Best New Music: Oh, Rose – “1919”
OH, ROSE – 1919
By JOSH WOLF
Lead by frontwoman Olivia Rose, Oh, Rose is one of Olympia’s most promising bands. After practicing for less than three months in late Spring 2014, the group embarked on their first tour: a 10 thousand-mile journey across 28 states and 28 shows. Oh, Rose is blazing trails and growing fast.
Their first release, A Date at The Guest House, was “recorded in one night, one take,” according to the band’s Bandcamp website. The four-song release features Rose singing solo and playing acoustic guitar, and establishes an honest DIY attitude with a confident lo-fi sound. Rose’s voice is always what defines the band’s songs, and on A Date at The Guest House, the songs are comforting yet chilling, hopeful yet bleak.
On the first track, “Death In A Big City,” Rose fearfully sings of an inescapable urban existence, devoid of purpose or passion: “I’ll get a new job at a convenience store/develop my talents, and do something more/like stocking the shelves, or sweeping the floors.” Rose’s lyrics, while sometimes bitter, are always raw and relatable. Rose goes on to sing: “Let’s talk about pressure, that’s why I came here/the comfort it gave me, is no longer there/and I’m so disengaged, with the shit that I hear/it takes eight pounds of pressure, to rip off my ear/And I don’t want to die in a big city.” Rose’s lyrics provide a powerful, cathartic release for the listener and establish herself as an honest songwriter.
Oh, Rose’s EP, That Do Now See, was the first release with a full band. Electric guitar, drums, and bass give the songs a much fuller sound and place the folk-like singer-songwriter components in a pop music context. But because That Do Now See was recording on 4-track cassette, the songs maintain their lo-fi shimmer and piercing lyrics.
That Do Now See was featured on many music blogs, nationally and internationally, and has been one of the most popular Olympia releases of the year.
The band’s latest release, recorded at Dub Narcotic Studio onto reel-to-reel tape, 1919, is by far their most poppy. The first track, titled, “Lottery,” features a high-energy garage rock melody with a surf drumbeat, all while Rose imagines winning the lottery. “If I won the lottery,” Rose repeats during the song, “I’d buy back the things that I sold/ to the devil./ Cus I’m a poor, poor sport/ playing games with love.” Yet even with such an absurd comical concept (winning the lottery), Rose manages to combine bitter with sweet, softness with sting. Ultimately, Oh, Rose is a genuine project of passion.