Forgotten Album of the Month: Subrosa
About a year ago, I wrote about For Squirrels and “8:02 PM.” Before the album came out, half the band was killed in a van accident. The other half recovered from their injuries, found a new bassist, Andy Lord and toured as For Squirrels for a time and then began work on a new record. Reuniting with For Squirrels producer Nick Launay, the band rechristened themselves Subrosa, Latin for “under the rose” and set about to make an extremely angry record.
When the album, Never Bet the Devil Your Head, was released in the summer of 1997, it was a complete turnaround from the pop sensibilities of Example and was almost completely written in response to the tragedy. Kicking off with “World’s Greatest Lover,” a swirling, loud monster of a song that paves the way for the rest of the record. Guitarist/vocalist Travis Tooke’s throaty, almost Tom Waits-y vocals give the songs a much harsher edge and more of a ‘fuck you’ attitude.
As the album progresses, the mood gets darker and the aggression from the tragedy is brought to the forefront at just about all times. Songs like “Damn The Youth” and “The Life Inside Me Killed This Song” are kind of mellow but very venomous. As the album begins to wind down, everything gets a little weirder with songs like “Madness is Genius By Design” and “Lullaby to the Enemy” which mentions a woman’s vital parts with intensity. The band, drummer Jack Griego and Andy Lord are behind Travis the whole time and never let anything down which helps give the album much more of a powerful focus than most other rock records of the year. The album closes with “Pretend,” which just features Travis singing in a very mournful tone about the loss of his bandmates and friends, while trying to imagine the accident never happened. The final sound on the record is the sound of a door closing, which one can look at as the closing of a second chapter.
The album pretty much failed on arrival but the band persevered, taking Creed on their first national tour. But the more the band played, the less the label tried to promote the record. Upon turning in demos for a third record, the label rejected them and a few months later ended up dropping the band altogether. It later transpired that the label only released the record because contractually, they were obligated to. Regardless of the circumstances, the band kept going for about a year and a half before dissolving around 1999. Travis Tooke ended up leaving the music business for almost a decade before reemerging in 2007 with Artichoke. Although Subrosa never got much attention, the band’s reputation has grown considerably over the years as people discovered the music. So take a listen and discover how fantastic the band really was.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC0M3HrFJjk (The Life Inside Me Killed This Song)