Personnel: Jose Boyer (vocals, guitars, keyboards); Christopher Lauderdale (vocals, drums, percussion); Jose Aybar, Gowa Peshewa (vocals); Eduardo Duquesne, Matthew Menold (keyboards).
Audio Mixer: Kevin McMahon.
Recording information: New Paltz, NY.
One of the problems with releasing a brilliant first album is that, if you want to keep being a band, you usually have to make a second record. More often than not, measuring up to an accomplished debut proves to be an insurmountable task. Case in point, Las Rosas and their second record, Shadow by Your Side. While it's a perfectly fine slice of post-garage garage rock with a nice blend of swagger, bleeding-hearted balladry, and gentle weirdness, it comes off like a blurry copy of the band's 2017 debut, Everyone Gets Exactly What They Want. That record made an instant impression with its weird take on Stonesy garage rock, with oddball lyrics and vocalist Jose Boyer doing all sorts of fun stuff with phrasing and pronunciation. It was a decidedly unique take on garage rock revival that took the genre in new and unusual places. In comparison, Shadow by Your Side pulls its punches. Boyer reins in his vocal gymnastics to the point where he sounds only a little goofy instead of borderline deranged, the band rocks a little harder (and less interestingly), the songs don't have quite the same kick, and the overall feel is muted and much tamer. That being said, it's still a pretty good album. Las Rosas still have a way with a hook, often delivered multiple times over the course of one song as they shift up tempos and feel, like on the opening "The Ghost," which breaks out of a thumping blues-rock groove and shifts into a Latin funk breakdown near the end. They are also still adept at writing snappy little songs that rollick and twist like the best '60s rock can. "Christa" and "Dinner for One" both come loaded with taut jangle and some kick, "Tax Man" struts along nicely and Boyer's guitar solo punches a hole in the speaker, and "Nothing's Wrong" impresses with its rambling glam rock beat and lazy melody. The side is let down a bit on the ballads; nothing here has the dissipated, lopsided charm of the ballads on Everyone, but overall, Shadow by Your Side is a fine record. If it had been their debut, it would have been labeled promising instead of a slight letdown. It is one, though, and that feeling gets in the way of enjoying a record that is still (way) better than what most garage rock revivalists are churning out in 2018. ~ Tim Sendra