Oakland group Naked Roommate began as a side project while the duo of Amber Sermeño and Andy Jordan were on a break from their band, The World. Not content to lie dormant while the creative juices were flowing, they recorded a set of tunes in their home studio that would make up their self-released 2018 cassette. Those six tunes rooted around in the same musical slop The World enjoyed; skeletal, danceable post-punk sprinkled with a smirk of humor and playfulness, but they became the genesis and jumping off point for Naked Roommate's debut album "Do The Duvet". Trouble In Mind is honored to release the North American version of Naked Roommate's debut (U.K. label Upset The Rhythm will release the album in the UK/EU and elsewhere - if you live in the UK/EU, order HERE)
Newly expanded to a quartet - including guitarist/synthesist Michael Zamora (Exit Group/W0RK/bAd bAd) and bassist Alejandra Alcala (Blues Lawyer/Preening), the group explores the danceable, electronic side of the "post-punk" spectrum on "Do The Duvet". The ideas sketched out on the debut cassette (particularly the second half's gurgling electronics-laced tunes) come fully-formed, absorbing elements of house music, DIY post-punk and dub. The undeniable influence of forbearers like ESG, Liquid Liquid and A Certain Ratio, as well as more modern interpreters like Sneaks or Anika are awash in "Do The Duvet" (the album's title itself is a pun on ACR's "Do The Du"). "Mad Love"s pulsing throb kicks off the album, attaching a heartbeat to the dance floor, and setting the tone for the album to follow. Elsewhere, "We Are The Babies" and "Fondu Guru"s addictive bop exude a confidence and flirtatiousness that belies their come-hither cheekiness with both a wink and a shove. Meanwhile elements of dub music creep into "Fill Space", a slinky number that would make Vivien Goldman jealous, and wouldn't sound out of place on On-U Sound's legendary stable of forward thinking, dub-inflected dance music. "Do The Duvet" really shines when the group hits the dance floor and lets the synthetic thump of the rhythm section take the wheel on songs like "Je Suis le Bebe", "Repeat" and "(Re)P.R.O.D.U.C.E.". This is "disco (not disco)" using an addictive synthetic throb designed to get the party moving, but lacing the lyrics with big picture ideas of (the futility of) capitalism, reality (real or artificial), reproduction and identity. Naked Roommate are here to make you move, but they want you to think about it first (or not).
Trouble In Mind's North American version of "Do The Duvet" is released on black vinyl & limited cassette and made available digitally via most streaming platforms.
RIYL: Sneaks, ESG, Liquid Liquid, Anika, Kleenex/Liliput, A Certain Ratio, Delta 5, Pylon, Vivien Goldman, 99 Records
Our take: The World’s last 12”, Reddish, is one of my most played records of the last few years, so when I heard about this debut vinyl from Naked Roommate—who started as a home recorded offshoot of the World but have since blossomed into a four-piece group—I had to hear it. Surprise, surprise, I love it and I’ve had it on constant rotation since we got it in. Fans of the World won’t be disappointed as Naked Roommate has a similarly strong sense of style and great songwriting, but the aesthetic here is a little different. Most of the rhythms seem to come from programmed drums, giving the record a robotic backbone that serves as an interesting counterpoint to the warm, gritty sounds coming from the analog instruments. Second, Naked Roommate foregrounds their dub and dance music influences, with most of the songs featuring hypnotic grooves and deep, resonant bass right at the front of the mix. That being said, tracks like “Mad Love,” “Je Suis le Bebe,” and “(Re) P.R.O.D.U.C.E.” have huge vocal hooks that you’ll have to make a concerted effort not to sing along with. So, fans of the World should check this out, but so should anyone into dub-influenced 70s post-punk bands like the Slits, ESG, and the Raincoats.