Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Will Kreinke, Mastered by Sam Patlove
The need for a young songwriter the likes of New York's Luke Rathborne is very simple. It can be likened to the need for lemonade on a scorching summer day like today or a slice of warm pie after a full and satisfying meal. It's just better that way. Even if it's not needed, it's wanted and it does down so easily. The need becomes something of a want that you didn't necessarily know existed. You sit back in the lawn chair, in the case of the cold lemonade, and in the recliner, in the case of the warm pie, and you remain there, very pleased with the decision you just made to eat and drink those things. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Rathborne writes the way a great underground pop writer like Brendan Benson does, while applying touches of both ferocious garage rock sensibilities and something akin to the grandness of the great, early Oasis records, sounding at times like the Gallagher brothers on "Definitely Maybe" and "(What's The Story) Morning Glory". There's an economy of language and there's an abundance of melodic wealth, the songs giving and tumbling, as if filtered through a dirty honeycomb. They're sticky and they're sweet, but they tend to chronicle the sorts of things that you'd expect out of a Kerouac "novel."
The new songs that are featured in this session - recorded a few years ago during the week of the South By Southwest Music festival in Austin, Texas - and those on his debut full-length and "Dog Years" EP feature the musings of a man left out in the sun, moving around, drifting from here to there and falling into a generally unsettling existence that lacks much of a point. These are tales of men trying to make a few things clearer and struggling to do so, thus moving on to a different location, off in a different direction. "Dog Years," the title track from the newest short-playing album, is something of a piece about expectations or a lack of them, of two guys smoking some weed and rambling away like lost souls, but thinking that this might actually be it. This might actually be preferable to what else might be out there.
Rathborne sings, "My friend and me movin' into the cobwebs so high/We can go fly/We can get high/My friend and me looking for strange sensations/Down at the station…/My friend and me looking for the melodies so plain/Sweet in the night/Homecoming queen/This is the dog years/Don't let them go on by." It feels like some kind of bliss. We drink it down and think that we might have missed out on something in out own lives. We feel like all of this, everything we're seeing, feels too plain, too proven.