These dudes ain’t no lightweights. Washed Up Rookie’s third EP, Too Late, Pt. 2, is a veritable hat trick, the perfect soundtrack for a scorching Texas summer. Snake charmers of the modern-day attention span, these cats know how to lay down a nasty hook that’ll stick with you for days.
Drenched in reverb and fuzzy, muddied guitar, Too Late, Pt. 2 is rooted in a potent blend of garage rock and blues and propelled by an undercurrent of soul. Guitarist Colton Cogdill and drummer Madison Cotton grab the listener by the wrist, leading them down a back alley to either fuck or fight. An exercise in brevity, this three-song gem taps out in fewer than 10 minutes. And that’s by design.
“It’s only three songs, but that’s kind of how we roll,” Cogdill said while nursing a tequila soda at a bar on West Magnolia Avenue. “People have short attention spans. I don’t want to put out a full-length record that no one’s going to give a fuck about.”
Ever the showmen, Washed Up Rookie’s overall aesthetic is reinforced by a solid visual motif. Black-and-white photos of famous athletes and photogenic movie stars are peppered throughout the band’s social media. The branding-conscious duo even uses its own vintage-inspired mascot logo created by illustrator Matt Cliff, who’s designed work for neo-psych titans The Black Angels and Tripping Daisy. Style is even at the forefront in the pair’s songwriting. Cogdill said his writing is influenced by Quentin Tarantino’s über-stylized films and retro-philic soundtracks.
“We want to give the idea of Washed Up Rookie as in a worn-out athlete that just couldn’t quite make it,” Cotton said. “We try to tie the vintage sports team theme together, which is kind of who we are – just playing music and haven’t quite made it yet but still love what we do.”
Wary of ever turning stale, Cogdill and Cotton try to release a triad of songs each quarter. Why write a 12-song album, Cotton asked, when hardly anyone still listens to full-lengths all the way through? Even though they’re rapidly churning out new material, Cogdill said that most of his lyrics contain a recurring theme. Shame, guilt, and regret are omnipresent in the band’s catalog, he said. Case in point: the first stanza in opener “Photos Taped to a Mirror.”
“Shoulda known better, but I guess I don’t,” Codgill emotes through a thick fog of reverb. “I coulda done things, but I guess I won’t / If I had the money, I’d buy you a car / So when you’re driving with him down First / It’s still me taking you to the bar.”
Friends for over a decade, Cleburne-raised Cogdill and Cotton met back in high school. After bonding over music, sports, and films, the two formed a band, The Vibes, that would serve as the predecessor for their current outfit.
After high school, Cogdill briefly lived in Austin before returning to Fort Worth. Washed Up Rookie was born after the pair reconnected. They effortlessly picked up where they left off and even still rehearse at Cotton’s parents’ house — in the same room they did when they were teens. Cogdill and Cotton’s strong friendship makes the songwriting process a breeze, they said, but playing together live is even easier.
“We kind of have a musical telepathy where we can read each other and know exactly what’s going to happen next,” Cotton said.
Produced by Mean Motor Scooter’s Rebekah Elizabeth and Joe Tacke, Too Late, Pt. 2 was laid down at Cloudland Recording Studio. Elizabeth and Tacke contributed backing vocals, bass, and keys and will join the Rookies onstage Friday for their EP release show at Lola’s Trailer Park.
For now contented to play the occasional local watering hole, Washed Up Rookie nevertheless have their sights set on the finish line. The pair hopes to someday embark on a comprehensive regional tour. Until then, they’ll keep pumping out accessible songs for the intelligent listener and crooning for the lovesick barfly. Still, they wouldn’t turn down the chance to sign to a major label or play Madison Square Garden, Cogdill said.
“I’m shootin’ for the stars, baby. James Dean.”
6pm Fri w/Jakob Robertson and The.Naaman at Lola’s Trailer Park, 2735 W 5th St, FW. $8. 817-759-9100.