MP3 Robert Roth - Someone, Somewhere...
The stunning debut record from the songrwriter/singer/guitarist of Truly (Capitol, Sub Pop) Devil in the Woods (DIW) magazine calls it "A truly timeless creation. It echoes nearly every great blast of sound from the past 50 years."
15 MP3 Songs
ROCK: 70''s Rock, POP: with Electronic Production
Robert Roth''s solo debut, "Someone, Somewhere...", is an uncompromising statement of individual artistic dedication. It also happens to be a lush and epic masterwork that is defiant, uninhibited, lonely, haunted, and ultimately redemptive. It is a work of immense artistic ambition and even greater achievement that differentiates itself in a substantial and lasting way from the current field of imitators.
Over the course of three years, Roth lived every element of the album''s creation - his hands built the studio, wrote every note and lyric, played nearly every instrument and pushed each button or dial along the way.
The results of this unadulterated expression hit like a tall shot of something pure, strong and true. Roth''s celestial guitars slide along in woozy bliss, then viscerally rip open a moment later. Analog synths, mellotron, Optigon, cello and trumpet flood even the darkest moments with warmth and light.
Even before the album''s completion, Devil in the Woods magazine previewed the release and called it "a truly timeless creation," going on to say "It echoes nearly every great blast of sound from the past 50 years, not in the order of its chords, but in its ability to shake listeners from complacency."
Time comes unhinged as the album''s 15 rock opuses of the future flash by while the most incidental details, lovingly laid under a wall of sound, seem to linger for days. Someone, Somewhere defies easy categorization but pulses with the unmistakable electricity of nonconformity that has always driven rock and roll. It surges with the excitement and creativity of self-taught mastery. The limits of sound and recording technology are pushed and prodded because as a solo artist with no limitations from outside forces, there was nothing to scare Roth away from daring these limits.
As the engineer, producer and technical mastermind of the project, Roth plays the studio with the same mastery he applies to the instruments. He approaches neither in a traditional or predictable way. Layer upon layer of piano, drums, guitars and sometimes hard-to-recognize instruments are processed, prodded and warped into a unified whole that has both an immediacy and an ethereal intrigue that draws you into the recognition of something distinctive and resounding.
While forward-looking, the record also builds on identifiable reference points from rock''s past. "Someone Somewhere..." is a modern version of Pink Floyd ambition, Brian Wilson detail, and Tom Verlaine geometry. With this record, Roth expands on the sonic frontiers others have laid down before him while taking them to ethereal and deeply personal place that resonate with the sound of truth.
Of course, Roth did not emerge into this rarefied musical territory from out of nowhere. He is best known as the singer-guitarist-composer-producer of Seattle''s legendary Truly. After two EPs on Sub Pop, Truly (also featuring Screaming Tree''s alum Mark Pickerell and founding Soundgarden member Hiro Yamamoto) inked a deal with Capitol Records in the mid 90s.
Truly''s debut, Fast Stories...From Kid Coma, was widely hailed as one of 1995''s finest releases. Despite the absence of a single, MTV Online put it in its critical top five records of the year. Kerrang Magazine loved it so much they reviewed it twice, giving it the maximum five stars both times. Seattle''s legendary music rag, the Rocket, looked back at the end of the 90s and called it the scene''s Pet Sounds.
Off the momentum of their debut, Truly took its combustible and relentless live show international. When Roth returned home, he contributed mellotron to Built to Spill''s masterwork Perfect from Now On, wrote songs with author/musician Jim Carroll (Basketball Diaries) for Pools of Mercury and The Runaway E.P., and played beside Carroll in a string of sold out live dates. Truly closed the 90s with a newfound pop fetish on Feeling You Up and left the stage for good with Twilight Curtains, an outtakes collection.
On his own for the first time, Roth''s lyrical vision takes center stage. Someone, Somewhere is a concept album in the same way someone recounting the moments of their life, whether epic or mundane, weaves together something bigger than the sum of its parts. Along the way there are street level snapshots of Seattle''s World Trade Organization riots, post mortems for the musical hype of the 90s, a dissection of 9/11''s cultural aftermath, requiems for the emptying of downtown life, and an unwavering case for challenging authority.
Roth''s work is political in the most subtly persuasive way. Avoiding lectures or preaching, he just recounts the low-level battles being waged everyday outside his front door. Somewhere between Thoreau''s "Walden" and Zinn''s "A People''s History of the United States," Someone, Somewhere''s ultimate effect is simultaneously unsettling and empowering. It is the sound of art without compromise.
Seattle Weekly, July 14 - 20, 2004
Someone, Somewhere . . . (Pattern 25)
Live Aid 2015. CBGB is an IKEA now. Tom Verlaine, Debbie Harry, David Byrne, and John Doe gather for one last nostalgic hand-in-hand on the Supremes'' "Reflections," a lamentation over the death of downtown. But "downtown" as a state of mind lives on with Robert Roth, who has ideas about do-it-yourself culture that don''t involve furniture assembly. Roth plays all of the instruments on his solo debut, Someone, Somewhere . . . , from effervescent Farfisa and Hammond organ to smog-thick guitar. "Walk All Over Downtown Life" enjoys one last drag before the smoking ban hits Seattle, anxious to preserve what''s left of bohemia before its price gets jacked up; elsewhere, he eavesdrops on a dive bar roundtable reminiscence of the way things used to be ("Laugh Till We Cry"), recalls "Yesterday''s War" fought against the everyday world, and makes light of last year''s New York blackout. "At least we have the moonlight," he drawls. The same moon illuminates "Vicki and Jacky" a couple sharing a streetlight lip-lock to the tune of Roth''s Television-inspired guitar. Roth may be a by-product of the Pacific Northwest (his old combo Truly featured former members of Screaming Trees and Soundgarden), but Someone, Somewhere . . . is pure New York rock.
-- KATE SILVER
Copper Press, Summer 2004
This is quite a pleasing gem of music from a gifted artist. Spending three years carefully crafting his first solo release, Someone, Somewhere is an exceptional example of Robert Roth''s creative wit and musical prowess. Full of fierce, compassionate songwriting, Roth pushes the envelope with his ability to capture the raw essence of human emotion in song. Filled with high doses of eclectic artistic expression, each song acts with a great deal of immediacy. Roth genuinely paints sonic atmospheres and melodic landscapes with fervor and originality, providing a sharp look into his promising future as a solo artist from Seattle. Roth will always be praised with his influence as a figure during the period of Seattle''s grunge scene, as well as his powerful presence as lead singer in the band Truly. You can still hear the rich retro moods in this record that provided Truly''s fame and following. A captivating and enlightening work, Someone, Somewhere is cram-packed full of musical information, such that each spin offers more fresh musical surprises. "Lightening and Thunder" and "Relive These X" are potent with dazzling composition. The title track is laced with melodic textures and colors, found over and over again with great intensity, just like the mysterious and hauntingly beautiful "Halliburton Blues." This record marks Roth''s focus and extreme dedication into creating such a rich and riveting listening experience. One can''t help but feel the emotional release of sound, vibrant with mellotron-soaked atmospherics, haunting guitars, and warped orchestral passages. Dazzling with strings, sythns, horns, percussion pulses, this wall of sound seems to stop time itself and carry you into the heart of this epic. With experimentation at the extreme, Roth pays attention to the most minute of details to give us such a gripping, emotionally resonating release. -- Shawn M. Haney
Amplifier Magazine, June-August 2004
"Former Truly sparkplug Robert Roth''s solo debut, Someone, Somewhere, is an exquisite synthesis of his broad experience. A legend in the seminal Seattle grunge scene (he was nearly tapped as Nirvana''s second guitarist), Roth guided Truly through indie greatness and an uncompromising major label stint, collaborated with poet/rocker Jim Carroll and spruced up Built to Spill''s Perfect From Now On with atmospheric mellotron. For his first solo effort, Roth built his own studio and oversaw every aspect of Someone, Somewhere over the past three and a half years, from writing to performing to production. The greatest testament to Roth''s ability in this regard is that Someone, Somewhere never once sounds like a cloistered one-man project. Roth presents slabs of squealing glam ("Streetplay ''99"), Afghan Whigs-like, soul-infused lounge rock ("Blackout City Serenade"), Adrian Belew-revisits-Beatlemania pop psychedelia ("Under the Ever-Watchful Eye) and Wayne Kramer-tinged jazz punk (the slinky instrumental of "Halliburton Blues") with equal aplomb, peppering his songs with singular arrangements and scathing and insightful political and cultural observations. Robert Roth demands a listener''s attention now and a critic''s attention toward the end of the year."
-- BRIAN BAKER
Skratch Magazine, May 2004
Robert Roth (Truly, Built to Spill, Jim Carroll) is an important unsung hero to the modern underground music scene. On Roth''s release SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE..., we are given a true American album. I don''t mean the patriotic propaganda of other post-9/11 albums, but American in the sense that Roth has weaved one of the best lyrically-driven albums. Roth details his experiences in the past three years with the hard-rocking, grunge, 9/11-influenced "Relive These X" and the subtly political "Blackout City Serenade". Clocking in at 70+ minutes, the album has a full, rich texture very reminiscent of the recording quality of fuzzed-out ''60s-''70s psyche rockers, like in the song "Vicki and Jacky", while others contain the surreal, discombobulation of The Beatles. This is indeed a historical account, a prophetic warning, and a vision for the modern young American - or, as Roth puts it in "Streetplay ''99": "Street scene / Final act / The last soliloquy of the last century."
-- Norberto Gomez, Jr.
Devil in the Woods, Issue 4.1
Someone, Somewhere (Pattern 25), the solo debut from Robert Roth, is a truly timeless creation. Roth''s work overwhelms listeners one moment, then pacifies them in starkly bare passages seconds later. It echoes nearly every great blast of sound from the past 50 years, not in order of its chords, but in its ability to shake listeners from complacency.
"I''m trying to make universal music that''s not derivative," says the former leader of Truly. "I''m not just trying to get a piece of the action. I''m trying to offer something that maybe people can''t get from anywhere else."
Someone, Somewhere was born in virtual isolation, with Roth playing all the instruments, then producing, engineering and mastering the entire album. The recording process, according to Roth, was essential to the integrity of the album. "It''s purer because you''re not being drawn outside yourself by other people''s opinions," he says. "I''ve really just been trying to delve into myself for the past year, because you really don''t get a lot of opportunities in life to hole up and do that."
Roth''s introspection touches upon the tremendous changes that have seized the past year. "I see people still trying to grab onto lifestyles that have been validated by past cultural trends," he says. "It feels like a time where people want to go back to something they know works. It''s a fear of the future." Someone, Somewhere stands as a defiant challenge to this fear. "I think artists should be exploring the unconscious and the possible future. I''m not talking about being avant-garde or using new technology with each record. I''m just talking about ideas -- whether you''re playing basic guitar rock or you''re a DJ or whatever."
In a time filled with discussion of political freedom, Someone, Somewhere celebrates absolute, personal musical freedom. "To me, punk rock is supposed to be ''anything goes,''" says Roth. "It''s not supposed to be a set of rules."
-- Adam Lauridsen
Seattle Weekly, June 6-12, 2002
Robert Roth-- Best remembered for leading Seattle supergroup Truly (featuring Screaming Trees trapsman Mark Pickerel and Soundgarden bassist Hiro Yamamoto), Robert Roth is often referenced as a cult figure in the history of Seattle grunge (back in ''89 he was poised to become Nirvana''s second guitarist). Despite earning scads of international acclaim Truly has performed only sporadically since a 1998 hiatus. The ensuing years have witnessed Roth lend his talents to albums by everyone from Built to Spill to Jim Carroll, and finally embark on a much-delayed solo career. Signed to local indie imprint Pattern 25, advance tracks from his forthcoming disc, Someone, Somewhere, evince much of the rich psychedelic soul that marked Truly''s finest moments. However, Roth chooses to break up the proceedings with some well executed genre exercise like the skittering, ''70s-styled funk of "Vicky and Jacky"-which sounds like a studio brawl between Steely Dan and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils-and the loping, tripped-out county waltz of the title track. Roth''s longtime rhythm foil Pickerel also lends his estimable talents to the disc, due out in later this fall.
-- Bob Mehr
The Stranger, Aug 8, 2002
Guitarist and songwriter Robert Roth''s rich musical history includes work with poet laureate/punk pioneer Jim Carroll, as well as his success with critical darlings Truly in the mid 90''s. He''s currently finishing up a solo record for Pattern 25 Records and building a new home studio in Georgetown. Roth plays Chop Suey on Fri. Aug 9.
I''m so damn impressed with how warm your record https://www.tradebit.com''s all digitally recorded, but it sounds like a great ''70s analog New Yorkish album. I''m assuming the warmth was a deliberate goal-how did you get it out of Pro Tools?
"It''s actually a program called Digital performer, but it''s very similar. It was a challenge-when I started this project, people hadn''t embraced the technology the way they have now. There weren''t that many people to talk to about it. But the way I looked at it, if you listen to a lot of CD versions of records from the 60''s and 70''s, they sound warm because they were recorded on analog before they were translated to a digital format. So I try to apply that philosophy-and that''s what I try to do with my sound, but using my compressors, mics, and tubes. The goal is to capture the traits of analog sound before it hits the computer."
How did your friendship with Jim Carroll form?
"Back when we were finishing up Fast Stories from Kid Coma (Truly''s last record for Capitol), they were making the Basketball Diaries movie. The director wanted some Jim Carroll new material for the soundtrack, and Jim needed someone to write with. Jim''s exwife and attorney, Rosemary Carroll, was also Truly''s attorney, so she introduced us. He called me up on the phone and we just became friends through these long phone conversations. We wrote a couple of songs over the phone..."
But you finished them in New York?
"After Truly finished mixing in New York, Jim and I went to a studio in Brooklyn so he could finish his vocals. The other song was finished by Lenny Kaye from the Patty Smith Group-he mixed it. Jim ended up being sort of a mentor for my songwriting. At one point I was going to have him read poetry during this song called "Angel Head", which was based on an Allen Ginsberg poem. (Carroll) left me a message at the studio one day, saying,"Don''t be surprised if Allen Ginsberg shows up later, I told him about your recording."
"Yeah, I was like,''Holy make!'' and then AC/DC walked in to check out the studio! I was so nervous and freaked out trying to finish my lyrics before Ginsberg got there that I was totally uninterested in meeting AC/DC-which I kinda regret because they seemed really, really nice. But them Jim called and said he was hanging out with Johnny Depp and they might be going to a party...."
So Ginsberg never showed?
"No-this would be a much better story if he did!"