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Roma 79
The Great Dying
Ascetic Records

You know you're on to something when you pop a CD by a band you've never heard of into your car stereo 30 seconds before you're supposed to park and get out, only to find yourself just sitting there for the next 10 minutes, reading and rereading the song titles as you feel that happy little thrill of discovery inside you. That was not the case with Roma 79. Just kidding; you bet it was! The Great Dying is the San Francisco-based trio's first full-length album, so it's no big surprise I had not heard of them yet (despite their having recorded the soundtrack to the Comedy Central movie Porn and Chicken; presumably a documentary about the finer things in life). I don't expect that relative anonymity to last - this is some seriously user-friendly music.

It all kicks off in style with "Heads Down," which is full of jangly guitar and slightly earnest vocals (no, I mean that in a good way!). It's also the first of several songs during which I think that lead singer (and solid bassist/keyboard player) Jeremy Patfield has more than a hint of Ben Folds to his voice. His voice is appealing, and he's not too shy to throw in the occasional falsetto. I find that a well-timed falsetto can be all it takes to catapult a song into platinum territory (see, e.g., Chris Martin), so this can only be good for the band. I can't wait to hear "Disposed To Violate" live; it's a solid rocker that makes me twitch. "Kill The Sun" is my favorite song on the album, which with its pleasingly heavy drums, propelling guitar and Patfield's voice as versatile as another instrument, comes off with a sort of early Foo Fighters sound. I'll admit to playing it three times in a row, I liked it so much. I could go on and on about how I like each song on the album for different reasons, but the bottom line is that almost every song succeeds because these three guys with real talent just click together. Aaron Bonsall's drum chops are evident as he mixes it up even within songs, showing a noticeable versatility that just isn't there for every band, and Andrew Skikne provides the glue with his own adaptable style of guitar, chockablock with nifty hooks.

As an indie release, The Great Dying actually has a fairly mainstream sound. If that sounds like a negative to you, it isn't meant to be. It's just easy to listen to, with a little something for everyone. If you're looking for something new to flesh out your CD collection, you won't go wrong here.

- Heidi Lamer

Track Listing:
1. Heads Down
2. Disposed to Violate
3. Kill The Sun
4. Gold
5. 4m01
6. Angel Message
7. The Spin
8. Reprise
9. The Great Dying

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