By Christopher Treacy
This might just be the best thing we’ve heard since Tami Hart’s “Thanks for Saying Hi” back in February. If you’re not familiar, Roselit Bone is a Portland, Oregon-based 8-piece with queer energy to spare, led by the recently transitioned Charlotte McCaslin. The band merges vintage country sounds with elements of rockabilly, classic Ranchera textures and darker, gothic tones, resulting in a twangy, cow-punk stew that’ll leave you hooting and yelping in excited delight.
Their latest, “Crying in the USA,” takes aim at our country through striking images that imply greater (ugly) truths about our increasingly disparate cultures. “Very many softly lie and sweetly sleep low in the ground/while others only live to watch college sports/in an empty white room but for a TV and a couch/and their balls hanging out of their boxer shorts,” McCaslin quips in one biting verse, followed soon thereafter by a chorus of amusing ‘waaah, waaah, waaah’s from her bandmates. It’s a protest song of sorts, but from a different vantage point than much of what’s been written during the, er, ‘COVID era.’
“Crying in the USA” is a patriotic anthem for a country that doesn’t want to exist anymore,” McCaslin elaborated in a press statement. “I wrote it at the height of the pandemic when live music seemed gone forever, and many people were laid up with fear watching the collapse unfold on their phones. It often seemed like there was nothing to do but sleep or cry. I was listening to a lot of dancey 80’s and 90’s country as an escape, wanting so badly to inhabit that world, knowing that it probably never existed outside of the songs themselves.”
But while the world she yearned for may have been a pop culture fantasy, the issues she touches on in the song are all to real. Taking aim at the collective apathy that’s killing America’s once-fiery spirit, McCaslin unflinchingly hits nerve after nerve, all the while constructing a left-field call to arms.
“Crying in the USA” is punchy and , at times, sarcastic, and the accompanying video clip drives it all home. McCaslin directed it herself. Make what you will of some of the imagery, but you’ll definitely muster a good chuckle regardless.
“I directed, shot and edited the video myself,” she told us. “I happened upon some matching red bodysuits at a thrift store, and formed my vision for the video around them. I shot everyone against a simple white background, letting the band members’ personalities and varying levels of true discomfort guide the narrative.”
True discomfort, indeed. Ever watch The Tim & Eric Show?
For more about Roselit Bone, listen online and follow their socials!
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Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.