The Rose Petals – Photo Courtesy of Dan Destiny
American Grenadine (April 23rd, 2021), the debut record from Los Angeles post-Americana band The Rose Petals, has been over a dozen years and thousands of miles in the making.
The Rose Petals is fronted by songwriting partners Peter Donovan and Elijah Ocean, who first met in 2008 when Donovan moved from L.A. to Portland, Maine, where Ocean was living at the time. The pair bonded over their shared love of Bob Dylan and The Beatles, and they quickly set to work writing songs and emulating their shared role models of Lennon and McCartney, with Donovan on lyrics and Ocean on music.
What emerged between the duo, though, was less Beatle-esque and more like a continuation of the thread of jangly guitar-pop created by The Byrds and carried on by the likes of R.E.M., Gin Blossoms and Band of Horses — uniquely modern American music infused with tinges of the past.
While Donovan and Ocean spent countless hours writing together, it wasn’t until 2016, when, after a few more cross-country moves, Donovan added another 3,000 miles to the bill when he embarked on a road trip with the goal of visiting every U.S. President’s gravesite. Originally having set out to write a book, Donovan instead found himself with pages of lyrics. On the road without a guitar, he sent the lyrics to Ocean, who had since moved to Los Angeles.
“I’d be holed up in some cheap motel in Buffalo, New York or Abilene, Kansas writing about dead presidents,” said Donovan. “Meanwhile, Elijah was in sunny California, taking my words and turning them into these wonderful pop songs.”
By the time the trip was finished, the duo had a whole new set of tunes. After 12 years and thousands of miles, it was finally time to make a record.
Donovan — who has worked with members of Death Cab for Cutie and Portugal. The Man through his Seattle-based Americana project, All the Real Girls — and Ocean — whose 2018 single, “Down This Road,” made Rolling Stone’s list of the top 10 best country and Americana songs of the week, alongside the likes of Miranda Lambert and Nathaniel Rateliff — rounded up bassist Zach Jones (The Everyday Visuals, SPOSE) and drummer Curran McDowell (Jamie Wyatt, Jade Castrinos) and headed into the studio.
Recorded at Mystic Trip Studios in L.A. with engineer Dan Destiny, American Grenadine is an 11-song snapshot of America, rife with jangly guitars, sparkly tambourines, and tantalizing harmonies. Expertly blending 60s folk-rock with 80s jangle-pop, the album tells the unseen stories of 11 U.S. presidents: Final track “The Cowboy” uses staccato, hoof-like melodies to follow Teddy Roosevelt, who, the son of a Manhattan socialite and a wealthy businessman, managed to rewrite his legend into that of the most rugged American archetype of all: the cowboy. Twangy third tune “Military Man” addresses how Dwight D. Eisenhower’s reputation has declined over the years despite being seen as a symbol of peace and prosperity during his
eight-year term. And standout middle track “Lemonade Lucy” tells the story of First Lady Lucy Hayes’ support for the temperance movement with softly crooning vocals and succulent guitars.
Far from a political statement, though, the songs on American Grenadine are not intended to be a celebration or an admonishment of their subjects. They’re stories about life, love, power, and death. They’re snapshots of threads in the American tapestry, as seen through the eyes of our very fallible American presidents. Ultimately, American Grenadine, through crisp layers of guitar and emotive vocal lines, proves that these powerful men — these seeming American gods — were just as imperfectly human as the rest of us.
“Post-Americana band The Rose Petals is a hypnotically jangly outfit who crack the peppy guitar strums with their own brand of irritated swing kick and jumpy beats.” – Glide Magazine
“The Rose Petals Get Real About the ‘Good Old Days’ on ‘Military Man'” – Wide Open Country
Publicist: Rachel Hurley