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Comedy Minus One

Unreliable Narrator

by the rutabega

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"It is downright witchery that a two-piece band can create music with such epic grandeur.” - Clicky Clicky Music Blog

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all songs performed by Joshua Hensley and Garth Mason

Emily Trimboli-Hensley: vocals on 1, 3 & 6
John Hastie: vocals on 1
John Barlow: lap steel on 6
Billie Howard & Brendan Finucane: strings on 7, recorded by Farsheed Hamidi-Toosi
Jared Myers: additional lyrics on 8
mastered & lacquers cut by Carl Saff
cover by Jay Ryan
additional design and layout by Nathaniel F. Trimboli

for Emily & Nikki

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South Bend, Indiana‘s The Rutabega - singer-songwriter-guitarist Josh Hensley and drummer Garth Mason - make some of the fullest, brightest sounds ever generated by just two people, weaving punchy, short pop songs and sweeping, ten-minute epics together seamlessly. The first time I saw The Rutabega they were feeling every note of every song, and the crowd was right there with them — teary-eyed from the emotional weight of the material, yet smiling from the joy with which Hensley and Mason delivered it. This is music with serious healing qualities; fitting, then, that one of the highlights of that set — and the pair’s monumental 2013 full-band debut Brother the Lights Don’t Work — was a song called “The Shaman.”

Hensley started the Rutabega as a solo project almost 15 years ago, learning his way around a four-track while listening to a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided by Voices and Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate’s Return of the Frog Queen. He gained exposure from a split 12” EP with Owen, Mike Kinsella from American Football’s singer-songwriter project, on venerable Midwest emo clearinghouse Polyvinyl Records. But it wasn’t until Hensley hooked up with Mason in 2011 - a jack-of-all-trades who besides playing drums, plays auxiliary keys, records all the songs at home and runs live sound at the shows - that the Rutabega as we now know it came to be.

An eight-song cycle written for a wayward friend, Brother garnered comparisons to Built to Spill for its guitar heroics, Elliott Smith for its unfiltered emotion and Big Star for its pop sensibility. They have since sold out of three pressings of the self-released LP and toured to both the East and West Coasts, sharing bills with a range of household names from Low to Kurt Vile and Ben Folds.

The Rutabega’s Comedy Minus One debut Unreliable Narrator reprises the track-sequencing strategy that worked so well on Brother — short songs leading off both sides, longer ones ending them — and there are callbacks, lyrically and sonically. The ultra-catchy “Problem Solving Skills” finds Hensley continuing to ponder the changing nature of friendships over time; album centerpiece “Lip” showcases Mason’s thoughtful heavy hitting, a soaring major-key triumph in the vein of fan favorite “Turn on the Summer”; the string-laden “A Willow Strong,” on the album’s back end, has a similarly mournful feel as the last record’s “Through the Holes in the Floor.”

Yet one can hear the Rutabega’s increased confidence from having found its voice and audience with Brother in Unreliable Narrator’s more live-sounding execution, the natural by-product of having played countless shows in the years between the two records. From “Shiny Destination” (also the A-side of a seven-inch released in the spring of 2015) and “Settle Down,” the double-shot of power-pop perfection that opens the record, to “I’ve Been the Armour,” the sparse, melancholic slow burn that closes it — which, in its final minutes, turns on a dime to screaming catharsis, an unhinged side of Hensley we’d never heard before now — this is the sound of an already-great band, in their prime, turning yet another corner. - CZ

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Album is housed in a tip-on Stoughton sleeve with gorgeous full-color Jay Ryan cover art.

The first 250 copies of “Unreliable Narrator" are pressed on clear vinyl with streaks of black “smoke.”

For TV / Film licensing, please contact Lyle Hysen at Bank Robber Music - info@bankrobbermusic.com

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"I like the excitement and energy of “Shiny Destination,” but the reflective tone on “Ladder” gets me every time. Both are winners for entirely different reasons, but it’s a great example of the diversity of The Rutabega’s sound. Whatever way this Indiana duo goes in the future, I can’t wait to hear it." - Kurt Morris, Razorcake

"[The Rutabega]...feels timeless and fresh at the same time." - Independent Clauses

“Singlehandedly states the case for sincerity in such a clear way the only reaction is to softly smile, bob your head a little bit and give in to the tidal wave of sad, simple, beauty that issues forth.” - Conan Neutron, Collapse Board

"The songs are heavy, not instrumentally, but with the weight of the experiences and raw feelings of their writer. The arrangements seem pretty sparse, yet I’m hearing an orchestra. Joshua Wayne Hensley’s voice backed by an emotion and sincerity so poignant, it translates louder and clearer than a marching band ever could crammed into my tiny bathroom." - Mila Matveeva, UNRECORDED

"Hensley’s singing sounds favorably like Elliott Smith from the grave, and he doesn’t play trad folk, either; strumming an acoustic under his darkly angelic voice, he sometimes inserts distorted six-string squalls, fogging the background like black clouds and lightning lurk in the distance." - Jack Rabid, Big Takeover

credits

released June 24, 2016

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the rutabega South Bend, Indiana

The Rutabega is a Carp Rock duo from South Bend, Indiana.

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Track Name: Shiny Destination
i don't need no final motivation
to make me feel weird
to make me feel inferior

i don't need no extra indication
to make me feel sad
to make me feel interior

i don't need no grand declaration
to make me feel near
to make me feel ulterior

and all I wanna do
is sit down right beside of u
stare into the sky
pretend that we don't wanna die

i don't need no shiny destination
to make me feel safe
to make me feel superior

i don't need no baptist complication
to make me feel queer
to make me feel super queer

and all I wanna do
is sit down right beside of u
stare into the sky
pretend that we don't wanna die

all I wanna see
are eyes that might believe in me
and stare into my soul
maybe you don't wanna go
away
Track Name: Settle Down
i'm shaking in my skin
i feel it all begin
i can't believe i get to be here with you

i'm always half asleep
and all my dreams are cheap
i can't believe I get to be here with you now

i wanna settle down with you
i can't settle down

we're in the seventies
i feel it in my knees
i can't believe i get to be here with you

this is our last night
everything black and white
i can't believe i get to be here with you now

i wanna settle down with you
i can't settle down

the roads don't end
i'll wait for you again
no matter what form you take
i'll be yours


the roads don't end
i'll wait for you again
no matter what form you take
i'll be yours
i'll be yours again
Track Name: Problem Solving Skills
solve my problems
still i wonder
how i will begin
i will begin

new school brought on new fears
and i wonder
how i will begin
i will begin

i know we don't ever get to
jump on trampolines or skateboard
or tinker w guitars anymore
Track Name: Lip
i'm not getting to it here
right up to the lip

i'm here and i'm scared

it's an empty world
without you here
i'm not getting to it
right up to the lip

calm or hallow
call your shadow

in the empty world
without you here
i'm not getting to it
right up to the lip

so long sad guy
Track Name: Nosy Neighbors
trees fall when there's no one around
their shadows pull away from the ground and the air
like they were never there

fields fall till they're under the earth
you never were aware of your worth
was it fair?
were you even there?

they want you little
brittle breaking like bread
did you hear what i said?

seeds fall
will they question it all?
excessive to the point that you call it and hide
plant a garden inside

they want you little
brittle breaking like bread
did you hear what i said?

they want you bending
the neurons ending in your head
till you're stuck in your bed
Track Name: St. Michael Himself
clad in silver
armour bending
the sword is rending
the sword is aloft

sky blue wings
weighed down with the guilt
the saint is sinking
the saint is serene

sandaled foot on my back
the stars are aligned and wilting fast
terrible eyes staring flat
the story is broken and it is almost time

the saint is sleeping
the saint is alive

sandaled foot on my back
the stars are aligned and wilting fast
terrible eyes staring flat
the story is broken and it is almost time
it's almost time
Track Name: A Willow Strong
i thought perhaps
that our farewell dance
would include a flash of grace
from the brief exposure
to the peril of fake

the wind blows and you know it's wrong
they have created all the gleaming boys and girls

the three of us laugh
as we stare into past
i tore you out
from the page
from the book
from the tropics of doubt

the wind blows and you know it's wrong
they have created all the gleaming boys
the wind blows and you know it's wrong
they have created all the gleaming boys and girls

i won't be silent
this town can take us or we will leave

the wind blows and you know it's wrong
they have created all the gleaming boys
the wind blows a willow strong
they have created all the gleaming boys and girls
Track Name: I've Been The Armour
when you settle on sorrow
and sell it to your friends
when you look for tomorrow
through the wrong side of the lens

i want to stay here so long
i've been the armour
now i'm guarding no one
how we are hidden in the shadows
and locked behind the fence

when you settle on sorrow
and sell it to your friends
when you look for tomorrow
through the wrong side of the lens
so many things to be sorry for
and i'm so sorry
so many things to be sorry for

all the organs i've donated
and the keyboards that i've wasted

my metronome is inflamed
my metronome is inflamed