Rookie “I Can’t Have You But I Want You” (2020)

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It’s just a moment, lasting but a second or two. The verse has come to a clipped end, the band pauses, as if taking a deep inhale on the precipice of something big, and then…the chorus blasts in! Who knows how many voices – there’s 6 guys in the band, and it sounds like it could be all of them – harmonizing the word “I” as it opens the titular line of the tune, ‘I Can’t Have You But I Want You.’ I love that moment. I really absolutely love that moment. To borrow from the weighty words of 30 Rock’s Tracy Jordan, I love that moment so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.¹

The band that produces that inspirational flash of euphoria is Rookie, a bunch of 20-something Midwestern mates, and but the latest roots rock revivalists to be unleashed by the always off-the-beaten-path-but-not-too-far-off geniuses at Chicago’s Bloodshot Records. The song appears on Rookie’s self-titled debut album, released just last week, which as Bloodshot notes contains a rock and roll sound that’s more at home next to their parents’ battered LPs than on their friends’ streaming playlists. Paste Magazine says Rookie plays “Muscle-car music that’s almost offensively catchy,” while describing Rookie’s rookie outing, No Depression, the journal of Roots music, said of it “Listening to their new record gives the feeling of lounging on a well-worn couch in the basement and cracking open a cold one with your buddies.”

Do I want that sensation? Do I crave it? You’re goddamn right I do. Rookie’s not necessarily trying to awe us with technical masterpieces or instrumental prowess – though don’t get me wrong, these shaggy looking lads handle their instruments quite impressively – they’re just here to bring us the ‘70’s rock aesthetic, familiar but still fresh, generously filtered through some Cheap Trick/Tom Petty/Eagles/“Exile On Main Street”-era Rolling Stones influences, and give us one hell of a good reason to smile. They’ve made the feel-good rock and roll album we all need right now. I heartily suggest you crank it loud. (But, by God, especially the glorious entry moment of this chorus).

¹Tracy Jordan feels about cornbread the way I do about the :38-40 second mark of this song


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