Hailing from a lineage indebted to illustrious 90s stalwarts such as Elliot Smith, REM, Radiohead, and Nirvana, as well as contemporary luminaries like Phoebe Bridgers and Alex G, the enigmatic artist known as Rootiger emerges as a compelling force in the realm of indie rock. Armed with an idiosyncratic vision, Mark Dunford—once stationed at the remote Holloman AFB in rural New Mexico during his Air Force tenure—imbibed the solitude of his Cloudcroft cabin, honing his craft as a songwriter through crude home recordings, released unto the vast expanse of the internet. After bidding adieu to the military in 2018, Dunford transplanted himself to the musical crucible of Boston, Massachusetts, attending the esteemed Berklee College of Music. Thus, the genesis of Rootiger commenced, a sonic voyage propelled by Dunford’s unwavering dedication and raw musical prowess.
Following the release of singles like a compelling rendition of Fugazi’s “I’m so tired” in 2019, the hauntingly introspective “Deadlights” in 2020, and the mesmerizing fusion of “folk songs & trap beats” in July 2021, Rootiger unveiled their debut EP, “things change real slow,” on the hallowed grounds of October 29th, 2021. This sonic endeavor marked a transformative milestone, as it became the first instance wherein Dunford, accompanied by the dynamic rhythm section of Micah Lucas on bass and David Himmel on drums, entered a professional studio—specifically 37″ Productions in Rockland, MA—enlisting the consummate expertise of Zach Bloomstein as producer and engineer. Such a collaborative effort birthed a stunning inaugural record, showcasing Rootiger’s evolution into a formidable musical entity.
Now, with an eagerly anticipated second EP, “Mary,” Dunford embraces the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic, assuming the roles of producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist. The ethereal tapestry of “Mary” gradually unfurls within the sanctuary of Dunford’s home studio, where every sonic detail is meticulously crafted to paint an auditory portrait of resplendent introspection and emotive nuance. Seamlessly blending elements of folk and Americana, Rootiger deftly navigates the genre’s rich tapestry, imbuing it with his distinct artistic sensibilities and defying conventional boundaries.
As the auditory expedition commences, the opening track, “Cabin,” envelops the listener in a cocoon of solitude, its delicate melodies and introspective musings serving as a prelude to the profound journey that lies ahead. The resonant lyricism evokes a sense of longing and introspection, while the subtle nuances in the composition elevate the track’s emotional depth, inviting the listener to immerse themselves fully in its captivating embrace.
Continuing this sonic odyssey, “Milk Carton Kid” emerges as a guitar-driven testament to Rootiger’s poetic prowess and uncanny ability to navigate the intricate corridors of identity. Evoking an ethereal soundscape, the track unfurls with an introspective vulnerability, encapsulating the protagonist’s yearning for connection and the quest for profound meaning. The meticulously crafted composition intertwines with Dunford’s evocative vocals, creating an all-encompassing sensory experience that lingers in the listener’s consciousness.
With “Mud,” the EP plunges into a realm of entrapment and temporal stagnation. Rootiger’s lyrical prowess paints a vivid portrait of an individual caught in the throes of inertia, yearning to break free from the shackles of circumstance. The poignant contemplation of time’s inexorable march and the encroachment of change is intensified by a melodic undercurrent that ebbs and flows with captivating melancholy.
In the final opus, “Remedial Training,” Rootiger casts a piercing light upon the perennial struggle between societal expectations and individual desires. The scintillating interplay of rebellious defiance and introspective rumination infuses the track with a potent dynamism. Rootiger’s deft songcraft, coupled with a sonically charged fusion of folk and Americana, creates an immersive experience that unearths the discord between conformity and the fervent pursuit of personal fulfillment.
For those whose souls resonate with the haunting strains of Elliot Smith, the timeless appeal of REM, or the raw energy of Nirvana, and the distinctive style of Phoebe Bridgers and Alex G, I wholeheartedly recommend “Mary” by Rootiger. As someone deeply attuned to these artists, I assure you, Rootiger’s introspective songwriting, masterful compositions, and genre-blending talent will offer a feast to your musical sensibilities.