Best known as the animal friendly, sans booze frontman of Good Riddance (love love love love love), Russ Rankin has now officially moved into the solo artist world. His debut solo album, Farewell Catalonia, just dropped on Paper + Plastic.
I was beyond stoked to get to listen to this record. I’ve always been a huge GR fan and when I got wind of Rankin doing solo stuff, I knew it wouldn’t suck. I was lucky enough to catch a few of his solo shows months before hearing the album, so I had a preview of what I was in store for on the record. For any GR fan, his voice is so recognizable and I can’t speak for everyone, but it really gives me that nostalgic feeling in the very best way! ONWARD WITH THE REVIEW YOU GUYS!
1. Pushing Daisies
3. American Amnesia
4. Points Between
5. This Is What We Get
6. Cold Blues
7. Flesh and Bone
8. Get A Room
10. When I Pray
12. Under the Hours
The album opener Pushing Daisies is a great preview to the sound Russ is establishing as a solo artist. Unless many other Fat Wreck singers that broke off to do solo stuff, Rankin’s sound isn’t country or acoustic. Both Sly (RIP) and Cape have a sort of country-twang sound in their solo music, and Russ seems to me sticking more to a catchy, mellow rock sound. This track especially is very laid back and made me eager to hear more.
The second track, Departures, is clearly about a long distance relationship. As someone who’s been touring full time for many, many years, I can only imagine Rankin has had to say goodbye more than enough times to loved ones. This track is one of my favorites on the album, lryics-wise. It’s sincere and something that most people can relate to, it’s not full of metaphors to decipher or anything, it’s just an honest song about missing someone. From about 2:20 to the end, I love how it’s drawn out with the delayed guitar strums. I can only imagine that part is really cool live.
American Amnesia seems to be about something Rankin loves singing about: politics. Sometimes I get annoyed when bands preach non-stop, but with Good Riddance, it never bothered me. I felt like Russ has always been trying to use his position as an influential musician for good and really educate people on things that he truly believes in. I have always respected his integrity, and with this record, I can see that he still stands strong and I love it.
Points Between is not my favorite track, but it definitely solidifies Rankin’s sound as a solo artist. This song seems to be about a relationship. It’s another honest track with a smooth, catchy chorus.
This Is What We Get showcases another vocal style from Rankin. Whether he’s singing, screaming, drawing out his words, or just talking, I’ve always been a huge fan of this man’s voice. It’s so familiar that is almost soothes me. This track has a little more range and I think it’s an excellent song for the record.
The album continues with Cold Blues which you can guess from the title, isn’t about kitties and rainbows. It has a low tone through the entire track and to be honest, I can’t really decipher what Rankin is singing about in this one. It sounds like he’s not singing about himself but maybe an experience someone close to him has been going through. Possibly someone having to be away from their kids. I think. I could also be entirely wrong… I DON’T KNOW, OKAY?
I’m going to skip a few tracks to When I Pray. As you can guess, Rankin isn’t really the religious type. I think oftentimes, pray isn’t used in the literal term but just sort of a figure of speech of hoping for something. The melody in this chorus is really nice. I really think this guy just can’t go wrong with his vocals no matter what the music sounds like behind them.
Skipping to the final track, Under the Hours, I have to say it’s a great album closer. The immediate opening sort of reminded me of an old Mest song. Yes, I said Mest. They had a lot of slow, ballad-like openings back in the day, similar style to what Rankin is doing on this record. As for the song, I really like these lyrics. “You so deserve better than this. So far away from the pain and lies.” Dawwww, Russ!!! He really is a sincere guy and I think he has a lot of intelligent things to say. He has a good heart and a lot of smart things to say. Go pick up or buy this record online you lazy pieces of shit!
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