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Pop: Power Pop Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock Moods: Mood: Upbeat Moods: Featuring Guitar

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Rollo Time

Simple, honest, direct and to the point. That’s what you get with Rollo Time, a gritty, power-pop quartet based near Chicago, Illinois. The group likes to corral the attention of the listener, make its point and move on to the next song. Rollo Time is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Jon Raleigh, who was looking for a new challenge following the demise of local trio The Time Beings in 2005.

Raleigh enlisted the help of drummer Tony Gaetto (a fellow ‘Being), Chicago bassist Matt Sharp (Electricon) and former Cereal Killers/Zoot guitarist Sean Black to piece together a surprising new pop/rock album, the self-titled ROLLO TIME. Rather than sounding like a narrowly-defined solo record, the disc is an amalgam of quick, witty, rock tunes that angle to grab you hook, line and sinker. The songs cover a wide swath of ground within the power pop, classic rock and edgy alternative genres while clear-cutting “to the quick” with the scythe of intelligent lyrics, a positive message and twists and turns that keep listeners on their toes.

This interesting stew of a record owes in part to the community of other musicians contributing their talents. Lead guitarist Tom Rough contributed several tasty tracks, as did John Jaros, a student of classic percussion, whose unique beats color the tunes with a congas and various hand drums. Dave Bills (Zoot, Seven Day Run, Joy Missile) also added some fine piano, keyboard and organ tracks to round out the sound. Rollo Time is as much a community as it is a band. Several musicians have performed these songs during the past couple years, so the lineup may vary at any time without notice; Rollo Time is one of those groups that features interchangeable parts.

ROLLO TIME took almost two years to make, and it was only possible with the help of the aforementioned community of musicians, the determination of engineer Randy Vickers (Lungcookie Records) and the mixing talents of Joshua “Cartier” Cutsinger (Absentstar, Ralph Covert/Bad Examples, Rachael Yamagata, Seven Day Run).

Some writers have styled ROLLO TIME as “meat and potatoes power-pop” which gained the group a slot at last winter’s International Pop Overthrow festival in Chicago. Others have drawn comparisons ranging from classic rock to proto-metal, but Raleigh just wants to connect with a wide audience: “I wanted to make a record in the tradition of Elvis Costello, with songs [under three minutes] that hit you over the head, get the message across and leave you asking ‘what hit me’ and ‘let me hear that again’”. Indeed, ROLLO TIME is filled with one song or another that appeals to rock music lovers of many different stripes. “Maintenance Free” is a pop-song with glimpses of classic rock. “Travel The World” is the most complete rocker on the record with plenty of crunch and attitude. “Teach To Grow” is a haunting ballad about facing death with dignity, while “Digging My Garden” sounds like the second coming of Sugar.

The surprisingly positive response to the songs on the first record got the band started on a follow-up project, which promises some new and uncharted directions for Rollo Time. The only common denominator will be Raleigh’s songs: “I would like the band to move into less familiar territory and mix it up a bit. We don’t want to be formulaic, but we also have to keep in mind that people have limited attention spans, so if you want to grab their ears, you’ve got to give them something new and interesting that they haven’t heard before.” In these uncertain economic times, one thing’s for sure. Listeners can look forward to ROLLO TIME #2 in 2010.

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