Starburst In The Car by Rosario
7 Jan 2022
Those of us deep in the Northern hemisphere are currently navigating our way through a dark, cold winter that laughs in our face every time we book a day out and the heavens open on us. You could stand in the ice cold, pouring rain with your face to the sky and scream for mercy but the universe doesn't care. A better solution would be to plug in and tune out to some sunnier sounds. Sounds conceived and recorded in the eternal warmth of Los Angeles that will pick you up from your funk and transport you to a better place. A sensible choice might the latest release from LA's genre bending multi instrumentalist and producer Rosario.
Starburst In The Car is a modest 14 minute collection of demos pre-empting the release of Rosario's second studio album this spring. The record opens with the up tempo dreampop-esque Puke In Utah. The vocal performance hints at the R&B angle colouring the rest of the record but it holds its own in its unique style and isn't out of place. The subtle reverb on the guitar and cheeky drum fills are what flavour this track and make it an obvious, enticing choice to introduce us to Rosario.
Don't Hold Nothing Back slows things down and presents much cleaner instrumentation. The 1 minute 40 second track somehow manages to include an introduction, chorus and even a bridge that emphasizes the focus on the heavily layered vocals. It's a great starting point but is incomplete and ends so abruptly it cuts the record in half. Even a fade out would have greatly improved the transition but there is at least hope this will be padded out in to a complete song for the up coming album.
Maui Wowie is backed by what could be a stretched out arcade game soundtrack from 1985 but fits perfectly in to the hazy scene that is built as each ingredient is added. By the time the beat thickens at the point of the chorus dropping the video game connotations are unidentifiable. Maui Wowie starts a 3 track run of R&B tinged with mellow, surf rock that is a style Rosario does really well and sounds most comfortable with. The slightly sharper vocal treatment in this portion of the record was also a great decision. It certainly appears that up to this point the sequencing portrays a gradual refinement as it progresses and although I doubt that is deliberate it keeps the listener engaged.
In keeping with this, Blue Jeans, the penultimate number, is the high point at the end of that gradual climb. The now characteristic reverbed guitar being picked under a California sun, an intriguing vocal melody which I want to hear much more of and smart, clean production which doesn't weigh the track down with any excess. This is Rosario's wheel house.
The record ends with a tired, strung out reprise of Don't Hold Nothing Back which isn't necessary but has the right mood to close things out. If nothing more it simply adds another facet to Rosario as a producer to show us the range of atmospheres that can be conjured.
Starburst In The Car is a collection of demos that are in the most part incomplete. This does unfortunately give it limited playability as the tracks I like end far too soon and it is really difficult to get deeply engrossed in the music. That said, it works as a teaser to an upcoming album. Rosario has a clear and definable style that is reasonably unique and most importantly is not simply another mainstream reprint. This record is full of refreshing melodies and breezy guitar tones worked together with thoughtful and complimentary production. Blue Jeans is an absolute stand out for me and I really look forward to hearing more like this in time. Check out Rosario's catalog on Bandcamp below and let me know your thoughts.