No matter what anyone says the 90s were yesterday and the 70s will perpetually be twenty years ago. The further we get from them, the more romanticized they become. Except mom jeans, kids these days need to quit that right now. For San Diego-based quartet Roger! the essence of nostalgic influence isn’t fading like respectable discourse, it is being given a place to flourish.
Make no mistake about it, Roger!’s latest, Patterns, isn’t some rehash of yesteryear glory indie rock. It is an exploration of collective creativity influenced by an array of styles and sounds unmistakably leaning out of the 90s. Less than three minutes into the genre-wrangling release ambitious shredding snares your attention. The second full-length record in six years from Ernie Garcia (guitar, keys, percussion, vocals), Greg Irwin (guitar, vocals), Jay Lauterwasser (bass), and Aaron Luke (drums, vocals), as well as Anna Zinova and Abigail Garcia on “Sticks and Stones,” journeys on equal parts confidence and experimentation. Landing somewhere between folk rock and post-grunge the record, mixed and mastered by Alan Sanderson, establishes an eight-song journey that feels ever present.
Departing the acoustic heavy reflective alt roots of Dark Matter, leaning into a more refined sense of Ugly American, Patterns, at times, feels like the indie rock little cousin, twice removed, of Warren Haynes and crew (See: “Okay”) raised on long drives through the hills jamming REM until the tape gets worn out. Spanning warm memories (“Famous”) to anthem nods (“Time Machine”) and ample shredding in the spaces between, Roger! defines a sound that is the result of cutting one’s teeth on/in, arguably, the last great decade while planting their feet solidly in their style, on their terms. Patterns, as Garcia puts it “has been the most collaborative [record] we’ve made thus far. I think the band is at a point where chemistry and communication are great.” This idea and approach successfully fires on all cylinders. The record feels the natural progression in a line of multiple solid releases from Roger! over the last decade. Not quite Americana, skirting the border of psych rock, flirting with punk sentiments, Roger! is sure to make a fashionably late entrance to many year-end lists.
While kids (insert “get off my lawn!” grumbly sentiment) are trying to embody the decade they didn’t experience, San Diego’s Roger! demonstrates how you can keep the past alive by letting it live in you while looking forward. They establish Patterns that are all too easy to get lost in when it drops on Slow Start Records November 18, 2022. And if someone tells you it’s a sailboat, you tell them a schooner is a sailboat and pat yourself on the back.