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“Chicken Fingers” by The Roughhousers

No matter how tall we get or how removed from childhood lullabies we get in this life, a connection to our youthful spirit can remain strong through a bond with music – and it’s this notion that drives The Roughhousers’ music, including their latest single “Chicken Fingers.” Lyrically satirical, as its title would imply to anyone with a mature taste in music, “Chicken Fingers” is anything but fodder for children’s radio exclusively; on the contrary, it’s representative of a pure form of rockabilly that has got critics and audiences around the country quite excited at the moment (and for good reason).

Almost everywhere we look and listen in this single, there are affectionate melodies abound. Instead of pushing back at the percussion with a venomous harmony, as was once the standard in a lot of rockabilly crossovers, The Roughhousers are riding into the climax smoothly, recalling the retro diner jams that inspired so much of this genre’s fabled second wave. No matter how you slice it, the rhythm is grabbing us and the melodic fabric is keeping us in the sphere of these verses, as innocent and childlike as they happen to be. If that isn’t a testament to this duo’s songcraft, I really don’t know what is.

Tonal presence is one of the more important factors in any song, let alone an indie single where the pedigree is a lot more respected among critics’ circles, and it’s something The Roughhousers must have been considering when they were making “Chicken Fingers” this year. The music video and the single itself share the same dynamic mix that puts the strings and the percussion within a stingingly intimate distance from the audience, and if I had to guess what this pair sounds like in a live setting, I would imagine it’s something like what we’re hearing in this recording.

The guitar parts are always a signature feature in The Roughhousers’ output, and in this sense, I would say that their latest release is no different than what I’ve come to expect out of them thus far. What sets “Chicken Fingers” apart isn’t so much the framing it enjoys but the boisterous presence of its instruments as the lyrics stomp forth in perfectly melodic synchronicity. A lot of Americana revivalists are going for this kind of sound, and it’s ironic that a two-piece making “children’s music” is doing what so few others have been able to.

Well-produced and tailored to its audience without feeling solely accessible to kids, “Chicken Fingers” is another hit for The Roughhousers and a fine example of what happens when talented players share a studio together long enough to make magic happen. There’s no question that what these two have got is special, but if you aren’t listening to it for yourself, the buzz they’ve been getting will not do it any sort of justice. “Chicken Fingers” is slick and simple, and what’s more is that it’s more immersive than anything currently in the top tier of the Billboard charts.

Mindy McCall



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