Search The Line of Best Fit
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Rosali's Bite Down is a deeply beautiful gem

"Bite Down"

Release date: 22 March 2024
Rosali Bite Down cover
22 March 2024, 09:00 Written by Janne Oinonen

‘’So long, you say goodbye, you don't feel it anymore,’’ Rosali Middleman sighs on the title track of this powerfully captivating album.

The words and the wearily resigned tone in which they’re delivered strongly suggest that the currently North Carolina-based songwriter, singer and guitarist has added a new entry to the steadily growing catalogue of break-up albums.

In stark contrast to the norms of this heartbreak-fuelled subcategory that every serious songwriter is dutybound to dabble in, there’s nothing bitter or morose about Bite Down. There are bittersweet glances at happier times (the breezy opener "On Tonight"), regret-filled ruminations (“Is It Too Late”) and tunes that look at that newly empty space with some trepidation (the raucous hoedown "My Kind"). However, Middleman's songs are infused with a steely determination to get through it and move on, anchored by an acceptance that all things run their course.

The absolute alchemy of the near-telepathic musical connection between Rosali and her now regular recording companions Mowed Sound (joined here by Destroyer’s Ted Bois on keyboards) is simply too joyous for the needle to dip anywhere near the depressive regions. Rosali has spent time on the road with Portland, Oregon’s masters of propulsive psych-country levitation Rose City Band, and the arrangements here (while remaining firmly rooted in warm and wise songcraft) draw from a similar well of organically sprawling yet economically administered musical exchanges.

“Rewind” is a prime example loose-limbed country rock and “Hopeless” sounds like a classic FM radio staple (with an earthily breezy glide that belies the troubled contemplation of the lyrics), while the title track straddles a nimble, funky groove and the stunning slow-burn of the hymnal closer “May It Be On Offer” flickers on a low flame like a particularly blissful ethereal bit in an epic Grateful Dead wig-out. The proceedings really heat up whenever the not so much duelling as spikily hugging guitars of David Nance and James Schroeder (and Middleman) enter the frame. Many songwriters would have chosen to emphasise the wounded beauty of a tune as powerfully moving as “Hills on Fire” with a minimalist arrangement: Middleman and co. splatter it with jagged, molten splashes of lead guitar abstractions, which sound like the instrument is writhing through the later stages of being burned alive, but in a good way. The more conventionally sizzling fretboard face-offs of “Change Is In The Form” are equally intense, resembling two Neil Youngs out-shredding each other while Crazy Horse maintains a steely and grizzled pulse.

Bite Down, then, is a rare record. It excels both as a richly resonant, often deeply beautiful gem. It is singer-songwriter introspection and a high octane field recording from an unusually fertile and harmonious gathering of five likeminded musicians at the seam where hip country rock meets the wide-eyed extemporisations of contemporary cosmically inclined psych-rock.

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