After nearly a decade kicking around Chicago and the suburbs, Midwestern-flavored Fletcher Rockwell has earned a reputation for punchy, Americana music and fun, lively shows.
As a band, Fletcher Rockwell has never been afraid to use harmonies as energetic tools to chronicle the revelries and triumphs (and occasional regrets) of a youthful life. But the band’s new album, “Help Me Get Better” — available digitally since Sept. 1 and being released in concert at FitzGerald’s Friday, Sept. 8 — dips its toes into deeper waters.
“The whole point of it is it’s a little more vulnerable of an album, a little more grown up,” said Naperville’s Mike Nutt, guitar player and lead vocalist for the band.
“We’ve always had this kind of anthemic, tongue-in-cheek type of humor in our songs, just good vibes. We thought let’s do something a little more sentimental, a little bit more personal.”
Even though they didn’t start playing together as a band until after college, most of Fletcher Rockwell’s members have been in each other’s orbits for years. Charley Bredrup (guitar) and Tim Bredrup (bass and backing vocals) are cousins, raised in a family steeped in music. Nutt and Charley have been friends since fifth grade. And Steve Pahl (drums) went to high school with Tim. Eitan Bernstein is the newest recruit on keyboards.
That much time together inevitably leads to some great stories, and one of Fletcher Rockwell’s strengths is putting those to music: gritty tales of nights out with friends, fresh loves and relationships taking a turn for the unexpected.
Stories still are the driving force behind the new album, but as the guys have gotten older, the angles are a bit steeper, the shadows more pronounced.
“I think I’ve just been at this point in my life where I’ve been a little bit existential,” Nutt said. “You hit this point where you’re not sure what’s next, and you maybe lose track of where you were going.”
Since Nutt writes the majority of the songs Fletcher Rockwell plays, that questioning and vulnerability are reflected in the new tracks.
“You’re checking off all the boxes, like ‘I got a job …’ I hate to sound whiny, because we all have so much, but you’re trying to figure out what’s missing.”
But it’s not whiny, and in the case of the album’s title track, it buries some serious ideas just beneath the surface of a light summer song.
“It almost has an upbeat feel to it which masks part of the message of the song. Which I like,” Nutt said. “It’s a little more cryptic that way.”
“Stuck On You,” about halfway through the album, carries a similar feel-good vibe. There’s something more intense brewing beneath the surface, but at the same time you want to dance to it.
Candiloro was “super down to earth, really knowledgeable about the process of making music,” Nutt said.
“We must have sent him like 15 songs. … The ones he picked were really the ones that were more introspective, almost darker … so that turned into the theme of the album.”
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Fletcher Rockwell with Little Boy Jr.
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8
Where: FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road, Berwyn
Tickets: $10; (708) 788-2118 or fitzgeraldsnightclub.com