a.j. rosales
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a.j. rosales

Park Ridge, Illinois, United States

Park Ridge, Illinois, United States
Band Rock Folk

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As I set here listening to this record, I am rockin back and forth and groovin to an artist that I have never heard until today. I am amazed at his songwriting skill. This is actually the second album from this particular artist, and of course yours truly is headed to the store to search for the first album to see where he came from. Although he may like to hammer back an “F-Bomb” once in awhile, he still lays down some pretty heavy hitting lyrics. A lot of the music sounds like he was writing out his emotions after being jilted and jaded by the world around him. And yet, he still finds time to put together some great piano and guitar playing and even some beautiful and non-offensive lyrics in between them. I am actually deeply moved and highly impressed by this one particular record, more so than the others that I have listened to and reviewed to this point. It should be rather interesting to see what follows this. Hopefully he keeps the writing as open as this record in the future.

This is a must have. I am truly glad to have it myself. He has a great indie sound. Really clean rock tones, with a certain swinging sound, more up-tempo amid the somber lyrics. He really reminds me a lot of the trippy rock sounds of guys like Trey Anastasio of Phish. You need to go and get this one, quick. Now, I am headed back to the radio to listen to it again. And probably again. - the phantom tollbooth (Rev MC review)


“Ultramarine” by the modern rock veteran A.J. Rosales is yet another declaration of his astounding talent for crafting hits! Every song on this CD is simply unforgettable. A.J.’s voice is unbelievably fine-tuned and refreshingly-toned, best demonstrated in the beautiful falsetto melodies in “What’s with all the Heartache?” “3:15” shows how talented the musicians on this album are with its incredible drum beat, electric guitar riffs and solos, and catchy bass lines. What’s more, the songwriting on “Ultramarine” is outstanding, tackling love and heartbreak with A.J.’s powerful arsenal of lyrical hooks and rhymes. To top all of this off, the production of this album rivals that of the biggest names in modern rock! Fans of Rob Thomas and Howie Day will fall head-over-heals for this masterpiece! - Xavier P. (RadioIndy.com)


'Alone Again' is the crunchy and poppy opening track with vibrant guitar leads underscoring an understated and plaintive Rosales plea. 'Nominate' starts out in a more tuneful vocal in a solid mid range delivery. This track has nice flow. 'What's With All the Heartache?' is one of several tunes that will pull at your heart strings and possibly create some marine like salty water near your tear ducts. Overall, we like it. Take it with you this summer to the beach or out at sea - you'll be ultra cool like the music on this disc if you do. This sophomore effort from Mr. Rosales just might help him launch the good ship A.J. - Richard J. Lynch (kweevak.com)


t’s clear from the first note that Rosales is his own guy. What strikes you first about "Ultramarine" is the diversity of musical ideas incorporated into a single program. Next, is the fact that this guy is about chops. Third, he’s a strong singer. Guitar-wise, on some cuts, it’s as if Trey Anastasio traded in for an acoustic and went after Dave Matthews’ niche. On others, you hear the extended progressions of Gen X rock, but they’re fused to a jazzbo extended chordal palette as well, almost in di Meola land. So what is this? Folk-rock fusion. Guitar fans of both forms shouldn’t be disappointed with either side of his coin. Vocally, he’s a bit of a chameleon as well. On "Alone Again" and "So Sad" you hear overtones of the great journeyman rocker Robert Palmer. Then on "What’s With All the Heartache" he marshals a pure falsetto reminiscent of Martin Sexton. I could do with a bit more of that. As a lyricist, he creates some unusual constructions that are consistent with his genre-bending musicianship. Once you’ve given it a good listen it takes a while for it all to sink in, but it mostly does. - minor 7th webzine


This CD has a distinct sound that runs through the entire album, something that is about as rare as the proverbial needle in the haystack. This is rock music that has a current of energy that is infectious and keeps things rolling along with speed, sincerity and the feeling that someone sure knew what they were doing here. Rosales has what can be deemed an emotional voice; it holds the feel of the song on the notes he delivers. That, combined with the expert guitar play is the key to this album being such a success.

Not afraid to go outside the typical bounds of things, Rosales delivers a polished performance with this effort, choosing some unusual sounds on the guitar to keep things from getting dull. It works. Check out track 6, "So Sad," which manages to discuss melancholy in one of the most upbeat and fun tracks on the whole CD. Another favorite is the closing track, "Sneak Attack," which begins with some terrific, catchy instrumentation before launching into vocals. A seriously fab song. Those who enjoy introspective lyrics will appreciate the care that has been taken here in wrapping them up just right for the listener to open, and Rosales sings about relatable subjects, which adds to the allure.

The CD has 13 tracks, which seems generous, but honestly it goes by quickly because it's so listenable. One song tumbles into the next, and before you know it, you are at the end. The only criticism, if you can call it that, in this whole effort is that I would have liked to have heard even more of the instruments as they were played so well. They were highlighted, to be sure, but sometimes you can't get enough of a good thing. - Indie-Music.com


When I was coming up, a couple of my favourite guitarists were D Boon and Curt Kirkwood, and it is these and faint echoes of another influence, Tar Babies, that makes me find things in this to like. Rosales is full of good technique and he doesn’t use it in a showy way, his sinuous playing snakes through these songs illuminating them and putting his writing and singing into the shade. I say that even when the title track defeats my argument; it is a bittersweet slice of melancholia full of atmosphere, the guitars scene-setting in service of the song. Anyway, when possessed with such technique other facets are bound to pale in comparison, it is only relatively speaking. ‘What’s With All the Heartache’ is another RSJ kicked from my argument, well for about three minutes when the guitar bursts free of the straightjacket and sprays out some colourful non-sequiturs.

‘3:15 – math roque’ is all about the title - he takes the guitar out for a walk, meandering, free from vocals; it’s a whole other world, a Lego box of six string possibilities and circling around it another instrumental ‘Telekinetic Breakdown (Reprise)’ which is calcium carbonate to the solid dairy. This is more about atmosphere and mood, a short build to crescendo then fade.

The D Boon reference, the itchy energy of ‘Sneak Attack’, contained clusters of notes within a constricted space, admittedly sweeter than D ever managed but reminiscent all the same. Curt Kirkwood’s whirlpool of notes is heard throughout, the opening bars of ‘Alone Again’ or the rotating notes of ‘So Sad’, the Tar Babies, the scratchy funk of ‘Breakdown’. Rosales doesn’t just offer a dazzling display of technique, there’s definitely more than that - his smoothing of awkward and influential predecessors could just prove to be his breakthrough. - Americana UK


AJ Rosales is a DIY master. He wrote and produced this album, and he plays guitar, piano, glockenspiel and percussion. He also arranged the bass and cello parts. Oh yeah, and he designed his website.

The first song "Alone Again" is a great example of the energy that Rosales brings to his music. In fact, energy isn't even the best description for Rosales's style. His songs have an impressive density. The guy uses a lot of notes in a four-minute song. It makes me wonder if he grew up listening to a lot of Frank Zappa albums. Perhaps an even better example of the density in his songs is in "Breakdown." The guitar in this song should definitely provoke a "Wow!"

"What's with All the Heartache?" is real mellow for about three minutes, then the band changes pace for about a minute and a half before ending the way it began. Those changes of tempo are not unusual for him and really add to the texture of the songs on this album.

Rosales is great at crafting energetic, meaningful songs. For the most part, he keeps it mellow, although some of the guitar parts are downright frenetic (the aforementioned tunes, "So Sad"). I'm not sure how long it took to put this album together. I'm guessing it was a fairly significant amount of time. In any case, it is definitely worth the effort. If you like DIY singer-songwriters, this is definitely an album you should experience. - AntiMusic.com


Discography

2007 - Ultramarine LP
2004 - Resistor LP
2001 - Earth and Shoal EP
1997 - Fatigue LP (Fronting the band 'Daughter Product')

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Bio

AJ to perform during SXSW 2008! Check my calendar for details. Thanks to Tinderbox Music in Minneapolis.

New album "Ultramarine" went to college radio in the summer of 2007 and recieved lots of rotation! To view radio results go here:

http://www.ajrosales.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=000071

Ultramarine is the new 13 song studio release by AJ that has been in the making for almost a year. In his evolution as a musician and songwriter, he wanted to try to make an album that would highlight his creative skill as a guitar player but branch out and move away stylistically from his previous acoustic-based release, Resistor. After much success with that intimate album, he decided to try to gather up a couple of pro musicians and make this album more visceral and more of an experience.

Featuring Shawn Sommer (once again) on bass, with Lucas Farran (drums) and a guest slot for Alison Chesley (cello) this album rocks a little harder - but stays true to the spirit of his previous releases, with a mix of upbeat numbers and a few intimate acoustic tracks. AJ meticulously produced and arranged the entire record in an effort to ensure that that his overall vision was not lost in translation. It was recorded at Chicago indie boutique Gravity Studios by engineering wizard Mark Berlin, and then mixed and mastered by studio head Doug McBride - who not only called this record "a really strong album" but also says that it's representative of some of his best work as a mixer.

Although this album is dynamic and experimental, and there are a number of different sonic environments on this album, it still manages to retain a consistent vibe. Songs like Alone Again and Nominate capture a vibrant rock sound while songs such as White Sunshine and What's with all the Heartache? utilize an artistic folk-rock sound that captures his subtly emotive lyrics and vocals perfectly. The album also features two instrumentals - 3:15 (which delves into math rock) and Telekinetic (which is somewhat of an extension of the song Transistor from Resistor)

All in all, this is easily AJ's most well rounded and well thought-out record yet. It's a must if you've enjoyed any of his past musical forays!

Buy the new album at:

http://www.cdbaby.com/rosales3

and

http://www.awarestore.com/item16535

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A.J. Rosales is not trying to prove anything. His appealingly layered guitar playing and honest lyrics are just the pure expression of a unique musical vision, not some calculated product.

Rosales is already an acknowledged force in the rock/folk scene. His intelligent songwriting, which draws as much from pop as from jazz, classical, rock, jam, and folk, has been the basis for three well-received albums in his eight-year solo career. Fatigue, in 1997, introduced his intricate guitar lines, interwoven with intimate lyrics. His Earth and Shoal EP in 2001 added a maturity and depth of experience. With 2004's Resistor, Rosales' songwriting gained even greater resonance. Fueled by critical praise and airplay on hundreds of radio stations, Rosales reached out to fans nationwide. As an artist, he is poised for a major breakthrough, and it all builds from experience.

Rosales has been playing guitar since his mid-teens. By his own admission, he was "somewhat of a nerd who gravitated toward the more abstract and technically challenging pieces." His early affinity for complex musical structure is evident in his playing style, which blends catchy pop hooks with some unexpected musical flourishes. Rosales describes his style as "rock music run through an avant garde folk filter," but it's easy to hear a vast array of other, subtler influences underscoring his take on folk and rock. His extensive background in classical music and jazz can be heard in his intricate, contrapuntal arrangements. His guitar work conjures ghosts of the blues and invokes modern masters of high technical ability. Listening to Rosales alternately calls to mind Trey Anastasio, Ellis Paul, Collective Soul and Adam Duritz with all of their varied and inherent skills.

But a virtuosic delivery is not Rosales' only musical accomplishment . . . His music has garnered broad attention. The single Sweetest Thing from Earth and Shoal was included on CMJ's "Certain Damage" CD and was featured on National Public Radio in Chicago. Initially, this release edged out Smashing Pumpkins for the top spot in Ohio's WMRU radio play rotation. Fervent fan support has landed three singles from Resistor in the Top 10 on Garageband.com's survey of the "best guitars of all time" in the folk/rock genre.

But being a "guitar pyrotechnician" is not what he's about, and being the next pop idol is also not at the top of his list. He's all about recording his lush, rootsy music, brilliant and humble. And there is no doubt he has all the talent to back it up.

- Trevor Plum

PREVIOUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

INCLUDED: on mvyradio.com's "Fre

Band Members