By Jim Schutze
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Sure, Frankie Rose's résumé is impressive: She briefly drummed for L.A.'s Dum Dum Girls and San Francisco's Shitstorm, a group with Raven Mahon and Hannah Lew of Grass Widow, and was a founding member of Vivian Girls, penning the '60s girl-group ode "Where Do You Run To," the song that put them on everyone's radar.
She kept time for those ladies, but never felt the creative ownership she wanted to. Since Rose switched coasts, her tastes have slowly shifted forward a couple decades.
The Brooklyn singer-guitarist's latest album, Interstellar, her second for dream-pop hotbed Slumberland Records, elegantly immerses the listener in an '80s mood, with Rose stretching her voice across pleasant, sweet rock songs about space and love. It's a more mature sound than 2010's debut, Frankie Rose & the Outs, and it's also the sound of Rose learning to be a frontwoman and feel comfortable in that role.
"I was writing songs as a drummer, but it's a totally different take, and I think you lose ownership when it's not you singing," she says. "But that's not easy either, when you're suddenly taking total responsibility. I'm up front, I have to speak to the audience. You're safe behind the drum kit. The stage fright never quite goes away."
Her habit of jumping from band to band might paint her as commitment-shy, but it also means she never stays on one idea or style for long, which comes through on Interstellar's hopscotch of melody and riff. On the first official release under her name, the 33-year-old has just taken a longer route than others to find her voice.
"I think I have a ridiculous job at this point," she says with a laugh. "But it's the only thing I know to do."
Still, Rose has seen the tides change just in the last decade, and the channels of access expand. Her music would have fit right in on Slumberland 20 years ago, though whether she would have been getting as much attention is debatable.
"I'm not playing any stadiums. There are still small shows, DIY venues, people making zines, the access is just different. Nineteen and 20-year-olds know way more about synth and electronic music now, because it's all right there in front of them. When I was a kid, it was hanging out at the record store, but now the Internet tells you, and it takes some of the sacredness out of it, but I think everyone should be able to have that access."