Guilty Rainbow

by Roommate

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  • Guilty Rainbow limited edition LP
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    Each LP includes a hand-numbered silkscreened print of a drawing of Roommate by Steve Krakow (aka Plastic Crimewave).

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1.
04:05
jesus save the jesus freaks some nights i bleed right through the sheets and through to the ceiling underneath jesus save the jesus freaks heaven help this heavy heart help it empty out before the party starts and will you help me fill this hollow head have you guts to spill have you hopes to spend? i don't believe that you're really so unconcerned can't you see how the cloud of our dominion billows and burns! if you are patient i'll save you a place in the sun everyone's famous here, everyone praises everyone jesus save the jesus freaks mother never told me there'd be days like these god bless the child who's got his own greed jesus save the jesus freaks i don't believe that you're really in head-splitting pain and if it's true i'm confused--why we are hosting this party again? when you are wasted you'll laugh in my face 'til i'm numb everyone's racist here, everyone prays for everyone hey--mea culpa. hey--mea culpa. mea culpa. mea culpa. mea culpa. mea culpa.
2.
05:04
when it gets dark the mosquitoes eat away at us it's not too late for us when it gets dark queasy feelings lie in wait for us my mother prays for us and when it cools down we'll feel much better. one of the best friends i've ever had he has a very very small brain i could hold it in the palm of my hand even so even so i know i know he understands. no one understands why kittens purr or why people cry no one understands why no one understands no one understands no one understands no one understands no one understands no one understands why.
3.
Busted screens and rusted cars flaking paint and razorwire Porch swing sways in a twisted rain scorched my face in a flicker flame Somebody told me this world was mine they lied, they lied Somebody sold me a new family line it died, it died Somebody hold me it's so cold tonight it's so cold, it's so cold, please hold please hold me tight Heavy hands and feathered tongues I think I saved the band when I ate our young Until I lost our plans in a bargain bin Now I'll be damned but I don't know when Somebody told you the past was gone they were wrong, wrong Everyone knows you and your protest songs well right on, right on Nobody owes you for your righteous rage You got paid, you got paid, you got paid move on move on. Rusted dreams and busted bones Love songs screamed into telephones Futures lost in a summer spell Summer's past and it's just as well Summer's past and it's just as well Summer's past and it's just as well.
4.
5.
04:31
Move back toward the microphone Scary, beautiful man Sing that line again Sing that line again Your high-class contemporaries I felt I was a fool in their eyes Last night I tried so hard to not try hard I was starstruck I said too much I didn't say enough I was starstruck I pushed my luck I pushed my luck Move back toward the microphone Angry, penitent man Sing that line again Sing that line again Tell the camera all about your faith righteous latter day saint Did your God imprison you when He envisioned you? If you're the anti-christ where does that leave your wife Oh, to the two of you, and your secular friend I could listen all night I am awestruck With every spin your songs cut deeper & deeper I am awestruck I am a dumbfuck so-called nonbeliever With your eyes closed all the time you might get lost and never find your way back Sing that line again Sing that line again A docile breeze is floating through my house A piece of my mind just turned black Sing that line again Sing that line again
6.
04:05
i am a privileged man i was loved as a child and my love has grown wild and my wants have grown plenty when my cup is empty it is easily filled and when blood is spilled in waves i may cry for days but its swirling eddies never reach me i am not ready for whatever it is you are trying to teach me i am not ready for your clever attempts to beseech me i am stubborn and petty i am stubborn and petty and i am not ready i am not ready
7.
(free) 05:25
Spastic captive what makes you think you're not to blame? Blue flares bear witness It's time you find yourself a new claim to fame. Fairweather feather Our time's run out We won't feel better when the winds of change have changed to lazy clouds Red flags at half-mast Fresh spores to kill Dream house in splinters Pink pills will help us to sleep and sit still Surefooted captain Your jokes are first-rate The press pool ripples with laughter As robot planes shoot flames and take lives away Filthy window Go on, pretend that you can see Guilty rainbow We'll never be the way we used to be… If you're somebody nobody wants to be around Where do you go at night? When you don't want to be alone anymore? When you don't want to be alone anymore And if you're someone who wants to be alone What do you when you're miles away from home Where do you go when there are people everywhere you go What do you say to someone you'll never know? If you're someone who cares a lot about the problems of the world What do you say to the other boys & girls? Do you try to play it cool? Or do you dare ask if they care along with you? If you shake real fast It might float to the top You might see it through the glass But if you stop shaking it will surely drop
8.
what is this terrible distance? only yesterday i saw myself in your eyes now i only see dollar signs euros ones and zeros what is this terrible distance? only yesterday i was your favorite band am i today singing in tongues you don't understand? life is grand when you know who are life is grand when you know who are and when you know that the stars are impossibly far away impossibly far away after the boom ash trees and asters in bloom and the party balloons rocket up to the ceiling we don't seem to feel anything the moon is in flames and our names are unfinished we see almost everything but we don't seem to feel anything we see everyone but we don't seem to know anyone. we see everyone but we don't seem to know anyone.
9.
06:19
[i played and played and played and played and played and i played and played and played and played and played] fireflies under the water 16 years in the sun skin cracked & boiling wait for my letter starfires under the water 3000 nights in the cold shivering half-dreams of terrified godheads and souls trapped in amber [i prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and i prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed] white flags into the slaughter 5 or more lifetimes locked in a cell poems and christmas cards, greetings from desperate meetings-- "stay strong / keep on keepin' on / take care / hope you are well" [i paid and paid and paid and paid and paid and i paid and paid and paid and paid and paid] soft eyes under the water one sickly flame in the dark can there be hope when there are no more illusions? can a candle burn bright enough to bring back vision? bring back my vision take me from my mission make me someone good.
10.

about

press quotes:

Unsettling pop with just the right balance of sweet and sour that begs another listen before the needle's barely lifted.
-Areif Sless-Kitain, TimeOut Chicago (Best Chicago Albums of 2011)

A wonderfully atmospheric art pop record that will reward you on repeated listens. Grandaddy and Sparklehorse are the obvious comparisons, but there is something deeper here. The songwriting is top notch and the album closes with one of the best covers of a Guided By Voices song you are likely to hear.
-Peter Zimmerman, Huffington Post (Best Chicago Music of 2011)

Guilty Rainbow is probably about a lot of things: war, being against war, Middle America, being Middle American, the futility of being a Middle American, and assorted other causes. But mostly, Guilty Rainbow seems to be about having a cause, about living with that cause, or causes, every day despite nothing much changing for the cause’s sake. Having a cause, after all, endless causes even, to wield with such a distinctively muscular voice can be a lot to ask from whomever’s listening and whatever music is expected to support it. It’s a monumental accomplishment that Roommate wholeheartedly, and not effortlessly, craft songs that never seem too easy but never dump that weight on our backs... From synths, vibraphones, the lounge-like tisks of a cymbal, the expanding chimes of “August Song,” to a percussive beat that seems concocted from the sticky suction of a shoe lifting off a theater’s floor—none of it fails to resonate. It’s a complicated but easy relationship Roommate forms: even that robot-heartbeat percussion seems to have warm blood pumping through it.
-Kaylen Hann, Cokemachineglow (Top 50 Albums of 2011)

Admittedly, Guilty Rainbow isn’t really a ‘concept album,’ and yet it’s got more of an arc and sense of unspoken redemption than most contemporary albums that parade themselves as such. It’s also one of those rare albums that starts out great and gets better over its 45-minute length.
-Collin Anderson, Tiny Mixtapes

Chicago via Brooklyn’s Kent Lambert has been recording under the name Roommate for about a decade, but now has a set of collaborators playing along with his moody electronic compositions, giving some serious depth to his already strong songwriting. Despite the companionate band name, and the significance of the group on this record, the importance of isolation, unusual fragility, and unanswerable questions are the more vital, weighty issues at hand.
-Adam Kivel, Consequence Of Sound (4 of 5 stars)

Guilty Rainbow still seems to be about activism, imperialism, our dying world, and being the activist who insufferably bemoans U.S. imperialist actions all across our dying world, but it feels like it’s about struggling with the grand existential weight of caring in the first place.
...Guilty Rainbow harnesses everyday grievance and bakes sweet, magnanimous pop music from its evil ohms.
-Dom Sinacola, Cokemachineglow

Guilty Rainbow is a culminating step forward for Chicago’s Roommate... Kent Lambert, the man behind the words and music, has finally consolidated his band into a consistent four-piece, and Guilty Rainbow bears the marks of a more active level of cooperation among the contributors. Bassist Gillian Lisée, multi-instrumentalist Luther Rochester and drummer Seth Vanek add a welcome bit of musical muscle to Lambert’s understated vocals and forceful lyrics... the new release finds Lambert cultivating his strengths—a no-frills delivery and fluid, organic verses that roll into one another with an easy inevitability.
-Dylan Nelson, Popmatters

...a semi-depressing tour de force, lush with loneliness and rife with repression.
-Marah Eakin, A.V. Club Chicago

An autumnal tint haunts this collection, like the ominous moan snaking through “Soft Eyes” and “Ghost Pigeon.” Washy undertones throb beneath more organic textures, all of it flecked with unpredictable electronics. Lambert’s a gifted lyricist, examining over and again his unique set of curiosities in these quirky arrangements. When he floats the dark lyric “We won’t feel better / When the winds of change have changed to lazy clouds” on the simmering glitch-pop nugget “Snow Globe,” it’s hard not to get lost in the ennui. Credit Roommate with crafting an album that’s as creepy as it is catchy, even if it is the most cynical thing this side of a Steely Dan record.
-Areif Sless-Kitain, TimeOut Chicago

liner notes:

We’ve all of us, of course, read, in a daunting, large old book, on page #1, about how “a screaming comes across the sky….” but what you’re now holding, reading about, is a shout in a shell that wants to detonate within, where you live, and rather in a host of tingling ways.

It’s an OK explosion, though. Guilty Rainbow presents a variegated arch of recordings about how detonation can, after all, be melodic, that a thing can be gentle without being weak and can be sweet without being saccharine. What is done here is done well...and in typical Roommate thinking—it's done in beautiful taste. Kent Lambert and a battalion of live-in compatriots have been taping up rainbows not of gravity but of certain kinds of penitence.

Long lyrics ago, Mr. Lambert launched the writerly part of self at isolation as theme, incarceration even; but his inmate set of dauntless songs, SOFT EYES like a spear’s tip, broke free; turned 180s; talked back to their author; got remanded to his custody. And eventually taught the resulting album to ignore cages of genre, the cells imposed by Sides A & B, to play and pray and pay, if not in that order.

Instead, tracks collected here, MY BAD for one, throw heavy-heart parties that bleed through in time to other people’s ceilings.

GHOST PIGEON warbles loping electronics in shards, shouting out an (ad)mission statement, of sorts.

First of two outside voices tried on by Roommate for size, Ned Collette’s THE COUNTRY WITH A SMILE emerges hypothermiac from a swim in some frozen synthetic creek; it’s looking to become less alone in secret room TV oblivion.

LDS, Mr. Lambert’s one-sided imaginary dialogue with another cold-weather lyricist, is a meeting of paces glacial. Topics: the religious rigor in someone you revere, even fear; listening hard, too; standing awestruck at another artist’s courage; rabid fandom.

Moments here sit nearby well-hewn forms. It was Carl Saff who, in mastering Guilty Rainbow as a tour of pop topographies, fingered its “soul song” in seconds; FLICKER FLAME, sort of coldly dejected to be called out, knew it’d be damned as such but didn’t know when. Because whatever Roommate does, Roommate does with strong feeling, and this is what communicates itself. Some people call it soul… that ability to share feelings. Roommate has that. Even so, our research reveals no other soul recordings, neo- or otherwise, that feature sounds harvested from Nintendo’s quickly fossilizing Gameboy handheld unit. How’s that for play and pray?

Speaking of “fossilizing units”: Tell every living friend you have that you’ve now heard Luther Rochester and his inscrutable Buchla Music Easel, at points within. Your intrepid author of these very notes could identify its sound only with exacting assistance from the recording artists themselves. Such arcane instrumentation, that corralling of age-old electrons into regiments fresh and shiny, reflect in this album today's spirit of musical pioneering. Lesser lights will attempt to imitate it, and it will open new directions in record making. Buchla’s Easel, though, tends to disdain directions themselves, despite this essential truth: Housed in a rugged aluminum case, the Music Easel is built to travel.

You may’ve caught the term “collective” in its dogged pursuit of Roommate, mostly in a decade now gone; but call them a band these days, of four, if you would: Kent Lambert, early keytar re-adopter, belter, crooner; Luther Rochester, synthesizer of analogs and keeper of vibes; Seth Vanek strikes metal and membrane in time, with measured joy; Gillian Lisée voices in the depth, plucks the lowest strings the band can find. These four had accomplices, of course.

Roommate, then, itself, resists fusion but has succumbed. Still: Our era has been marked by a fusion of musical cultures; by the creation of a richer American music through this sort of combinatory evolution. In this album we have a dramatic illustration of this thesis. Like Chicago seasons, Guilty Rainbow hates to ever be one kind of thing at once. Listeners: take note of whether thoughtful pop here recalls the arrangement of icons that prove a year’s passing.

Look to AUGUST SONG’s descending drums, percussed tones, strings in confused teams, failing to fall into step as the season darkens into a distracted pop.

And to the verses of Robert Pollard’s SMOTHERED IN HUGS (if chestnuts come in lo-fi), which here wears digital hymn strands invented someplace older than the song itself, a cooed 2nd vocal by Gillian Lisée tethering deep lyrical doubt to shaky ground. Watch a record ache to feel full in the end...even though there’s been something eating everyone...

Is it that—that gnawing sense that coloring has gone on outside lines—that makes Roommate want to move out, and make these moves inward, and also worry some about the bedroom pop walls it’s broken through and the messes left in kitchens across its own Midwest? And then, even so, never think too hard, too long, about going very far away any time soon? And opt instead to see what repairs can be made to its new compartment, from inside the compartment itself?

The results await your decision. If, however, the annotator of a liner note is given the privilege of passing on personal comment, then allow this writer to say that Roommate has done it again. Even he is left to wonder, though: What exactly has Roommate done?

- Judson Picco, expert Roommate listener, looking also through a pile of old LPs, Horner Park Fieldhouse, 2011

credits

released March 22, 2011

Personnel:

Kent Lambert: vocals (all), digital synths (all), electronic drum programming (1-2, 4-5, 7-8, 10), Moog bass (1,6, 8), Wurlitzer (2), Rhodes (3), Gameboy (3), trumpet (3, 8), Casio (5,8), banjo (8), tambourine/shaker (8).
Gillian Lisée: bass guitar (1-4, 6-9), vocals (4, 7, 9, 10).
Luther Rochester: Buchla Music Easel (1, 3-4, 6, 8-10), vibraphone (2-3, 6-7, 9), Moog (1,7), saxophone (3,8), cymbal/bell tree (10).
Seth Vanek: drums (all), percussion (most), vocals (4), Juno synth (4), electric guitar (4), acoustic guitar (7), Moog (6), autoharp (7, 10), prepared piano (8), sleigh bell (10).

Gerard Barreto: bass guitar (8). Bart de Kroon: guitar (10). Erica Dicker: violin (2, 4, 5). Anton Hatwich: upright bass (10). Cody Hennesy: clarinet (1), pedal drone/guitar (8). Dave Miller: guitar (6). Dan Peck: tuba/vocals/beatboxing (5). Justin Petertil: guitar (2, 9). "Uncle" Woody Sullender: banjo (9). Frank Van Duerm: software synth programming (6).

All songs by Kent Lambert & Roommate (ASCAP) except "THE COUNTRY WITH A SMILE" by Ned Collette, Bughouse (ASCAP) o/b/o Native Tongue Music Pty. Limited d/b/a Ruapapa Music (ASCAP), "GHOST PIGEON" by Kent Lambert & Roommate (ASCAP) & Frank Van Duerm and "SMOTHERED IN HUGS" by Robert E. Pollard Jr., James B. Pollard & Charles M. Mitchell III (BMI).

Recorded in Chicago, IL at Glamour Studios, Haddrock, Carterco Recording (with Jamie Carter), and Strobe Recording (with Jamie Wagner) and in New Buffalo, MI at The Roger Brown House, December 2008 to May 2010. Mixed by Gerard Barreto and Roommate at SOMA Electronic Music Studios (with Andrew Hernandez) and mastered by Carl Saff, July 2010.

Produced by: Gerard Barreto and Roommate.

Cover image by Frank Van Duerm.

Back cover layout and design by Alexander Stewart.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ or (b) send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 2nd Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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Roommate Chicago

Roommate began as a Kent Lambert solo project in NYC in 2000 and has been an ever-mutating Chicago band since 2004. The band's 2015 album MAKE LIKE was released in 2015 and described by [sic] magazine's Tim Clarke as "astute, economical, meticulously performed and produced, and deeply affecting, both lyrically and musically." ... more

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