Chicago’s Ratboys become the toast of the national indie scene with Printer’s Devilon February 21, 2020 at 10:25 pm

Guitarist-vocalist Julia Steiner and guitarist David Sagan met as first-year students at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, and they’ve since become ingrained in Chicago underground rock. Under the name Ratboys, they made themselves a home in the emo scene in the mid-2010s, playing country-flecked indie songs and drawing in a couple prolific collaborators to fill out their live sets: drummer Marcus Nuccio of Pet Symmetry and Mountains for Clouds and bassist Sean Neumann, who makes delightful indie pop as Jupiter Styles (he’s also a Reader contributor). This rhythm section bolsters the Ratboys’ third album, the new Printer’s Devil (Topshelf), a soothing reflection on growing older and bittersweet farewells. Steiner and Sagan wrote it in Steiner’s childhood home in Louisville, Kentucky, as her parents went through the process of selling the house. When she gently sings, “I just had a thought / ‘What if I never came home?'” at the beginning of the taut, straightforward single “I Go Out at Night,” you can feel the thrill and sadness in her voice as she processes her growing sense of dislocation. The sweet, wordless vocal harmony that rises up in the middle of “My Hands Grow” suggests that relief can be found in the homes we make for ourselves–and Steiner has thankfully fashioned her own anchor with her band. v

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