When: Fri., Sept. 23, 8 p.m. 2016
Califone rose from the ashes of Red Red Meat in the late 90s, by which time the latter’s narcotic, Stonesy groove had broken down into exquisite, improv-heavy rubble that few people seemed to appreciate. Led by RRM front man Tim Rutili, the new band applied their grasp of 70s Miles Davis grooves to a mix of old-timey music and primitive blues, developing a genuinely American sound. Califone debuted with a couple of tentative EPs, but when they dropped their full-length debut, 2001’s Roomsound, they proved themselves one of the best rock bands not only in Chicago but in the country. Rutili was backed only by two drummers, Brian Deck and Ben Massarella; he played most everything, though he had occasional help from an array of guests such as Rick Rizzo, John Rice, and future member Eric Johnson. Dead Oceans is reissuing Roomsound, augmented with material cut at the same time, and it shows no sign of wear. Opening track “Trout Silk” stumbles out of the gate with a druggy, streamlined country blues, but like the rest of the record, it suffuses its primeval licks and riffs with subtle instrumental details—ambient keyboards, unassuming piano chords, flanged guitar stabs, and seductive percussion. When the album came out, Rutili told me, “I love records that you can put back on again and again, noticing something new every time. That’s the kind of record we want to make.” On that count he succeeded, so that revisiting Roomsound continues to yield unexpected dividends today—and the blurry, gorgeous melodies that anchor Rutili’s songs, delivered in his singular, soulful croak, remain supremely satisfying. Califone will play the album in its entirety here, with Rutili, Massarella, and Deck joined by Wally Boudway and Ross Andrews.