:: Me Llamo Rosa :: Guitar Cellar :: April 4 ::
:: The Marquis Theater :: April 11 ::
:: The Meadowlark :: April 20 ::
By Brian Kenney
From the campus that gave us Robert Redford, the Ugg boot fashion “movement” and countless appearances on top ten lists of best party schools, comes Me Llamo Rosa, a multi-faceted, multi-instrumental sextet composed of current and former CU Boulder students. Navigating various genres from indie-punk to honky-tonk/alternative country, Me Llamo Rosa is part Ryan Adams, part Billy Corgan and at darker, haunting, more lyrically intense times, The eels and Wilco.
The hyper-talented outfit’s first two EPs — the six-song The Baltic is Dead and the four-song The Social Genius — have garnered the attention of both local and national acts as Me Llamo Rosa has shared the stage with mewithoutYou and Tokyo Police Club even before the release of their first full-length album. “Any club or bar that has bobbing heads and tapping toes makes for a great MLR atmosphere,” said lead singer/lyricist Jamie Gowdy in a recent interview with The Marquee.
Coming together in early 2006, MLR are far and away more mature than their age suggests. Their versatility, at once as eclectic as Arcade Fire but also as existential as The Shins, is their most pliable attribute; an attribute which will be fully embraced with the forthcoming full-length effort they are gearing up to record.
“The way I see it, every song on a full-length represents a different type of artist (i.e. painter, photographer, sculptor, etc.) These artists come together to work on the same piece of art, and portray the same overall message of the piece in their own unique ways. When the work is done, it may not be the most earth shattering piece of art ever created, but you know it’s gonna be damn interesting to look at,” Gowdy said.
Rosa’s songs paint an unlikely musical pastiche: bass-heavy garage grunge, lighter blues, piano-orchestrated arrangements with jangling guitars, arpeggio chords, and murmured vocals. This is not to say that the band has yet to define their “sound,” but the raw EPs are more of a bob and weave nod to their influences.
Rosa seduces listeners with a seasoned innocence; a flamenco dancer demeanor and attitude. They virtually overflow with personality. Their tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek website’s slug-line aptly describes their satirical preoccupations and assured ambitions: If Audrey Hepburn were alive today, she would have dated and been dumped by every member in Me Llamo Rosa. Gowdy likens it to varying degrees of evening cordials. “On weekdays, Rosa would be a small army of Amaretto Sours. On weekends, Rosa is the empty bottle at the foot of the bed.”
At present, Rosa, as a live act, finds itself more than just a blip on the Front Range radar. Rosa’s jammier numbers, such as “If John Wayne Carried a Messenger Bag,” showcase the orchestrated play between Scott Burke’s edgy piano-driven melodies and Gowdy’s spinster lyrics, which are book-ended by Dan Sullivan’s and John Lansing’s dueling guitars. These collective arrangements helped edge MLR into the Denver Post’s “Talent Beyond the Top Ten” listing of local underground acts, where they found themselves in the top 125 among other acts such as local heavyweights CAT-A-TAC, Laylights, and The Photo Atlas.
But it’s Gowdy’s enigmatic rants which trademark their live act, with simultaneously introspective and extroverted themes. “[Our songs are] based on noir-esque scenes I see in my head. I will create a character, and try to move through their trials and motivations throughout the course of a song. I’m an English major and have had a constant flow of reading and writing prose and poetry for the last four years. It all comes back to Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”
If there is such thing as a “Denver Sound,” then Me Llamo Rosa may just be it. As the Front Range watches Devotchka, The Hot IQ’s and The Photo Atlas go national, Denver is making a case that the Mile High City is a burgeoning music scene above and beyond overgrown bluegrass.
:: Me Llamo Rosa ::
:: Guitar Cellar :: April 4 ::
:: The Marquis Theater :: April 11 :
:: The Meadowlark :: April 20 ::
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