Bess Rogers
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Bess Rogers

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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"Bess Rogers - Boston Pheonix Review"

You could say Bess Rogers was born to make music. Her mother played the harpsichord and recorders in early music groups. Her father built those
harpsichords, and she began learning to play them at only six years old. A few
years later, when most kids were fretting about acne, voice-cracks, and the
other ills of puberty, Bess was writing her first songs. And she hasn't stopped.
She went on to earn her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Studio Composition
from SUNY Purchase's renowned Conservatory of Music.
- The Boston Pheonix


"Bess Rogers teeters between solo career, handful of bands"

There are those people who have a solo career and spend all of their time and energy trying to grow it into something that's self-sustaining and, in some ways, a machine. There are others who aren't content with simply one project and try to get involved in as many different things as possible. You can place Bess Rogers into that second category.

The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter released her latest EP, Bess Rogers Presents Bess Rogers, on Sept. 7. While setting out on a CD release tour this month, it will be short-lived as she hits the road with Ingrid Michelson in October — Rogers is the guitar player in Michelson's band. When that tour ends, she hopes to get work done with an electronic indie-rock band she's a part of called The Age of Rockets. She also hopes to finish recording an EP with her bluegrass cover band, The Flux Capacitors.

When not touring with Michelson or performing with her other bands, she's taken her solo work on the road with Jenny Owen Youngs, Allie Moss (the other guitar player in Michelson's band) or, as with the current tour, Allison Weiss and Leila Broussard.

"I definitely have times when I want to stay home and watch Mad Men for 24 hours straight, but this is what I love to do," Rogers says by phone from her Brooklyn home. "I'm able to make a living off of it through all these different projects — that's been a life goal for a while and it's finally happening. All of the variety keeps me excited about things. It keeps me learning and growing as a musician ... It does take up a lot of time though."

After touring with Michelson for three years, she seems as at home in that role as she does when performing her own music. "It kind of fulfills a different side of me and it's completely different than my solo career," Rogers says. "It's a great band and we're like a big happy family. Plus, playing in front of a big crowd is fun and addicting and something I only get to do with her, at this point."

That's not to say Rogers doesn't enjoy her club shows. There's an intimacy that can only be found on smaller stages, and she enjoys connecting with the audience through her own music. Those large crowds have helped her become more comfortable when she's in a smaller venue.

One way to "break the ice" with crowds in the clubs is to pull out a Flux Capacitors song — usually Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." "I love going on YouTube and researching '80s videos and trying to figure out how to rework them," she says. "It almost makes me appreciate them more, while also hearing the ridiculousness of some of the lyrics."

Rogers' new album features songs she has been performing live for a while, but is excited to finally be able to get them in people's hands. As an indie artist, Rogers thinks it's more important to get new music consistently out instead of just waiting until an entire album (and a year or two) have passed. There are some songs that are ballad-like, while others have a greater band dynamic than you might expect from a singer-songwriter.

"I think everything I'm a part of seeps its way in, but that's why I grow as a musician and artist," she says. "I think if you put yourself in a box and don't allow yourself to grow, that's when music becomes stagnant." - Creative Loafing


"(Bess Rogers) Presents Bess Rogers is certain to be her coming out party, a veritable call to arms to industry suits and those who give a damn."

Thanks to Norah Jones and Ingrid Michaelson, under-the-radar New York City-based singer-songwriters of the female persuasion have it a lot easier than say 15 years ago. That's not to say that people weren't paying attention back in the early 90s --- they were --- it's just that ever since those two sprout up from virtually nowhere, femmes have had it a little easier.

Take for example Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Bess Rogers. Despite being on a tiny label, her debut EP Travel Back was lauded by the likes of Paste, Village Voice and others. Her newest EP Presents Bess Rogers is certain to be her coming out party, a veritable call to arms to industry suits and those who give a damn.

Album opener "Come Home," is jangly, upbeat acoustic folk-rock. Almost immediately her crystalline voice makes an impression and the entire piece bristles with polish, professionalism and charisma. Anchored by a big hip-shaking chorus, there's little reason to think the song won't be a big deal on AC and AAA radio formats. Hell, the country crowd might even embrace her, even if she does throw in some wailing horns towards the song's finish.

The shuffling mid-tempo number "What We Want," is quieter and more introspective. Her voice rises like a bell and now more than ever its apparent that voices like these just don't sit on shelves idly singing to empty saloons, they define genres, they make grand statements and they make others try harder. Rogers is blessed with that kind of voice and one has to think that the success of this EP will propel her to impact radio.

She continues to mine in self-rumination with the lingering "Good Enough," which swirls and swills as she discusses perseverance, fortitude and self-worth. It's just the kind of tonic music listeners need. On the caffeinated "Favorite Day," she chases down jittery, urgent, lo-fi folk-pop and while it doesn't work nearly as well as its predecessors, it is an inspired foray into nostalgia and recounting a former flame. The EP ends with "All In Good Fun" a near-perfect, lingering jaunt into standard singer-songwriter territory that's near-perfect and absolutely gorgeous.

That Rogers is currently on tour with Michaelson is no coincidence. The two of them mine the same fertile ground of heartache and disappointment and both have an appealing and engaging presence that's both magnetic and commercial. While its probably a bit premature to say, there's a chance Rogers indeed has a brighter future. Much like Anna Nalick, there's a palpable sense of honesty, tenderness and sex appeal that's ripe for television, movies and hordes of magazines. - Absolute Punk


""An Arresting New Talent" with "An Acute Ear For Pop Hooks""

Is Bess Rogers a folkie with punk instincts or an indie-rocker with an acoustic bent? Her EP Bess Rogers Presents Bess Rogers makes it hard to place her in a neat category — and that turns out to be a source of strength for this eclectic singer/songwriter. Rogers — a member of Ingrid Michaelson’s touring band — likes to surround her sweet lyric sentiments with a tough outer coating as she recounts tales of fumbled romance and fragile happiness. Her acute ear for pop hooks is evident in “Come Home” (matching a sunny chorus with a thumping beat) and “Favorite Day” (a hard-charging tune reminiscent of early Go-Go’s). More introspective are coffeehouse-style ballads like “What We Want” and “All In Good Fun.” Dan Romer (another Michaelson associate) gives these tracks a nicely layered production, emphasizing the playful, anything-can-happen spirit of Rogers’ songs. More than anything, there’s a sense here that Rogers is exploring her sonic palette as well as her personal feelings. It’s this freewheeling quality that makes the EP an engaging effort by an arresting new talent. - iTunes editorial review


"Great Songwriters from Long Island You've Probably Never Heard Of"

Collage art has always intrigued me, mostly because of how many different and sometimes conflicting agendas come together to form a beautiful whole. When I lived in Brooklyn, I once put together a Park Slope neighborhood landscape with construction paper, Hershey’s Chocolate wrappers and glass. There was an element of danger involved, yes, but the product was worth the risk I think. Bess Rogers’ brand of collage combines strange organs and keyboard sounds with more traditional sounding strings and pipes. What comes out is a quirky but remarkably heartfelt deliverance of musical community—another kind of neighborhood, if you will, and one that is gaining lots of attention. Bess, along with friends Jenny Owen Youngs, Ingrid Michaelson, and Gregory and the Hawk (They also make a collage!) is part of a burgeoning NYC music scene of diverse and talented female singer/songwriters refusing categorization and making lots and lots of new friends. But as far as I know, Bess is the only one of these artists born and raised in Levittown, America’s first suburb, which may or may not partially explain the materials for one final relevant collage: genuine neighborhood charm, indubitable universal quality, and a sense of appreciativeness that’s never too cool for a conversation, a “how’s your day?” or “thank you very, very, very much.”

- by Alan Semerdjian - LI Pulse


"Decisions Based on Information - review"

Bess Rogers has accomplished an impressive feat on her debut CD – she fearlessly takes chances and effortlessly stradles musical genres, creating a completely cohesive album. Decisions Based on Information finds Brooklyn-based Rogers not only testing her vocal capacity from track to track, but also using every instrument youmight find in a music conservatory. Album opener “You and Me” is sparse, jaunty pop with a walking bass, snare, fiddle and tambourine. “I Would Never” builds to a huge sound with Rogers’ voice soaring over a trumpet and trombone. There’s violin, french horn, and cello on “Urdone;” marimba, peg legs, and shaker buttressing Rogers’ haunting vocals on the ominous “Sunday;” and accordion, knee slaps, and violin on “See Me? See You!” Rogers’ voice is similarly varying, shifting from lush, to sweet, to haunting, to sultry and back again. Decisions is a stunningly adventurous debut that unravels itself a little more upon each listening. - www.rebelspiritmusic.com


"Decisions Based on Information - Review"

With just her voice and guitar, a lot of great things could be said about Brooklyn singer/songwriter Bess Rogers. Fortunately for us, her debut LP Decisions Based on Information is a fantastic multi-tiered collage of instruments, tones, moods and styles.

On the opener “You and Me,” Rogers clunks along with her guitar in a folksy rockabilly rhythm only to merge her guitars with electric synthesizers and keys. It’s a fitting introduction, especially considering that most of Decisions is a veritable buffet of genres spliced together. The hip-hop futurism of “Undone” is reminiscent of the later work of Fiona Apple while “Waltz Me” features an accordion as the dominant instrument. This is not your typical pop singer/songwriter album.

“I Would Never” builds up from the sour strumming of an electric guitar and slowly builds into one more shining chorus complete with a brass section and Rogers’ voice fighting to sing over the wild instrumentation. In fact, the soundscape on many tracks is considerably Beatlesesque, especially on the Sgt. Peppersish “Only One.” The piano ballad “Notice,” is downright gorgeous as Rogers’ harmonies wash over the keys like an ocean swell crashing on an empty beach on a moonless night.

Lyrically, Rogers’ songs are deeply intimate and personal, although her warm voice and the album’s diverse musicality have a tendency to distract the listener from hearing everything she’s saying.

Some painters use every color on their palette to craft their masterpiece. In the case of Bess Rogers, along with producer-extraordinaire Dan Romer, they’ve used just about every instrument in the studio to craft this phenomenal independent debut. Simply said, Decisions makes all the right calls.
– Bill Reese
- Good Times Magazine


Discography

Bess Rogers Presents Bess Rogers EP (2010)

Travel Back EP (2009)

Decisions Based on Information (LP, 2007)

Live EP (2005)

Valentine EP (2003)

Photos

Bio

"Bess is one of those special artists whose songs will make a difference. Expect to hear her spoken of with the likes of Imogen Heap, Feist and Amy Winehouse - real soon." - Tony McAnany (Sinead O'Connor, Missy Elliott, P.O.D.)

You could say Bess Rogers was born to make music. Her mother played the harpsichord and recorders in early music groups. Her father built those harpsichords, and she began learning to play them at only six years old. A few years later, when most kids were fretting about acne, voice-cracks, and the other ills of puberty, Bess was writing her first songs. And she hasn't stopped. She went on to earn her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Studio Composition from SUNY Purchase's renowned Conservatory of Music. She moved to Brooklyn and became a regular in the New York scene, playing at The Knitting Factory, The Living Room, Pianos, and Southpaw, to name a few. In addition to her solo work, Bess plays guitar for such up-and-coming artists as Jenny Owen Youngs and Ingrid Michaelson, and is a member of synth/pop band, The Age of Rockets.

In 2006, on a whimsical afternoon, Bess and her friend Dan Romer went into the studio to record a few of her songs. There was no plan for anything like the LP that would eventually coalesce, but the sessions were so productive that they kept happening again and again. And this spontaneity is captured by Rogers' independently released debut CD, Decisions Based on Information. Bess dances through genres on Decisions…, and the result is an eclectic and immensely enjoyable hodgepodge that manages to feel somehow familiar and wholly unique.

Bess is a compelling performer with nothing but a guitar; she impressed people for years with her wonderful songs and her beautiful, silky voice. What's impressive about Decisions… is its ability to straddle genre-lines and to throw in more instruments than you find in a high-school band without ever veering towards the muddled or confused. Where else would you find an accordion and a banjolele on a record filled with endless 'ba da da's and accessible lyrics that beg you to dig a little deeper? Bess' songs run the gamut from strange and waltzy to alt-country to brooding folk to twee pop, sometimes in the space of a single song. The only constant is Bess' obvious gift for melody, her luxurious, sultry, or sweet voice (depending on the moment), and Romer's stellar production.

In short, Decisions Based on Information is the first full-length record by a young woman who will undoubtedly make many more—and, dare I say it, probably even better—records in the years to come. To put it as shortly as possible, Bess Rogers is here. Time to pay attention.