by tom johnson

So many things rattle past us in this dizzying age of music release and consumption. For a smaller publication like this one, that means we often miss, or don’t get to champion, some of the songs and records that end up meaning the most to us. Both Ratboys ‘AOID’ and Topshelf Records tenth anniversary were such things, only getting brief nods of encouragement in the rush of the day; the latter was made up for by this detailed piece on their catalogue, the former via its inclusion in our 2015 ‘Albums of the year’ list.

We bring up both of these things today because Ratboys, in a small victory of sorts, find themselves on UK shores for the first time this week (full set of dates below), joined by the brilliant Dowsing, and thanks, in part, to Topshelf re-releasing the record and bringing it to a wider audience – something that they continue to do rather wonderfully. Taking in shows across the country, including Glasgow this weekend and Cardiff a few days later, as well as a whole host of gigs across mainland Europe, it feels only right that we reiterate our love for the aforementioned record and heartily suggest you get yourself along to a show.

A gleaming, joyous, raucous display of melodic indie-rock, AOID still feels relentlessly fresh, even after a good year or so of frequenting it. Graced by one of those vocals that feels so perfectly juxtaposed by the meaty slabs of guitar that wrap themselves around it, there’s a searing air of restlessness, or maybe listlessness, that underpins the whole record; the overwhelming sense of purpose that runs like warm blood through every moment akin to deep-seated desires poked and unsettled by some profound conversation that stays with you long after its finished. And by “long”, we mean sixteen months later, even after the last speck of dust has settled.

Here’s what we said about it at the end of last year; have a listen to a few tracks, including a new split-release with Dowsing, and check out the full run of dates below.

It was a joyful but unsurprising acquisition when Topshelf Records announced that they’d picked up Ratboys’ brilliant ‘AOID’ for a full, bonafide label release. First unveiled in the subtle warmth of the on-rushing summer, the latest record from Chicago’s finest fit perfectly in to those days; a heartening, restless depiction of grandiose dreams and the small moments in life that always tend to get in the way and eclipse them. Sitting somewhere between the classic Americana of yesteryear and the fiery freshness of today’s DIY extravagance, AOID often feels like the best friend that slipped through your fingers, lost to life but never forgotten.

Ratboys/Dowsing remaining EU tour dates:

(More info here)

26/9 – Bristol, UK – Roll for the Soul
27/9 – Cork, IE – Crane Lane Theatre
28/9 – Galway, IE – Róisín Dubh
29/9 – Dublin, IE – Whelan’s Upstairs
30/9 – Birmingham, UK – Aston Students Union
1/10 – Glasgow, UK – STRUGGLEFEST @ Audio
2/10 – Nottingham, UK – JT Soar
3/10 – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
4/10 – Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach
5/10 – Lille, FR – Do It Yourself Café
6/10 – Paris, FR – Olympic Cafe
8/10 – Cologne, DE – Club Privat
9/10 – Berlin, DE – TBA
10/10 – Hamburg, DE – Hafenklang
14/10 – Darmstadt, DE – Oetinger Villa
15/10 – Chemnitz, DE – AC17


Buy ‘AOID’ here, via Topshelf Records


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