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).
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.