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"La La Land CD Review - Glide"

Rolla is the union of Deep Banana Blackout guitarist Fuzz and singer/songwriter Carrie Ernst. On their debut album La La Land, the accord created between the two leads can be exquisite, as Fuzz leaves the funk for a more straight-forward organic pop sound. Fuzz’s hypnotic guitar licks are airy and light as the duo floats above a jazzy rhythm section that provides a quiet swinging groove with sweeping harmonies.

“Give Up The Ghost” sparkles with its dual harmonies, while dreamy melodies like those found on “You Were Mine” and “End of Time” float throughout the disk. Rolla chose Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” for the one cover song on La La Land. That fine choice says something about Rolla as their delicate rendition is remarkably emotional, making this partnership quite the pick-me up.

By Kenny Bohlin
January 19, 2006 - Glide Magazine

"La La Land CD Review - Kynde"

By Dave Terpeny

The effusive Fuzz is well-established through his work as an exceptional and psychedelic guitar player with funk pioneers Deep Banana Blackout and the exceptionally brilliant Tom Tom Club, as well as his recent Big Fuzz project. And he is known through those bands for his dazzling and kinetic playing (and fashion) style. So it was with somewhat of a shock that I learned about his acoustic rock project Rolla. How was he going to translate his energy into an acoustic setting?

As the history books tell, Rolla began as a fluke performance with his wife Carrie Ernst opening for Dickey Betts and Great Southern. From there it turned into a national acoustic duo tour with acts like Blues Traveler and Indigenous and then the recruitment of upright bass player David Shuman and drummer Marc Balling to form a complete and functioning band. They then immediately sequestered themselves in the studio and just recently independently released their first album, La La Land.

And there are no worries. Fuzz’ effervescence is in full swing, it’s just channeled, blurred and whispered into accomplished and harmonious songs, anchored firmly by Dave and Marc’s effective rhythms and wonderfully complimented by Carrie’s organic and sincere vocal accompaniment.

And when all of the above is put together under the auspices of Fuzz and Carrie’s adroit and agile songwriting skills the result is inescapably infectious.

The effortless listen that this album is starts off with the frolicsome and spacious “Give Up The Ghost” with its abstract lyrics and amped up bridge. This leads into “Salvation,” a contagious love song which is followed up by another organic and image-laden love song; the harmonious “You Were Mine.” “Traffic In The Cosmos” continues the vain of pop-laden folk with a slightly anthemic and Beatles-esque melody.

The halfway point of the album departs slightly from the cheerful sound of the album with the heavier and more minimalist rhythm of “This Day,” though it is still a panegyric love song of sorts and it does build at points into an almost thundering acoustic strumming. They return to the upbeat swinging with “Too Late” before falling into a moody cover of Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain.”

The album wraps up with a perfectly ponderous “End Of Time” and the flourishing and lush ballad “Stuck In A Daydream.”

It becomes immediately obvious at first listen, an impression that never leaves, as to why audience response to their initial impromptu performance was so positive. The music created and performed by Fuzz and Carrie, with the able assistance of Dave and Marc, is of the highest caliber and represents yet another enjoyable aspect of the chameleon-like Fuzz.

- Kynde Music

"La La Land CD Review - Advocate"

Fuzz's latest project is Rolla, a collaboration with his wife, Carrie Ernst, and bassist David Shuman and drummer Marc Balling -- the rhythm section from On the Corner with Fuzz band. With Rolla, the emphasis is on mellow alterna-pop and the vocal harmonies between husband and wife. A few of the cuts (most notably "You Were Mine" and "Stuck In a Daydream") on the 32-minute disc seem to be aural love letters between Fuzz and Ernst. Other highlights are lush renditions of Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain" and "Traffic in the Cosmos," which has an effortless melodic sensibility that recalls the Beatles' best skills as pop songwriters.

Ray Hogan - Stamford Advocate

"La La Land CD Review - Relix"

A sharp departure from his jazz-funk past, Rolla finds Deep Banana Blackout guitarist Fuzz trading his wha-wha pedal for a more straight ahead, song-oriented sound alongside bride/ co-vocalist Carrie Ernst. An organic evolution from the duo's regular acoustic apperances, Rolla finds its greatest strength in its harmonies, which guide gentle pleasantries like "Too Late" and "You Were Mine" into lush - dare we say indie - territories. At times, La La Land sounds like a single couple's conversation, with the tight rhythm section of David Shuman and Marc Balling used to accent Fuzz and Carrie's well-crafted thoughts and emotions. While searching for its voice, or in this case "Salvation", Rolla does get caught in the trappings of young love, but, at the end of the day, La La Land's intent manages to outweigh its occasional trite overstatements. If the jam scene is destined to mellow with age, a guitarist can only hope to mature as gracefully as Fuzz.

Mike Greenhaus - Relix Magazine

"Live show review UCONN"

Don’t Tell Anyone That Rolla Isn’t That Kind Of Jam Band
April 19, 2007 By Dan Barry

Rolla are so damn cute I want to spread them all over a cracker and eat them. They put the finishing move on UConn’s big outdoor spring party — the Human Fights Awareness Festival. Er, I mean Rights. Although some of the students were definitely fighting against awareness, if you know what I mean.

Rolla reminds me of Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians in several ways. They play proto-alternative that has a very college radio-ey sound. And despite espousing pop structures in most of their songs, they’ve managed to be one of the occasional non-jam bands who somehow get tagged by the jam crowd (think Dave Matthews, DJ Logic).

But these were secondary things. The most immediate factor was the vocalist/guitarist Carrie’s lilt. It has the wonderful quality of being reminiscent of Brickell’s without ripping off her distinctive pronunciation. No mistaking it: That was joy in her voice.

I could say the same for guitarist Fuzz’s playing. The difference between ordinary jam noodling and Fuzz’s improv is like night and day. I’m harsh on jam bands because I find that typical jam solos are filled with calming platitudes and artificial turbulence, building to 10 crescendos in a row like each one is still supposed to sound like some epiphany. Compare to Fuzz, who taps into jazz and blues traditions with ease, and uses his guitar to actually say something. He knew how to work tension and release without coming off like some grandstanding hero trying to guide his audience through a good trip.

The crowd gobbled it up. All the UConn kids were doing the jam band hippie dance, which always makes me feel awkward, since it’s the same exact dance that teenybopper girls have been doing in front of their teen idols for decades. It’s kind of a cross between the Running Man, the new wave pogo, and a goose. But I’ll forgive them, since they were taking their cue from Rolla. It’s instantly apparent that this band is completely, utterly humble, and really enjoy playing for you. I don’t think we can ask for much better from our entertainers. You can catch Rolla at The Space in Hamden on April 27, or May 12 at Sully’s with Bipolar Jukebox.

Earlier in the week, I saw the Lamb Bombs play Daniel Street in Milford. They play this sort of high-energy punkabilly that makes it really easy to envision them as participants in some amphetamine-fueled rodeo on tricycles. It’s fun, but if you’re not a diehard fan of all the many genres that end in “-billy,” I can’t see why you’d want to subject yourself to it for long periods of time. It’s not so much the instrumentation — they’re actually really good players — as it is Will Cole’s browbeating voice. It’s like there are 10 syllables for every one second of music. ●

» Contact Us is Copyright © 2006 by New Mass Media

- Hartford Advocate

"Fits and Starts CD Review - Play"

Fits and Starts; Rolla
This next listen, is my own pick for a local band with a new cd worth checking out. Bridgeport-based band Rolla put together a great collection of solid indie rock with their album Fits and Starts. The best introduction for anyone unfamiliar is at, from which a number of these songs will automatically stream. I recently met Rolla's Fuzz at Sully's in Hartford, and was inspired by the band's commitment and musicianship. Their music is a perfect blend of pop melody and rock sensibility. The guitar riffs have edge, the drums are tight, and the laid-back vocal harmonies of Carrie Ernst and Fuzz are wonderful to listen, careening like a Beatles John and Paul harmony....sweet and buttered. You can catch them at several live performances in the area, check the band's myspace page (at rollaband), for a complete schedule, and easy purchase of their new cd.
- Play New Haven magazine

"Fits and Starts CD Review - Skyline"

What do you do when you have an affinity for acoustics and you have already opened for some of the
biggest artists in blues and indie such as Blues Traveler and the Weepies? Well you dust off your old album "La La Land" and begin recording a new selection to give to the world. Rolla has pieced together a new etching in their history as they embark with "Fits & Starts," their new EP. And with their mellow yet anxious approach, they have attracted a rather large fan base that has held on to everyone of their notes.
The calming atmosphere of acoustic strumming and the balanced nature of both male and female vocals makes this a focused and even set of sounds. They encompass what The Smashing Pumpkins would be when they first started out. Tender energy with swirls of imagination mix together to make one crazy EP. Their sound holds a rather old fashioned feel, like something out of the early nineties. The intuitive lyrics take the simplistic song development to the next level. They also have an amazing ability to transform fuzzy guitars and waves of synth into a collection of wonders.
Being a fan of The Smashing Pumpkins, "Let It Happen" really appealed to me because of the similarities that Rolla has in common with them for this song. A tranquil island theme with well tuned acoustic guitars, layered singing and wild bridges are just so pleasant. "Strangest Thing" presents what Rolla does best as they wrangle their fuzzy guitars together with lace made of synth and create bushels of music that works ever so well together. With more funk infused bass, "Clay," jogs along with a placid drum set and symbol while both vocals resonate together. You can also clearly pick up the effects petals and there's nothing wrong with that because screwing around with your sound and changing it up is always fun, and great to listen to.
This EP is pretty nice and offers up pretty much everything that it promises. Strong indie ties anchor the style down, but at the same time, its creative juices allow it to step outside the box. As a strict acoustic album, I say it fairs pretty well because of how simplistic yet resourceful it is even though parts can lull you to sleep and maybe seen as boring. But if you continue to listen to it, you will get closer and closer to it and you will feel a legitimate bond to the style of music Rolla plays. Let’s see how far they can soar with this passionate music.

~ Robert
February 20 2007
- Skyline Press

"Fits and Starts CD Review - Relix"

It says something about the state of jam-nation that Fuzz, a man who helped dfine the jam genre a decade ago, has, by his own admission, gone post-jam. But, more than many of his peers, Fuzz's evolution from a funk musician to one-half of an acoustic duo to the lead guitarist in the rock-based Rolla seems like a natural progression. Fits and Starts, Rolla's second studio release in under two years, is stacked with a series of fuzzy but lush pop-rock songs more rooted in Wilco's psychedlic-folk-rock than James Brown's funk rave-ups. It's the type of record more concerned with tight harmonies than loose energy, it's still held together by Fuzz'z easily danceable guitar. In fact, if you slowed down the "How Do You Do It?" lyrics and pumped up the bass, it might even sound like a lost Deep Banana Blackout cut. And, stylistic distinctions aside, Rolla is clearly rolling in the right direction.
Mike Greenhaus - Relix Magazine

"Fits and Starts CD Review - Uproar"

Having opened for the likes of Blues Traveler and The Weepies and landing a recent spot at Jam Cruise 5, an event which featured Umphrey’s McGee, Galactic, Railroad Earth and others, Rolla has begun to cultivate a definite presence in the world of acoustic/folk rock. Despite the nature of their tour mates, however, it would be a mistake to write the New England quartet off as another in a long, casual line of jam bands.

Though the group’s mellow sound, centered on the vocal/instrumental interplay between vocalists/guitarists Fuzz (formerly of Deep Banana Blackout) and Carrie, might appeal to fans of such artists; Rolla’s music is more grounded in the tuneful stylings of '60s pop and modern day indie rock. While nothing musically earth-shattering takes place on Fits & Starts, their newest release, the six-song EP is an apt showcase for the band’s strengths (simply structured pop/rock songs with engaging vocal harmonies and quirky arrangements).

Highlights include “How Do You Do It?” which features Carrie’s considerable vocal talents against a backdrop of funky rhythms and retro guitar sounds. “You Fell Down” employs a more organic, melancholy feel as the vocal duo sings “You fell down pretty hard….you fell into my arms.” Following a nicely paced acoustic shuffle and featuring more superbly pristine harmonies, “I’m Happy” is another of the record’s strongest tracks.

Fans of indie/folk/melodic modern rock questing to find a new artist to enjoy should give Rolla a listen as Fits & Starts is a satisfying glimpse at a band that deserves the attention they’re beginning to receive.

- Aarik - Silent Uproar

"Rolla Rocks - Interview with Fuzz and Carrie"

ROLLA Rocks: Fuzz and Carrie speak out
By Ellen Rosner Feig

So the story of the band ROLLA goes something like this…Fuzz (formerly of The Tom Tom Club) reluctantly makes it to a gig at Nectar’s in Burlington, Vermont where he meet Carrie Ernst, a local singer/songwriter. Instant chemistry and the two ended up spending all night playing music. After playing an acoustic set at a Dickey Betts concert, the band ROLLA was born.
With music that combines the best of pop with elements of alternative folk, ROLLA is unlike any band out there. With their first record, LaLaLand, the band (Fuzz, Carrie, David Shuman and Mark Balling), the band delivered a romantic record filled with vocal harmonies and electric/acoustic arrangements. After Balling left due to touring conflicts, Phil Pitts took over and the band went in to record their new release Fits and Starts. A little bit Wilco, a little bit The Beatles…ROLLA is all about listenable music filled with poetic lyricism and meaning.

Your songs are filled with harmonic emotion. Does that fact that you (Fuzz and Carrie) are a couple come into play on the majority of the tracks?

Fuzz: Yes. Our meeting was what sparked this whole project so it definitely comes across through the music. Because we’re emotional, the music is emotional, the listeners are emotional… everybody’s emotional. Music should always convey an emotion.

Carrie: Although I wouldn’t say that the majority of the tracks on “Fits and Starts” are written lyrically about or pertaining to our relationship specifically. Maybe more so on the first album.

How has the experience of playing with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz influenced the music of ROLLA?

Fuzz: Chris and Tina are a very solid rhythm section that plays simply for support of the arrangement. The complexities in their music show up in their ideas, lyrics and sonic colors that they layer on top of this foundation. It is essentially intellectual dance music. I think a simple music bed with complex harmonies and intricate melodies has been a model for most Rolla music.

Tell us about the first time you two played together as an acoustic duo…

Fuzz: It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship! …opening for Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers) and although we’re not southern rock, it went over really well with his audience.

Carrie: It was a great first show. It was actually a lot like our meeting. It just felt right, like we had always known each other. After that night we knew we had to take our music together seriously. (Well, not too seriously)

How did you recruit the additional members of the band?

Fuzz: I had worked with Dave and Marc previously gigging and recording. I always liked their playing and personalities. Dave plays upright bass as well as electric and upright bass was the sound we were looking for on the first album.

Carrie: Unfortunately Marc couldn’t keep up with our touring schedule so we handed the drum sticks over to Phil. I think we’ll keep him.

Why the title LaLaLand for first album? Fits and Starts for second? Why indie release?

Carrie: We met in December of 2004 and were engaged five months later. Over the next year, leading up to our wedding, we wrote the material for La La Land. It seemed an appropriate title since that’s where we were when we were creating it. Our lives and our concept of the band started getting more complex and unpredictable while writing the material for our second release so we called it “Fits and Starts”.

Fuzz: We released our first two albums independently because we were having success on our own and weren’t ready to jump into bed with any labels. Up until now we were still defining Rolla as a band and a sound but I think soon we’ll be ready to sell our souls to the devil.

You Fell Down is my favorite song on the EP. What’s the inspiration?

Carrie: Glad you like it. You Fell Down is a love inspired song. Not sunshine, cloud 9, love… but the real love that may bring you down sometimes but leaves you with a sense of hope at the end of the day.

Fuzz: Some of it came out of a dream. It was the ‘soundtrack’. Other people have told me about this, about music in their dreams sounding like the best music they ever heard. I had one of these moments so I ran to the living room and recorded the idea quietly while Carrie was sleeping… so quietly you can hear the sirens outside on the original demo.

You had a pretty strong tour schedule with the first release - what’s the plan for this EP?

Carrie: We’ve been touring pretty hard since the December release of “Fits and Starts” and it has been a wild ride so far. We are slowing things down a bit over the next couple months to make time to record our new full length record that we are hoping to release late this summer. Full speed ahead!

Fuzz: We’ll put some time aside, though for some summer festivals and some beach blanket bingo.

What are the major influences?

Fuzz: We all have so many musical influences from jazz, to classic rock and roll, to folk, to classical, to world… but to stay focused we only listen to the monotone rhythm of the dripping faucet in the kitchen.

Carrie: Drip, Drip, Drip…..Drip

How would you categorize, if you had to, your music?

Fuzz: Melody and harmony dominate and we try to say something interesting that will touch your heart at the same time. Some people call us indie rock or pop but since we usually like to put a danceable beat behind the song (thanks to Dave and Phil); maybe we can call it groovy acoustic indie dream pop.

Carrie: Why why why must we categorize!?!?! Ok fine… here it goes… melodic, acoustic driven alt/pop/rock with intricate harmonies and occasional ripping guitars over a tight and groovy rhythm section. Say that five times, fast! - The Cheap Pop


La La Land LP (2005)
Fits & Starts EP (2006)



The Rolla Story:
And to think, he almost didn’t make the gig...

Call it fate, call it a coincidence, call it a series of fortunate events, but three years, two records, and one wedding later, Rolla can only call it their good luck that Fuzz's booking agent forgot to cancel what would prove to be a most fateful gig. It was a cold December night in Burlington, Vermont. Fuzz (Tom Tom Club, Deep Banana
Blackout) made the show at Nectar's, and it was there he met his future wife, band mate and soul mate, Carrie Ernst, a newly local singer-songwriter who remembered Fuzz from his earlier bands. She decided to say hello... The chemistry was undeniable, and that night the two stayed up 'til sunrise talking and playing songs to one another.

Their live debut together was as spontaneous as their meeting, during an acoustic set by Fuzz supporting Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers Band). Encouraged by a warm audience response (and as an excuse to spend more quality time together) they decided that they should take their musical relationship seriously. As the collaboration became their main focus, they realized something was missing - a rhythm section - and recruited longtime Fuzz associates bassist David Shuman (The Lilys, MayKate O’Neil Band)) and drummer Marc Balling to the cause. Rolla was born.

A band born of love, Rolla's first record, La La Land, naturally has a romantic persuasion. Though the musicians' backgrounds encompass jazz, funk, R&B and folk, Rolla draws inspiration from the players' common ground in timeless pop and rock (the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan), and from the contemporary artists they admire (The Shins, Wilco, Modest Mouse). The centerpiece of Rolla's music is Fuzz and Carrie's vocal harmonies, weaving bright, but laid-back pop melodies over clean and to-the-point electric and acoustic arrangements.

La La Land propelled much touring, including opening spots for national acts such as Blues Traveler, Kenny Rankin and the Weepies, and was awarded "CD of the Year 2005" by the Indie Acoustic Project. The band has since recorded an EP, Fits & Starts, which finds them gone more electric and occasionally exploring some darker lyrical terrain. Love is still decidedly in the air, but Rolla try their collective hand at relational dysfunction with "I'm Happy" and life, death and purgatory with "Let it Happen."

Phil Pitts has taken over drum duty from Balling, who left on good terms over scheduling conflicts (he's a schoolteacher, Rolla's a rock band...). Plans are laid for regional and national tours and a new full-length in the coming year.