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La Rocca

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Irish piano rock quartet La Rocca are rooted in the indie pop underground, but their brash version of pop bombast is part of a long strain of self-consciously epic rockers that stretches from Queen and the Electric Light Orchestra through U2 and Simple Minds to contemporaries like Coldplay and Keane. Armed with the big, booming voice of singer Bjorn Baillie and Nick Haworth's twinkling piano, La Rocca are an indie band with ambitious aspirations. Although three of the four members of La Rocca -- lead singer and guitarist Bjorn Baillie, his brother, bassist Simon Baillie, and drummer Alan Redmond -- hail from small towns near Dublin, Ireland; the group actually formed in Cardiff, Wales while its members were attending Cardiff University. (Keyboardist Nick Haworth, the band's sole Englishman, is from rural Lancashire, just across the Irish Sea.) Named after a bar in the city of Bristol where the group played an early gig, La Rocca released a self-titled EP on the tiny Irish indie Wet Clay in 2003. That EP garnered enough interest to allow the band to tour internationally, bringing them to the attention of both the Los Angeles based indie label Dangerbird Records, which signed La Rocca in 2004, and producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Belle & Sebastian, etc.), whose interest in the group helped persuade them to leave the United Kingdom and move to Los Angeles. A re-recorded version of the EP, titled Sing Song Sung after its key track, was released in February 2005. The band's first full-length, The Truth, followed in November of the same year. ~ Stewart Mason

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Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales

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