Rosie Cima—the singer-songwriter and guitarist who fronts the Washington D.C. folk punk quartet Rosie Cima and What She Dreamed—is unhinged in the best possible way in a new track.
Premiering below, “Stuck” is the cathartic lead single and album opener off the band’s debut full-length, Realm of the Warring Gods, due later this spring.
“I’m stuck / on a bus, going north / and I’m looking for love,” Cima sings over antsy, sputtering instrumentation. They know their quest is ridiculous, but they forge ahead: “As if anyone ever found love / on a bus going anywhere / looking for anyone,” they continue, their voice veering into a growl.
“This song is about knowing you absolutely need to let go of someone, but pining for them anyways—a common source of angst for me in my 20s,” Cima tells American Songwriter. “I wrote this in the weeks after my first tour as a singer-songwriter. It wasn’t the first song I’d written that made me wish I had a band, but it was the best so far and whenever I played it I ached.”
You can hear that aching quality in the final product as Cima delivers a vocal performance that’s by turns searching and scorching. Meanwhile, they’re joined by Mashaal Ahmed on drums, Steve Burch on bass, and Barrett Browne on lead guitar. The crew met through Flashband, a D.C.-area organization that “organizes epic, themed showcases of one-time bands.”
“Stuck,” Cima recalls, “was the first song we arranged from scratch as a band, instead of building off of the arrangements on my solo EP, and It didn’t really come together until Barrett joined the band and turned it into the full-bore rock song it was always meant to be.”
By the song’s frenetic, bared-teeth climax, around 2:40, Cima’s voice is guttural and raw as they ask “Does it hurt when you’re reminded of me? / Can I hurt you still?”
Rosie Cima and What She Dreamed recorded Realm of the Warring Gods in late 2019 having initially planned to release the album in 2020. It’s now slated for release on March 12 via D.C.’s This Could Go Boom!.
“When we went into recording our producer, Ben Green, asked us: ‘What do you want this album to do?’ Everyone else looked at me,” says Cima of the band’s early recording sessions. “At the time my answer seemed humble: We wanted to capture these songs, with the feeling and the energy of the band, in the moment. When I stopped to think about it I was actually kind of surprised. As a songwriter I am detail-oriented and ever so slightly obsessive—I keep track of the songs I’ve written in a spreadsheet for God’s sake. But it was surprisingly clear to me that the best way to serve these songs was to record us pretty darn naked. No click track, limited effects, and limited punch-ins and touch-ups.”
Realm of the Warring Gods follows Cima’s aforementioned solo EP, 2018’s Blackberry, Blackberry, Blackerry, which Cima released while living in Oakland.
“One word a lot of people used to describe my solo EP was ‘restrained,’” says Cima. “Restraint can be compelling, and in a culture of excess people often mean it as a compliment. This album, I think, is not ‘restrained.’ It might even be ‘unleashed.’ There’s a lot that I’ve struggled with as a musician that has finally found expression in these recordings. Like, I used to avoid playing or finishing certain songs because of a sense that I, on my own, was never enough for them. As a band, we are more than enough, which really pushed me as a songwriter and as a performer.”
For Cima, getting connected to the folks at This Could Go Boom! has been just as meaningful as getting connected to their new bandmates. “We’re actually working with a label that gets us, run by people that we really like,” they explain. “And while releasing a debut album during a pandemic is super weird, they are the only reason it hasn’t been totally dystopian. They’ve really helped us stay engaged with our community, including supporting a charity pre-release campaign to help a local venue and artists fund streamed shows.”
Check out the first glimpse of the project below.
“Stuck” is out Jan. 29. You can pre-order Realm of the Warring Gods—out March 12 via This Could Go Boom!—here.