July 2015 National Music Reviews

Review: Jon DeRosa – Black Halo

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jon derosa black halo album coverJon DeRosa
Black Halo

Rocket Girl
Street: 05.25
Jon DeRosa = Jens Lekman + The Magnetic Fields + Beat Happening

When I listened through this record a time or two, generally enjoying the 1950s pop of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison filtered through the skewed lens of Stephin Merritt’s fey, minor-chord subversiveness, I had to double check the name: Jon DeRosa … aka Aarktica? Under Aarktica, DeRosa created some of my favorite guitar-based drone ever put to tape (In Sea). Performing under his given name, DeRosa proves to be a songwriter of great dynamic ability. Black Halo finds DeRosa’s perfect baritone commanding the doo-wop-influenced “Fool’s Razor,” the building, cathartic “Coyotes” and the interchanging male-female vocals on the pastoral and otherworldly “Dancing in a Dream.” These are absolutely perfect pop songs performed and recorded with the painstaking attention to tone and compositional balance that comes from years of creating hushed, glacial movements of crushing guitar sounds. It’s one of the most pleasantly surprising records of 2015 so far. –Ryan Hall