Frankie Rose brings Brooklyn indie-pop to Brillobox


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Singer-songwriter Frankie Rose was standing on a train platform in her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., when she took the phone call to discuss her upcoming visit to Pittsburgh. (If some of the following quotes aren’t dead-on accurate, blame it on the sound of screeching metal wheels and loud-mouth people passing by.)

Because Ms. Rose has been to Pittsburgh a number of times, she and the city are getting to know each other better and better. That’s part of the reason she’s beginning the last leg of her last tour promoting her album “Herein Wild” Sunday night at Brillobox in Bloomfield.

“I think Pittsburgh’s a good first stop,” she said of what will be 21 shows in 30 days. “It’s just the right distance from New York on the way to Chicago.”

“Herein Wild” has been a milestone work for Ms. Rose, who has earned all sorts of praise. Samples ensue:

“There is no questioning her status as a crusader of Brooklyn’s indie-pop scene,” wrote The New York Times.

“There comes a moment in every Frankie Rose song where she gives you exactly what you want: a shimmering guitar solo; a lush cascade of harmonies; a chorus that swells and swells until it finally cracks wide open and you’re heady from the sugar rush,” said the Boston Globe.

But those are stodgy old newspapers. What did Rolling Stone have to say?

“She’s rocking the current micro-vogue for Eighties shoegaze pop: guitar-synth swirls, paper-thin New Wave bass surge, space-waif vocals like a spring breeze that barely billows your window curtains.”

Wow, those guys know how to write. But Ms. Rose, herself, is much more down-to-earth.

“I don’t even know if I’d call myself an artist,” she said. “I know myself and I’ve always been driven to make things, for better or for worse.

“Sometimes my music is my greatest tormentor, sometimes it’s my savior. I guess it depends on what I’m feeling. It sounds melodramatic, but music for me is a harsh mistress.”

“Herein Wild” is a case in point. Recorded last summer and released in September, it somewhat surprised her when she listened to it.

“It reflects a moment, the mindset I had at the time I wrote it,” she said. “I feel like there definitely are some songs that are like … ‘Arrrgh.’ I’m definitely going to look back on it and … it’s sort of dark. Looking back on it, there are still songs that I hear … I didn’t know that I was feeling that at the time I was writing it.”

But playing them doesn’t mean she has to go back to that dark place.

“After you’ve listened to something 300 times,” she said, “it sort of loses the power that it might have had when you were making it.”

Does that mean playing the songs on tour can become dull to her? Perish the thought! Each time she plays them, she said, they come alive again.

“Every show is like a new opportunity, and you never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I never get tired of playing the same song because I always feel like I can do better. Speaking for myself, I try to push the limit every time, I try to better myself.

“I really do enjoy touring. I love my bandmates. I hire amazing people. Not only are they hilarious and amazing musicians, but they’re my friends. When you’re finished with a tour, you’re always exhausted, but that’s city-tired. You’re spent. But touring is just fun.”

Still, there’s two kinds of touring. One, where you’re the opening act. And two, where you’re the headliner.

“If I’m the support act and nobody knows who I am and I only have 30 minutes, I’m probably not going to play the slow ballad,” she said. “I’m just gonna hit it and get out with the fun songs and that’s the show.

“But if headlining and it’s an intimate situation with people that I know are fans, then I’m probably going to play more of the deep cuts and maybe take my time a little more. Venue has everything to do with it, too. How is it going to sound? Do they have good speakers? A lot of things enter into it.”

This tour she and her three bandmates are the stars. (Verity’s Lie is the opening act.) So expect the A-level show.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be too much experimentation,” Ms. Rose said. “I do have a new drummer, but we’ve been on the road now since this album came out in early September, so we’ve got a pretty solid show happening. There’s some options in the songs that we play, but our biggest goal is to have fun.”

Doors to the show Sunday at Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave. in Bloomfield, open at 9 p.m. Music starts at 9:30. Tickets are $10.

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com.


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