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Too Late for Roses

From the minute the drum slaps you to attention, you hear the ‘star swirl’ effect, and the singer growls “It's Saturday night, we’re all going to hell...” Too Late for Roses seem to know exactly how (with an aptly-titled “Take Me Out,”) to take us somewhere beyond the spoon-fed pile of commercial, lead-you-nowhere tunes everyone else seems to be peddling these days.

Upon the release of their debut album, called, in fact Debut, this Central Coast California-based trio, led by self-taught, multi-instrumentalist and engineer, von Kries, with drummer (and instructor) Wyatt Lund and a bassist that has been “playing since the egg,” Jordan Martin, will have more than just a surprising audio experience to share with the listener. Enter accomplished/experimental New York filmmaker Patrick Smith and his MASKS project. Working closely with Smith (who insisted the music came first), von Kries created a sprawling, near-tribal composition that blends wonderfully with the content the viewer sees on screen. Come May 28th, when MASKS sees its official premiere, you’ll see firsthand the fantastic filmic/sonic blend I’m referencing. To give you a taste of this media collaboration, a trailer for the film can be viewed at right and the entire soundtrack can be heard on Debut, at track 9. A world full of futuristic face-painted robots inhabitants roam around eating things set to music? Yes please.

The tunes on TLFR’s debut ooze with the influence of the likes of the Deftones, early Radiohead, or just maybe (if you listen hard) the pop of Simple Minds. They’re refreshing, swirling Buckley-laced guitar gems that von Kries comments on by sharing a primary songwriting technique: [I] “strive for the tight hook and the grand gesture [accompanied with a] strong honest lyric and the real performance.” He cites Bowie, Jeff Buckley (a reference that’s undeniable), Muse, and the Stooges, reiterating how “more often than not, behind all the dramatics, these [bands] aren’t kidding.” Mastered at the hands of Joe Gastwirt (Talking Heads, The Ramones) the above references might be the easiest to hear, but this trio is certainly educated when it comes to knowing solid tunes, charting their own course and using innovative techniques. Just as the record hits its halfway point, the listener is taken through dizzying backward instrument swirls (track 2), New Order flavors (track 3), a pop-laden tale for the apocalypse (track 4), and echoes of Tinariwen’s legendary African guitar sound (track 6).

Truth be told, not one of the three members in TLFR are kidding. Comprised of two 805 locals (Lund and Martin) and an East Coast transplant in von Kries, the trio currently call the foggy, rocky land halfway between LA and SF home. They’re able to cite not only the sounds of their favorite albums as influences, but also the spirit of their favorite past-times. Von Kries is close to having his private pilot license, while collectively, the group shares what they call an near-visceral “addiction” to surfing. The word soaring isn’t just reserved as an analogy to Debut’s music or its guitar lines, but rather, as a literal, lifestyle mention, citing the freedom of flying through the skies and among the ocean waves as two of the group’s most notable persuaders.

With a combined musical background of well over 40 years, from studio wizardry, instruction, and instrument building all included: von Kries mentions of synth-building “lots of soldering iron burns, but kickass sounding results.” Their lone, self-recorded, produced and self-released (on their own Lauchpad imprint) Debut is a collection of songs that, like surfing, resemble that lone, ready-to-crash wave off in the distance, that “happen[s] as a flash of intuitive feeling – basically an empathic connection to a mood or vision” (von Kries) and that once you are apart of the movement, the only thing you’re able to do it ride it out till the beach or until (Debut’s closer) “Winter Tide” ceases to flow.