Being such a dyed-in-the-wool Josh Rouse aficionado, it didn't really concern me when I didn't get this cool record on first spin. It was in the car, after all, and some records don't "debut" right in the car. But once I put the headphones on at home I got it right away.
True to form, Country Mouse City House is another bedroom classic, JR's imprint label, this time under license to Nettwerk Records, a very with-it outfit.
To my way of thinking, there are several triangles at work here. First there is the road triangle of Josh and his long running rhythm section of James "Hags" Haggerty on bass and Marc Pisapia on drums. Then there is the co-production triangle of Josh, Joe Pisapia (now of Guster, these last 4-5 years) and the increasingly notorious Paco Loco, whose studio in Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, has been a recording home to alternative popsters like Gary Louris (of the Jayhawks and Golden Smog), Nashville producer Brad Jones, and Steve Wynn, to name just a few. And then there is the triangle called Joe Marc's Brother, the glorious seminal and sometimes trio made up of Joe and Marc Pisapia, and James "Hags" Haggerty, reunited here for a Josh record. So it's like a tasty pop club sandwich, layered up with a number of just the essential ingredients served on the veranda at Paco Loco's.
Rouse is a moody groover, and all his lines in the water have well baited hooks on them. The way that "Hollywood Bass Player" peels the groove right off the top of the 70's hit "Right Back To Where We Started From" made me laugh right out loud. I didn't want the song to quit, and that's the bottom line. The very funky horns, Stonesy guitar break and the great story line took it to another planet.
Josh's Spanish knockout Paz Suay shows up on the writing side of the album infectious opener, "Sweetie", as well as "Pilgrim" and "Domesticated Lovers." She also sings on a number of cuts, though I was unable to get specific credits from the label before press time. Last we spoke to Josh (in our video interview a few months back), he and Paz sounded like they were headed from Spain to New York City.
There were too many tunes we wanted to include in the clips on the Listen page, so I went with the first three. But I also loved the last two, "London Bridge" and "Snowy." They were great closing selections, because they made you have to start the disc again. Perhaps the biggest reason you must get this disc is that it's such an enjoyable ride start to finish. Josh and his cohorts are very ambient wise--those are the kind of groovers I'm talking about; it's about atmosphere, man. As ever, highly recommended.