Portland’s dream rock / psychedelic pop band, Ezza Rose, will release their new album, No Means No, tomorrow Friday, September 28th and you can hear it here first. After releasing three singles and an incredibly moving video for title track, “No Means No,” it’s clear that the band’s fourth LP is their most powerful to date. This band continues to evolve. On each and every track, Ezza Rose gets to the very root of the weeds growing in society’s garden, while providing sun and oxygen in the form of driving rhythms, aggressive electric guitars, and dreamy vocal melodies with lyrical grit. The result of all that digging and getting dirty exposes the complex landscape of interactions and accountability between people, ranging from the public eye to behind closed doors.
Ezza Rose says, “Words have meaning, and when meaning is disconnected from words, communication is lost. My mother always said things to me like, “No means no,” and “Sorry isn’t good enough,” which frustrated me as a child, to feel powerless against her words. The women in my family value their words this way, following their intention through to action. Later in life, I realized the value of this foundation they had built in me. Today, I also stand by my word and hold myself accountable for the actions and ideas my words convey.
I’m confused when others don’t take my words at face value, that society gets to choose whether or not I am heard. I know others have struggled to feel heard their entire lives, and it’s powerful to finally see that struggle acknowledged and addressed in societal movements towards equality. The content of this album, ‘No Means No,’ covers the landscape of interaction between people, both in the public eye and behind closed doors. It’s a reflection of my frustration with those who choose not to respect the meaning of, and intention behind people’s words. “I don’t want to tell you that No means No”…but I will, for now.”’
Most recent single, “American Man,” which debuted on PopDust, drew comparisons to Angel Olsen, Mazzy Star, Sharon Van Etten, and it’s safe to say it also rocks as hard as an Oh Sees song, or even St. Vincent. It’s raw and seductive at the same time — not to mention, the song itself shows the evolution that the whole album reflects… all in one track.
The band’s second single, “Baby, Come Down,” is a heartbreaking song about addiction and being in love with an addict. It was first shared via Culture Collide, and showed the incredible range this album encompasses. Culture Collide accurately noted that, “While the band’s previous single [“No Means No”] is a biting post-punk demand, “Baby, Come Down” is a vintage dream pop ballad, straight from that aforementioned decade [the ’60s] we love so much. More the observation than a battle cry, the tune is a stripped and wistful take on society’s obsession with distraction.”
First single and title track, “No Means No,” debuted on Bust Magazine, who said it “a song that connects with the #MeToo movement.” The video for the single is spine-chilling in it’s reliability for those fighting for feminism. Bust says, “we see men with blurred-out faces harass women on the sidewalks, in the office, on public transportation, and in the park.”
The end of the video is haunting. As the energy amplifies, and you see women, exhausted and angry, defending themselves at work in the face of harassment and clips from the Women’s March. The last scene sends a message that feels like a slap in the face — the slow poison that’s continuing to make society ill for women and feminists today — as you see a young boy watching the actions of an older man, who’s creeping on a woman who’s sitting on a park bench and completely unaware that and she’s being photographed without her consent. The last scene is the intrusive man and the innocent boy locking eyes and begs you to consider what example we’re setting for the next generation. Throughout the video, you see the symptoms of what perpetuates harassment: people not speaking up, men in positions of power telling upset women to calm down, and overall unwarranted aggression towards women who aren’t interested in sexual advancements from these men.
This type of astute insight is consistent throughout this incredible album. Ezza Rose has done something on this LP that is rare; this is a perfect 7-song view into the soul of American identity politics, while remaining human, honest, humble and maybe even complicit at times. It deals with heavy topics, but it’s a given that choruses will be stuck in your head, and guitar riffs will visit you through the day and have you hummming. It’s a balance in and of itself — it rocks, but it also makes you think. Rock and roll is for the neck down, but this album lives in your head too. The take away that it leaves you with is simple; nobody is perfect, but this album begs for directness and boundaries. Perfection is a myth that takes us further from a progressive future. No Means No has taken the temperature of society and diagnosed the problem. Now, it’s on us to take our medicine. The first step: learn that no means no.
02. No Means No
03. Baby, Come Down
04. American Man
05. Hands of Gold
06. Next to You
07. Sorry isn’t Good Enough