Roger! – Dark Matter – (self released)
Wonderfully arranged, dark, and breezy pop. A couple of points to start. Roger! Is a band not a person. Led by San Diego transplant, Texas native Ernesto Garcia Jr. and his acoustic guitar, the combo also includes Josh Cherichetti (guitar), Joel Shedroff (bass), Ryan Shultzaberger (percussion), Candice Earnhart (vocals/guitar/accordion) and Aaron Luke (drums/vocals). This is not revivalist music, but the ’60s – ’80s, Beatles to 10,000 Maniacs, AM Pop to New Wave, echo hard on the ten songs here. What Roger! is about is well-crafted tuneful material with both male and female vocals, from Garcia and Earnhart, at times raw, at times orchestral, with lush arrangements custom fit to each song. Earnhart in particular has a great voice, raw and soulful, full of emotion in every note – the string laden ballad, “Slicktender” is a great showcase for her. The CD opens strong with the melancholy jangle pop rock of “Unpredictable” and doesn’t let up with either hooks or melodies. There are several natural singles, probably topped by the charming, folky “Beautiful,” the intertwined harmony vocals from Garcia and Earnhart adding the right touch to the song to maximize melody. But, it’s hard to pick a favorite. “Creeps Like Me” sounds like it was written by Paul Westerberg while listening to the Beatles’ “Ballad of John and Yoko” – great! This is followed by jaunty ballad “Wasted Days” with twin guitars and layered vocals, meanwhile “Shaky Paper Hands” is a garage/powerpop stomper – the variety on Dark Matter is refreshing. According to their website, Roger! Is working on their sophomore release. I’m already looking forward to it.
-Bart Mendoza, San Diego Troubadour, 1/1/14