by Jane Roser
Describing Frankie Rose’s music is akin to trying to explain the visuals that swept your imagination as you read The Chronicles Of Narnia as a child or the first time you watched Labyrinth or, if you’re not that old school, Inception. Rose’s lyrics and lush vocals are luminous, otherworldly and dreamy. If the weather was nice enough to go out and frolic in a dandelion patch today, this is exactly what would be on my playlist.
Brooklyn based Rose has a stellar musical resume as an original member of garage rock bands Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts and The Vivian Girls, in which she played drums, until she decided it was time to break free of collaborating and set off on her own. Since then, Rose has released three solo albums, including last year’s Herein Wild on Fat Possum Records to critical acclaim for her “reverb-slicked indie pop tunes” and “80’s dance and synth textures”.
“I just wanted to do something on my own,” Rose explains. “I wanted to see what would happen if I made my own album and it turns out I like it better!”
Rose is laid back and has a sparkling personality and charming wit; it’s easy to see why her fans adore her. Growing up with a love of music, she didn’t think she could create it herself until she was in her early 20s. Except for a friend who showed her the basics of drumming, Rose is basically self-taught.
Rose released her first single, “The Only One”, on Slumberland Records in 2009 under Frankie Rose and The Outs. Her second album, Interstellar, gained her world-wide recognition and a tour with the popular Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand. “That was one of the best tours I’ve ever been on in my life,” says Rose, “It was amazing and life changing.”
Rose’s current tour with White Lies has been mellow, calm and pleasant and has included some fun shows. “McAllen, Texas was one of my favorite shows I’ve ever played in my entire life! It was a room full of kids who were smart and interesting and smiling-I felt I could be friends with each and every one of them. The concert was held in this old movie theater (the historic Cine El Rey); the promoter brings these incredible bands through here and it’s truly an amazing scene of people that come to these shows.”
When I ask Rose about her show tonight at Union Transfer, she says she’s excited about it since she has only played Philly a few times so far, including Johnny Brenda’s and Kung Fu Necktie, which was an interesting show because it coincided with a very important Phillies game. Rose gushes about how the locals who come to her concerts are really fun and that she almost moved to West Philly a few years ago.
A reviewer on iTunes wondered if Rose cites the 80’s pop band Strawberry Switchblade as an influence and she confirms, “I do. I love that band! I’m influenced by every piece of music that moved me from when I was a kid until last week. There’s still stuff that I hear and have cataloged away somewhere, so it’s no wonder that I play the kind of music I do. It’s not because I want to sound like The Cure, I just have this file cabinet of things that move me subconsciously and some of it might end up in my music. So yes, Strawberry Switchblade is definitely in there somewhere, ” she laughs, “filed under S.”
A track on Herein Wild that has quickly become a fan favorite is Rose’s cover of The Damned’s 1985 song “Street of Dreams.” Rose explains, “if I hear a song that I think would be appropriate for me to cover, it’s because it has a chorus that inspires me and I feel I really have a vision for it that I can actually pull off and in the style of music that I create. This song was [originally] recorded so different than what I would do with it, but it’s a great song and I envisioned how I would change it and make it my own, while still staying in the same realm of ‘gothness’.”
Another intriguing song off the new album is “Minor Times” in which the lyrics speak of dreams and reality morphing. “I am sort of plagued by these crazy, intense, vivid dreams to the point that I sometimes can’t tell if it was really happening or not,” Rose says.
Next up is a side project Rose has been working on called Beverly which has an album coming out in June. Their single “Honey Do” will be included on a compilation from the label Non Violent Femmes and available on pink vinyl this April on Record Store Day. Rose would also love to take her time and record a new solo album, hopefully to be released in 2015.
So the next time you listen to a beautiful, ethereal Frankie Rose song, go ahead and brew a nice cup of Sleepytime tea, and then ponder what Neil Gaiman once said: “People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”