and nothing to show for it, Rookie is in the shit epitome of jams. All they can do is keep kicking ’em out (hoorah) and try to outlive the pandemic. They’ve done so with a live session in lieu of a release show, mentions in a Vice article, and all the self/peer-promotion they could muster. It looks like everyone’s lives have been put on a grey hold, so what better time to drop the needle on some sunshine? Look no further.
Rookie is pure sandlot music. It finds a way to golden at first exposure. Aside from the modern mix (which does give nods to the desired age production with lick and fill phasers of the time), you could squeeze them on a shelf between Late ’70s rock acts like Cheap Trick (also from Chicago) and Billy Squier. Rookie takes rock ‘n’ roll back to the Marshall stacked solos and dartboard congregations. That little sliver between ballsy ’70s haymakers and ’80s abominations that put eyeliner on frogs. Ya know? That year or two when rock was nice for once. Rookie are some good guys, and they don’t see the sense in masking that. The music is the coming-of-age stuff of a Carter administration, and they’re all in their mid-twenties. Each song is a true cruise, a real good time. Sounds from a garage band of kids grown in Levittown pods, taking hits of Who’s Next through a breathing apparatus. The instruments all play ball, and they have one too. It comes from the belief that fun is the root of all creation, and that cheap beer does the same trick. Though you might think those indoctrinations would birth an opposite notion, that’s why there are no gimmicks to be found on Rookie, for it would infringe on the time that was had, and muddy it with fickle inauthenticities.
They’ve taken from what they know and added that fresh Chicago twang that has been serving hot these last few years. It all comes together nicely on Rookie, whether it’s the Summer-of-Love-on-rollerblades anthem “Sunglasses” or the album’s apex, “One Way Ticket,” which was the first single they ever released for the album way back in 2018 and what first caught my eye. With the album version, it’s gained an intro of its very own, which builds up the song to complete reinvigoration even if you’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s a tape deck classic for hillbilly headbangers and the casual Pabst sipper alike. It’s the best southern rock I’ve heard in a while, and it’s from Chicago. If you know the scene, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Anything that comes from there or the land down under, though for different reasons (twang vs. punk), is guaranteed to float your boat.
So float on, through bullshit and sawdust, to a haven of morning dew and fresh cut grass. You’re young again and so are tube socks. All your friends are a house or so away, and you’ve got endless days to skin your knees and plan your takeover of the world. That reality has sort of reset itself in the present day. Though we have been faced with a bevy of restraint and restrictions, there will come a wash of simplicity, and the artists like Rookie will have nothing to do but craft that masterpiece. So please, dear reader, take comfort, and know that when we do come out of this dark age, there will stand an army of art and creation, ready to take over the world.