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Roses inhabit the fundamentally human land of John Hughes

Jocks, nerds and misfits

Roses. Photo courtesy of Facebook

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Why are the soundtracks to John Hughes movies so popular, so evergreen? Nostalgia can't answer every question, despite how much Buzzfeed and Jimmy Fallon insist that it can and should. It's also not just because the soundtracks to Hughes' movies contain, arguably, the best of the best of '80s pop gems. There are plenty of compilation albums that could slide right into your rotation if you wanted '80s music so bad. The truth, I think, is that John Hughes tapped into something fundamentally human, even if he approached from the outside and in broad strokes.

No one fits perfectly into any of the five archetypes displayed in The Breakfast Club, even though the world would be much simpler if we did. Instead of accessing the truth of growing up in a world where discovering differences and similarities between people is a rite of passage, Hughes translated the emotional honesty of growing and changing around people who are just as confused as you are. The music in his films was a hand beckoning you along in this journey of self-discovery and the (hopeful) shedding of your perception of an "other."

Inside, we were all angry, scared and confused.

I think this is why bands that access the sound of the music featured in John Hughes movies end up resonating with people of a certain generation so much: they access that part of us that's still scared, that's still pining, that still wants to take a crow bar to the popular kids. LA band Roses is uncommonly good at touching that sweet spot inside you that still worries about the jocks dumping pig blood on you at the prom.

"I was in another band, at the time, called Abe Vigoda," says Roses guitarist Juan Velasquez. "In a down period, I started playing a little bit with Marc (Steinberg), who's the singer of our group. I met him when it was dance night at a gay bar, and we bonded over how cool the environment was. ... I asked my friend Victor (Herrera), who I'd known for about nine years now, if he wanted to play bass. ... The last Abe Vigoda record was kind of gothy and more electronic than our other stuff. When we started Roses, we thought we'd be a weird electro-punk band, and it quickly became much easier to write poppier stuff."

Abe Vigoda was a successful punk band that managed to emerge in the revitalized indie punk scene of this mid-00s. Knowing that Velasquez came from Abe Vigoda makes listening to Roses that much more striking. This is a band that is anything but abrasive. Rather, the band incorporates the sounds of romantic New Wave bands like the Promise Ring, Spandau Ballet, The The and even Cyndi Lauper. This is music worthy of a tentative couples' skate at your local rink.

"We thought it was much more interesting to write prettier lush things," says Velasquez. "It was more natural for us to do that than the punk thing."

For all my talk about Roses accessing parts of you that you thought were left behind in your teenage years, this is far from emo navel-gazing. This is swoon-worthy music that could easily soundtrack a moody midnight drive or a slow dance in a spotlit room. John Hughes jumped into your brain at an early age, and the hole that he left in his absence can be inhabited in the coziest of ways by bands like Roses, and the sweet, shimmering noise they create. If, after listening to Roses, you are attempted to cross a football field with your fist pumped in the air, I wouldn't blame you.

ROSES, w/ Naomi Punk, Moaning, 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 28, all ages, Obsidian, 414 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, $5, 360.890.4425

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