» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Roma 79
The Great Dying

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

January 17, 2006
There's no gang initiation to get signed to the Ascetic Records label. It helps to be from the Midwest, but barring that, all that's required is that you bring the rock. And by the rock, I mean that relatively heavy, darkly melodic post-punk that's made incredibly complicated by all that odd time signature stuff. It's got to be loud, cerebral and at the same time, it's got to be otherworldly and ethereal, like Swervedriver or My Bloody Valentine. That's how Ascetic likes it, and if you're familiar at all with the indie scene in the Midwest, you'll know where this all stems from. To wit, it's the Season To Risk-Shiner rock cartel. It's the sound that made Kansas City well, not famous, but at the very least, it gave it some level of cult-status.

It also spawned legions of like-minded groups, from Traindodge to the Stella Link to Riddle Of Steel - all on the Ascetic label, and all cut from the same black cloth, paying tribute to bands like Jawbox, Hum and of course, Shiner. Which brings us to Roma 79. Made up of guitarist Andrew Skikne, bassist/vocalist Jeremy Patfield and drummer Aaron Bonsall, Roma 79 is originally from Arizona, but they wound up in the Bay Area of California. That's about the only difference you'll notice between Roma 79 and their label mates. That is, except for the band's resume, which includes soundtracks for Nickelodeon and Comedy Central - Porn 'n Chicken, anyone? Yes, that was Roma 79's music playing in the background as the devilish mischief played out on screen.

Well, who doesn't have a skeleton or two in their closet? As for the present, Roma 79 has released their debut, The Great Dying, and it's exactly what you'd expect from an Ascetic Records signing. It's powerful, black as night and dream-like, with beautiful, shimmering epics like "4M01," an oasis of star-kissed guitar and slow-building rhythms. There's a blinding radiance emanating from the guitars and vocals of "Kill The Sun" and the poppy "Gold," and you'll find elements of 80s dark wave in the opener "Heads Down," with its chiming guitar, its hi-hat flurries and thick, rolling bass. Think Allen Epley's The Life And Times, only not quite as polished. More urgent, "Disposed To Violate" is a revved-up rocker with the kind of devastating bass lines Kim Coletta delivered with Jawbox and it could find a home on any of the Washington D.C. legends' records.

Roma 79's musicianship is as keen as anyone's and their songs have a flow that's missing from those of their more mathy cousins. They're less concerned with being experimental and more aware of how to transition easily, almost effortlessly, into slower or faster tempos, and that makes all the difference when they shift gears into the more grinding passages of "Angel Message." Occasionally, the changes aren't as smooth, like in "The Spin," and the clunky rhythms give the track an awkwardness that's not at all endearing. Neither are the traces of emo that make "The Spin's" emotional release seem a little dishonest and forced. Nor is the fact that it goes on for almost 10 minutes, and the poorly managed synth segue into "Reprise." Even here, though, it's hard not to get swept up in the lovely current of rich sound Roma 79 gets out of its instruments. And when the epic title track swells to its magnificent, imploding conclusion, all is forgiven. Someday we might be talking about Roma 79 in the same breath as the bands that have gone before them. And if not, there could be worse things to do with your life than carry forward the torch for a genre that, in my opinion, has never gotten its due with critics or the public. This is a great way to die.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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