Label: Qauterstick Records
Release Date: April, 1994
Louisville, Kentucky provided a creative hub in the late eighties/early nineties. The likes of Will Oldham and Slint occupied its landscape, delivering some of the most left of centre sounds at a time when Nirvana and college rock were gaining majority of the attention in the ‘indie’ circles.You could almost feel the oppression seeping out of Slint’s music. The narrative, the disjointed rhythms and overall simmering aggression that willed listeners towards every tone rendered. It wasn’t an aggression from the stomach, though. It may’ve formed from there, but frontman Brian McMahan evidently delivered from the heart. Look no further than ‘Washer’.
Although a little younger than the two acts mentioned above, there was another band from Louisville, Kentucky who dabbled in the same circle. However their aggression didn’t come from the heart. It was via a one way ticket from the depths below. That band was Rodan.
Rodan consisted of Jeff Mueller (vocals/guitar), Jason Noble (vocals/guitar), Tara Jane O’Neil (bass/vocals) and Kevin Coultas (drums). Although each respective band member has gone on to form various other projects (more on that later), there’s no doubt that each member flushed out their anger with this initial project.
Their only album, Rusty (produced by Shellac’s Bob Weston), consists of six pieces that threaten to mess with your internal organs. It’s a dangerous album. It's an album that has soul. In some ways you could argue that breaking up after this album may have been to Rodan's benefit. Hard to fathom but after listening to Rusty it’s at least plausible. Burning out transcends above fading away so forth, so on....Opening track, ‘Bible Silver Corner’ is straight up meandering post-rock. If any track is out of place it’s this one, which makes it even more noticeable considering it’s the album’s opener. ‘Shiner’ is two minutes and thirty seven seconds of chewing up grunge and spitting it out its bones, as Mueller howls “pop pop, down goes the enemy,” through the chorus, with blistering chords gouging through the speakers.
‘The Everyday World of Bodies’ is the focal point of this album. If one needed to be introduced to Rodan through one track, then ‘‘Bodies’ is the undeniable ticket. Mueller yelps alongside dissonant chords in the early stages, with the song slowing down once Tara Jane O’Neil brings a soothing quality with plucky guitar notes that present an instrumental splendour. The track ends in dramatic fashion, as Mueller screams “I will be there, I will be there, I swear.”
‘Gauge’ would probably be ‘TEWOB’ closest rival in the stakes of awesomeness, the aggression still paramount in between the poetic narratives that intertwine throughout this album.
‘Tooth Fairy Retribution Manifesto’ closes the album, with Tara Jane O’Neil spitting out dark poetic anecdotes over a murky rhythm section and distored chords.
It’s quite frankly an injustice for band this good to be continually overlooked. There’s hardly ever a head nod in Rodan’s direction, which again, is a travesty. They undoubtably blurred the lines with Rusty. So many bands have picked at Rodan's carcass it's not funny. Some of my favourite bands, even. The below side projects are all very admirable and for those wondering where bands such as the ones below originate from, it may make more sense by starting from the top. Listening to Rusty could make it all clearer.
Rodan off-shoot projects.Jeff Mueller: June of 44, Shipping News
Tara Jane O’Neil: Retsin, The Sonoara Pine, Tara Jane O'Neil