Rooftop Vigilantes - Let It Be

by Rooftop Vigilantes

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Charles Downey
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Charles Downey I’m of the opinion that if a record is worthwhile, you have to learn how to hear it. It TEACHES you how to listen to it. Maybe at first you just don’t get it. Then you listen to it again, and you notice a detail you missed before.Then again. Then you start to pick up on the subtleties that are seemingly buried within what you previously perceived as givens. This for me personally has proven true for everything from Dylan to Guided by Voices to...Rooftop Vigilantes. Nobody could be convicted for receiving Rooftop Vigilantes’ latest release ‘Let it Be’ from that perspective...at first. The songs are mercilessly catchy, like so much of their past output has been. The chemistry between these four musicians, Zach, Oscar, Hannah, and Seth, is undeniably appealing. But, somewhere in almost exactly the middle of this record, something extraordinary happens. That something is the track “Astronomers in Daylight”. It is a song stripped completely bare of any sort of pretense, just a guitar track, a vocal dripping with pain and desperation, and harmonies that soar into the highest realms of what unaffected vocal collaboration is capable of. These harmonies are not perfect, nor should they be. Human beings are not perfect either. They are, however, absolutely beautiful. It exhibits a fragility that might not have seemed possible to someone familiar with their work up to now. This single track recontextualizes the entire album. We’re forced to reevaluate the elements of all the other, more layered songs, and we begin to hear similar harmonies more clearly, and how brilliantly they’re hidden to unite the songs. Oscar and Zach’s voices seem always as one, from the opening ‘Psychopathic Communication’, where even almost complete vocal dissonance is unified to produce a song that doesn’t “play”, but rather it washes over you. Then there’s ‘My Invisible Head’, where Hannah’s keyboard holds together a manic melody that would be right at home on the “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” soundtrack. ‘After the Kingdom’ tricks us. Twice. The tempo tells us at first that we’re in for a really good time, only for darkness to creep in for a few measures, before all is restored. Or is it? All the while, Seth’s drums provide the stabilizing ground that a song like this could not survive without. ‘Oracle Cop’ is a bit of a return to roots for this band, but exhibits a maturity that can only be acquired through time, joy, immense talent, disappointment, and ultimately, hope. It’s a nod to their various influences, but in a way that only they could do it. Finally, ‘Playing Ghost’ perhaps best represents the future potential of Rooftop Vigilantes. The guitar parts, if separated from everything else, would sound completely insane and unworkable. But in the context of the song, they absolutely glow. In short, that’s why this band works. When they’re at their best they all throw in a part that seemingly has no place to go, but together they all find a home in the same piece of work. So maybe it’s fitting that this record is called ‘Let it Be’, a title used by two considerably disparate bands that both clearly had a profound influence on this one. But make no mistake. This record is wholly its own, and it is relentlessly infectious.
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    Rooftop Vigilantes - Let It Be

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    Rooftop Vigilantes Let It Be

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    Rooftop Vigilantes Let It Be Cassette

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released July 22, 2016

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High Dive Records Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City based record label putting out semi-hits since 2013.

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