In 2021, Chicago quartet Ratboys followed up their third studio album Printer’s Devil with the record Happy Birthday. Since then, they’ve contributed to some compilations, with one including a cover of Kacey Musgraves.
The band is back today with the sprawling 8-and-a-half-minute epic “Black Earth, WI.” It’s a mellow song with striking imagery: “Oh, I was hypnotized / Caught up in the northern lights / Driving around in circles,” Steiner sings. The guitars are laid-back but mesmeric, contributing to this dreamy scene.
“We recorded ‘Black Earth, WI’ live off the floor in Seattle last year at the amazing Hall of Justice and it was our first time recording straight to tape,” Julia Steiner said in a statement. “We had to be conscious of how many takes we could fit onto a reel, but lucky for us, take two was the one.”
In our 2020 interview with the Bernie Sanders-approved group, they discussed their evolving sound. “We played, like, 150 shows in the States,” guitarist Dave Sagan said. “We just had become very comfortable with being a loud band. I think a lot of what happened on those tours was we were paired with bands that had a lot of energy and personality, and we had to take it upon ourselves to match that in different ways.”
Watch the video for “Black Earth, WI” above.