It’s been a few years since Touch & Go announced that they would no longer be releasing new music. And so, the occasion of a new release on Touch & Go — yes, I realize the paradoxical nature of that statement — never fails to be notable. I’m looking down at the cover of Fifteen Quiet Years, a rarities collection from the storied Louisville band Rodan; letterpressed and seemingly handmade, it could well have been an artifact from the early 90s, when the band was actively making music. Brandon Stosuy’s review of Fifteen Quiet Years insightfully notes that “Rodan felt like our Louisville band. You knew members of Rodan lived together in a place in Louisville called the Rocket House, and you wanted to go there.”
That sounds about right to me. Listening to Rusty, Rodan’s 1993 album, what strikes me now is the group’s ability to pull off contrasts: there are harsh, jarring moments that would set the template for a generation of math-rockers to come, and there were more subdued sections that pushed towards a more trancelike state. (This is a quality that Rodan successors Shipping News would also exemplify.) Fifteen Quiet Years tends towards the group’s harsher side: you can imagine hearing these songs in VFW halls and crowded basements, converted galleries and dodgy warehouses. And it doesn’t hurt that this is music that holds up: almost twenty years after it was first recorded, the clamorous rhythms and vitriolic vocals are still as gripping as ever.