Los Angeles is famous for producing hard rocking bands. There must be something in the water in L.A., or else it’s all that sunshine. Enter Rooftop Revolutionaries (RR), another pedal-to-the-metal assemblage of musicians from the L.A. area. RR is made up of Eleanor Goldfield on vocals; Brian Marshak on guitar; Mikael Gustavsson on bass guitar, and various drummers.
The lack of a permanent drummer is reflected in the four tracks of RR’s latest EP, called White – the drums can be explosive but are a bit thin-sounding at times. Meanwhile, Goldfield provides wailing, throat-ripping vocals on this release. Imagine a hybrid of Joan Jett and Patty Smyth pumped up on performance enhancing substances. Goldfield is the definition of “strong female vocalist.” Not only does she shred it, but she has the ability to take it down as demonstrated on “Kiss My Soul,” which is a slow rocker, almost a ballad. Goldfield’s vocal range spans the spectrum from soft and sultry to rasping, demonic shrieking.
“Sick, Tired & Wasted” is the first track, a guitar-driven, pulsing song along the lines of Stone Temple Pilots or Chevelle. The guitar solo in the middle of the song is well-phrased and exhibits delicate deployment of the wah-wah pedal. Next up is “Let Freedom Ring,” which again buries the drum cymbals to the detriment of the song. The lyrics on “Let Freedom Ring” are repetitious and would be downright annoying if it weren’t for Goldfield’s heavy-duty voice.
The last track, “Silenced,” starts off with a montage of the sounds of war, then adds guitar and vocals. Once the whole band becomes involved, the melody is potent and addictive, despite the obviously protest-charged lyrics.
The subject of RR’s songs needs to be discussed. The band wants to make a difference in the world and thus expresses its political and social viewpoint by means of lyrics. While their principled stand is commendable, it’s simultaneously debilitating because of its blatancy, which detracts from the music. Protest songs have their place, but how many times do listeners want to suffer through Country Joe and the Fish as they sing about Vietnam? By injecting dissent into every song, RR is at risk of marginalizing their wonderful talents. Most people want to be entertained by music, not preached to. Allegory might allow RR to express their political perspective as well as entertain their audience.
White, despite its smarmy lyrics, has much going for it. The band knows how to punch it out, providing original and distinctive hard rock. And Goldfield’s voice is sui generis, the type of voice that stands above all the wannabes. White is a worthwhile addition to any hard rock catalog.
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