City Paper is not for tourists
After being compared to Ride for its whole career, D.C.’s the Ropers have released a debut album, All the Time, that should put that comparison to rest. Though there is that small matter of naming two songs “Drive” and “Blind” (Ride has a song called “Drive Blind”). Guitarist Mike Hammel didn’t realize the similarity existed, but does acknowledge the Beatles’ inspiration for the Ropers’ “Revolver.” Hammel had been reading accounts of Beatles’ studio practices while recording All the Time and admits, “We had just been going on this big kick about [the Beatles’ Revolver], and we just listened to it constantly, and it does kind of go with [our] song.”
Deciding on Ultra Vivid Scene’s Kurt Ralske to record the album was easy. Ralske had offered his services to the Ropers’ label, Slumberland, at a reasonable price. “We try to get a different producer every time,” Hammel explains, though he is quick to clarify that Ralske was more a recording engineer than a producer, “because no one produces our stuff, but we just like to record at a different place every time.” Ralske’s recording reveals nuances previously buried in the Ropers’ wall of noise: Inventive melody lines take precedence over telegraphed bursts of distortion; singer/guitarist Doug Bailey’s voice is not only audible but rightfully to the fore. “He’s the best nonsinging singer there is,” a statement overheard at a Ropers’ show, is actually quite apt: His subdued drawl artfully contrasts with the band’s bristling energy. Bassist Greg Pavlovcak’s distinctively melodic bass lines, and former drummer Alex Hacker’s cymbal-heavy drumming give the songs their linear thrust. The CD and LP are available from Slumberland Records, P.O. Box 14731, Berkeley, CA 94712.