Raleigh's A Rooster for the Masses wrote and recorded its debut EP, Gallo Rojo, not long after George W. Bush landed his second term, or when most every new rock band you heard cited Gang of Four as a reference for disco-fueled post-punk and politics. The Rooster's been slow to answer the call of Rojo, a quick-paced politico lasher that leaned hard left from Franz Ferdinand's Top 40 beats and hooks.
Luckily, on its first full-length, Broken Era, the band expands its sound and scope, borrowing cues from Radiohead (hear the skittering beats of "This Drawing" or the OK Computer lift of "The Finger") and reggae ("End Game" plays out an easy existentialism over a buoyant bassline). Never fear, though, as the Rooster still sings truth to power over angular guitar lines and hi-hat pulses, whether riffing on the downtown void King's Barcade left behind on "No Party Downtown" (the band released Rojo there in 2006) or territorial tendencies on "Headwaters." It's just that frontman Adam Eckhardt's finally learned to make his numbers make sense melodically, adding finesse and grace to his most bellicose moments. Hell, on "Homebodies," he even sounds like the missing angry Rosebud. Indeed, change can be a mighty fine look.
A Rooster for the Masses plays a CD release party for Broken Era Friday, Nov. 7, at The Pour House at 10 p.m. Gray Young and Bright Young Things open. Tickets are $6-$8. The band also plays Troika Music Festival Saturday, Nov. 8, and The Cave Saturday, Nov. 15.