Originating as the solo moniker of Boston’s Cameron Keiber, Eldridge Rodriguez soon evolved into a full band with Keiber (guitar, keys, vocals) joined by David Grabowski (bass, keys), Clayton Keiber (guitar) and Dennis Grabowski (drums, percussion). Together, they crafted a sound pitched somewhere between post-punk, dance rock and country, a versatile vehicle for their weighty and often politically-charged writing.
This month saw the release of the latest Eldridge Rodriguez album, Slightest of Treason, via Midriff Records. Described as “looser and more accessible” than previous releases, the record retains the brooding post-punk style but balances it with a human spirit too, leading to a collection of songs caught up in the tension between disenchantment and longing.
Opener ‘Country and Western’ offers the perfect example of this vision. Though balancing a runaway, near-celebratory rock momentum with Keiber’s downbeat vocals, the track has no sense of contradiction. Rather, the triumphant energy feels like the product of leaning into the discomfort and desperation of the lyrics—catharsis not as some promise to change or become something else, but rather through an embrace of where, and who, you are.
Such a spirit is shot through the entire album, be it in the assertive Walkmen-esque indie rock numbers or the slow-burning post-punk creepers. The peppy ‘Dead Boyfriends’ brings to mind Todd Goldstein’s ARMS with its pressing impetus, Keiber’s frantic vocals surfing the insistent beat and cracking and breaking with breathless feeling. ‘Count Me Out’ might not pack the same tempo but there’s a notable earnestness in the delivery, while closer ‘There’s No Control’ is far more chaotic and a little playful too—burning through the post-punk murk to offer something more uplifting.
This energy is always matched by a lingering darkness, though it is a darkness of many shades. ‘MiamiDade’ is a smouldering slice of wistfulness, rising to certainty and falling again as the marching drum beat rolls on, while ‘Another Boy With a Broken Heart’ channels the wry despondency of The Smiths in a more self-deprecating manner. The grungy opening of ‘Psychic Darts’ has a mean edge, though the track shows a hopeful heart as it progresses, and ‘The Girl Who Made God’ combines classic post-punk gloom with an almost unhinged, theatrical feel, like a preacher from a Western demented by drink and desert sky.
The song captures the Eldridge Rodriguez aesthetic within its four minutes. Moody and stark and prone to escalation, be it in noise, in rhythm, in desperation or feeling. There is energy to be found in the unlikeliest of places. In anger and fear and sadness and doubt. Slightest of Treason does not so much harness this energy as unleash it, letting the deluge follow whatever tributaries it finds, trusting in the intuitive connect that comes from such an authentic outpouring.
Slightest of Treason is out via Midriff Records now and you can get it now including vinyl and CD editions.
Photos by Patrick Ruth