Greg Franco is an indie-rocker’s indie-rocker, having steered the ship for (pre-gentrified) Silver Lake mainstays Ferdinand for a decade before launching Rough Church in the mid-Aughts. “Queen’s Sacrifice,” out Feb. 24, is the sixth Rough Church album, made with band regulars Alfredo Ortiz, Carey Fosse, Dante Pascuzzo, J.L. Esquivel, Kaitlin Wolfberg and Tracy Hill, along with guests Andy Sykora, Marc Doten, Kedron Parker, Vorn Colgan, Thomas Liggett and Dayna Richards.
As with most of the Rough Church catalog, the music is impossible to pigeonhole — sure, you can spot a little Pixies, or Flaming Lips, or Wilco, or any number of Franco’s pals from New Zealand (he’s collaborated with the Clean, and the album closes with a live recording of “Goodbye to Greg,” a 1999 song by the estimable Chris Knox). It’s Franco’s reverence for how much emotion he can squeeze out of the simplest of riffs, and how his almost-spoken narration works in that context. “Queen’s Sacrifice” ranges from the austere (especially the fractured cover of David Bowie’s “Kooks”) to raging (the collection’s highlight, “Book Junkies,” and a cover of “Surrender”) to sprawling, melancholic ruminations, like the violin-fueled “Bully My Heart” and “5 AM Shadows.” The latter, written by Pascuzzo (with lyrics by Franco and Wolfberg), is the kind of song Franco talks about in colors: “That indigo purple mood you get between being asleep and being awake.” he says. “We struggle with pulling ourselves away from the tranquility of a dream to be jarred by the light of day.” Chris Carlone’s video for the song was filmed in Porto, Portugal.
||| Watch: The video for “5AM Shadows”
||| Stream: The song here
||| Also: Check out the video for “Speak As One”
||| Live: Rough Church performs Feb. 24 at Taix.