Impose Magazine 'No Means No' Review

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“Portland’s dream rock / psychedelic pop band, Ezza Rose, will release their new album, No Means No, tomorrow Friday, September 28th and you can hear it here first. After releasing three singles and an incredibly moving video for title track, “No Means No,” it’s clear that the band’s fourth LP is their most powerful to date. This band continues to evolve. On each and every track, Ezza Rose gets to the very root of the weeds growing in society’s garden, while providing sun and oxygen in the form of driving rhythms, aggressive electric guitars, and dreamy vocal melodies with lyrical grit. The result of all that digging and getting dirty exposes the complex landscape of interactions and accountability between people, ranging from the public eye to behind closed doors.

Ezza Rose says, “Words have meaning, and when meaning is disconnected from words, communication is lost. My mother always said things to me like, “No means no,” and “Sorry isn’t good enough,” which frustrated me as a child, to feel powerless against her words. The women in my family value their words this way, following their intention through to action. Later in life, I realized the value of this foundation they had built in me. Today, I also stand by my word and hold myself accountable for the actions and ideas my words convey.

I’m confused when others don’t take my words at face value, that society gets to choose whether or not I am heard. I know others have struggled to feel heard their entire lives, and it’s powerful to finally see that struggle acknowledged and addressed in societal movements towards equality. The content of this album, ‘No Means No,’ covers the landscape of interaction between people, both in the public eye and behind closed doors. It’s a reflection of my frustration with those who choose not to respect the meaning of, and intention behind people’s words. “I don’t want to tell you that No means No”…but I will, for now.”’

Most recent single, “American Man,” which debuted on PopDust, drew comparisons to Angel Olsen, Mazzy Star, Sharon Van Etten, and it’s safe to say it also rocks as hard as an Oh Sees song, or even St. Vincent. It’s raw and seductive at the same time — not to mention, the song itself shows the evolution that the whole album reflects… all in one track.

The band’s second single, “Baby, Come Down,” is a heartbreaking song about addiction and being in love with an addict. It was first shared via Culture Collide, and showed the incredible range this album encompasses. Culture Collide accurately noted that, “While the band’s previous single [“No Means No”] is a biting post-punk demand, “Baby, Come Down” is a vintage dream pop ballad, straight from that aforementioned decade [the ’60s] we love so much. More the observation than a battle cry, the tune is a stripped and wistful take on society’s obsession with distraction.”

First single and title track, “No Means No,” debuted on Bust Magazine, who said it “a song that connects with the #MeToo movement.” The video for the single is spine-chilling in it’s reliability for those fighting for feminism. Bust says, “we see men with blurred-out faces harass women on the sidewalks, in the office, on public transportation, and in the park.”

The end of the video is haunting. As the energy amplifies, and you see women, exhausted and angry, defending themselves at work in the face of harassment and clips from the Women’s March. The last scene sends a message that feels like a slap in the face — the slow poison that’s continuing to make society ill for women and feminists today — as you see a young boy watching the actions of an older man, who’s creeping on a woman who’s sitting on a park bench and completely unaware that and she’s being photographed without her consent. The last scene is the intrusive man and the innocent boy locking eyes and begs you to consider what example we’re setting for the next generation. Throughout the video, you see the symptoms of what perpetuates harassment: people not speaking up, men in positions of power telling upset women to calm down, and overall unwarranted aggression towards women who aren’t interested in sexual advancements from these men.

This type of astute insight is consistent throughout this incredible album. Ezza Rose has done something on this LP that is rare; this is a perfect 7-song view into the soul of American identity politics, while remaining human, honest, humble and maybe even complicit at times. It deals with heavy topics, but it’s a given that choruses will be stuck in your head, and guitar riffs will visit you through the day and have you hummming. It’s a balance in and of itself — it rocks, but it also makes you think. Rock and roll is for the neck down, but this album lives in your head too. The take away that it leaves you with is simple; nobody is perfect, but this album begs for directness and boundaries. Perfection is a myth that takes us further from a progressive future. No Means No has taken the temperature of society and diagnosed the problem. Now, it’s on us to take our medicine. The first step: learn that no means no.”

-Impose

Portland Mercury "No Means No" Album Review

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'About 10 years ago, singer/songwriter Ezza Rose hitchhiked to the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles, riding with semi-truck drivers the whole journey north. After graduating, Rose decided to make Portland her permanent home.

“It seemed like a really accessible town for a creative person to live in,” Rose says.

She’s currently getting ready to release her fourth LP, No Means No, which draws inspiration from the disconnect between language and intention. Growing up, Rose says her mother would use contradictory expressions like “no means no” and “sorry isn’t good enough” (which is also the title of a song on the record). These phrases were confusing to her, since one reinforces the power of words while the other implies that sometimes, they aren’t enough to merit forgiveness.

In her own life, Rose feels like her words haven’t always been taken seriously. “When we disconnect the meaning from a word, it holds no value anymore and communication is gone,” she explains.

No Means No is moodier than Rose’s earlier albums, like 2014’s Poolside and 2015’s When the Water’s Hot, which pull from her bluegrass influences. The driving force of Rose’s music, though, is still her voice, which sounds fit for a smoky jazz lounge.

“We’ve gone electric and kind of veered away from the folky stuff,” she says.

Rose grew up in Julian, a historic Gold Rush town in California’s Cuyamaca Mountains that she describes as “a very community-driven place.” Her family didn’t own a TV, so she had to come up with her own ways to have fun. Her father often hosted his band practices at home, and eventually she started playing in her own punk bands.

The lineup of Rose’s current outfit includes guitarist Craig Rupert, drummer Ray Johnson, and bassist Alec England, who she met while they were working at the same bar. One evening England overheard her playing the first takes off the new record and asked to join her band.

For Rose, No Means No represents her effort to find clarity and speak up above the white noise. “It’s a reminder that I think truth is a real thing, and I think we’re lacking it as a society right now,” she says.'

-Isabel Lyndon

Willamette Week "No Means No" Album Review

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Ezza Rose Plugs In and Cranks the Volume on “No Means No”

"[LADIES & GENTLEMEN, WE'RE COPING IN SPACE] Ezza Rose's progression as an artist has seen the songwriter evolve from a folkier, roots-focused sound to the expansive dream rock of her latest LP, No Means No. Rose's music is all the more interesting for these experiments in sound—whether she's leading her crack band through guitar rave-ups or languidly paced, head-in-the-clouds numbers, it's clear that Rose's band is currently very much a rock-'n'-roll project. Rose emphatically repeats the coda "Don't wanna tell you that no means no!" on the record's title track, as the band around her works themselves into an equally furious guitar-driven peak. A successful sea change in tone comes via the hypnotic post-coital buzz of 'Baby, Come Down,' a track so dreamy you almost miss the darkness at the heart of the song's lyrics. 'Baby, come down, the sex was fine without it/Baby, come down, the music won't play without you,' Rose coos over an arrangement that's at once colored with a tinge of dread and foreboding and perfect for slow dancing. Much like the world in which we live, the romance Rose sings about has the potential for great beauty. But you have to be able to wade through the darkness to find it."

-Isabel Lyndon

Willamette Week Album Review

Willamette Week Album Review

"More electrified and slightly more ominous than the simple, lilting sound she previously established, this is Rose at her best so far."

Oregon Music News

Oregon Music News

“...an intense studio album with a sudden and unexpected beauty.”

Vortex Magazine Album Feature

Vortex Magazine Album Feature

"Her beautifully delicate, mournfully classic voice floats amongst the loosely bound, misty particles in the air and our minds and fills the cracks with a sound that's chilling and comforting, all at once."

ElevenPDX Interview

ElevenPDX Interview

"My introduction to music was being the five-year-old sitting on top of the speakers at the bar with a tambourine. Literally my first gig."

ElevenPDX Album Review

ElevenPDX Album Review

"Ezza’s singer/songwriting talents push on. Her voice is consistently smooth and clear, ethereal, and from the gut."