Erin Wolf

Testa Rosa

By - Oct 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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When Milwaukee-based band The Mustn’ts shook hands and called it a day, they couldn’t have realized what a happy parting of ways it would become when two even more brilliant bands were re-formed from the not-even-settled dust: The Celebrated Workingman and Testa Rosa. The latter, a condensed version of The Mustn’ts (all three members of Testa Rosa were in The Mustn’ts) is Betty Blexrud-Strigens (vocals/guitar/keys), Damian Strigens (guitar/drums/bass/vocals) and Paul Hancock (bass/piano/guitar/vocals).

Testa Rosa’s astounding triple threat of clever lyricism, luminous melody and the best girl vocals to be heard since the days of buttery 60s pop is an undeniable force to both listeners who play music themselves and casual pop consumers. Those who understand the complexities of composing a diamond of a pop song will hold genuine appreciation for the effortless songs nestled between the covers of Testa Rosa’s first release. And even the tone-deaf will be floored by Blexrud-Strigens’s alluring vocals, which hover lucidly over even the grittiest of their songs.

Hancock and Strigens are the driving force behind the atmospheric pretty-pop primarily written by Blexrud-Srigens. Testa Rosa effortlessly ranges genres and manages to smooth them beautifully (compliments of producer/engineer mastermind Beau Sorenson of Madison’s Smart Studios). Two of the best songs on the album, “Ollie & Delilah” and “Arms of a Tree,” demonstrate this mix – “Ollie & Delilah” is a heartbreaking but punchily-penned song about two young lovers lead astray, with heart-thumping drumbeats, huge, echoing guitars and ghostly keyboards; “Arms of a Tree” is a wistful and lovely ballad which showcases Blexrud-Strigen’s alto perfectly. For lack of a better word, ‘perfectly’ is just how Testa Rosa’s first release appears to have turned out.

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