Indie pop group Rocketship was the brainchild of singer/guitarist Dustin Reske in the early '90s. Their 1996 album A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness combines soft melodies and noisy interludes with space age pop organs, layers of jangling guitars, and plaintive vocals to make a definitive statement that captures the wistful, happily adventurous spirit of mid-'90s indie pop.
After a series of left turns (1998's ambient album Garden of Delights, numerous membership changes) and a long spell where Reske didn't record, the band returned in the mid-2010s to make music that looked back to their past but also forged a new path forward, as 2019's Thanks to You clearly illustrates.
After being inspired by a spin of Felt's organ-heavy "Song for William S. Harvey," Reske formed Rocketship in Sacramento, California, with bassist Verna Brock, keyboardist Heidi Barney, and drummer Jim Rivas. Following the release of a pair of singles on the influential Bus Stop label -- "Hey, Hey Girl" in 1994, "Honey, I Need You" in 1995 -- the group issued the acclaimed A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness for Slumberland in 1996. The original lineup dissolved soon after, and Reske continued Rocketship essentially as a solo project with a revolving cast of musicians. A handful of singles followed, including a split with Henry's Dress, before the band released the ambient-influenced 12" Garden of Delights on Drive-In Records in 1998.
The group sporadically issued music over the next few years, releasing a split 12" EP with the band Trace on Omnibus Records in 2003 and then the self-released 2006 album Here Comes...Rocketship. After that, Reske turned towards non-musical pursuits that mainly focused around community activism and launching an eco-focused lawn care company in Portland.
In the mid-2010s, Reske began releasing songs again on digital platforms. He recorded a track for a split single with Pia Fraus, oversaw the reissue of A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, and found vocalist Ellen Osborn, who quickly became a vital part of the band's sound. The pair, along with drummer Adam Bayer, bassist Angie Fritz, and the band's original drummer, Jim Rivas, collaborated on a long-overdue third album. Harkening back to the classic Rocketship sound and adding elements of electronic music, disco, and dream pop, Thanks to You was issued by Darla Records in late 2019. ~ Tim Sendra & Jason Ankeny