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Monday, December 22, 2014

Records & Reviews: Roses & Revolutions

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Roses & Revolutions self-titled EP

Roses & Revolutions takes listeners along a journey of stardom and tenacity with the band’s new EP of the same name.

What happens to the majority of “American Idol”3 contestants after the applause quiets down and the only stage they find themselves on is a new stage of life? Most fade away, but some — like Roses and Revolutions lead singer Alyssa Coco — keep the faith and collaborate their way back into the game. Coco made it to the Hollywood round on “American Idol” in Season 7 and has since teamed up with guitarist Matt Merritt to produce an intoxicating blend of contemporary vocal-driven music for their new band.

This EP contains a set list of seven well-crafted songs that sound like a more seasoned artist’s repertoire.

The first song, “Take Me With You,” starts out with a fast-paced, infectious beat and eases the listener into a great vocal performance from Coco. The guitar work has a folky, almost country rock feel in the tracks’ instrumental interludes. The music video carries a message of never giving up in a cartoony don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously way. This song is the strongest selection on this EP, but they aren’t done there. Unlike albums that showcase a new band’s only talented work at the beginning, this album has a lot more to give and an excellent range.

The second track, “These Walls,” picks up where “Take Me With You” left off, and the transition between songs is cohesive and beautiful. This song is a slower-paced offering with a piano, mandolin and guitar accompaniment.

The soulful melody is given ecstasy by a heartfelt Coco singing “It’s like the sky is crumbling down, and I can’t get out.” This song has a very polished, well-thought-out motif with a feeling of hopeless love and self-doubt, but in a melodically positive way.

The eerily produced “Down” has enchanting, almost haunting emotion from the very first note. It has an atmosphere of gorgeous darkness: the line “My heart is bruised” carries the weight of a broken woman’s soul and is reinforced with a well-produced vocal layer in the bridge, which ends the song without becoming gaudy.

“Boomerang” brings the album’s tempo back up and with good timing and placement. Another slow song could have bogged the album down. Here the guitar keeps the backbone pace along with a poppy accompaniment and a cool country twang guitar solo that leads into Coco’s gracious voice singing a layered riff that refreshes.

All in all, this EP is an impressive collection of sketches that provide the ambiance of contemporary pop and bits of country. This effort has a great balance of upbeat songs and serious introspection. I give this EP a strong seven to a light eight out of 10: This record could’ve used more songs, and leaves the listener wanting more.

The fact that the song “These Walls” was repeated at the end of the album as a duet with Elvio Fernandes was a mistake. “These Walls” was a good transition song for the EP, but was certainly not worthy of being repeated as a duet as if it were a stronger piece. It makes the album feel like it was trying too hard to fill an already empty chunk of space.

That being said, the songs that were not repeated in sequence were really good. The future is wide open and promising for this new band that begs the audience to come along with them.

Stephen Montoya is the culture editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or @StephenMontoya9.