The ambitious, quasi-international, and bloated psych-rock of Seattle's Rose Windows | Bleader

The ambitious, quasi-international, and bloated psych-rock of Seattle's Rose Windows

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Rose Windows
  • Alison Scarpulla
  • Rose Windows
Seattle's Rose Windows conjure up an impressive multilayered din on their recent debut album, The Sun Dogs (Sub Pop), crafting a pan-global psychedelic stew that's alternately grabbed and compelled me. The group was formed by guitarist Chris Cheveyo in 2010, once he became comfortable appropriating ideas from old rock bands (he allows that they include the Doors, Grateful Dead, and Black Sabbath), got interested in music from southeast Asia and eastern Europe, and paired up with singer Rabia Shaheen Qazi, whose caterwauling voice characterizes the band's music as much as their quasi-international flavor. Rose Windows play world music in much the same way Led Zeppelin played world music on "Kashmir" in 1975.

Intentional or not, Qazi borrows heavily from Grace Slick's days in Jefferson Airplane, delivering a piercing, meditative yowl that doesn't modulate much whether she's singing on a droning ballad like the album opener, "The Sun Dogs: Spirit Modules," or something far more propulsive, like "Native Dreams," where she seems to borrow the eunuch wail of Perry Farrell (against the band's catatonic Deep Purple). Airy, melodic flute lines by Veronica Dye do a nice job at lightening up the hard-rock grooves, which are usually smothered in effects-rich guitars, proggy monolithic organ licks, and, on a few tracks, stately string arrangements, but there are also tunes where the band holds back—though those are few. In the press materials Cheveyo makes a big fuss about his lyrics questioning the status quo when it comes to politics and religion, although they read like just a bunch of cliches that don't add up to much of anything—there's very little in the lyrics of "Heavenly Days" that would suggest the simplistic imagery in its video (which you can watch below). If Rose Windows could spend more time strengthening and paring down their songs, and less worrying about an air of profundity, they could be quite good—right now they're just a bit ponderous and self-pleased, but they seem to have the raw materials.

Rose Windows opens for Moondoggies at the Empty Bottle on Friday evening.

Today's playlist:

Mtendeni Maulid Ensemble, The Moon Has Risen—A Sufi Performance from Zanzibar (Buda)
Ty Segall, Twins (Drag City)
Vesna Pisarovic, With Suspicious Minds (Jazzwerkstatt)
Robert Carl, From Japan (New World)
Booker T. & the MGs, Green Onions (Stax)

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