If you’re into psychedelic, poetic rock music, you’ll be weak at the knees for our most recent music crush, Rose Windows. The Seattle Band showcases a mystical rock sound with a range of influences, from sludge to folk, rock and to classical, and verses that illustrate lyrical folklore. We caught the band last week at Le Poisson Rouge, where the 8-piece roared.
Their stunningly complex and hard-hitting debut album, The Sun Dogs, hit stores on June 25th. Though they are based in the Pacific Northwest, their sound transcends geographical borders. Among their influences the band counts The Doors and Black Sabbath, as well as Persian, Indian, and Eastern European music. In their eyes, their music “challenges the assumption that all creative territories have been mapped out and charted” – denying the notion that modern rock is built on the predictable cornerstones of music past- classic rock, garage, punk, and progressive rock. They succeed with flying colors, their music rich and savory. High points of the album come in moments luxurious and uplifting, with heavenly violins singing along graceful lyrics in “The Sun Dogs II: Coda”, as well as within the dark and otherworldly flute and organ elements of hard-rock epic “Native Dreams.”
Seeing them in the cavernous basement of Le Poisson Rouge was a perfect fit. Frontwoman Rabia Qazi’s outstanding, harsh, but mostly beautiful voice soared around the geometric space. She headbanged with an authentic rock’n’roll lust but also giggled endearingly between songs, saying, “I never know what to say on [the mic]. umm…LOVE YOU!” The crowd seemed to return the affection. Alongside her were the band’s founder, Chris Cheveyo, plucking guitar and crooning into the mic during some of the show’s most enlightening moments, and others on cello, flute, synth, bass, percussion, and a second guitar. At times, the lights above spun dramatically and the band disappeared into their own jams, building intense rock-gasms. At others, the band looked upon the crowd with calm as they harmonized through snakey acoustic numbers. It was all very much a spiritual performance, and a seductive invitation to fully experience another world through their music. With lyrics that could charm snakes they also painted a picture of mystery, culture, and long-forgotten tales. In their single, “Wartime Lovers” they craft a sensual poem describing the power of storytelling and memory, addressing to a tale of youth, death, mysticism, and religion-leaving us with the option to “gently escape or let them live on in you.”
This brand of thoughtful, balanced, classical rock’n’roll has fallen off of the radar here in New York. In the past few years, throwback styles have overtaken local music, aggressively infusing sounds with 60s and 70s style garage rock, with it swallowing the challenge for musicians to break into new territory. Rose Windows’ open-ended optimism, story-like lyrics, and ambitious range of influences could have easily ended up misappropriated and murky. Instead, they’ve struck gold with a sound that hits ethereal high notes but remains deeply rooted in psychedelic rock. Take note, Brooklyn!