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Singer-songwriter MK Rodenbough, who plays under the name Rodes, has been anxiously awaiting this day for a long time. They grew up writing songs on a cheap Yamaha keyboard in their family’s basement in North Carolina, and testing them out at local coffee shops before they were old enough to drive. Their interest shifted from piano-pop to folk-driven indie rock in early college, when their guitar became their primary songwriting companion. After several years of playing shows around the vibrant and collaborative music scene of the NC Triangle, they ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2019 that allowed them to record their first album. Then the pandemic hit.
Suddenly needing to settle into a job that kept them on the frontline, music took a back seat. Now, nearly a year and a half later, they’re looking forward instead of sitting still. Restless and ready, they will release their debut record, All Of My Friends, on November 19th, 2021.
As Rodenbough recalls, “I was a kid who felt like they never really fit in. Like a lot of queer people, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin. I can distinctly remember the first time I bought a men’s t-shirt, at a thrift store in a small NC mountain town, and feeling confident in a way I hadn’t previously. A lot of that uneasiness with myself, with trying to figure out who I am, is infused in these songs.” The journey to self-acceptance hasn’t been easy, and as Rodenbough says, “it’s an ongoing, probably never-ending, process.”
A lot has happened in the seven years since Rodenbough started writing the songs that would ultimately make up All Of My Friends. They fell in love, got their heart broken, and learned how to create a life with another human. They found themself, then lost that knowledge, and the pattern played over. They wrote songs, then tore them up, and wrote them again. The end result is a vulnerable, yet powerful debut full of earworm hooks and gut-punch phrases that paints a picture of the raw and visceral experience of growing up.
Produced by Alex Bingham (Hiss Golden Messenger, The Dead Tongues), All Of My Friends balances folk influence with 90s-esque indie rock. Rodes’ voice, however, transfigures the familiar into something newly poignant. All Of My Friends strikes a chord deep in the heart, creating reverberations that resonate long after the first listen. Their vision is tear-blurred, but absolute, and as colorful as the tenacious kind of imagination that makes it out of childhood alive.
al Riggs makes a lot of music. Too much.
OH GOOD IT’S AL RIGGS collects songs originally recorded between 2019 and 2021, intended for release on I GOT A BIG ELECTRIC FAN TO KEEP ME COOL WHILE I SLEEP or the upcoming THEMSELVES but never quite fitting. And yet oddly they seem to fit snugly together here. A combination of home recorded mini-epics mixed with sessions produced by Brad Cook (Megafaun, Hiss Golden Messenger, behind the window for many others) await the hungry listener. Wheezing mellotron, chunky banjo, vibraphone, a frankenstein-shaped vocal looper, and the humble nylon string guitar swirl around and around on Riggs’ first vinyl release, mastered by the great Patrick Klem.