New Sounds: Stream The Rationales’ triumphant new album ‘Upstream’

Photo Credit: Danny LeBlanc


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Mother nature has a strange sense of humor. Especially when in cahoots with rock and roll.

Last night the Boston area was besieged with flash flood warnings as a summer thunderstorm rolled hard into town right around dusk. The morning after, the waters have subsided, but not without one of our finer rock and roll bands, The Rationales, releasing a new album, appropriately titled Upstream.

But even without any sudden storms to dress up a lede, Upstream is a record with both contextual meaning and glow, another sterling effort from the blue-collar Rationales that holds up as further proof the sextet remains one of the more trusted bands to emerge from Boston over the past decade. Taking the title quite literally, the Rats have always swam upstream against the city’s trends and styles; instead crafting a swirling cocktail of alt-rock, Americana, and power-pop, created on their own terms and judged by their own personal merits.

Upstream is officially out today and available to stream via Bandcamp and below, with its record release party set for tonight at the Middle East in Cambridge. We scored a taste of Upstream a few weeks back with the escapism video for “Take A Ride With Me”, and recently the album was introduced properly via effervescent lead single “Ready To Go.”

“The record has a lot of longer songs that we really worked on and arranged as a band,” Rationales guitarist/vocalist David Mirabella tells Vanyaland. “Which is how we work on the songs I bring in most of the time. But every year or two I get lucky with a burst of inspiration where I just come up with an idea, fully formed, lyrics and all (which usually come later)… With ‘Ready to Go,’ I just sat down, started playing the intro, knew I had something I was excited about so I hit record. Three minutes later I had the song and that’s more or less exactly how it wound up on the record. Its about energy and ‘going for it’ so its fitting that it was written in that same way.”

The flashes of intrigue are constant on “Ready To Go” and elsewhere across Upstream’s seven tracks. The guitarwork on “Trade You” takes the song into another rock/pop stratosphere, and “Under The Gun” has (dare we say it), some remarkable late-’80s power ballad vibes. Combine that with rootsy, everybody-all-in closer “Dulcinea” and the FM radio jubilation of the aforementioned “Take A Ride With Me,” and the Rats’ have crafted one hell of a complete LP.

It’ll be on full display tonight at the release party, a celebratory bill that includes friends and lovers Oldjack, The Curtis Mayflower, Red Red Rockit, and a new project called Nate Rogers and The Unreliable Narrators, which also features Missed Connection leader Magen Tracy and no hope/no harm dude Adam Hand (who is also doing time with the Rats on pedal steel guitar and percussion). Deets on the flyer; score advance tickets here.

THE RATIONALES + OLDJACK + THE CURTIS MAYFLOWER + RED RED ROCKIT + NATE ROGERS AND THE UNRELIABLE NARRATORS :: Thursday, August 3 at The Middle East Downstairs, 472 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA :: 7:30 p.m., 18-plus, $12 :: Middle East event page :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page :: Featured photo courtesy of the band