You can purchase As You Should here.
Meghan Rose will return to Madison to perform with Damsel Trash at the Frequency on Wednesday, July 13th. Also on the bill are German Art Students. Show time is 8pm. You can read a review of Damsel Trash’s album Wasted $ Broke here.
Although Meghan Rose will be making frequent visits to Madison (at least for the time being), the city’s music scene took a pretty big hit when she and her partner, guitarist Jake Ripp-Dieter, moved to New York City earlier this year. Her two original bands, Meghan Rose and the Bones and Damsel Trash have been shaking things up for the last few years. Rose is genuinely talented with a wide range of capabilities, as is Ripp-Dieter. In Damsel Trash Rose explodes with velocity and intensity. In the Bones band she displays a cross-section that includes everything between pop and hard-hitting alternative rock with classic rock references. Their 2015 release, In Your Bones (read a review here) was certainly one of the best releases of the year (it won the MAMA Award for Alternative Album of the Year) and would surely rank highly in a Best-of-Madison historical perspective.
Rose also played many cameo roles that crossed over into theater. She’s co-written the music for Alice, (which is now holding auditions), a modern hard-rock musical based on the Lewis Carroll classic. Rose is a frequent presence in the music and performances of glam-pop artist Joey Broyles, fronts Hole cover band the Heroines and is a member of Gold Dust Women, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. Hell, she could probably sit and play a whole concert of Chopin selections if called upon.
As You Should was released in March under the Meghan Rose and the Bones moniker. It will be re-packaged under the group’s new name, Revel. The album was recorded, engineered and produced by Rose (credited as Mr. Baby) during her tenure at Madison’s Clutch Sound Studios (yes, she’s also engineered and produced several Madison recording projects in her spare time including the award-winning album by Venus in Furs, Just Try it On). In addition to guitarist/bassist Ripp-Dieter, Emily Mills plays drums on As You Should.
The Gold Dust Women experience seems to have wormed its way in to Rose’s writing, evident in the leadoff track “Can’t Hurt Me.” The song is a repeating two-chord progression with increasing layers of guitars, keys and bass, building into a level of frenzy that the Mac would seldom reach. It’s defiantly sung by Rose (“You can fuck me / …starve me /…damn me /…lie to me /…steal / …ignore me /…rape me / …embarrass me /…break me down /…torture /…fight me / you can die / you can leave / or I can leave / but you can’t hurt me”) before tapering off to a strange but effective trumpet outro, played on a keyboard over Beatle-esque chord changes. It’s all over in a glorious 2:24.
The band channels Ziggy-era Bowie on “Such a Mess,” Ripp-Dieter providing some Mick Ronson-inspired leads. It’s dynamic as hell, with clever chord changes and another terrific vocal performance. “Can I See You Yet” uses sexual metaphors as Rose wrestles her muse to the ground. Ripp-Dieter adds a really tasty and manic solo.
The lyrics allude to an elder struggling with memory in “Still Blue,” both words and music written by Ripp-Dieter: “How much of me is left / Not enough to get upset / Every time I see your face your eyes are still blue / I wish I could remember, but every time it’s new.” It’s a touching piano and drum ballad, accessorized with Ripp-Dieter’s beautifully bowed standup bass and menacing guitar power-chording in the turnaround sections.
The album seems to have a common thread with frequent references to being outside of the body, out of one’s skin. There is a conflict central to this batch of songs and it’s one of inner turmoil and self-doubt, teetering between raging confidence and crippling lack of esteem. It starts with the lead-off track “Can’t Hurt Me” and a statement of individuality, perhaps from family: “I’m switching lenses / Changing my hue / I see what I am now / And I’m not you.” “No one hates me like I do / No one loves me like you / I’m the trigger on all of my guns / I digest the ammo,” she sings on “Funny Animal.” It’s a deceptively playful power balled that builds to an intense vocal crescendo. In “Suicidal Idiot” she refers to a younger version of herself that may or may not be in the rearview mirror: “I’m fearful of myself / Of my strength / Of my words / Of my thoughts / And my ability / Not to care / Of my selfishness / And it’s time /To take her out / This is the answer / I’m not a light / I’m a cancer.” Rose exposes herself fearlessly and repeatedly, not afraid to face the dark side. “Back in a Body” rocks solid behind Mills’ beat and incessant snare placement while a Wurlitzer keyboard swirls in the background. Ripp-Dieter adds a very George Harrison-like slide guitar. Where “Suicidal Idiot” includes a final refrain that is reminiscent of “Sympathy for the Devil,” this one has a multi-layered choral refrain that recalls “Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Things resolve in the beautiful title track which closes the album: “Every night this web it spins / Delicate it bends in the wind / I relax outside my skin… / Life is strange / Life is good / You are good / You are as you should.” It’s almost prayer-like in its delivery.
This album reveals itself over time, also revealing the complexities of its creators. The ability to paint pictures of the human condition is one of the facets that will take Rose and her principal foil, Ripp-Dieter, far. That and burning talent. Each song on “As You Should” is like a novella. Little stories that will become larger entries into the musical annals that Revel are sure to write.