The winding musical trajectory of Austin-based singer-songwriter Robert LaRoche began all the way back when he was 15, which is when he first began performing professionally. Even from that early age, he had already developed a rhythmic propensity for creative and unique arrangements and would subsequently form power pop band The Sighs in 1982. Originally hailing from Holyoke, Massachusetts, LaRoche and the band would spend the next decade touring throughout New England, eventually signing to Virgin Records and releasing their debut, “What Goes On,” in 1992.
The record was a success, and their single, “Think About Soul,” enjoyed some notoriety on modern rock radio in the summer of that year. After some extensive touring with groups such as The Spin Doctors and Gin Blossoms, LaRoche and the band shifted their focus to their sophomore album, “Different,” which was released in 1995 on Big Deal Records. However, the following year, The Sighs disbanded, and LaRoche soon found himself with the position of lead guitarist and co-writer for Austin singer Patricia Vonne.
His work with Vonne -- which included 6 records, numerous national/international tours and a performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2013 -- has given him the ability to adapt the sounds of different genres into something innovative and wholly his own. And in 2015, LaRoche released his debut solo album, “Patient Man,” which was recorded in Austin with producer Darin Murphy. Equal parts roots rock and classic pop construction, the songs were awash in gorgeous harmonies and vivid melodic movements, with inspiration gleaned from such musicians as Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.
The Sighs conspired again in 2016, regrouping to record a new set of songs called “Wait On Another Day,” which was released in November of 2017 on NYC label Omad Records. But LaRoche still had some songs up his sleeves which didn’t necessarily feel like they belonged to The Sighs. He’s set to release a new solo EP, “A Thousand Shades,” on July 12 via Relief Records, and it finds him continuing to embellish the mesmerizing harmonies and enormous melodies which have come to mark all his rhythmic endeavors. Filled out with a roster of some of Austin’s best local musicians, the record allows him to explore the infinite complexities of love and heartache, while also searching for redemption within this emotional tempest.
On recent single, “Jet Blue,” LaRoche combines a series of wiry guitar riffs and burnished pop melodies which he binds together in a landscape built upon a mix of malleable ‘80s-influenced rock rhythms and spirited indie rock arrangements. The track possesses a noticeable musical density while also feeling unmoored from its familiar inspirations. LaRoche has that rare ability to dismantle what we’ve come to accept as commonplace in music and find new and exciting ways to process those particular sounds as though no one has ever used them before.