Release Date: Jul 26, 2011
Record label: Bloodshot
Genre(s): Rockabilly, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Punk Blues, Rock & Roll, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Roots Rock, American Underground, Retro-Rock, Psychobilly
On their sophomore Bloodshot entry, the Dex Romweber Duo (Dexter on guitar and his sister Sara on drums) build on their debut for the label, 2009's Ruins of Berlin. On that record, Dex indulged his deep love for classic American jazz and pop with a few trademark, off-the rails rockabilly numbers tossed in for good measure. On Is That You in the Blue? the Romwebers team once again with producer Rick Miller at Southern Culture on the Skids' studio in North Carolina, with a handful of guests including semi-permanent bassist Matt Brandau, Django Haskins on lap steel and aocustic guitar, Bob Pence on sax, and Miller and even Southern Culture vocalist Mary Huff helping out.
On 2009’s Ruins of Berlin, Dexter Romweber downplayed his massive influence on the contemporary rock scene by focusing more heavily on moody, introspective songs than on the breakneck blues that characterized his work with Flat Duo Jets and which has been an incalculable point of reference for acts like the Black Keys and the Kills. Romweber’s follow-up, Is That You in the Blue?, is something of an about-face; teeming with raucous energy and steeped in blues formalism, the album finds the Dex Romweber Duo (Dexter and his percussionist sister, Sara) assessing the sound of Flat Duo Jets’s direct descendants and then pushing it forward. Is That You in the Blue? isn’t simply a record of the kind of music that made Romweber a hero to the likes of Jack White and Dan Auerbach during their formative years.
Dexter Romweber’s career has seen something of a resurgence of late, thanks in no small part to the reverence of superfan Jack White (who counts Romweber as a huge musical influence and has released a 7” and a live LP on his [White’s] Third Man imprint in the past couple years). But like many an underground rock icon, Romweber—who first started developing his cult fan base in the early 1980s with Chapel Hill rockablues twosome Flat Duo Jets—maintains a steely gaze (see any of his press photos) and inborn cool (see him live) to this day, despite the celebrity adoration. Check out any White Stripes record jacket for an updated take of this aesthetic positioned directly under a mop of messy, coal-black hair.
After the Mitteleuropean stylistic diversion/palette expansion of 2009’s Ruins of Berlin, erstwhile Flat Duo Jets frontman Dex Romweber, with drummer/sister Sara (ex-Snatches of Pink) get back to doing what they do best on Is That You in the Blue?, their second album for Bloodshot. It’s's just another surf/punk/garage/spy movie/blues-fueled day at the office for the Romwebers. With the band’s dex-terity (ha) in so many genres, the best move for listeners is to just try to keep up, and hell, if you’re not crazy about a tune, the next track will be completely different ...