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Roxercat Glistens In Glory With Progressive Rock EP, 'Pearls'

Since 2017, Nashville rock band Roxercat has been offering listeners a progressive rock sound led by singer Price Jones, guitarist Stan Lassiter, and bassist Bill Francis.

After finishing up a rock opera project they were all involved in (The Fortunate Few: the rock opera written and produced by Price), they decided to pool their talents again to form an original rock band and thus became Roxercat.

Crafted at Sound Emporium Studios with overdubs at Cat Tracks Studio, we're treated to the newly released EP from Roxercat, 'Pearls.' Composed and arranged by Price Jones and co-produced by Grammy award-winning engineer and producer Clarke Schleicher, the six songs featured on the project features the imaginative storytelling and stellar musicianship that is certainly expected from such a seasoned group of Nashville creatives.

Kicking this album off with crunchy guitar riffs that bellow through the speakers, the title track and introductory single "Pearls" wraps us in a blanket of earnest depiction as Roxercat puts their best foot forward in a song that is authentically themselves. Passion fuels this pacifying, mid-tempo bop in every aspect possible. From the arrangement of the percussion and bass setting the rhythmic grooves in place to the effervescence of the tantalizing guitar solo, the musical foundation sets the framework for what's to come. You can hear how the inflection from the verses to the chorus change as Price Jones' honeyed croons effortlessly carry you to the triumphant lyrical motif "that's all I ever wanted."

Next up, we have "Crime" making a jazzy funk-fueled entrance as the second track heard on "Pearls." Taking the spotlight with a nostalgic 70s groove filling the speakers, we love the contrast in sounds from "Pearls" to "Crime." Price Jones even approaches the song with a different demeanor as her sultry timbres swoop you in a robust whirlwind of empowering tenors that only increase in intensity as the song progresses. The entirety of Roxercat allows listeners to feast upon the upbeat rhythms as they dissect the complexity of "Crime" for all its intricate moments. There's no sound that Roxercat can't catapult into.

"Baby I Tried" slows things down as the melancholic instrumentation whisks you into a reflective state of mind. With lyrical motifs like "Release your pain and get on with the game," this song acts as a poignant letter to an ex-flame revealing the truths of the mind. An impeccable balance of instrumental moments happens through the record as you sink your brain into what's truly being said. You can hear how the intention of the rhythmic pulse from Lassiter and Francis is more elusive than the previous two singles - before Roxercat ups the ante and professes the frustrations that come from a tried love in a free-flowing expression that lashes at emotions felt.

Fourth on 'Pearls,' we have the warmth that radiates from the song "I Will Not Lie." We look at this song as a mesmerizing illustration of the aftermath of love drenched in utter catchiness. The brilliant harmonies stand out exceptionally to us as we listen to this song all the way through. It creates a professed call-and-response energy, which keeps the song vitality captivating in its glory. Apart from Price Jones' zealous vocalization, guitarist Stan Lassiter and bassist Bill Francis feed on this rich foundation as you hear the passion they unleash in this performance.

As we gear up for a strong indie rock vibe on "I Changed Today," this narrative is inspired by life's unexpected twists and turns. Price Jones states, "I've always felt like life happens in chapters. Sometimes I sense that a major paradigm shift is about to occur. I have no idea what it is that's about to happen or whether it's going to be good or bad; I just feel an unexpected and profound sense of a change out of the blue." Well, we feel it too. Francis takes a moment to serenade us in a sweet-sounding bass solo that prepares us for Lassiter to take the reins and leave us festering in a sizzling guitar solo of his own.

We come to the end of 'Pearls' with the down-tempo and heartfelt quintessence of "2020," which blends into its counterbalance of poignant musical flair trickling through the speakers. What starts as a melancholy record escorts us into the song with a striking instrumental candor unleashing myriad flavors through the speakers. The entirety of this song has us awestruck by the dynamism shared between Lassiter and Francis as they take over the soundwaves and create an impeccable chronicle through the emotions felt.

Leaving us on a high note as we sit and absorb each component for what it is, we cannot help but feel complete as this Roxercat EP ends.

Interview responses provided by: Price Jones

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Roxercat! Congratulations on the release of "Pearls." This project fits into the true essence of being a sonic adventurer. Please take us into the concept behind the EP.

The concept was basically borne out of the pandemic. Stan, Bill, and I had been working on another project, The Fortunate Few: the rock opera. We were about three years in and close to being ready for the live show with our CD recording to back it up when the pandemic hit. That pretty much scrapped all of our well-laid plans. By the time live music opened up again, over half our cast had moved away. Stan, Bill, and I had developed some really great musical chemistry over those three years and wanted to continue our sonic journey together. Hence, we decided to start a new band, Roxercat. We rehearsed for about three months before we went into the studio to cut the EP.

What was it like working with production architect Clarke Schleicher to bring these songs to life?

Working with Clarke Schleicher was amazing. He's our 5th Beatle, so to speak. Not only is he a phenomenal audio engineer, but he's also a stellar producer as well. He got our music and brought out the best in all of us. He really helped hone in on the direction and feel we were going for with the tunes. Recording at Sound Emporium Studios with Clarke was a very fun & natural process. And that's what you want in the studio, good vibes and someone behind the console that you can absolutely trust.

You're known to have guest instrumentalists feature in your songs. So who else can we hear throughout "Pearls?"

We met drummer Andy Peake early on in our rehearsals and were lucky enough to have him around for most of the pre-session song workshopping we did. Andy is a fabulous drummer who is as solid as a rock. We really enjoyed playing with him. For 4 of our tunes, "Pearls & Crime," "I Will Not Lie," & "I Changed Today," we brought Nashville session keyboardist Jeff Roach, who killed it on the Hammond C3. What a mind-blowing player! He locked in on what we needed right off the bat and just flat-out nailed it all in one session. He's scary good! I had started doing all the background vocals, but Clarke suggested mixing it up and bringing in some other voices for a little more depth. So we called up two singers we'd worked with on The Fortunate Few, Rebekah Davis and Desmond Arias. Rebekah is this powerhouse vocalist who can absolutely rock out. What a voice! Desmond Arias is an MTSU jazz sax player who boasts an awesome smooth rock tone. They cut backgrounds on "I Will Not Lie" and "I Changed Today" and did a knock-out job.

Are there any favorite songs the band has on the EP? Which ones and why?

My personal favorite song on our EP is the last tune, 2020. It's a YES-type flavored tune with sparse vocals. The song is what I consider a musical diary of the year 2020. For me started off great. We were at the finish line with the rock opera that we'd worked so hard on for so long, and then *BAM* the pandemic hit. Every time we play that song, it speaks to my soul. The song goes from this happy, beachy vibe to this intense "I think I'm losing my mind" groove... Then towards the end of the song, it slows down, "That's just life." Every time I sing that section, I'm reminded of all the losses I experienced that year. And then, lastly, this uplifting anthem of hope comes from out of the ashes... the feeling that there can and will be joy again. It's a good ending for the EP, which travels through turbulent times. Hope...


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