Thinking of a word or two to describe Frankie Rose is, frankly, a difficult task, and I’ve failed to do that even at the start of writing this piece. Combining that failure with a diagnosed neurobehavioral disorder, ADHD in my case, makes focusing on writing a preview for what is sure to be one of the best sets at Pygmalion Music Festival this year a difficult one.
While trying for days to get started on this preview, and sidetracking myself outside of my daily 9–5 grind, I began damning my genes for this inherited struggle. As I argued with my fictional, non-ADHD having self (he doesn’t quite have my charms, and we’re no longer friends), I realized that this lack of focus and willingness to distract myself with virtually anything to escape from the task at hand is exactly why Frankie Rose is so damn appealing as a musician. We are, in short, kindred spirits.
While I may struggle to maintain focus on everything, it seems that Rose has purposefully taken an ADHD route for musicians. For instance, Rose has performed in four bands in five years: Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls, and Frankie Rose and the Outs. She’s also guested on albums with Fucked Up and Male Bonding in that timeframe.
Prolific isn’t the word I’d use to describe that output; she’s not firing out singles and records like garage-rock counterparts Ty Segall or Tim Cohen. With that said, her output has been remarkable for the fact that each of the bands listed above have been regularly atop critics’ picks for top album releases — albums to which she’s contributed. And, again, that’s all in the last five years.
Her roles switched in each band, as well. She was a multi-instrumentalist in both Vivian Girls (drums, bass, vocals) and Crystal Stilts (guitar, bass, vocals), and was the original drummer for Dum Dum Girls. After amicably leaving behind bands that hadn’t even peaked yet, Rose put together her own crew that she named The Outs and released Frankie Rose and the Outs. That record, released in 2011, was a reverb-soaked extension of her previous work in the garage-pop, girl-group-revival realm. Though the band’s self-titled record had elements from the past, it seemed obvious that Rose was ready to start exploring. Frankie Rose and the Outs also had elements of My Bloody Valentine, Poison Ivy, and explorations into new wave that would become more apparent on 2012’s solo record Interstellar (above).
After barely a year with the Outs, Rose dumped them and officially went solo this year. The differences from Rose’s first records to this one are apparent from the get-go, and it’s similar to what happens when a fool like me starts surfing the Web. Initially, you have one thing you’re searching for to settle some dispute or to satiate your appetite for learning useless trivia, and all of a sudden you’ve gone from the basic points of The Republic to how many times Stone Cold Steve Austin won the WWE title (six). At some point, the “How the hell did I get here?” question gets asked, but then you backtrack and realize it was a fun ride. The same goes for Rose’s discography.
The ride, for Rose, is just getting started, and it’s easiest to take one track off of Interstellar to make a point about why that record, and Rose, are worth your time this weekend. The track “Night Swim” comes with a gorgeous music video for your viewing pleasure below.
“Night Swim” has elements of Peter Hook’s New Order bass lines, choppy, surfy Dick Dale riffs, vocal crooning like Christine McVie on Rumours, and a bouncing lead guitar that Robert Smith would be proud of.
With all of those influences floating around in Rose’s head, it seems obvious at this point why she’s bounced from band to band. Not because of animosity, but because she’s not bound by one particular musical aesthetic. It is, quite literally, a wonderful catalog of works to explore for someone who has trouble focusing. It’s a mixed bag, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone as capable as Rose is at translating her vast cache of influences into a live setting. Go see Frankie Rose.
Frankie Rose will perform this Saturday with Cloud Nothings, Willis Earl Beal, Purling Hiss, New Ruins, and Evil Tents on the Highdive Outdoor Annex 2 stage opposite Grizzly Bear and Dinosaur Jr. Her set starts at 6:05 p.m.