AURAL FIXATION: Lawrence Rothman

Tucson is like Phoenix’s less popular but naturally prettier, down-to-earth sister. When it comes to attracting national touring musicians, though, her allure is often all for naught. They’re just bands passing through, not suitors looking for love. I adore Tucson, but sometimes I’m embarrassed for her, especially when good artists decide to grace us with their presence and end up playing to a nearly empty room.

Sadly, this was the case when Lawrence Rothman stopped here on his way to support Little Dragon on tour. There was a crowd of no more than ten people, and I’m pretty sure half were club employees. Despite the poor turnout, Rothman did not disappoint.

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Opening with his debut 7” single “Montauk Fling,” Rothman’s haunting baritone voice over the 808 beat made me immediately think Goth Rick Astley. I don’t know if he would appreciate this description, but I mean it in the most flattering way possible. Rothman’s sound is distinct though his influences—film scores, R&B, house music and the writings of Charles Bukowski—are evident. Each song has a mysterious, cinematic quality that, coupled with tortured lyrics, creates a disturbingly beautiful meld.

Weeks later, I still can’t stop listening to “Montauk Fling” and “#1 All Time Low.” If you’re ready for a breath of fresh air, check out Lawrence Rothman (and his bizarro videos, directed by award-winning David Bowie/Björk/Marilyn Manson favorite Floria Sigismondi). He’s an entrancing artist who defies expectations, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

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