If you were to create one of those silly data-collection schemes masquerading as a Facebook survey titled, “Are you a contemporary Garage Band?” New York rock n’ roll trio Las Rosas would certainly check many of the boxes in the affirmative.
Brooklyn-based. Check. Drums, bass, and guitar. Check. Lo-fi presentation. Check. Catchy, uptempo songs performed in a revelrous manner. Check.
But despite my attempts to lazily dump the the band in some old, unsuitable metaphorical box, the more I listen to Las Rosas, the more inappropriate said box seems—in this metaphor it’s now covered in old tape, soggy on the bottom, for some reason, and to transport it would be to do so at one’s own risk.
While like most garage-y bands of every decade since the 1960’s, Las Rosas music leans heavily on simplicity—few chords, appreciable melodies, tried and true grooves—its also incredibly lush (especially for a three-piece) and lyrically more earnest, relative to the litany of lo-fi acolytes making rock n’ roll today.
“We’re always trying to make catchy music,” says Las Rosas’ Jose Boyer (guitar, vocals). “It’s what appeals to me the most in music I hear. I think it keeps people thinking ‘garage rock,’ because catchiness is simplicity. Even though I’d love to move away from that association, I get it.”
Boyer, together with drummer Christopher Lauderdale and bassist Jose Aybar started Las Rosas in 2013, after moving to Brooklyn from Austin, Texas, where he played bass for underground garage darlings, Harlem. Boyer says Las Rosas’ members allowed a mutual love of Fleetwood Mac steer the band’s sound. Early songs like “Black Cherry” and “Boys” are certainly catchy, but have added lyrical depth, exploring such themes as gender fluidity and emotional insecurity.
After an EP and a seven-inch, the band released the 13-song “Everyone Gets Exactly What They Want,” in early 2017. Buoyed by a positive critical response and incessant touring, last month Las Rosas released “Shadow by Your Side,” a nine song collection that the band describes as being “largely created during an enormous life dismantling.”
Boyer says the record reflects the “bewildering state” of his life after the recent unraveling of a long-term relationship. “The breakup became a project [my ex and I] did together. Breaking a lease, moving out, informing friends… all of a sudden I was on my own, having grown a bit from the experience, and the songs that became the record unavoidably began to reflect those circumstances.”
Again, in the world of garage rock, such events are not typically treated with as much introspection.
“As far as lyrics go, I don’t necessarily try to give them tons of depth,” says Boyer. “But when you’re being compared to the ‘garage’ world, if you don’t sing about partying then you’re Leonard Cohen.”
Las Rosas is currently on a six week tour and will play with surf-y, doom-wop quartet La Luz at Root Down in Five Points on June 14, presented by Winterland Presents. Get your tickets, here in advance as this one is likely to sellout. Then, check out the video for Las Rosas’ “Christa” off the band’s latest album, below.