Avenue Rose
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Avenue Rose

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"Avenue Rose: Rock Rhetoric"

"It's funny how things can sometimes look so different depending on where you stand.

Take the music scenes in Olympia and Tacoma, for example. The history of Olympia's music scene is legendary — so much so that I really don't even need to go into detail. It's well known that both the K and Kill Rock Stars record labels started in the capital city, and that iconic bands like Beat Happening, Sleater Kinney, Bikini Kill and many others emerged from the liberal bastion. There have been movies, books, blogs, and even numerous articles here in the Weekly Volcano about how diverse, artistic, influential and just plain kick-ass Olympia's music scene is and was.

Tacoma's music scene, on the other hand, isn't exactly as celebrated. Over the course of the almost 10 years I've been covering Grit City music — since before there was anyone here clean enough to market the Grit — I don't believe I've ever heard the kind of praise about T-town that Olympia receives. Sure, plenty of good bands have come from Tacoma — Seaweed, Girl Trouble, the Sonics, the Wailers, the list goes on — but T-town has never been hip. When it comes to perceptions about Tacoma's music scene, this is a fact that Tacoma will likely be fighting forever.

Or maybe not. Perhaps perceptions are changing. Maybe Tacoma is on the verge of hipness. Maybe our moment is right around the corner.

When perceptions change, often times it starts with the youth. If guitarist Trav Criscola of Olympia's pop punk darlings Avenue Rose is any indication, perceptions may be about to swing in Tacoma's favor. Criscola and his Avenue Rose bandmates, all in their early 20s or younger, will make a stop at Bob's Java Jive this Saturday, May 31, and then play Tacoma Community College Friday, June 6. For what it's worth, they seem to think Tacoma is the cat's meow.

"When we first started, our bass player, Eddie was really involved in the music scene in Olympia. We had an immediate connection getting shows and meeting touring bands that had been passing through. It was a great start for networking," says Criscola.

"The music scene has changed drastically (in Olympia) since then. I guess that's how a lot of smaller towns are. It comes and goes every few years it seems. We're pretty disconnected from the music scene here now. A lot of the music venues have been closed down and the local bands we were once connected with have all died."

"It is a little frustrating that playing a successful show in our home town isn't easy, but we've been pretty busy playing a lot in areas outside of Olympia," continues Criscola. "When we met Dillan (Avenue Rose's new drummer), it opened a lot up for us in the Tacoma area. He's been active in that music scene for a long time and had played in a few bands up there. Tacoma definitely has an amazing music scene. We've all been big fans of bands like The Freakouts and Durango 95. It seems there are so many talented people doing some pretty cool things here. We love playing Tacoma and hope the scene here lasts a long time!"

As strange as all that might sound to someone who hasn't been paying attention to the strides Tacoma's music scene has made in the last few years, there's truth to it. Olympia's music scene has struggled some lately, especially to maintain an all-ages music venue, and those struggles may come at the benefit of Tacoma. While something tells me whatever lull Avenue Rose has encountered in Olympia will soon be replaced by good times and plenty of exciting bands, if musicians are being forced to rethink their preconceptions of what Tacoma has to offer to bands and artists, it can only be a good thing for those of us in the 253.

That benefit is blatantly obvious when a band like Avenue Rose makes their way to Tacoma twice in two weeks. Led by the vocal power of Jason Mendoza, and plenty of catchy guitar licks, Avenue Rose is raw enough to be relevant and glam enough to twinkle with potential. The band's Clash-like sound was the perfect putty for Steve E Nix (of the Briefs and Cute Lepers Fame), and the rocker turned producer recently helped mold the Avenue Rose sound, working with the band to lay down and record Electric, a 7-inch released on Slab-O-Wax in March. Electric has been putting Avenue Rose on plenty of rock and roll radars ever since.
"Working with Steve is great! He's really talented in a lot of different areas. We did the Electric recordings with him, as well as some new tracks that we just finished up for a couple other releases due out this summer. He's always got really good ideas and works really hard," says Criscola of working with Nix.

"We were all huge Briefs fans so we had seen him at a lot of shows around the Northwest. After a show one night he told us he had heard some of our demo tracks we recorded. He said he had been getting into recording and producing music, and that he thinks he could make them sound better if we had him do it. So a couple weeks later we were in his basement recording the EP."

Avenue Rose will play Bob's Java Jive this Saturday, May 31 and TCC Friday, June 6. Both shows are well worth your attention. While no one is suggesting Tacoma is the next big thing and Olympia is old news, the scenes in both places — as with all music scenes — are constantly changing. If Tacoma's got some momentum at the moment, we might as well all enjoy it. Momentum never lasts forever."

-Matt Driscoll
5.29.08 - Weekly Volcano


"No Front Teeth Review"

"I was really looking forward to this 7" cause I'm a sucker for AVENUE ROSE's blend of power pop and gritty rock 'n' roll, they remind me a lot of a Full Breach Kicks style band and it's no secret that I'm a fan of that sound!! The whole thing is raw but with a polished edge- trademark Steve E. Nix production that really defines this sound because rock 'n' roll's gotta be raw and urgent but when it's mixed with that power pop clean-ness, shit, it's something else. There's balls and melody in this very addictive sound…think a mix of the EXPLODING HEARTS, THE GO, THE JONESES, THE SCRUFFS and THE NICE BOYS. Three killer cuts on clear blue wax...get it before they're all gone.

- No Front Teeth


"Avenue Rose in Cooper Point Journal"

"With a driving passion for reviving the glorious original rockers, local act Avenue Rose and Seattle superstars The Greatest Hits are out to get your attention then drink your blood, but can be distracted by beer.
The dynamic between these two bands lets slip a brother/sister relationship; the two groups shared the stage before their show last Saturday, September 29 at McCoy's, and band members make a point to support each other at each other's gigs. That's a unique element to the modern DIY punks: they drop self-centered pretension and recognize there are other bands worth paying attention to besides their own.
There is a certain romantic desperation, not pathetic but urgent, coming from the modern punk songwriters and musicians: what was vital in the beginning is still essential now and it must continue. But maybe the best answer is no answer; no certainty, no implication, just rock.
The old bands are dying. But if something is dying, it must be alive. Punk is still kicking, and these two bands will rub your face in it and make even the most reformed hipsters not totally regret their punk phase. I got a brand new rose in town.
"Olympia's a great place to grow up if you're into music. The Scene comes and goes but there's always some kind of music scene here. It's really easy to get into punk rock." Ed, Avenue Rose.
In a town with a music scene that's often a muddle of amateurs modeling themselves after K Records artists, Avenue Rose is a departure from indie rock, revitalizing the simpler elements of punk like heavy guitar riffs and power chords.
The combination of hanging out in downtown Olympia and his father's Rolling Stones records brought Ed, Olympia native and bass player, around to music. But when Jason, on guitar and vocals, was growing up in a suburb of Fresno, there was no punk or even a rock scene. During his freshmen year of high school, two older senior girls made him a mix tape of The germs and Black Flag, which he sentimentally keeps around despite its worn out age.
Jason met guitar player Travis in Chehalis and the two became friends. Their previous bands split around the same time, so Jason and Travis began writing songs together. Ed came into the picture one drunken night at an Olympia house show through a fifth of whiskey.
The original drummer was a hot rod enthusiast and left the band Plastic Letters to play with Jason, Ed and Travis. After his departure, Dillan swept the rest of the band off their feet and became the band's drummer.
Avenue Rose laid down six tracks with Steve E. Nix of Seattle band The Brief's last summer in his basement studio over the course of a week. Next up for the band is finding a label to release the recordings; right now, there is nothing to leave behind with fans at shows except another great live experience.
Avenue Rose is like Christian Slater in Heathers: setting off a pack of thermals in the boiler room because Dad did. Taking cues from Joe Strummer, his pseudo-sons are a time bomb - not quite ready to explode but unstoppable, poised to blow and leave an impact."

-Lauren Takores
10.4.07 - Cooper Point Journal


"Now Wave Review"

"Straight out of Olympia, Washington comes a really promising demo from Avenue Rose, produced by The Briefs' Steve Ross. The band plays mid-tempo powerpop infused with punky rock n' roll, and strikes an uncanny resemblance to Ghosts of Saturday Night era Dimestore Haloes. Or perhaps the greater similarity is to the Chaz Matthews solo album, Amazing Graceless. Either way, I like what I'm hearing. These guys definitely know how to write a song. And the obvious pop hallmarks are abundant: handclaps, harmonies, oohs and ahs, catchy guitar leads, even a little cowbell. The playing is rock solid, and the vocals have that breathy, clogged-nosed, can't-quite-hit-the-notes quality that I find so appealing in Matthews's recent stuff. These tunes do strike me as not quite fully realized, but that's not uncommon for a demo. I hear the potential for Avenue Rose to do great things, and they're off to a very fine start. I can't stop whistling the melody to "Electric"!

If you liked the Haloes, check out Avenue Rose. I could also see fans of the Exploding Hearts and Electric Shadows digging this band. I won't be surprised if these guys turn out the 2009 Now Wave album of the year!"

- Lord Rutledge
3.39.08 - Now Wave


"7Inch Atlanta Review"

On Avenue Rose's "Electric" and its two b-sides, four young upstarts from Washington state's booming powerpop scene mix catchy hooks reminiscent of scene brethren like The Boss Martians with a helping their own rock, glam, and punk sensibilities.

"Electric" opens with Trav's blaring guitar and Dillan's torrential drumming and quickly launches into a fast-paced rocker complete with "woo hoo" backup vocals. It's almost like Exploding Hearts style pop played at Carbonas speed.

The b-side is even better. It begins with "Luxuries," a mellower tune which showcases lead singer Jason Mendoza's vocal skills.

"Tonight's Alright" is the final track and it combines the stong points of the previous songs. In a way, Avenue Rose is a lot like The Greatest Hits on this track since they combine pop vocals with a willingness to bust out the occasional guitar solo.

Though this release is a couple of years old, it is just now on the radar of a lot of powerpop fans because of Avenue Rose's opening slot on The Cute Lepers' recent "Throwing a Fit Across the U.S.A." tour.

This release proves two things. Pretty much everything Steve E. Nix touches turns to gold, and the northwest powerpop scene is churning out one great record after another.

- 7Inch Atlanta
9.2.08 - 7Inch Atlanta


"Maximum Rock'N'Roll Review"

Avenue Rose/Let’s Dance – Split EP
First off, let me just wonder why somebody makes a split EP with one side at 33 rpm and the other at 45 rpm. Okay, I won’t let it bother me (anymore). AVENUE ROSE is catchy, sort of soft pop music with a dash of punk in it. They remind me of THE SQUEEZE. It’s the kind of thing I’d put on the record player and sort of hope that nobody walked in on me. LET’S DANCE turn up the distortion a bit, add a little growl in the vocals, and quicken the pace. This one is a mix of power-pop and traditional punk. The result is less head-swaying and more head-bouncing. Nice effort by both of these bands. It’s on yellow and white splattered vinyl. (Kenny Kaos, MRR #309 February 2009)
- MRR


Discography

Electric EP (Slab-O-Wax Records, 2008)
Avenue Rose/Let's Dance split EP (Longshot Records, 2008)

Photos

Bio

If you’re looking for a sincere band that plays punk-driven rock’n’roll, look no further than Avenue Rose. No cheap gimmicks, no trendy clichés, just pure heart-filled punk rock!

For the past three years Avenue Rose has made the Pacific Northwest their home. Though the members of the band are spread out from Seattle, WA to Portland, OR (and a few places in-between) the guys couldn’t be closer. Avenue Rose plays regularly and has shared the stage with other Northwest acts such as The Briefs, The Tranzmitors, The Soda Pop Kids, The Girls and The Boss Martians, just to name a few. They’ve even played in support of UK punk legends The Vibrators and The Boys.

It’s hard for some to define their sound. Some have said that Avenue Rose play a mid-tempo style of rock’n’roll similar to that of The Squeeze or Joe Jackson. Others claim that their high-energy punk rock performances are reminiscent of The Saints or The Clash and have been described as “Exploding Hearts style pop at Carbonas speed.” However you classify them, its true that their own blend of catchy rock’n’roll hooks and punk anthems is unique and it’s just what you’re looking for!

In Fall 2005, after the break-up of each of their own bands, guitarist Jason Mendoza and Trav Criscola began writing songs and setting the framework for what would become Avenue Rose. Trav's friend and former bandmate Tyler Schwartzkopf came in on drums and the band started rehearsing. After a few weeks they recruited Eddie Salerno, an art-school student living in Seattle, on bass guitar and the band was complete. A handful of shows were booked and Avenue Rose started playing gigs all over the Northwest, from Portland dive bars to Tacoma garage shows and even a trip up to Vancouver, BC.

For their first year, Avenue Rose had been going strong. They had already played over 100 shows, made a couple attempts at recording and, after the departure of Tyler, were now struggling to find a permanent drummer. After a brief stint with former Plastic Letters/Pop Machine frontman Derek Sheppard filling in, permanent drum duties eventually settled on Dillan “The Kid” Lazzareschi. With their most solid line-up to date, Avenue Rose headed down the west coast on their first tour. Shortly after, the band made a grueling trip across the full US in support of The Cute Lepers on their Throwing a Fit Across the USA ’08 tour. The tour consisted of 41 shows in 42 days and culminated at the Wild Weekend Festival in Austin, TX, where Avenue Rose were joined by The Boys, Paul Collins’ Beat, The Pointed Sticks, Nikki Corvette and 18 other bands from across the United States.

Avenue Rose is now in their third year of existence and has completed two west coast tours, one full US tour, and released two 7” EPs produced by friend and former Briefs frontman Steve E. Nix (available on Slab-O-Wax Records and Longshot Music). Plans of a new EP and another full US tour are schedualed for Summer 2009.