Well, it’s about damn time we started to hear the first fruits of Ratboy Jr.‘s labor on their long-awaited second LP — and to sweeten the deal a little (okay, a lot), they’ve added Dog on Fleas to the mix for their new single, “Backyard Camping.”
But wait, it gets better: Unlike last weekend, when the band was passing out Brooklyn-certified cassettes of the song at KindieFest, this week finds them joining the digital age and sharing “Camping” in good old-fashioned mp3 form. Enjoy it below, and keep your fingers crossed for a new full-length soon:
Greenfield, MA isn’t necessarily known as an entertainment mecca, unless you count the fact that it’s the birthplace of Penn Jillette. But last weekend, while folks in Philly were sweating it out during the XPoNential Festival held by our pals at WXPN — and hipper listeners were at the Pitchfork Music Festival — New England was busy being blessed with its own live music extravaganza: the 24th Green River Festival.
It’s held on the grounds of a community college in rural northern Massachusetts, but the Green River Festival isn’t the collection of acoustic guitar-toting folk singers you might expect. This year’s lineup, which sprawled out over two hot summer days and nights, included a touch of the traditional (Brooks Williams opened the main stage on Saturday), but made plenty of room for the unexpected (Allen Toussaint, Cake, and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are just a few eclectic examples).
One of the great things about the festival’s location is room — and plenty of it: Aside from the spacious main stage area, which housed thousands of chair-and-umbrella-toting concertgoers and dozens of craft and food booths, the festivities spilled over into a huge lawn area where lesser-known acts played at the Dance Tent, hot air balloon rides were available for folks who had $250 to burn, and our pal Bill Childs delivered two days of marvelous family entertainment at the Meltdown Stage.
I’ll be writing about the grown-up artists at Popdose later, but here’s a brief rundown of my Meltdown experience: Continue reading →
They’re called Ratboy Jr., their album comes in a brown sleeve made out of 100% recycled paper, and its second track includes the words “everything is wonderful, including the dirt.” I probably don’t need to tell you what kind of music to expect from Smorgasbord, but just in case you’re still unclear, I’ll spell it out for you: Don’t expect a lot of studio polish, and if you’re the type of parent who’d rather see your kid at Gymboree than splashing in the mud, or if you greet things like composting with an eyeroll, then you should probably stick with your Laurie Berkner CDs.
But if you like wild and woolly funky folk, feel free to dive face-first into Ratboy Jr.’s Smorgasbord‘s 15 tracks of fun. Charmingly ragged harmonies, warm brass, and a slightly jammy aesthetic all add up to a wonderfully down-to-earth listening experience that manages to feel as expansive as any Phish record while keeping every song under four minutes. The songs have a decidedly eco-friendly tilt (“Worms,” “Dirt,” “Living in the Trees”), but they treat the benefits of natural living as an implicit matter of course rather than something that needs to be taught. It’s just a fun time, man, and as a dad who appreciates a nice rootsy recording, I hope Ratboy Jr. brings us back to the table for many more helpings of polish-free pleasure. Everything is wonderful, indeed.