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Rosa Chance Well

So many regions of the U.S. have their own distinct indie rock character -- Athens, Georgia, for instance, has a lot of quirky '60s-influenced pop groups; Champaigne-Urbana, Illinois, on the other hand, boasts a number of rousing emo bands. Well, Boston too has developed its own distinct musical identity over the past couple of decades. In fact, some might say several identities -- but one definite thread over the years has been dreamy, enigmatic, cerebral guitar pop. From Throwing Muses to Galaxie 500 to Codeine to Helium, numerous New England bands have worked around the edges of this paradigm. Perhaps it's the result of the high concentration of colleges in New England?

Whatever the cause, Rosa Chance Well definitely sounds like a Boston band. Maybe that's why founding members Dean Taormina and Vanessa Downing moved there, fleeing the suits of DC, where they had played in a group called Samuel. After relocating, both temporarily pursued other projects (Downing served with The Wicked Farlies and The Good Furies), but eventually reunited for Rosa Chance Well (originally spelled Rosa Chantswell). Soon they enlisted Karate's Gavin McCarthy (drums) and Jeff Goddard (bass, trumpet) and former Come and Codeine member and current New Year member Chris Brokaw (guitar) to help them flesh out their sound.

They've come up with something understated but expansive, full of moody guitars, a steady rhythm section, and Downing's cool female vocals. Rosa Chance Well feels bare bones, but far from minimal, dark, but not stark. Many of the instrumental passages have a smoky cocktail lounge feel, not cheesy, but certainly lush and noirish, nicely complementing Downing's laconic just-above-a-whisper sing-speak. Rather like Mazzy Star, Rosa Chance Well doesn't seem to try to be sexy at all, but winds up being just that. The band's eponymous debut LP appeared on Kimchee in 2001. It's a tasteful, low-key effort, featuring ten originals and a terrific slinky cover of CCR's "Bad Moon on the Rise."